Here at SYB, our goal is to help people live better in an increasingly electromagnetic world. We do this by educating and raising awareness about EMF and creating products that protect the body.
The topic of EMF is complicated. It’s highly technical and multi-factorial. If we’re going to truly understand how EMF affects us, then we need to understand other influencing factors; things like chemicals, air pollution, diet, stress, and of course, mold. It may not seem obvious, but mold and EMFs are closely related, so much so that we’re dedicating an entire blog post to the subject. It’s an important topic that often gets overlooked by the mainstream. So in this post, we’re going to talk about what it means to be exposed to mold, if it is or is not a health problem, and what connection there is between mold and EMFs.
Table of Contents
What is Mold?
Mold (or mould if you’re outside the US), is a generic term for colonies of fungus. According to Wikipedia, a mold or mould ‘is a fungus that grows in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae.’
Mold spores exist everywhere on earth. We are surrounded by them all the time, but a single spore is so incredibly small that it’s not visible to the human eye. In nature, mold is known as ‘the great recycler’. It is responsible for breaking down and decomposing organic materials. Mold and fungus complete the cycle of life process and reduce complex compounds down to simple, reusable molecules. This is an important and critical process in the natural world.
The problem is when mold is allowed to proliferate indoors.
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How Are You Exposed to Mold?
In the modern world, most of our buildings are built with energy efficiency as a top priority. In many places, building codes require the entire structure to be wrapped in ‘vapor barriers’ (frequently made of plastic) to increase the energy efficiency and hopefully prevent moisture from penetrating the building.
Combine this practice with using chemically based, non-breathable building materials, and we have created structures with little ability to ‘breathe’. Additionally, human beings are creatures of comfort – we like to set our thermostats at 70°F (21°C) year-round, never opening windows, and insist on running plumbing through our walls. These building practices and habits encourage humidity and condensation which allow mold to grow inside our homes.
Mold loves to grow in dark, damp, conditions and only needs water and a food source like drywall, dust, or carpet (anything organic) to flourish. Outdoors in nature, mold is naturally balanced by other microbes, airflow, wind, and sun exposure. Indoors, mold is left unbalanced. Unchecked, these indoor conditions allow the mold to become virulent and sometimes quite dangerous.
In the US, it is estimated that approximately 50% of buildings have some kind of mold damage. This is a conservative estimate. In other parts of the world, the number may be much higher.
If these numbers seem high, it’s because mold loves to hide. Many of us have lived and worked in buildings with mold, but never knew it because we couldn’t see it. Mold likes to hide under the carpet, in the carpet pad, inside walls, behind appliances, in the attic, in the dark corners of the crawl space, etc. Many people are living in homes with a significant mold problem and have no idea.
What Are the Health Implications of Mold?
This chronic, low-level exposure can cause significant health problems for some people. The most common health effects include:
- Chronic respiratory issues
- Irritation to the eyes, skin, nose, and throat
- Allergy-like symptoms
- Muscle cramps
- Headache and pain
- Light sensitivity
- Sinus problems
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Cognitive issues
- Mood dysregulation
- Temperature regulation or dysregulation problems
- Excessive thirst
- Increased urination
- Nervous system issues
It’s important to note that not everyone who is exposed to mold or who lives in a ‘water-damaged building’ will have health problems. It is very common to see many people living in the same home, and only one or two people develop symptoms when everyone else seems fine.
The reasons for this are many, but one important contributing factor is the person’s genetic makeup. There is a specific gene called the HLA-DR gene that has been identified in approximately 25% of the population. It is believed that those who carry this gene are not able to make the antibodies needed to clear mycotoxins. So when they are exposed day after day, especially if they live or work in a water-damaged building, the toxins accumulate in their body causing a host of symptoms.
Though carriers of this gene may have more symptoms upon exposure than non-carriers, it’s important to note that anyone can develop health issues from mold whether they have the HLA genetic variation or not.
The Mold and EMF Connection
So what does all of this have to do with EMF you ask?
Researchers who study Electrohypersensitivity (EHS) have found that there are several precursors that can influence a person’s response to EMF exposure. In other words, if you have had a previous health issue like a physical trauma, extreme emotional stressor, chemical exposure, a heavy metal exposure, or other significant health challenge, then you are more likely to have adverse health symptoms when you are exposed to EMF radiation.
Mold exposure is also a known precursor. When the immune system becomes overwhelmed, be it from an infection, chemicals, trauma, or mold, the body becomes less resilient and has less capacity to deal with other stressors. So if your body is battling a fungal overgrowth, adding another toxin like EMF will only compound the stress on the body.
In other words, your already struggling immune and nervous systems become even more overwhelmed and less able to respond efficiently. To learn more about the EHS precursors, see our blog post on Nutrition and EMF here.
It is also suspected that EMFs can actually stimulate mold spores to release more of their mycotoxins. The research on this is still relatively young, and more concrete data is needed, but anecdotally this phenomenon rings true for EHS people.
