Yes, people are indeed sickened and stay sickened by exposure to Water Damaged Buildings (WDB). There have been lots of names for the illness over the years, including “Mold illness.” The best discussion of the academic basis for this illness is found in the Expert Treating Physicians Consensus report published 7/2010 (available on this site). Let start with some basic ideas: this illness is not an allergy. It is an inflammation within the body which is caused by an immune system that has gone haywire. The term “mold illness” is a subcategory of biotoxin illness called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). The proper definition of CIRS is:
“An acute and chronic, systemic inflammatory response syndrome acquired following exposure to the interior environment of a water-damaged building with resident toxigenic organisms, including, but not limited to fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes and mycobacteria as well as inflammagens such as endotoxins, beta glucans, hemolysins, proteinases, mannans and possibly spirocyclic drimanes; as well as volatile organic compounds.
How Did I Get Sick?
This illness happens after exposure to the interior environment of a Water-Damaged Building (WDB). There are many ways buildings become home to a toxic mix of microbes, and harmful chemicals. Buildings can host fungi, bacteria, mycobacteria, and actinomycetes as a result of construction defects like inappropriate ventilation, faulty construction of crawl spaces, inadequate building design, flat roofs, fake stucco cladding without adequate caulking, basements exposed to saturated ground water conditions, not correcting water leaks and more.
Since 1998, Dr. Shoemaker has treated over 7,000 patients with an illness caused by exposure to these conditions. Each patient has a syndrome that is readily identified by blood tests performed in standard medical labs all over the country. These illnesses reflect a growing societal problem: dangerous buildings. Inhaling these dangerous inflammagens is what makes people sick.
We live in the Era of Dangerous Buildings with 50% of our buildings (NIOSH, 2011) having water damage so the likelihood that you won’t ever be exposed to dangerous buildings is quite low.