At least 7,000 people in the United States died from mold and fungal infections in 2021

Jan 24, 2023

According to the CDC, more than 75,000 people are hospitalized in the U.S. every year with fungal infections. At least 7,000 people died in 2021, up from just 450 in 1969. Aspergillus, a common mold found indoors, is the culprit in roughly one fifth of mold related hospitalizations and fatality rates among severe cases can exceed 50%. Discovered in 2009, Candida auris a fungus which often spreads in healthcare settings and has a mortality rate as high as 60%. Reported Candidia auris cases in the U.S. rose to 700 in 2020 from 10 in 2015 according to the CDC.

Currently we are seeing a confluence of factors (warming temperatures, drug resistance and an increase in chronic diseases resulting in immunocompromised patients) leading to unprecedented rates of fungal infections. A recent Wall Street Journal article brought attention to the World Health Organizations’ list of fungi that pose a growing risk to human health and merit attention from public health officials and drug developers.

One of the challenges in preventing the spread of fungal infections is the misconceptions around killing mold –since dead mold is still allergenic

According to the EPA, dead mold is allergenic and may cause allergic reactions and other health effects. For mold to not present a threat, it must be removed or its cellular structure destroyed so the allergen proteins case to exist.

Whether you suspect mold indoors or are just looking for peace of mind, the best first step is always to start with an evaluation. An assessment by a credentialed company should include a visual inspection, moisture inspection (with an infrared camera, moisture meter, and hygrometer) and possibly air sampling to identify any elevated spore counts and hazardous spore types. Based on the assessment, recommendations for remediation or prevention will follow.

There are many common strategies to reduce or eliminate indoor mold which don’t necessarily address the underlying moisture source

StrategyWhy It Might Not Work
Bleach and AntimicrobialsAntimicrobials as a standalone strategy will kill the mold growth but airborne spores will still be present and allergenic. In addition, these aqueous formulas may add moisture and humidity which further promote mold growth.
Standalone HEPAWhile HEPA is a commonly used way to remove mold spores. Improper operation of HEPAs or filter changes may have a tendency to ‘burb out’ mold spores resulting in widespread contamination.
UVThe EPA states that UV based cleaners may not irradiate mold with a long enough dwell time to be deactivated.

On the other hand, there are other proven strategies and technologies that Indoor Science has tested which successfully address mold

When mold growth is present

  • Remediation – Remediation involves containing and sealing the contaminated area by using critical barriers such as plastic sheeting to block of unaffected areas. Certified technicians will remove  mold impacted materials, which are typically porous and organic (e.g. drywall, flooring, cabinetry, etc.)

When businesses are proactively looking for peace of mind

  • Rensair Core 330 – Indoor Science recently evaluated this portable air purifier which demonstrated that the UV feature was able to deactivate all the captured mold spores after 30 minutes and Stachybotrys (mold) proteins were not present on any filter surfaces after 60 minutes. This reduces the risk of releasing mold spores during filter change-out. According to Ian Cull, Indoor Science’s Chief Science Officer, “So many air cleaners have a HEPA filter, but because of bypass around the filter, most air cleaners don’t, as a system, meet HEPA standards. The Rensair Core 330 is one of the few air cleaners I have tested to meet HEPA standards as a system, showing there is almost no bypass around the filter.”

About Indoor Science: Our certified professionals can advise your building on how to limit risk factors for mold and fungal infection and help purifier manufacturers evaluate performance. Our clients are found in healthcare, office, education, manufacturing, industrial, retail, hospitality, multifamily and even residential verticals.