SCIENCE

Mold Is Bad For Your Brain

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Moldy walls
(Photo : Getty Images/Justin Sullivan) Mold covers the walls of a foreclosed home during a bus tour of foreclosed and blighted properties on July 13, 2012 in Richmond, California. Members of the group Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) joined city officials and Richmond mayor Gayle McLaughlin on a bus tour to view foreclosed properties in neighborhoods in Richmond that have been hit the hardest by foreclosures. Richmond currently has over 1,000 homes in foreclosure.

We all know not to hang out around mold. Mold is bad for your breathing and respiratory system and has been linked to neurological problems, depression, anxiety and cognitive problems. However, it is estimated that forty percent of U.S. buildings are moldy.  Now, research shows mold can be harmful to your brain. Science News reports on research from the meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

Psychologist Cheryl Harding and a team from the City University of New York conducted experiments, investigating if mold affects the brain. They used a mouse model and intranasal delivery of mold spores three times a week. Turns out, the mice exposed to mold were more anxious than normal mice and also had trouble remembering a location that previously induced a fear response.

Harding and co-workers found that the hippocampus, a major memory center of the brain, had fewer new brain cells in the mold-exposed mice than control mice. There was also a link between anxiety, memory deficits and increased inflammatory proteins in the hippocampus.

Perhaps the scariest thing is the mice did not need to be exposed to a toxic mold to experience these bad effects on the brain. Harding's research was conducted using toxic Stachybotrys spores and a skeleton-only version of Stachybotrys spores with their toxic properties removed. Both sets of mice showed the brain inflammation, cognitive deficits and emotional problems.

The message here is clear. Stay away from mold! Breathing it in hurts your lungs and your brain.

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