Warning Signs and Risky Places

By Cesar Collado

Since we spend much of our time outside of our homes, avoiding mold and mycotoxins is the easiest way to avoid the risk of having a severe reaction to mold that can turn any adventure into a miserable experience.  While mold avoidance may sound easy, it is not.  It requires research, planning, and experimenting to be able to make the right decisions and detours to stay well.  Understanding your body’s warning signals and which environments to avoid is well invested time and effort.

For those who are very mold sensitive, suffer chronic fungal sinusitis, or may have reached their toxic load, these strategies should be second nature. (More on the Body’s Toxic Load)  It is these people who place a premium on periods of wellness without a toxic event.  This is when their bodies may be more able to engage in activities such as detoxification, removing pathogens, and systemic healing. In addition, these sensitive people must accept that for some, even ridiculously tiny exposures can produce unreasonably challenging health episodes.  For example, just a moment in a moldy area can cause enough cross-contamination to make a person sick for many hours until clothing is removed, their body is showered, and sinuses are rinsed.  Another common example is when a mold patient reacts strongly if a Doctor’s examination chair is contaminated by a previous patient.  This is why, as I have mentioned before, that Dr. Dennis sometimes fogs patients before examining, interviewing and treating them, and regularly fogs his office with EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate.

Using Your Body to Detect Mold

It may take practice to learn to quickly determine the warning symptoms associated with mold or toxin exposure, so that appropriate actions can be taken to avoid them.  Capitalizing on your own senses can provide significant warning to avoid a moldy situation, inflammatory crisis, or toxic exposure.

These are just some of the considerations:

SmellUpon entering a room or business, a moldy or musty smell can be an immediate warning sign. Our sense of smell is much more acute than other senses.
SightObserving walls and ceilings for water marks for definite evidence water damage has occurred.  You can always ask the question to the business.
NeurologicalBrain fog, executive functioning of the brain (ability to think), and motor function like tremor or altered gate when walking are clear signals.
PainHeadaches (Migraine or non-migraine) or other sudden pains in body or organs
EmotionsEmotional swings without reason
RespiratoryTrouble breathing is an immediate respiratory symptom
SkinItching or burning sensations on the skin or face
InfectionsCandida overgrowth can manifest itself in the mouth (“White, yellow, fury tongue,” thrush), sex organs (vaginal and rectal yeast infections), gut, and toenails and skin (athlete’s foot, jock itch).

Keeping a Mold Symptom Diary On-the-Go

In my opinion, keeping track of these symptoms in a mold diary is likely going to be the best strategy for future mold avoidance. Since we all go from place to place throughout the day, capturing these variable symptoms could be very valuable to both you and your physician.

That said, when you have a symptom, taking a moment to record the symptom, location, weather conditions, and any other observations for a period of time could help you develop practical and effective mold avoidance strategies.  This can be done in a small book or even in notes on your smart phone.  With data gathering over time you may be able to identify factors that can mitigate the risk of having a mold exposure incident.

Here are some examples:

  • Identify locations like restaurants or parts of town that are problematic;
  • Pinpoint locations in combination with weather conditions when you experience symptoms;
  • Identify businesses or restaurants where you react;
  • Track sudden of changes in mood with your location when it occurs.

Gathering this data just takes a moment and can identify trends that would be invaluable in avoiding unnecessary events and important information to share with your doctor. This information can lead to the avoidance of significant symptoms for mold sufferers. Avoiding these symptoms then lessens the inconveniences for their families and increases their effectiveness in taking care of their families and in jobs. It is a win-win.

Don’t Overlook the Obvious.

While it may be easy to guess the states with the biggest mold problems, it might be surprising to learn some of the worst and why.

While you might expect very dry states like Nevada and Arizona to be the least problematic for mold, they are amongst the worst states in terms of numbers of patients with mold issues. This is because residents run air conditioning all the time, and homes are tightly sealed to conserve energy.  This creates the worse-case combination when moisture, condensation, or a leak may find itself absorbed into dry-wall where mycotoxin-producing molds like aspergillus and penicillium often do well in reproducing and contaminating.

Mold Avoidance of Places 

While you cannot avoid mold altogether, there are some obvious places that carry unnecessary risk for mold sufferers. These places may be particularly moldy, dusty, or humid.  These would also be places any mold-sensitive person should avoid for work.

The following strategies can help mold sufferers avoid these places:

  1. Stay inside when outdoor mold counts are high.  There are times when weather is wet, hot, or humid and there is plenty of natural organic waste that is settling.During fall after the leaves are on the ground is a period where mold spores are extremely high.  Walking through leaves disrupts the natural decay process and mold spores spread at extreme levels.  Mold can be tracked inside as well. It is important to have an N95 Mask available if you are allergic to mold and need to do any yardwork.
  2. Businesses such as greenhouses and flower shops are not necessary destinations for someone with severe mold sensitivity.  Any farms or other agricultural destinations should also be avoided.
  3. Antique shops and second-hand stores are likely to have many musty, cross-contaminated items. Purchasing items from these stores must be done with proper caution, testing, and remediating.
  4. Places with lots of paper such as libraries or some office buildings are often dusty and paper is ideal mold food. Libraries cannot monitor the environments that their books enter, so many books have mold in them and on them from a patron’s home.Older manufacturing plants or manufacturing setting where the building is old, not climate controlled, or dusty can harbor many types of mold.
  5. Areas of your city that have been flooded or endured water damage should be avoided. For example, cities like Houston and others have obvious areas that have not been completely re-built.  It is also unknown if attention was paid to mold prevention and/or remediation.

