Outdoor toxins of particular relevance to mold illness patients

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These are ecologically tremendously important mix of organisms who occupy the upper few millimeters of soil (soil is a living thing). This ecosystem is destroyed thru plowing or bulldozing soil. Humans kill soil and turn it to dirt.
Yeah and despite valley fever being "natural " the disturbance of the soil crusts by heavy industry is probably responsible for the level of spread of it
 
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People also talk about soil cyanobacteria in the mold avoidance community, a lot
These types of crusts are ecologically prevalent in desert soils.

Lets say you have high cover of annual grasses. These are often weedy, they often are: from elsewhere, invasive.
You find very few crust organisms in those soils. Weedy grasses and salt-loving weeds that tolerate grazing took over much acreage in the west.

If I wanted to find good soil crusts as sites with alot of grasses, I go look under the bushes. There are crusts.
The intense herbivory zone around a patch of shrubs- lots of crusts.

These organisms are being used to restore desert soils....they stabilize the soil surface...allowing natives to establish.

****
I dealt with some intersting wildland mold phenomenon-when i was working with an endangered plant.

"Sooty molds" grow on the aphid secretions that accumulate on leaf surfaces...again in moist weather.

"grey molds" appear on the dead leaf tissue and start breaking it down. This happens really quickly. Again this was observed in a moist coastal environment.


Somebody, after they tell us viruses run everything- they will figure out the in fact Mold is running everything.
 
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People tolerate things to different degrees indeed, unsure if that's genetics or previous exposures priming people to react differently, or other vulnerability factors (cci could cause impaired csf flow which is important for detox!).
Yes. Pretty sure my four years living in a moldy house before I got sick set the stage for my ME, even though I was a classic flu-type-thing onset person. Still react a lot more than most people. And that's the reactions I -notice-, probably a top of the iceberg situation. And I have CCI too. This is clearly going to take some time, yikes. And money.
 
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What's with Norway, I wonder? We have had a major outbreak-type thing, water contamination played a role there, I think. We have an aluminum industry, but that's hardly the entire country. In fact, much of the country isn't very populated. Oh, and the oil extraction offshore may play a role. And the higher standard of living, maybe? I guess that would contribute in both directions. But also, we seem to have a higher rate of diagnosis than most places, so there's that.

I get looking at something and just thinking how pristine it looks - I guess you will start notice, after hunting the clean places for a while! We have lots of faraway woodlands as well - and mountains, of course. Though it feels sometimes like everything is under threat (presumably because so much of it really is).
I wonder if it is limited to the most populated areas in Norway. I heard one good report about outdoor air in the more northern, arctic areas of Norway. I have looked at some of the fjords and nature areas and some of it looks pretty good. Though I get a better vibe from sweden and Iceland and Greenland somehow ...
 
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Nicknames and Symptoms

* The toxin has been informally referred to by mold avoiders by a few different names: “Tahoe Toxin,” “Mystery Toxin” and “Ick.” (The latter nickname is derived from the term “Idiopathic Contaminant” or “IC.”)

* The toxin has a cluster of very specific symptoms associated with it (listed at the bottom of this note). Although some of these symptoms also are associated with various kinds of mold toxins or various other toxins, many seem to be much more specific to this particular toxin.

* As with toxins originating in moldy buildings, this toxin appears to be much more problematic even in very tiny quantities for people who previously have acquired toxic mold illness or who have apparently related illnesses (including ME/CFS, chronic Lyme disease, Gulf War syndrome or fibromyalgia) than it is even in much larger quantities for healthy people. (In cases of more intense exposures, otherwise healthy people may be noticeably affected, with symptoms manifesting mostly as mood issues but occasionally as heart attacks.) Only in a few cases (specifically: the Tahoe epidemic) do people seem to have been driven into CIRS-type illnesses from exposures to this toxin alone, without exposure to a particularly bad building also being experienced.



Sea otters off the coast of northern California have been affected by a variety of marine biotoxins -- including domoic acid, the one causing Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning.
Sea otters off the coast of northern California have been affected by a variety of marine biotoxins — including domoic acid, the one causing Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning.



