In addition to molds, mycotoxins and bacteria, other biological contaminants have also been found in water-damaged homes and buildings.
Damp or wet building materials occur from a variety of circumstances including water intrusion from floods, hurricanes, construction defects, roof leaks, condensation, appliance and plumbing leaks, poorly designed foundations, etc. Furthermore, building materials can become wet during storage, transportation and/or construction. For simplicity, we will use the phrase ‘water intrusion’ as an all-encompassing term.
Water intrusion into buildings permits amplification of growth of fungi, bacteria and protozoa (Andersson et al, 1997; Gorny, 2004; Gorny et al, 2001, 2002; Hirvonen et al, 2005; Peltola et al, 2001a,b; Rintala et al, 2001, 2002, 2004, Yli-Pirila et al, 2004).
The increased health risks and economic impact from microbial growth resulting from indoor dampness are recognized as significant public health problems requiring attention and remediation (Bernstein et al, 2008; Cox-Ganser et al, 2005; Fisk et al, 2007; Genuis, 2007; Mudarri and Fisk, 2007; Nevalainen and Seuri, 2005).
The bio-contamination resulting from water intrusion includes: (1) molds; (2) bacteria; (3) microbial particulates; (4) mycotoxins; (5) volatile organic compounds (non-microbial
[VOCs] and microbial [MVOCs]); (6) proteins (e.g., secreted enzymes, haemolysins and siderophores); (7) galactomannans (extracellular polysaccharides or EPS); (8) 1-3-beta-D-glucans (glucans) and (9) endotoxins (lipopolysaccharides [LPS]).
It is apparent that the potential additive and synergistic effects of multiple contaminants in the indoor environment have been largely overlooked, except in experimental animal models
(Huttunen et al, 2004; Isalm and Pestka, 2006; Islam et al, 2002, 2007; Zhou et al, 1998, 1999, 2000).
The study of health risks to humans from exposure to molds have been limited to respiratory disease (asthma) in adults and children (Antova et al, 2008; Jaakkola and Jaakkola, 2004; Rydjord et al, 2008).
In this paper, we also review the peer-reviewed research that points to the impacts on human health, including neurological, respiratory, immune systems and other organs from exposure to damp indoor spaces.