According to a group of scientists, if you think that you have seen a ghost, you may have been suffering the effects of exposure to mould.
Researchers claim that older buildings where hauntings are usually reported often have poor air quality from pollutants like toxic mould, which can affect our brains. Exposure to the mould can cause mood swings, irrational anger and cognitive impairment.
‘Experiences reported in many hauntings are similar to mental or neurological symptoms reported by individuals exposed to toxic moulds,’ said Professor Shane Rogers of Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York.
‘Psychoactive effects of some fungi are well-known, whereas the effects of others such as indoor moulds are less researched. ‘Although allergy and asthma symptoms and other physiological effects are well established, there has long been controversy over the effects of indoor mould exposure on cognitive and other functioning of the brain.
‘Reports of psychiatric symptoms including mood swings, hyperactivity, and irrational anger, as well as cognitive impairment are prevalent among those exposed to moulds.
Other reports include depression and loss of memory function.
‘More recent work is emerging that supports brain inflammation and memory loss in mice exposed to Stachybotrys charatarum, a common indoor air mould, as well as increased anxiety and fear.’ Professor Rogers is currently leading a team of researchers measuring air quality in several reportedly haunted places around New York State.
The group will compare samples taken from several buildings where ghost sightings have been reported with samples taken from properties with no paranormal activity, to see if there is a difference in the types of fungi.
Professor Rogers said: ‘I have long been a fan of ghost stories and shows related to investigation of haunted places and have to admit to some strange occurrences in my own past. ‘Many of the places under investigation and from my own experiences may be prime environments for mould and other indoor air quality issues.
‘We would like to see if we can parse out some commonality between the mould microbiome in places that are haunted relative to those that are not.’ The team have only just begun their investigations, but have been to a handful of ‘haunted’ buildings to collect samples, as well as properties with mould, but no connection to ghosts. ‘In one historic house turned into an office building there have been reports of noises, moving ceiling tiles, moving items on shelves and desks, apparitions, and a general feeling of unease among building occupants,’ he said.
There have been long-standing stories of some of the original family members still occupying the place.
‘In another location, the Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg New York, there is a long history of ghost stories involving the former occupants and others.
‘A week prior to our visit, they had a visit from a psychic who took a reading in several rooms in the museum that we then used to target our air quality studies.
‘She reported a few “folks” came to speak with her, children running in and out of some of the rooms in the house, and a woman that claimed she was “not won in a poker game”, which was related to a long-time story related to the Remington family. ‘So far, we haven’t been spooked out of a location, but time will tell.
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