While research does not exist on how many people with EHS also have a history of mold illness, it is my experience in working with hundreds of these people, that the majority of them also react aggressively to even small amounts of mold. This suggests that their immune systems have been previously sensitized due to a significant exposure at some point in the past.
Now when they are exposed to EMF radiation, their immune systems may over-respond for the sake of protecting the body. Or, if they currently have an excessive mycotoxin overload, then the EMFs may actually irritate the fungal spores, causing mycotoxins to be released, which increases symptoms.
It is no wonder that exposure to mold and exposure to EMFs causes almost identical symptoms.
Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt of the Sophia Institute of Health in Seattle, Washington, is well known for his research on this topic. You can view this video to hear his explanation on how electromagnetic fields increase both mold growth and virulence inside the body.
To summarize, Dr. Klinghardt explains that when mold cultures were exposed to radio frequencies from a nearby cell tower, the mold increased its mycotoxin production by more than six hundred times.
Again, we need a lot more research to identify the exact biological processes that are happening here. But if this is indeed the case, then it would easily explain why so many people with mold illness can accurately detect the presence of even low levels of human-made EMFs when others feel nothing.
This compounding effect of both mold and EMF exposure is devastating for so many people across the globe. Given the lack of awareness and research by the medical community, getting an accurate diagnosis much less proper treatment can take years to decades if ever.
Mold & EMF: What Can You Do About It?
So what does all of this mean for you? First of all, if you are sensitive to EMFs and you haven’t addressed a potential mold exposure, it’s a good idea to work with a qualified practitioner that understands both of these issues.
A good practitioner will utilize various tests like the Mycotox Urine Test which can identify if there is an abundance of mycotoxins in your body. Other labs your practitioner may order can include TGF Beta-1, MMP-9, Osmolality, and others that can help identify a possible mold exposure.
An experienced practitioner will also use your symptomatology, health history, and genetics to make a diagnosis. If it turns out you are dealing with a mold problem, your practitioner will put on a protocol generally consisting of herbs, supplements, pharmaceuticals, and a special diet to help your body reduce the amount of mold spores inside it and to overcome the resulting inflammation.
Identifying and addressing a possible mold exposure is a critical step in making progress on your health. I often find that when someone deals with the mold, they become much less reactive to EMFs, and vice-versa.
Of course, it goes without saying that if you do discover that mold is an issue for you, then you must identify where it is coming from. Most likely it is coming from water-damaged building materials inside your home, workplace, car, or another building where you spend a lot of time.
Often times it’s obvious: ‘Oh yeah! I had this water leak for months before I got it fixed but never thought to test it for mold.’ As a building biologist, I hear similar statements all the time. Just because you can’t see mold, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Remember, it loves to hide in dark, hidden spaces! It’s critical that you hire an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) professional or certified Building Biologist to do a thorough visual assessment of your home (or other spaces) to help you uncover any possible sources.
After identifying the source, you need to have it remediated by an experienced restoration company. No, you can’t clean the mold yourself. Mold can not be ‘cleaned’, nor bleached, it must be removed, and it must be done so with proper containment protocols to avoid spreading spores throughout the entire structure. Do NOT attempt to do this yourself as you could contaminate yourself, your belongings, and make the whole situation much worse.
Frankly put, if you have a mold illness, you can not continue to live in a moldy environment. You will never be able to recover until you have eliminated the mold. In severe cases, if remediation is too difficult or if all of your belongings are also contaminated, the easiest thing may be to move.
If you don’t have mold, either in your body or in your home, great! Do your best to keep it that way.
Make sure you practice good ventilation by cracking windows year-round, running exhaust fans when bathing or cooking to prevent condensation buildup, having your ductwork cleaned every 2-3 years, and fixing any plumbing or condensation issues immediately to prevent any microbial growth. Remember, “a pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cure.”
If you are experiencing EHS symptoms, be sure to rule out mold as a contributing factor. As a practitioner myself, I find it very encouraging that so many people improve their EHS symptoms and their overall health when they finally address the mold.
If you have already ruled out mold, you may want to look into the other precursors that may be contributing to your symptoms. Addressing the precursors, whether it’s mold or something else, can go a long way in helping you live more comfortably in our electrified world. As I said, I have seen countless people almost reverse their EHS symptoms by addressing their underlying issues as well as strengthening their body’s resilience through diet and lifestyle behaviors.
And of course, don’t forget to protect yourself when you do go out into the world. While you have control over the health of your own home, you can’t control the outside world. This is why Shield Your Body makes products like boxer briefs, phone pouches, and bandanas; so that you can protect your body when you can’t control your exposure.
Your first line of defense, however, should always be reducing all toxins inside your own home. If you need any help on how to do that, book a private consultation with me today. I can help you identify potential problems inside your home and suggest ways to fix them so you can get on the path to healing and feeling better today. I look forward to helping you live your best life!
Disclaimer: All content presented here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The information provided here should not be construed as medical advice, nor is it a substitute for personal care with your licensed medical provider. The contents of this website and program(s) are based on the research and opinions of Cathy Cooke, Whole Home and Body Health LLC, Shield Your Body, its colleagues, and/or affiliates unless noted otherwise.