JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
Leaders of the 59th Medical Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland are using their expertise to inform Airmen about how mold could affect their health.
“One of the ways the San Antonio Military Health System contributes to the JBSA mission is by optimizing the health of Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines whether they are students in training or permanently assigned here,” said Maj. Gen. John J. DeGoes, 59th Medical Wing commander.
While no health-related issues have been identified at this time, Airmen who do feel that there is a health issue are encouraged to reach out to their dorm managers and chain of command with those concerns at any time.
“Any Airmen with a health concern, mold related or otherwise, should seek medical attention from their primary care manager or from our 24/7 Family Emergency Center at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center or Brooke Army Medical Center's level 1 emergency room,” DeGoes said.
As new military members, most dormitory residents here are healthy adults without any of the indicators – asthma or immunodeficiency -- that could cause potentially serious side-effects. DeGoes said there may be a risk that someone does not know they are asthmatic until these conditions trigger symptoms. He encourages anyone experiencing difficulty breathing, chest pain or tightness, to seek immediate medical attention.
The health effects that have been linked to mold exposure are typically upper respiratory illnesses, eye and skin irritation. People who are sensitive to mold, have a mold allergy, are immunocompromised or have asthma may experience those symptoms. Those who are not, will most likely not experience any ill effects at all.
Here in South Central Texas, mold most often begins to appear in the spring and summer, when air conditioning units are turned on and condensation accumulates in places without appropriate ventilation. This coincides with the prevalence of other environmental allergens in the area, like cedar, pollen and grasses, making it difficult to directly link symptoms with the presence of mold.
Exposure to mold or damp environments can cause a spectrum of health effects, or no effects at all, depending upon the health of the person and their sensitivity to mold.
Anyone experiencing symptoms is encouraged to seek treatment with their primary care physician. If their physician thinks it appropriate, they may provide a referral to an allergist who can more specifically determine what allergens are causing those symptoms.
As always, dormitory residents should notify their chain of command of any potentially unsafe or unhealthy living conditions. Leaders of the 502nd Air Base Wing, who are responsible for the facilities in which JBSA Airmen live, have encouraged Airmen to elevate issues through their command chain. For any issues that are not satisfactorily addressed, residents are encouraged to go directly to 502nd ABW leaders through Brig. Gen. Laura Lenderman’s “Feedback Fridays” program.
Patients interested in making an appointment with their physician can call the appointment line at 210-916-9900. Questions and concerns about facilities can be sent to RandolphPublicAffairs@us.af.mil or the 502nd ABW commander using the subject line “FeedbackFridays.”
For more information on mold and mold exposure visit, https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm