A team of researchers is examining a possible link between reported ghost sightings and air quality.
Shane Rogers, an engineering professor at Clarkson University, said the experiences described in many hauntings resemble neurological symptoms present in exposure to hallucinogenic toxins such as rye ergot fungus – which has been blamed for the Salem witch trials and was later synthesized as LSD.
Although the psychological effects of toxic molds are not well-established, Rogers said many hauntings are reported in ideal environments for molds and other air toxins.
“Hauntings are very widely reported phenomena that are not well-researched,” Rogers said. “They are often reported in older-built structures that may also suffer poor air quality. Similarly, some people have reported depression, anxiety, and other effects from exposure to biological pollutants in indoor air. We are trying to determine whether some reported hauntings may be linked to specific pollutants found in indoor air.”
Rogers and a team of undergraduate students are measuring air quality in several buildings in upstate New York, including the Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg, where hauntings have been reported.
The researchers will then compare those samples against locations where no hauntings have been reported, and they will also study possible common features in the environments where molds are found.
Rogers, an admitted fan of ghost stories, said he hopes to learn why some places are perceived to be haunted.
“What I do hope is that we can provide some real clues as to what may lead to some of these phenomena and possibly help people in the process,” he said.