    Today, July 23, 2018, USA Today

  6. There are products with numerous documented complaints about mold. An example would be Select Comfort Sleep Number Beds with mold growing in foam and in air chambers that are filled and deflated. CPAP devices also have histories of developing mold and require special attention to cleaning.
  7. Public transportation with air handling systems.  Buses, Trains, and Airplanes recirculate air.  The continuous flow of new passengers transporting mold, skin cells, dust, pet hair, etc. does not help air handling systems. Air filtration is not maintained for optimal health standards.
  8. Hotels are notorious for mold.  Vinyl wallpaper, carpeting, and overly adjusted air conditioning can cause mold in many places including the walls, carpets, and bedding. For information on traveling, please click here for Catherine’s post from moldfreeliving.com. 

Communicating with Your Family

Almost as important as avoiding these places and health meltdowns, it is definitely wise to make sure your families and friends understand mold illness and the severity of your reactions to mold and your symptoms. A certain level of understanding is required of them, so that they can be flexible when you enter a place that could ultimately make you sick and cause inconveniences, problems, and illness. Also, they should ultimately recognize that if an environment is making you physically sick, even if they are not experiencing immediate symptoms, it is probably not the safest environment for them either.

In the end, listening to your body and avoiding places that likely have mold issues is the easiest way to avoid symptoms and a potential meltdown.


About the Author:

Cesar Collado is a former pharmaceutical R&D executive, venture capitalist, and seasoned strategy consultant in biotechnology and technology industries in general. He currently works as an advisor to multiple technology start-ups and advises several companies that provide healthcare and other services for environmental illness. Read More


  1. Ann August 9, 2018 at 2:33 am - Reply

    Cesar- Very well written article. That said, what is the app that is pictured in the article where people are able to note their symptoms? Also, on a somewhat related note, are there ENT’s that have been trained using Dr. Dennis’s protocols? We are located in Colorado (one of the lower mold areas) and it is very difficult and cost prohibitive to travel to Atlanta due to our sensitivity. Thank-you!

    • Cesar Collado August 11, 2018 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      Hi Ann,

      For the app, simply search apple or other app store for “symptoms diary”. There you will find many apps for free or a few dollars, depending on your needs and likes.

      Unfortunately, there is no formal ENT training for Dr. Dennis’ protocol. He recently presented it at a symposium in Dallas, TX for the treatment of mold mycotoxins. His procedures are outlined in this medical publication, https://www.elynsgroup.com/article/surgical-and-medical-management-of-sinus-mucosal-and-systemic-mycotoxicosis

      Unfortunately, it is difficult to find physicians that are open to suggestions on how they treat or what they believe. It is not impossible. You best bet is to search for ENTs that treat fungal sinusitis. Call them and send them the article to see if they are open to this approach. They might even call Dr. Dennis if they like for a medical consult. My second suggestion is to contact a Colorado Dr. who treats environmental illness and ask for a referraL. Dr. Jill Carnahan has national reach. https://www.jillcarnahan.com is in Boulder, Colorado. She should have an ENT she refers to since sinus infections are common.

      This is the best I can suggest given I am not a physician and do not know your specific diagnosis.


  2. Bev July 24, 2018 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    I live in a city called Fort McMurray. We had a huge Wildfire here two years ago in May. My home had no power for 22 days. I opened my fridge/freezer that had a turkey in it. I began to not feel well within days. I also experienced shortness of breath when riding my bike & had to walk home. Fast forward, I have not been well & still suffer from respiratory issues, brain fog sinus issues & more. We have had our home tested for mold & mycotoxins are there is no mold. If you have any ideas I would definitely appreciate them.


    • Cesar Collado July 24, 2018 at 5:46 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your comment! I am sorry for your situation. You seem to have many mycotoxin symptoms.

      The turkey in warm freezer could surely be the issue. Mycotoxin testing is somewhat of an art. The mycotoxins are sticky chemicals that can attach to dust to become airborne and inhaled. I am sure there were many dusty contaminants along with smoke in the air if there was a wildfire.

      Mycotoxins are elusive. I am not sure how you tested. But, because of the expense, a single test will not always show results. As for testing the home, cutting out a piece of an air filter or collecting dust or debris where the Turkey was might be more accurate. A thorough cleaning and fogging is the least expensive way to minimize airborne mold and mycotoxins moving forward.

      I suggest you have a urine test done on mycotoxins to see if they are being metabolized in your body. Your organs will excrete these over time. Realtimelab.com or https://www.greatplainslaboratory.com/ are labs that you can order a test directly if you prefer not to go to a physician. Even in these cases, however, mycotoxins getting to the blood brain barrier through the sinuses near the brain will not be purged in the body's excretion mechanisms. Here is an article on toxins in the brain. These take longer to eliminate through the glymphatic system while you sleep.

      Often, Dr. Dennis only has confirmation of mycotoxins when he has tissue directly from the sinuses when he access them in an exam or surgery.

      You have my email is you have more questions.

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