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#Mold #Mildew #Health #Tips #Pickers #Collectors #WorthPoint

When most collectors become “junk drunk” uncovering barn finds, rooting through attics, or excavating basements, the last thing on their minds is health hazards floating in the air they breathe and on the items they touch. Working in spaces without adequate ventilation exposes collectors to illnesses caused by mold and mildew. The illness we’re talking about far exceeds allergic reactions. We’re talking mycotoxins—mold byproducts that have been proven capable of causing diseases and even death. Even if a collector does not have a track record of getting sick from these toxins, it is possible the next exposure could be a tipping point, setting off a chain reaction fueled by chemicals and stressors already causing silent harm to their body.

In this exclusive interview, WorthPoint® shines a light on a seldom-discussed topic affecting anyone who works with or around conditions that can potentially result in mycotoxin poisoning and what they can do to mitigate its occurrence.

WorthPoint CEO Will Seippel and health specialist Dr. Wendie Trubow discuss the potential health hazards that come with handling some antiques.

At first glance, the thrill of antiquing may not seem like a dangerous indulgence. Compared to other hobbies like free solo rock climbing or motorcross, your prized doll collection certainly sounds like a much safer bet.

But if the world of antiques sounds completely hazard-free, listen to WorthPoint’s founder and CEO, Will Seippel, describe his experience with one particularly nefarious collectible: a ninety-pound trove of paper and ephemera stored in a damp basement for decades. After Will’s brush with mycotoxins sent him to the hospital with cardiac complications, we decided to sit down with a mycotoxin specialist to learn about what collectors can do to avoid the health hazards of antiquing. During Will’s conversation with Dr. Wendie Trubow, author of Dirty Girl: Ditch the Toxins, Look Great, and Feel Freaking Amazing!, she explained that sorting through century-old papers in a poorly ventilated space can expose an unsuspecting collector to various health risks. That’s because antique paper collectibles are fertile ground for mold and mildew.

antique papers
You may not always be able to see or smell the mycotoxins harboring within antique books and papers.

Tips from Dr. Trubow

One of the biggest takeaways from our chat with Dr. Trubow was the importance of ventilation. If you’ve discovered a big box of treasures in a stuffy attic or mildewy basement, sort your treasures outdoors if possible. Or, if you can’t transport your treasures, bring a HEPA-grade air filter to your attic or basement.

Another important tip? Cover up your skin as much as possible. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and the more exposed it is to mycotoxins, the greater your risk of getting sick. Wear long pants and sleeves to keep your skin safe and a well-fitted N95 mask to prevent mycotoxin inhalation.

It’s also important to know and listen to your body. People with asthma and other respiratory problems are at a higher risk of mold and mildew-related illnesses. Talk to your doctor to see if you have any underlying health conditions that may elevate your risk.

Finally, know the symptoms! Shortness of breath, cough, runny nose, and chest tightness are just a few of the symptoms caused by mold and mildew exposure. If you start to feel sick while picking through an estate sale or sorting your ephemera, leave the space immediately and contact your doctor. Exposure symptoms can occur immediately or sometimes take days or weeks to appear, so be attentive to your body after your treasure hunts.

To learn more about antiquing health hazards and how you can protect yourself, watch the full video with Dr. Wendie Trubow. For more health advice, check out Dr. Trubow’s book, Dirty Girl: Ditch the Toxins, Look Great, and Feel Freaking Amazing!

In addition to her role as HIP’s curator of photography, Allison Radomski is a writer and filmmaker. She spends her days hunting for analog cameras, scoring her own movies in her laundry closet, and building her collections of Polaroids and handkerchiefs. She has degrees in cinema & media studies and religious studies from the University of Chicago. 

WorthPoint—Discover. Value. Preserve.

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