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Brittany Murphy's mother has filed a lawsuit claiming that toxic mold is responsible for the actress' pneumonia-related death. Though the coroner did not find mold during the autopsy, the presence of mold in her house was never disconfirmed.
Though it's just a theory, the story still has some wondering whether toxic mold can kill you.
You might be happy to know that such deaths, if they do occur, are rare.
Toxic mold can cause allergies, asthma, headaches, coughing and other symptoms associated with the common cold. It can also cause Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis, which the CDC calls "a lung infection [that] can be mistaken for pneumonia." HP can cause permanent damage.
All of these ailments could arguably lead to death if left untreated. But even severe allergic reactions and aggravated asthma have been known to kill vulnerable people when mold is not present.
As for more serious illnesses, the research is unclear. Some believe that toxic mold causes bleeding in the lungs, but the CDC says that research is contradictory. Mold's connection to memory loss and brain damage is also tenuous.
The key to dealing with toxic mold and related illnesses is to seek medical treatment and mold remediation. Let your doctor know that you've been exposed to mold so that you can receive the proper medication and advice. Be especially careful with young children, the elderly and people with immune system disorders.
While you and your family are medically treated, have the mold treated as well. Hire a professional mold remediation company so that you do not suffer from further exposure. Then close up the source of the water that allowed the mold to appear.
Hypothetically, toxic mold can kill you. But if you act fast, it probably won't.