Water Damaged Buildings Associated with Chronic Fatigue and other Health Problems in Children


Heavy growth of mold (fungi) and bacteria usually occur in buildings with chronic water damage.
Home of these molds and bacteria can infect humans.  In addition, molds produce a wide range of chemical toxins called mycotoxins. Bacteria also produce a wide range of toxins such as endotoxins.  Such toxins from molds and bacteria can cause a wide range of health problems including chronic fatigue, asthma, sinus comgestion, headaches and digestive and neurological problems.

A study was presented of 163 children and teenagers who developed chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) following exposure for more than 30 days in a water damaged home or school. These chronically fatigue children also experienced a high rate of many other health problems including asthma, sinus congestion, digestive problems, depression, difficulty concentrating and headaches. Laboratory studies found that most of these 163 chronically fatigued children had abnormally high blood levels of many hormones and cytokines involved with the body’s inflammatory responses. Signs of auto-immunity (allergy to one’s own proteins) were also commonly seen in the 163 chronically fatigued children but were not seen in 55 healthy control children.

Many of these children were able to improve significantly after being moved out of a chronically water damaged school or home. Common causes of water problems in buildings including leaking pipes or faucets, leaking roofs and ceilings, overflowing toilets and sinks and major outdoor flooding from heavy rains.  All water damage in homes or other buildings should be repaired within 24 hours or heavy buildup of molds, bacteria and their toxins can develop. It is important to remember that for many indoor situations, the limiting factor for mold and bacteria growth is water (not food).

This research was published by Shoemaker and Maizel in the Summer 2009 Bulletin of the IAFCS/ME

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