June 18, 2024

The harmful traits of certain molds also have a long history. In the sixth century B.C.E., the Assyrians used the mold Claviceps purpurea to poison the wells of their enemies-an ancient form of biological warfare. In the Middle Ages, this same mold, which sometimes forms on rye, gave many people epileptic fits, painful burning sensations, gangrene, and hallucinations. Now called ergotism, the disease was dubbed St. Anthony’s fire because many victims, hoping for a miraculous cure, made a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Anthony in France.

The strongest carcinogenic (cancer causing) substance known is aflatoxin-a toxin produced by molds. In one Asian country, 20,000 deaths a year are attributed to aflatoxin. This lethal compound has been used in modern biological weapons.

In everyday life, however, the symptoms of exposure to common molds are more an annoyance than a serious health threat. “Most molds, even if you can smell them, are not harmful,” says the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter. People who usually have an adverse reaction include those with lung disorders, such as asthma; individuals with allergies, chemical sensitivities, or a weakened immune system; and farmworkers who may be exposed to massive amounts of mold. Infants and the elderly may also be more susceptible to the effects of exposure to mold.

According to the California Department of Health Services in the United States, mold can cause the following symptoms: ‘Respiratory problems, such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, and shortness of breath; nasal and sinus congestion; eye irritation (burning, watery, or reddened eyes); dry, hacking cough; nose or throat irritation; skin rashes or irritation.’

Keep yourselves healthy