Molds and Your Health

As we enter into the leaf-falling season, according to allergy specialists Gainesville, VA residents trust, some of us may experience a flare-up of mold-related health issues.  Molds are tiny fungi and grow well in damp environments.  Wet leaves form a substrate on which various types of molds can flourish. The microscopic spores released from growing molds float in the air and we breathe in these mold spores.

Exposure to certain molds can cause adverse human health effects through three specific mechanisms:

  1. Generation of a harmful immune response (e.g., allergic or hypersensitivity pneumonitis)
  2. Direct infection by the organism
  3. Toxic/irritant effects from mold byproducts


It is estimated that approximately 10% of the population have IgE antibodies to common inhalant molds.  About half of these individuals (5% of the population) are predicted to have, at some time, allergic symptoms as a consequence of exposure to fungal allergens.  The best allergy specialists Gainesville, VA residents rely on, have stated that sensitization to molds, particularly Alternaria alternata, has been linked to the presence, persistence, and severity of asthma.  Alternaria alternata is also referred to as “leaf fungi.”

Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) and allergic fungal sinusitis are two conditions which result from the hypersensitivity to certain molds in the Aspergillus family which causes excessive tissue inflammation in the lungs and sinuses respectively.  Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is an uncommon but important disease that can occur as a result of mold exposure, particularly in occupational settings with high levels of exposure.


Common superficial fungal infections like thrush, jock itch (i.e., tinea cruris), and toenail fungus are determined by local changes in the skin barrier and can occur in healthy individuals.

Host features (such as a compromised immune system) rather than environmental exposure, are the major determining factors of more severe opportunistic fungal infections.


The occurrence of mold-related toxicity from exposure to inhaled mycotoxins (i.e., toxins produced from molds) in non-occupational settings is not supported by the current data and its occurrence is improbable, according to allergy specialists in Gainesville, VA.


An irritant is a material causing ‘‘a reversible inflammatory effect on living tissue by a chemical action at the site of contact.’’ The eyes and the upper and lower respiratory tracts are usually affected by exposure to molds.  Irritant effects are dose related and their effects are transient, disappearing when the exposure has diminished or ended.


In individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions affecting the respiratory tract, (e.g., allergic rhinitisallergic conjunctivitis, asthma), the measurement of IgE antibodies to mold proteins by skin testing and/or blood testing is very helpful in the identification of the specific agents that trigger and aggravate allergic symptoms.

Allergy specialists Gainesville, VA residents trust, state that the measurement of specific IgE and IgG antibodies to certain mold proteins via blood testing can aid in the diagnosis of ABPA and/or hypersensitivity pneumonitis in people presenting with clinical manifestations suggestive of these conditions.

The board certified allergists at Black & Kletz Allergy have had many years of experience in diagnosing and treating mold-related health issues and offer services through our 3 convenient locations in the Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland metropolitan area.  We diagnose and treat both adults and children who suffer from allergies, asthma, sinus problems, eczema, food allergies, insect sting allergies, medication allergies, hives, swelling episodes, generalized itching, and immunological conditions.  Our offices are located in Washington, DC, McLean, VA (Tysons Corner, VA), and Manassas, VA.  We have on-site parking at each office and the Washington, DC and McLean, VA offices are Metro accessible.  The McLean, VA office offers a free shuttle that runs between the McLean, VA office and the Spring Hill metro station on the silver line.  Please call our office to schedule an appointment, if you suffer from mold allergies or any other type of allergy, sinus condition, or asthma.  You can also click Request an Appointment and we will respond within 24 hours by the next business day.  The best allergy specialists Gainesville, VA has to offer have been committed to providing high quality allergy care to the greater Washington, DC community for more than 50 years.