Vivre dans un
monde toxique:
les moisissures
et la santé des

Durant les dernières
années, il est devenu
évident que les
moisissures de
toutes sortes sont
néfastes pour la
santé humaine et
qu’elles peuvent
causer une variété
de problèmes
médicaux. En s’en
débarrassant, nous
pouvons non
seulement améliorer
notre santé, mais
également celle de
nos enfants. 

Dans son article,
Patty Donovan
examine en
profondeur le
problème des
moisissures à la
maison, à l’école
et au travail; elle
en explique les
causes, les effets
et comment on
peut éviter tout 


Patty Donovan












































(photo: Mould site)

















Living in a toxic world:
Moulds and children's health

  Patty Donovan
  Wild Circle
  August 2000


ould was first "discovered" in the 1830s when it was found growing on wet wallpaper, somewhere in Europe. In New Brunswick, it has become synonymous with the dark - and costly - side of schooling students in portable classrooms.

(photo: Mould site)

Mould, also known as Stachybotrys chartarum (also recognized as Stachybotrys atra), is a black, slimy growth that some medical experts, environmental engineers and building scientists link to a variety of health problems such as flu and allergic-type symptoms, nosebleeds, diarrhea, poor concentration and chronic fatigue.

One U.S. study suggests that breathing the harmful toxins carried by the mould's spores may cause learning disabilities in some children. The findings are preliminary. Health Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) are clear: indoor mould - of any sort - is bad for people's health. Mould can cause allergies and respiratory disease and the toxins it produces can weaken the immune system, leaving children in particular, vulnerable to many illnesses. Moulds can cause many health problems, the more serious of which are Aspergillus (a fungus ball that forms in the lungs), allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (occurring in asthmatics and is characterized by wheezing, low-grade fever and coughing mucus), and hypersensitivity pneumonitis (a flu like condition). Less serious symptoms to mould exposure, that can become chronic, are headaches, stuffy nose, difficulty breathing, restlessness, inability to concentrate and rashes. "If you discover mould", notes CMHC in a widely available booklet, "it's important to destroy it quickly."

For children, mould and the musty smell it creates can be a real source of concern. Outdoor seasonal mould, which persists from late spring, peaks in July, and lasts until the first killing frost, can cause a variety of complaints from rhinitis to asthma. Some individuals suffer worse symptoms during harvest-time because of the mould that grows naturally on wheat, grains and corn. The indoor variety that persists all year is the main offender in our homes, schools, cars and work places because one tiny spore can travel and from that single spore millions of mould cells grow and develop. All they need is moisture.

Lately we have heard a lot about mould in our schools and their affects on children's health. The spores are so small that they are circulated through a building through the air system and breathed into the lungs.

To reduce exposure and the spread of moulds here are some things to look out for:

plants in the classrooms should have properly irrigated soil that is changed regularly

do not keep pets in a classroom; they not only add to moisture but to a sensitive child the dander can cause severe allergic reactions,

fermented art supplies give off moulds and toxic fumes and should be discarded in an environmentally friendly way,

air exchangers/systems not only circulate moulds but can be a breeding ground if not properly maintained. Have the filters changed as per the manufacturer's standards and clean piping and service systems regularly,

in hard to ventilate areas like store rooms use particle absorbers and check for moisture regularly,

one of the worst moisture adding agents in a school is damp clothing and foot wear. During the winter months children's gear often goes undried and unwashed because they do not look dirty. Mittens should be changed daily and boot linings should be dried each night and washed weekly.

fix any and all leaks in the building exterior that cause water damage.

 If you do find mould you should wear protective masks to avoid breathing in the spores and clean  the area of mould and replace any mouldy tiles or carpeting. Opening the windows each day also helps to circulate air and helps to eliminate moisture. My experience has been that if water leaks are eliminated, damaged or mouldy articles removed, air systems are up to code and the windows are being opened each day, then mould will be reduced dramatically.

In the home, mould can be found in bathrooms, basements, window ledges, places where fresh food is stored, house plants, garbage pails, upholstered furniture, mattresses and pretty much any place else that is damp and not well ventilated. To combat this problem you need to establish a good system of ventilation and lighting, use a dehumidifier, seal up leaking windows and door draughts and immediately wipe up any water that is lying around. To get rid of existing mould use Borax or peroxide bleach to scrub it away; they are both anti-mould agents. After cleaning and drying the effected area sprinkle borax or baking soda to absorb moisture until you can fix the source.

Our car can also be a problem for children. Car sickness, with symptoms ranging from vomiting to headaches to inability to sit still, can be caused by motion, off-gassing vinyl chloride in plastics, petrochemical fumes, moulds trapped in the damp flooring and seats in your car or any combination of the above. To keep moulds at a minimum in your car, keep the inside as dry as possible. Use good water trapping floor mats and dry them before shutting the car up for the night. Clean the seats and carpets regularly with cleaning agents that do not contain chemicals. Natural cleansers and less-toxic agents such as baking soda, borax, tri-sodium phosphate and hydrogen peroxide bleach will work without taking the dye out of your fabric and are excellent substitutes for harmful products that contain volatile hydrocarbons.

In the work place the same advice can be used as you would in your home or a school. Talk to your employer about alternative solutions and make a commitment to keep your workspace clean and moisture free.

Moulds on foods can also cause health problems for children. Cheeses processed with fungi, mushrooms, dried fruits, any fermented beverage, fruit or vegetable, concentrated fruit juice and foods that contain yeast, soy or vinegar can heighten an existing problem or create a new allergic reaction. To lessen this problem avoid any foods that you are sensitive to, buy fruits and vegetables that are just ripe, wash them thoroughly and eat them right away. Keep your fridge clean and dry and use baking soda that is changed often, to absorb moisture.

By cutting down on the amount of moulds your child is exposed to, you can enable them to stay clear of those pesky sinus infections and flu-like conditions that pervade. By reducing the exposure just in your own home, you help your child to tolerate less evasive moulds when away from home.

Two rules of thumb from a Mom who is both sensitive to mould and has children are:

1. no matter what anyone says, if you can smell it, it is alive and breeding and making your child sick

2. children suffer more on damp and humid days. Explain this to them so that they know why they are feeling so out of sorts. It really is empowering to have control over your own health!