Hypotheses Regarding Origination

* The symptoms that are associated with this “Mystery Toxin” are extremely similar to those associated with marine biotoxins, such as those made by certain diatoms or cyanobacteria. For instance, following is a paper looking at a marine biotoxin called domoic acid, which became recognized as causing a disease named Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning subsequent to an illness outbreak in Canada in 1987. All of the ASP symptoms described (including extremely severe memory losses, severe headaches, seizures, agitation, hemiparesis, distal atrophy, weakness of extremities, severe gastrointestinal issues, and a few deaths attributed to heart attacks) were all reported at equal levels of severity during the Lake Tahoe epidemic in 1984-1986. A variety of other aquatic biotoxins are accepted in the literature of being capable of causing similar symptoms.

* These aquatic biotoxins are accepted in the literature as causing health damage via specific mechanisms: by affecting GABA/glutamate, calcium ion channels, and the hippocampus/amygdala. Abnormalities with these mechanisms tend to be associated especially with health conditions such as seizures (and seizure-related emotional conditions such as rapid-cycling bipolar), excitotoxicity, and cardiac dysfunctions — all conditions that aquatic biotoxins are acknowledged to cause.

* From what I have been able to find, there is only one mold toxin that has been shown to be capable of producing damage via these mechanisms: Penitrem A, an emerging mycotoxin with several dozen papers in the literature. At some point soon, I am going to summarize this information into a review (unless one of you would like to do that!) and then blog about my thoughts on it. In the meantime, here is a list of all of the peer-reviewed articles that have been published about it so far, as well as a news story about it published in Science Daily.



Penicillium Crustosum, a mold that sometimes makes the dangerous mycotoxin Penitrem A
Penicillium Crustosum, a mold that sometimes makes the dangerous mycotoxin Penitrem A



* Penitrem A is made by a few species of mold, including Penicillium crustosum. P. crustosum is a mold that is listed on the ERMI as indicative of water damage to buildings but nonetheless categorized as “Group 2,” and it is my understanding that this mold is thought to rarely produce toxins when growing indoors. The case reports in the literature seem to be suggesting that the problematic toxin, Penitrem A, occurs either when it is growing outdoors or when growing on food. Penitrem A is accepted in the literature as capable of causing significant damage even in very small quantities.



Angel Moldes-Anaya, a Norwegian researcher studying Penitrem A.
Angel Moldes-Anaya, a researcher studying Penitrem A in Norway.



* Much of the recent prominent literature about Penitrem A (including the paper profiled in Science Daily) is from a researcher named Angel Moldes-Anaya out of Norway. That is of particular interest to me since “CFS” frequently seems to manifest itself particularly severely in Norway (e.g. severely enough that Rituximab — a chemotherapy treatment that destroys all the B cells in the system — is being studied there in a mainstream way as a treatment for the disease).

* A few more notes about P. crustosum: It is a physical match for the mold that Erik encountered growing on the log that triggered him into severe “CFS” in 1985 (green-beige with white tips); it is known to make Penitrem A while growing in sewage; it produces airborne spores; and there is one report that it is capable of growing in the human sinuses. (Whether the form growing in the sinuses is capable of making Penitrem A is unclear.)



Observations Regarding Environmental Characteristics

* Regardless of what the toxin associated with the Lake Tahoe epidemic consists of, it mostly seems to be associated with sewage (including sewers, sewage ponds and — occasionally — RV black water tanks). It also has been noted with regard to a few forests that have been treated with fire retardants and with regard to one compost farm.

* The extent to which cities end up with sewage dumped into rivers or other bodies of water (due to infrastructure issues insufficient to handle overflows associated with storms) seems to correlate fairly well with the extent to which this “Mystery Toxin” is an observed problem in those cities.



Sewage being dumped into a river.
Sewage being dumped into a river.



* Anecdotally, the “Mystery Toxin” seems to be particularly associated with places that have been contaminated with one or both of the following types of manmade chemicals: a) industrial solvents (such as the TCE used to “wash” computer chips in the SF Bay Area in the early 1980’s or the underground dioxane plume often discussed as currently threatening the Ann Arbor water supply) and b) forest fire retardant usage. I thus believe that one or both of these may be a factor either in causing the microbes responsible for producing the toxin to grow more readily in those places; in prompting the microbes to produce more dangerous mycotoxins in “retaliation” to the presence of the chemicals; in providing the microbes with “food” in order to create more dangerous toxins; or interacting with the microbes in some other way.

