The Myth of Mycotoxins and Mold Injury

Abstract

In recent years, mold has been blamed for many symptoms or a constellation of symptoms. These symptoms are usually vague and subjective and difficult or impossible to measure or quantify. Moreover, there is no scientific evidence that mold has anything to do with these symptoms. In particular, the concept of toxic mold syndrome has permeated the public consciousness, and mycotoxins have falsely been associated with autoimmune diseases and a variety of other conditions. In fact, there is no evidence that the presence of mycotoxins in the air is enough to cause any disease known to man. Molds legitimately can cause allergies and can be a trigger for asthma. Certain specific molds such as Aspergillus can be a cause of hypersensitivity pneumonitis. In immunocompromised hosts, both dermatologic and systemic infections can result from various fungi and can be associated with significant morbidity or even mortality. However, the existence of toxic mold syndrome has been disproven, despite the numerous disreputable practices such as testing homes for mold spores, measuring “mycotoxins” in the urine, and testing patients for IgG to mold. In truth, none of these techniques have been validated, nor do they have any relevance to any clinical disease. All that these tests that are being performed by laboratories of disrepute does is to further propagate misinformation and inflict unnecessary and often exorbitant costs on patients desperate for a clinical diagnosis, right or wrong, for their constellation of maladies.

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Correspondence to Christopher Chang or M. Eric Gershwin.

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Chang, C., Gershwin, M.E. The Myth of Mycotoxins and Mold Injury. Clinic Rev Allerg Immunol 57, 449–455 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12016-019-08767-4

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Keywords

  • Mycotoxins
  • Mold spores
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Allergic fungal sinusitis
  • Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis
  • Stachybotrys
  • Toxic black mold