Kingdom of Fungi
August 13, 2011 12:08 PM   Subscribe

Kingdom of Fungi. Do people who live in the Pacific Northwest have more yeast infections, mold in their houses, and mushrooms in their woods?
posted by MidSouthern Mouth to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
That has been my experience. I moved to Seattle a year and a half ago, and we have had mold in all rooms of our second-floor apartment (it cleans up with detergent and bleach.) I also got a weird skin rash that was fungus. It seemed like everybody knew exactly what it was when I said I had pink spots on my chest under my bra band. All the girls were like "everybody gets that here, just go buy anti-fungal cream and it'll go right away." I'm not prone to yeast infections, so I can't speak to that.
posted by palegirl at 12:18 PM on August 13, 2011

I'm from Seattle but now live in a much drier desert climate, and I would say that yes, mold in homes was a concern in Seattle but not as much here (unless there is a drainage problem).

Yeast infections aren't fungus-related, though, so of the three things you mentioned, that's an odd one out. Climate that can contribute to yeast infections is one that is warm and humid, not cooler and temperate, so I don't think the Pacific Northwest is considered a hot-spot for yeast infections.
posted by illenion at 12:27 PM on August 13, 2011

Living in a damp climate (or not) has nothing to do with the frequency of vaginal yeast infections.

Mold growth in houses can be exacerbated by damp air, certainly, but it depends on materials and ventilation as well. I've lived in the PNW for over ten years and have never had a problem with it.

There must be a wider variety of fungus in the woods here than in a drier climate, but I'm sure that a warmer forest would yield ever more.
posted by Specklet at 12:30 PM on August 13, 2011

The PNW has, as far as I can tell, about the same amount of problems with mold as any other region with a damp climate. It's actually better than some. For example, mold in Texas is so bad that, combined with the risk of tornadoes and hurricanes, a lot of homeowners insurance carriers won't right business in the state at all.
posted by valkyryn at 12:32 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I find it so much less moldy in the PNW than I did in western North Carolina and the NC Triangle area. I'm amazed at how not-humid it is in Portland, where it actually rains less than Philly, Atlanta, and other cities you might think of being less rainy.

One big difference: in some areas of the PNW, summers are incredibly dry, and the wet times are cooler. Mold likes warm and wet, right?
posted by bluedaisy at 12:32 PM on August 13, 2011

Response by poster: Per palegirl, I meant skin yeast infections. Thanks for the heads-up so far, folks!
posted by MidSouthern Mouth at 12:33 PM on August 13, 2011

I have lived in eastern Washington, Minnesota and now reside in Portland. The mold seems to be worse here than any other location I have lived. I have had to sign a mold adedum with every lease in Portland. Basically agreeing you treat it with bleach and report it to management.
posted by Pork n Beans at 1:06 PM on August 13, 2011

I grew up in the PNW, living in both Oregon and Seattle until I was 26. Mold growth in a home was only a concern if there was a leak/drainage problem. I did not get "weird skin rashes" or anything like that due to climate. There are certainly plenty of mushrooms in the woods, though.
posted by asciident at 1:14 PM on August 13, 2011

Hmmm... Maybe? I've lived west of the Cascades for ten years and in lots of different houses and not yet experienced a mold problem. Though, at times, I've come across people with those issues. I think for the most part our weather is temperate so people open their windows, air conditioning is less common and things do dry out in the summer.

I've had fungal infection under my bra line before but I have attributed that to being active and having big boobs. Taking a shower and drying off thoroughly has made it a non-issue. I don't think it's a PacNW thing.

The humidity here is not bad at all. I think hot temperatures with humidity might create an even better climate for some of the things you mention. Though, I do kind of like the picture you paint: we're all out here, covered in moss and warts, working the mushroom harvest!
posted by amanda at 1:14 PM on August 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

I had more mold problems in Virginia than I did anywhere in the PNW, and here in MS there are mushrooms everywhere -- I don't remember seeing as many when I lived up north, but that could be bad memory.
posted by patheral at 1:40 PM on August 13, 2011

I agree with Valkyryn, above. Can't possibly be as much of an issue as it is here in Houston, where even though we are in a drought and about to start water restrictions, we still had 98% humidity this morning and temps are supposed to hit 100° again today. I have no grass in my yard any more, but if it rains for five minutes, I'll have mushrooms in the morning. And mosquitos, and mold.
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:54 PM on August 13, 2011

If we're doing anecdotes: I live in the Northwest and have no idea what palegirl is talking about. On the other hand, my Pinto had mushrooms growing in the backseat. So, "maybe."

Here's an article about a fungus that didn't used to be in the Northwest and now is, but it's probably because of climate change and not the winter dampness.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:13 PM on August 13, 2011

I've lived in the Seattle area for almost my entire life (30 years this October, to be exact) and I've never had a yeast infection or other fungal infection on my skin. (I'm assuming we're not counting vaginal yeast infections, since those can be caused by just about anything. Mine always seemed to be from sitting around at swim meets in damp suits waiting for my events to come up.)

I've also never had a mold problem in any house or apartment that I've lived in, but I've had friends and neighbors who did have mold problems. I think it has more to do with building materials, proper ventilation and drainage, et cetera. Also the problem with mold is that once a building has it (especially black mold), it can really hard to get rid of it. You can treat it with bleach but I've heard that it comes back if you're not really careful -- many tenants probably treat haphazardly and then move out, new tenant moves in and does the same thing, and the cycle continues.
posted by palomar at 2:56 PM on August 13, 2011

Soon after I moved to the PNW I suddenly had trouble breathing and chest pains. Of course I went to the doctor immediately and she attributed it to mold. She also attributed the worsening of my psoriasis in the winter/spring to the mold/fungi.

I've found full on mushrooms growing inside my house.
posted by medeine at 3:09 PM on August 13, 2011

Here's an article about a fungus that didn't used to be in the Northwest and now is, but it's probably because of climate change and not the winter dampness.

I worked with an author to publish a mushroom field guide five years ago and we're thinking about a new edition. One of the reasons is because of the migration northward and upward (up hills and mountains) of species that used to be found further south and in low lands. The author's been doing this for decades and thinks a warmer planet is most likely the reason.

As for the PNW, I don't live there but have frequently visited and one thing I saw there that I've never seen before was this Moss-be-Gone type product, apparently to kill the moss growing on driveways and roofs. That part of the country has amazing and diverse fecundity.
posted by Toekneesan at 6:03 PM on August 13, 2011

I had a leaking sliding glass door that led to mushrooms growing out of the carpet behind the television.
posted by mimo at 8:44 PM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

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