There have been lots of names for the illness over the years, including “Mold illness.” The best discussion of the academic basis for this illness is found in the Expert Treating Physicians Consensus report published 7/2010 (see below). Let start with some basic ideas: this illness is not an allergy. It is an inflammation within the body which is caused by an immune system that has gone haywire. The term “mold illness” is a subcategory of biotoxin illness called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). The proper definition of CIRS is: ‘An acute and chronic, systemic inflammatory response syndrome acquired following exposure to the interior environment of a water-damaged building with resident toxigenic organisms, including, but not limited to fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes and mycobacteria as well as inflammagens such as endotoxins, beta glucans, hemolysins, proteinases, mannans and possibly spirocyclic drimanes; as well as volatile organic compounds’.

What Happens in the Body?

Many patients “don’t look that bad.” But those people are struggling with an illness that causes them to lose their quality of life. These patients don’t know that they have a genetic susceptibility to develop this illness based on their immune response genes (HLA–DR). They don’t know that the inflammation that makes them ill comes from within: it is due to an assault by their own unregulated innate immune system responses. Because of exposure to the interior environment of a water-damaged building (WDB), these patients will have a series of abnormalities in innate immune responses that will not self heal; will not abate in severity [actually increase!] and will continue to cause illness from blood- and tissue- based inflammation as well as alteration of the regulation of fundamental genomic activity. At the core of why one person becomes ill from this exposure and another doesn’t is their gene susceptibility (or predisposition) – what is built into their DNA. Every person’s innate immune system is personal and genetically coded – thus, it works differently for each of us. When the body is faced with a foreign substance, it immediately begins to process that substance – recognize it, determine if it is good or bad, a friend or a foe, and throw it into the antigen presenting machinery that will normally generate an effective antibody response. If the body determines the substance is a foe, it will develop antibodies to bind these substances, called antigens. Normally the next time a non-mold susceptible person walks into a WDB, his antibodies will target the antigen and clear it out fast. That protection from so-called acquired immune responses just doesn’t happen in mold patients.

For detailed information, see