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Pinto_A Practical Approach to Assisting Sensitized Individuals

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IAQA 18th Annual Meeting & Indoor Environment and Energy Expo (IE3) The views and opinions herein are those of the volunteer authors and may not reflect the views and opinions of IAQA. The information is offered in good faith and believed to be reliable but it is provided without warranty, expressed or implied, as to the merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose or any other matter. Sadly, that research was hindered by two assumptions that, even today, keep many mold remediation professionals from seeing the big picture of health effects from water-damaged buildings. The first supposition that impacted the data is the one that we mentioned previously— the dose/response expectation as the root of the symptoms. This was compounded by a narrow focus on mycotoxins as the serious culprit, almost to the exclusion of the irritant effects of fungus-generated gasses and the allergenic nature of microscopic spores and fragments. An even broader effort would look beyond mold and realize that any wet environment supporting fungal growth is also harboring bacteria and a host of other microorganisms. Medical Science Explains Some Anecdotal Data that Occupants and Remediation Professionals Have Long Puzzled Over What if the reaction of some people to a water-damaged building is not related to the standard dose/response model of exposure illnesses? To further complicate things, what if different organisms in wet environments affected people in a variety of ways? Once doctors and scientists moved in that direction,the search was on to identify mechanisms that trigger symptoms and to figure out what separates ill individuals from the majority that do not exhibit the same symptoms. Taking a broader view led many researchers back to the idea that wet interior environments provide a suitable home for more than just mold. Research reports began filtering in that suggested that some symptoms reported by individuals in water-damaged buildings could be the result of combined exposure to both bacterial and fungal materials. In June of 2012 scientists participating in a long-term study of environmental health effects in the Cincinnati area reported that they identified two specific types of bacteria in water-damaged buildings that, in conjunction with mold, increase the negative health effects experienced by occupants. 1 A new look at the allergenic nature of mold exposure was also necessary when some physicians moved beyond the dose/response relationship and began investigating whether particular fungal contaminants could be sensitizers, in contrast to the typical approach where more exposure equates with worse symptoms. This alternate concept was supported by a 2012 study of items that impact indoor environments, which concluded with a list of 374 known asthmagens, identified by government agencies, third-party regulatory agencies, and academic sources. 2 The report used the term "asthmagen" instead of "allergen" to emphasize a growing recognition that even contaminants that do not typically evoke an allergic response can be asthma triggers. Occupant sensitization is now recognized as a significant problem by both government agencies and the private sector. 3,4 In essence, scientists and doctors now realize that sensitization can occur in situations where it was never anticipated in the past. Now, some of the puzzle pieces

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