Health Effects of Water Damage and Mold: 3 Resources

The flooding as a result of Hurricane Harvey has created environmental hazards of catastrophic proportion. Below are three resources that describe potential health effects or exposure to water damage and related mold and bacteria.

The health effects for individuals exposed to water damage, mold, and bacteria manifest in both physical and psychological stress and are often equally catastrophic. Awareness of the health implications, along with knowledge regarding precautions and avoidance to toxic exposure, are critical for the health and safety of victims and emergency responders. These are three resources that I recommend which are scientific based and outstanding, in my opinion, as well as worthwhile and enlightening. 

Resource #1

A Review of the Mechanism of Injury and Treatment Approaches for Illness Resulting from Exposure to Water-Damaged Buildings, Mold, and Mycotoxins

The Scientific World Journal

Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 767482, 20 pages

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Description: “It has been estimated that up to 50% of illness results from exposure to indoor air pollution, with exposure to water-damaged indoor environments likely being a significant contributor…”

These illnesses include, but are not limited to, asthma, autoimmune diseases, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Cancer, and many more. Sinus infections, skin rashes, fatigue, joint pain, memory fog, food allergies, depression and mood swings are just a few of the symptoms. While it is estimated that at least 25% of the population is highly sensitive to mold toxins, it is likely that the number is even higher. 

Mold toxins are commonly completely concealed. It is possible to become hypersensitive so that even leaving the toxic environment for a few hours, or even a few days, does not provide noticeable relief. For some individuals, it can take weeks or even months away from the contaminants that affect them before their immune system can rebuild enough for improvements to be realized. Could this hidden danger be affecting your or your family? 

Resource #2

Damp Indoor Spaces and Health

Institute of Medicine

2004.Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Contributors: Institute of Medicine; Board on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention; Committee on Damp Indoor Spaces and Health

Description: Almost all homes, apartments, and commercial buildings will experience leaks, flooding, or other forms of excessive indoor dampness at some point. Not only is excessive dampness a health problem by itself, it also contributes to several other potentially problematic types of situations. Molds and other microbial agents favor damp indoor environments, and excess moisture may initiate the release of chemical emissions from damaged building materials and furnishings. This new book from the Institute of Medicine examines the health impact of exposures resulting from damp indoor environments and offers recommendations for public health interventions.

Damp Indoor Spaces and Health covers a broad range of topics. The book not only examines the relationship between damp or moldy indoor environments and adverse health outcomes but also discusses how and where buildings get wet, how dampness influences microbial growth and chemical emissions, ways to prevent and remediate dampness, and elements of a public health response to the issues. A comprehensive literature review finds sufficient evidence of an association between damp indoor environments and some upper respiratory tract symptoms, coughing, wheezing, and asthma symptoms in sensitized persons. 

Resource #3

WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould

Authors: WHO Regional Office for Europe

Publication details

Number of pages: 228Publication

date: 2009ISBN: 7989289041683

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Description: This document provides a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence on health problems associated with building moisture and biological agents. The review concludes that the most important effects are increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms, allergies and asthma as well as perturbation of the immunological system.

The document also summarizes the available information on the conditions that determine the presence of mould and measures to control their growth indoors. WHO guidelines for protecting public health are formulated on the basis of the review. The most important means for avoiding adverse health effects is the prevention (or minimization) of persistent dampness and microbial growth on interior surfaces and in building structures.

Get your questions answered!

Cheryl Ciecko, AIA, ALA, LEED AP, is a licensed architect who helps homeowners and building professionals create safe homes through online education to prevent mold, water damage, and poor indoor air quality. You can find her video masterclasses, online programs, and education subscription options at .

For detailed answers on your specific situation or building project, schedule your appointment for an individual consultation.


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The information contained in this presentation is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe, treat, or cure any disease, ailment or injury to the body. It is not medical advice. FDA regulations prohibit the use of medical claims in conjunction with the sale of any product not approved by the FDA. Statements made herein have not been evaluated by the FDA. 

Any products, techniques, and/or personal usage tips referred to are not suggested as a replacement for proper treatment from a licensed health care professional. I am not a licensed health care professional and the decision to use or not to use any of this information is the sole responsibility of the listener and/or reader. Everyone is an individual with different body types, different blood types, different body chemistries, and it is important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another person.