Lyme Disease Doctor

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Mold Illness Test

Written by Dr. Diane Mueller

Testing for mold illness is helpful for determining if mold illness is a problem. One of the biggest problems with the mold illness test is that these tests are not clear cut as far as what they tell you and what they do not tell you. The purpose of this article is to help you get acquainted with the mold illness tests that are on the marketing and what your options are.

Before We Talk About Testing....

It is useful to understand that mold illness is largely a genetic condition. The genetic condition effects about 24% of the population. When one has this genetic anomaly, the result is the immune system failing to remove mycotoxins (mold toxins) from the body when someone encounters mold. Because of this failure, mold toxins build up and cause a wide variety of symptoms (See Blog on Black Mold Symptoms).



There are a few tests that you can order to help determine if you have mold illness. The first one is called the urinary mycotoxin test. With this test a urine sample is taken, and the lab looks for mold toxins in your urine. The positive thing about this test is that when the mycotoxins are found, you will know the specific ones that you have in your body, which can offer some treatment advantages.

Mold Illness test

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The negative part of this urinary mold test is that excreting mold toxins in the urine is a normal part of detox. When a healthy person (non-genetically susceptible) encounters mold toxins, the body naturally detoxes them and puts the toxins into the urine. Therefore, this test does not truly differentiate between a normal healthy detoxification process and mold toxin build up that is problematic. We can often make assumptions that mold toxins are problematic when found based upon the individual’s symptoms. However, it is good to understand this caveat of this mold illness test.


There have also been inflammatory markers that have largely been explored by Dr. Shoemaker as their high correlation to mold illness. The most important inflammatory markers to test for are TGFB1 and MMP-9. HLA-DR is the test to order to look for the genetic variant. These tests are blood tests and can give us signs of mold illness. While they are typically not elevated in healthy people and while they are highly correlated with mold illness, elevations could be caused by mold or other inflammatory markers. Therefore, they are not totally specific for identifying mold.


In the best case scenario, someone would do both the inflammatory marker test, the genetic test and the urinary mycotoxin test to get the most complete understanding of what is occurring. These tests are not typically covered by insurance however and therefore, can be an investment to order all of them. The serum markers mentioned in the previous paragraph are sometimes covered if your doctor orders them and uses diagnostic code D83.1.


Additional mold illness tests include environmental tests. If you are finding that you are symptomatic and have tests that show mycotoxins inside of your body, it is likely due to a current exposure. The most common places to consider for exposure are places where you spend the most time: for most people this is work and home. It is also possible that mycotoxin build up in the body occurred from past exposure and is remnant from other times in life when one encountered mold. Regardless, what is essential is that you test the area(s) that you spend the most time (especially the home for mold).


There are a few tests on the market for home mold testing. If you got your home tested at the time of purchase, it is likely that the home mold test that was done was not thorough enough. Most mold inspectors are not really very well educated and the biological effects of mold. Therefore, they typically do air samples and humidity tests but stop here. The problem with these sorts of tests is that many of the molds that are problematic to the human body are heavy and therefore, do not suspend in air. They fall out of the air, landing on surfaces and dust (these types of material also are food sources for mold). Proper testing to see if the space is contaminated can be conducted using the HERTSMI, ERMI, Panel 7 or EMMA.


HERTSMI is the cheapest test out of all of these but is the least thorough. It tests for the 5 most problematic molds out there. The ERMI is a more thorough version of the HERSTMI and tests for many more molds (36). The Panel 7 tests not only for the molds that are tested for in the ERMI, but it also looks for bacteria which can sometimes overgrow in water damaged buildings and cause problems for humans. The EMMA tests not only for molds but also for mycotoxins that the molds secrete. Just like with the human body, it is best to get as thorough test of the house as possible. If this is not affordable, get a HERTSMI at the minimum to at least evaluate for the presence of mold. While EMMA provides the advantage of testing for both mycotoxins and the molds themselves, it only tests for 10 mold types, making this in some ways less thorough than the ERMI.

Keep in mind at our medical clinic that many people have mold in their house. Their family members are fine, but they are ill. We help you understand why this is!

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