David Asprey wants to alert you to an invisible health hazard in your home. It’s something he says made him seriously ill for years as a child.
In fact, Asprey believes so strongly in this message that he shelled out $200,000 of his own money to get the word out.
Asprey, the founder of Bulletproof Coffee and the author of “The Bulletproof Diet,” is the producer of the new film, “Moldy.” The documentary centers on the serious illnesses those in the film say are caused by mold in homes and offices.
Among the facts trumpeted in the movie is that half the buildings in the United States contain some sort of water damage. The film estimates that 45 million people spend time in moldy structures and that more than a quarter of the population is genetically sensitive to mold toxins.
The hazards of mold toxins have been strongly debated for more than a decade, but Asprey feels that public health organizations are still not adequately addressing the dangers.
“This is the biggest social good I could do with my money,” he said. “My goal is to change awareness.”
Not Everyone Is Convinced
Most health experts see mold as an allergen, like dust or pollen. Organizations including the Mayo Clinic and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say there is no credible evidence that molds can cause serious ailments.
A Mayo Clinic report detailed some of the allergic reactions to mold, especially with people who are sensitive to mold spores. Most of the ailments are not serious, it said.
A 2004 report from the Institute of Medicine concluded that some ailments, including respiratory infections, could be caused by mold. However, the researchers found insufficient evidence for other more serious illnesses.
The CDC has reached a similar conclusion, saying exposure to mold for people sensitive to the substance can cause nasal stuffiness, wheezing, or skin irritation. In severe cases, the CDC reports that some studies have shown a potential link between mold exposure and the development of asthma in some children.
Sick People Labeled as Crazy, Film Says
“Moldy” profiles more than a half-dozen people who say they became critically ill from mold in their homes.
They say they suffered from painful aches as well as allergic reactions. They also reported weight gain that was hard to lose. And they were plagued with dramatic mood swings.
Worst of all, they say, no one believed them. They were called crazy or hypochondriacs.
“They’ve all dealt with this credibility issue,” Asprey said.
He should know.
As a young child, Asprey’s room was in the basement of his family home in New Mexico. A sewage back-up problem caused mold to grow in the walls.
Asprey said he suffered from rashes, asthma, achy knees, and emotional instability. At age 14, he was diagnosed with arthritis.
When Asprey was 16, his family moved to a farmhouse in California’s Central Valley. A different kind of mold was present there. Asprey said he felt different, but he was still sick.
It wasn’t until 2003 when Asprey had his immune system tested that the mystery was solved. His body was reacting to mold he’d been exposed to for years.
“It really made me take a look at the amount of struggle I dealt with,” he said.
What You Can’t See Can Hurt You
The documentary presents medical experts who say mold can spread easily and cause serious health problems.
Mold spores can grow in a lot of places, including the ground in your back yard. The most common place is inside walls that have been damaged by water
When the spores flourish, according to the film, they release toxins into the air that can land on people, food, clothing, and furniture.
The people in the film insist the toxins can affect every part of your body, including your brain.
Asprey said people tend to ignore the threat because they can’t see mold.
“Things that are invisible tend to fall into the category of fairies and Santa Claus,” he said
Caroline Blazovsky, the president of My Healthy Home, a company founded in 2002 that specializes in finding and removing contaminants from houses, agreed. Blazovsky was not affiliated with the film.
“They take it for granted that they’re safe,” she said.
Are Mold Problems More Common Now?
Mold has likely become a more common problem in the United States since the early 1970s.
That’s when houses and offices began to be built with energy efficiency in mind. The closed circulation complexes did indeed keep buildings more seasonably warm and cool. But they also kept moisture in.
Changing weather patterns are producing more flooding, too, according to Blazovsky.
Blazovsky encourages people to have their houses tested every three to five years for mold toxins.
“Your home needs to be monitored,” she said.
Residents can buy decontamination kits if mold develops. Controlling moisture is the key to mold control, according to the federal government.