Mold Wars | Part 2

Battleground 2 — Is CIRS Just About Mold?

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Dr. Aaron Hartman

June 27, 2023

Mold Wars: Battleground 2 — Is CIRS Just About Mold?

The next battleground in the Mold Wars is around the cause of CIRS. Many practitioners focus on mold as the sole source of CIRS, but it might surprise you to hear that most cases of CIRS are not actually caused by mold.

Water-Damaged Buildings

Mold Wars: Battleground 2 — Is CIRS Just About Mold?

We know that 80% of chronic inflammatory response syndrome is related to water damaged-buildings (WDBs). Of the CIRS cases related to water-damaged buildings, 80% of those are actually NOT due to mold toxins. You read that correctly — 80% of the cases of CIRS caused by water-damaged buildings are NOT caused by mold.

80% of the cases of CIRS caused by water-damaged buildings are NOT caused by mold.

These other causes of CIRS include micro particulates such as endotoxins and actinomyces. Endotoxins, also referred to lipopolysaccharides, are found in the coating of gram-negative bacteria. These can grow in furniture, carpet, or other places in buildings where a lot of humidity is present. Endotoxins need water to form. Actinomyces on the other hand, are a soil-based organism and typically comes from crawl spaces.

We’ll dive more into testing the environment next week but I’d like to put this into perspective. When testing for mold spores, for every one mold spore, there are about 500 particulates. These particulates can cause a lot of lung inflammation. Because the lung lining is so extensive – roughly the size of a tennis court – exposure to these micro particulates in the lungs can cause tremendous inflammation and wreak havoc on the immune system.

Other Causes of CIRS

Mold Wars: Battleground 2 — Is CIRS Just About Mold?

If only 80% of CIRS is related to water-damaged buildings, what about the other 20%? In these cases, there can be many and varied causes including:

  • Pfiesteria – an organism that can contaminate food
  • Ciguatera fish poisoning
  • A recluse spider bite
  • Vaccine-related illnesses
  • Silica exposure (from breast implants)
  • Traumatic brain injuries

In extreme case, over-exercising to the extreme, which can result in leaky gut, can bring on a chronic inflammatory response from repetitive overtraining.

CIRS is Not Just Caused by Mold

So you can see that less than 20% of CIRS is related specifically to mold itself. The reality is that mold toxins are a small part of CIRS or biotoxin-related illness that we commonly call mold-related illness.

We talked about the limitations of urine mycotoxin testing last week. As you can see, this is yet another limitation. If you’re testing only for mold, in light of all of these other causes, you’re missing the boat. This is another reason that evaluating immune system regulation using blood tests is so important.

This level of investigation into CIRS is very nuanced and not understood by many practitioners. You can see why this discussion around CIRS and mold has become a battleground. Next week we’ll talk about battleground three: testing your environment.

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