* We have no observations of areas that were clear of this “Mystery Toxin” 6+ years ago becoming problematic with it since (though certainly some areas that previously were bad with it recently have gotten worse). This suggests the possibility that a driving factor in the production of the toxin (e.g. chemical, radiation, metal, etc.) is no longer being added to the environment.

* In general, the “Mystery Toxin” does not seem to be one that originates from inside buildings. When present in buildings, it seems to be either a) associated with seepage “from below” (e.g. Henness Flats in Truckee), b) originating from sewage backups, or c) brought in from outdoors (e.g. entry carpets at Truckee High School).



The "Mystery Toxin" tends to become much more problematic during times of approaching storms, especially in winter.
The “Mystery Toxin” tends to become much more problematic during times of approaching storms, especially in winter.



* In locations where it is present, this toxin tends to become much more problematic at certain times than at others. Sharp barometric pressure drops (oncoming storms) are the biggest trigger for it to become more prevalent in the air. On average, it tends to be more of a problem in the winter (October – March) than during the summer months. It also has the ability to blow long distances (we believe at least a few hundred miles at strengths sufficient to have an effect on those pursuing extreme avoidance, if winds are strong enough and there are no barriers such as mountains), and so taking into consideration wind direction can be important in monitoring its effects.
 
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Problematic Locations

* For people who are already sick with toxic mold illness, the amount of this toxin in the outdoor air in particularly problematic places appears to have the potential of keeping them just as sick as if they continued to live in all but the most problematic buildings (e.g. worst 1% of all buildings). Hoping that mold-injured patients can move into even a pristine building and make any progress at all in a location where the air is particularly problematic with regard to this substance may not be realistic, therefore.



The skyline of Wichita, a city where a number of mold avoiders have done well.
The skyline of Wichita, a city where a number of mold avoiders have reported doing well.



* In our experience, most major cities have at least a moderate amount of this toxin present at least some of the time. Many smaller cities do as well. Cities that have relatively little of it (such as Palm Springs, Santa Cruz, Wichita, Albuquerque and — with scattered problem days — Las Vegas) tend to be ones where people recovering from toxic mold illness often do relatively well.

* Some locations are particularly affected by this toxin, according to the reports of people doing extreme mold avoidance. These same locations also tend to generate many reports of sufferers having a hard time recovering no matter how many times they move (or what kinds of ERMI scores their new homes get, how many times they start fresh with new belongings, or what kind of medical treatments or other treatments they receive). Although this is not a comprehensive list, places in the U.S. that I believe to be bad enough to be considered as an important factor for people who are not recovering as expected include the following: Ann Arbor (MI); Dallas-Ft. Worth (TX); Truckee-Tahoe (CA-NV); most of the SF Bay Area (only very sporadically in SF itself — much more consistently and strongly affected are Mountain View, Berkeley/Richmond/Oakland and certain other towns in the area); scattered other towns in northern California (a few of these include Petaluma, Monterey, Sacramento, Fresno and Grass Valley); at least some parts of western Oregon (including Eugene and Portland); much or possibly all of Delaware and NJ; Washington (DC); at least some of the Boston area; at least parts of upstate NY; and at least parts of Alabama and Louisiana. The “Mystery Toxin” in these places seems to rise well above ground, with a number of people reporting being able to detect it in an airplane prior to landing.



A sign near the Washington D.C. zoo, providing an alert about sewage dumping.
A sign near the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., providing an alert about sewage dumping.



* The entire Tucson/Phoenix area (with the possible exception of Scottsdale) is significantly but somewhat less intensely contaminated with this toxin — a factor worth mentioning since that is a prototypical area where many people hope that they can get better from mold illness. (Of course, the indoor molds and pesticides present in many buildings in this area are not helpful either.) Getting out of the basin (e.g. east to Benson, north to Happy Valley, or at least a few thousand feet up into the mountains) seems to be required in order to escape the “Mystery Toxin” in this area.

* My own hometown of Chicago feels quite problematic with regard to this substance in winter but (at least in the city and northern suburbs) pretty much okay in summer. In general, the more that patients decline during the winter months, the more likely it may be that this substance is playing a role in their issues.

* This substance appears to be quite prevalent in Canada. I would not eliminate the possibility that patients living in any civilized area of Canada are getting enough exposure to this toxin to be having a big effect on them, though this presents a challenge since many patients living in Canada do not have the easy ability to move out of the country. The best reports from Canada seem to come from Vancouver and Victoria, though these areas apparently are not wholly clear of this substance either.

* Two international locations that seem to be particularly affected by this toxin are Rome and Taipei. I suspect that it may be an issue throughout much of Scandinavia and the UK as well (explaining at least part of the reason why people from those places often do so much better when on holiday in places known to be good locations), but we will need more reports from people who are familiar with the toxin to confirm that. Whether it is an issue in other places is unclear.
 

Booble

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From the article, "In locations where it is present, this toxin tends to become much more problematic at certain times than at others. Sharp barometric pressure drops (oncoming storms) are the biggest trigger for it to become more prevalent in the air. On average, it tends to be more of a problem in the winter (October – March) than during the summer months. It also has the ability to blow long distances (we believe at least a few hundred miles at strengths sufficient to have an effect on those pursuing extreme avoidance, if winds are strong enough and there are no barriers such as mountains), and so taking into consideration wind direction can be important in monitoring its effects. "

I live in an area in Hawaii which has been storming, raining and winding for months this winter non-stop. I'm almost positive this has contributed to my not being able to fully recover from a viral infection back nearly 4 months ago. On the very few non stormy days I feel like I might be getting better and then the rain and winds pick back up and I'm back to square 1. Or maybe square 2.
 
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From the article, "In locations where it is present, this toxin tends to become much more problematic at certain times than at others. Sharp barometric pressure drops (oncoming storms) are the biggest trigger for it to become more prevalent in the air. On average, it tends to be more of a problem in the winter (October – March) than during the summer months. It also has the ability to blow long distances (we believe at least a few hundred miles at strengths sufficient to have an effect on those pursuing extreme avoidance, if winds are strong enough and there are no barriers such as mountains), and so taking into consideration wind direction can be important in monitoring its effects. "

I live in an area in Hawaii which has been storming, raining and winding for months this winter non-stop. I'm almost positive this has contributed to my not being able to fully recover from a viral infection back nearly 4 months ago. On the very few non stormy days I feel like I might be getting better and then the rain and winds pick back up and I'm back to square 1. Or maybe square 2.
I'm sorry to hear that.

On the plus side, I've heard good reports about some areas of hawaii , especially the ones that get ocean breezes, so you could experiment with different areas of the island?

However places are always changing and I couldn't guarantee it would be good from the things I've heard. It seems like somewhere on some of the islands should have good air though!!
 

Booble

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Debored13, thanks for your thoughts. I've lived in Hawaii for 30 years and you are right there are different areas with different climates and air quality. I actually moved over to the neighbor island where I live now because the air is so fresh and clean here. But in a bad winter like this year, ugh!
Side note: I'm originally from MA and went to school in Western Mass as well! :)
 

Ailúron

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https://paradigmchange.me/wp/outdoor-toxins/
There is a lot of focus on building mold in me/cfs but often outdoor toxins are underlooked, because they are harder to study. But there is a large volume of anecdote suggesting they matter in me/cfs as much as building mold.
Absolutely, @debored13! I have very serious problems with outdoor molds. I am certain it is not building mold, as my horrible reactions are clearly seasonal - regardless of being indoors or out. After years of watching the mold spore counts daily from our local official allergen testing station and the climate changes, there is a direct parallel between spore counts and the intensity of my suffering. (And I always checked the mold counts AFTER the intensity of my physical symptoms to avoid any "auto-suggestion"). I live in a wet, densely verdant area, the Ozark Mountains (lots of trees and foliage, ground always covered with decaying leaves), beautiful country but "deadly" for mold sensitive people. Ascospores seem the worst for me. After warm spring rains, my suffering kicks into high gear, whereas during late fall and throughout the winter, I have few problems if any whether indoors or out. But during spring I begin to develop tingling, sometimes burning skin ("atopic", without any direct contact), burning eyes, a sensation of pressure in my head and ears, derealization (sometimes scary), and poor sleep. The soil in this area stays damp most of the year, and is likely teeming with mold. I am so looking forward to the end of the pandemic so that I can relocate - I need to sell this house and buy an RV to search for a new location during the horrible mold season here.
 

cigana

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Interesting.
I first became ill, suddenly, on the first day of a trip to San Francisco (my first visit). Since then, I've found my symptoms are uniformly bad in most places, but in a few exceptions I go into rapid remission: Nara, Japan ; the Isle of Wight, UK ; some other parts of the countryside in the UK ; once in Paris, France (not so on subsequent visits) and paradoxically, Lake Tahoe!
 
