"We have studies that show we have volumes of mold in New Orleans that have never been seen in any other city in this country before," says Dr. Kevin Stephens, Director of the City of New Orleans Health Department. "The long-term health effects are only theoretical, because we don't have any comparable case in history, but in the short-term we do know that mold is one of the known triggers of bronchial constriction."
Molds reproduce by releasing spores that can provoke allergic reactions ranging from the mild (itchy eyes, runny nose, head congestion, coughing) to the more severe (skin rashes and worsened asthma). "We have a prevalence of asthma, specifically in children, of about 15%. That's a very high rate," Dr. Stephens says. "Anything that can trigger airway obstruction and an asthma attack is problematic."