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paradoxically, Lake Tahoe!
I think Erik Johnson thinks the outdoor toxins were dynamic and flared there during the outbreak in the 80s, and that parts of the area can be very pristine. He still spends a lot of time there.

But many people have had difficulty with the area. Its tricky. What parts have you felt good in? Incline village, or more in the wilderness.
 

cigana

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I think Erik Johnson thinks the outdoor toxins were dynamic and flared there during the outbreak in the 80s, and that parts of the area can be very pristine. He still spends a lot of time there.

But many people have had difficulty with the area. Its tricky. What parts have you felt good in? Incline village, or more in the wilderness.
Interesting, I assumed he avoided Tahoe ever since, so that's good to know. I felt "cured" in Tahoma, which is an area on the California side, mostly with log cabins along the side roads, in a wooded area near the shore.
 

Ailúron

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Only in the past several years I have been severely allergic to environmental molds - the worst being the ascospore types (post rain molds) and cladosporium - though I haven't moved since I got a permanent job here in the Ozarks 20 years ago - and for the first decade had no allergies at all. As @debored13 astutely observed in another sub-forum (where we two are the only participants, but are having a great dialog), the bad effects of "supermolds" very probably depend on other environmental toxins that mix with the molds. My particular location in the Ozarks, NW Arkansas, has in just the past decade been incredibly urbanized with rapidly rising population merging all the former string of towns well separated by forest into one big metroplex which has become heavily industrialized, and now has unbelievably heavy traffic on new six-lane freeways, huge pig farms, huge long chicken houses (like crowded prisons) and slaughter houses that dump all their waste into local rivers. It is the world headquarters and distributon center of Walmart, Tyson Foods, JB hunt (a major national trucking company), and several other industries.

But at some point around 2010, some critical mass of environmental contamination must have been reached - along with increasingly warmer winters. In the first decade I lived here. we had two to three feet of snow every winter and now we often get NO snow in the winter, and we had long hard freezes but now have short light freezes that thaw quickly - so no more major soil mold die-off. But now we get earlier high rainfall every year, along with more flash flooding.

Back on the current topic, I lived in Reno, NV, for 5 years, and I frequently spent the weekend at Lake Tahoe with no ailments. In fact, I came back to Reno feeling refreshed and "clean". So whatever toxin may be there, all hypersensitive people don't react to it. However, in Reno I had one very severe seasonal allergy every year for almost exactly one month, from mid-August to mid-September. Turned out it was Russian thistle pollination (Russian thistle looks like sage brush, but it's actually quite different - after reaching pollination, it dies and becomes the well-known tumbleweed seen in abundance in most south-western states). But one shot of steroid every year before this pollination got into full swing and I felt fine.
 

cigana

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Back on the current topic, I lived in Reno, NV, for 5 years, and I frequently spent the weekend at Lake Tahoe with no ailments. In fact, I came back to Reno feeling refreshed and "clean". So whatever toxin may be there, all hypersensitive people don't react to it. However, in Reno I had one very severe seasonal allergy every year for almost exactly one month, from mid-August to mid-September. Turned out it was Russian thistle pollination (Russian thistle looks like sage brush, but it's actually quite different - after reaching pollination, it dies and becomes the well-known tumbleweed seen in abundance in most south-western states). But one shot of steroid every year before this pollination got into full swing and I felt fine.
Have you tried helminth therapy for allergies? I get a very good, albeit very short lived, response to helminths.
 

Ailúron

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I get a very good, albeit very short lived, response to helminths.
Surely you're kidding. Helminths are a large classification of disease-carrying, parasitic worms!


I'm currently having a good response to intranasal BPC-157, similar in power to the location effect. Have you guys tried that?
The praise I found online about this substance sounds a lot like that which people were giving DHEA about 25 years ago - the elixir for a long and vibrant life...the cure for everything...a fountain of youth. But in the long run, DHEA turned out to be much more a health risk than any of its supposed benefits warranted. I think I'll wait a few years and see the long-term effects of this new "miracle" before I try it - it would be great if BPC-157 turned out to be the panacea that it's currently claimed to be. Thank you for introducing me to this topic - I'll keep watching how it goes.
 
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