Mold—A Hidden Pandemic in America?
Living in South Florida, I find mold a common occurrence in homes, work and schools. So when Mercola.com released this article, it really made an impression on me.
I have personally worked with a family whose son was missing school due to allergy type reactions. His teacher was not helpful and pressuring the mother for allowing her son to “skip” school. The mother felt strongly that the portable school room in which her son attended class had a mold problem. I was able to suggest homeopathic remedies to help lessen the reactions and the mold in his system along with recommended the use of an excellent air purifier for his bedroom. At least at home, his breathing would be safe. An interesting note to this situation is that later in the school year, the teacher actually ended up in the hospital due to the mold in the classroom.
Here in an article found in Mercola.com, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/07/30/dr-thrasher-on-the-health-dangers-of-mold.aspx?e_cid=20110730_DNL_art_1
I have included a portion of his info below:
Dr. Jack Thrasher has a PhD in cell biology from the UCLA School of Medicine, and is an expert on the impact of mold on human health. he discusses the health effects of toxic molds and bacteria, as well as his recommendations for remediation.
Jack Thrasher, PhD, is extremely knowledgeable on the topic of mold and how it impacts your health. Interestingly, from a toxicity point of view, some mycotoxins that molds produce are actually far more toxic than heavy metals, in terms of concentration. Mold mycotoxins also tend to affect more biological systems in your body than pesticides or heavy metals do.
According to Dr. Thrasher, the prevalence of mold in America is so great, he refers to it as pandemic. As many as 40 percent of all American schools and at least 25 percent or more of all homes are believed to be affected by mold and microbial growth due to water intrusion. A large portion of the problem stems from shoddy construction.
How to Detect a Mold Problem
Clearly, the first step would be to conduct a visual inspection. A musty, mildew odor is a tip-off that you need to check the area in question for any visible signs of mold. If you can’t see any visible traces of mold, Dr. Thrasher recommends taking an air sample, and using a moisture meter to determine the moisture level in the area.
“I use a moisture meter on every wall of the building or the home looking for hidden moisture. The moisture content of wood flooring, for example, should be no more than 10 to 12 percent. I’m finding floors that have moisture content of 48 percent. Exterior walls shouldn’t have anything more than 15 percent, and I’m finding exterior walls with 40, 50, 60 percent.
There are certain bacteria that do not release their spores into the air very regularly and you won’t find them in the air… So become educated as to what to look for and how to look for it, and don’t accept somebody coming in, taking an air sample and saying, “There is nothing wrong with this because the indoor counts are less than outdoor counts.” That’s wrong logic. Certain species of mold grow indoors much more regularly than they do outdoors. So you have to look at the species of mold, not just the spores.”
A better option is to do 24-hour monitoring. However, this type of testing cannot be performed by a typical mold inspector. You need to hire a high-level mold expert for this type of air testing. (I’ll list several sources for finding a qualified expert below.) Dr. Thrasher also suggests interviewing the expert in question to find out who they typically work for.
“If they’re doing work for insurance companies stay away from them,” he says. “You want somebody who is unbiased… [Also] ask them the question, “If you take the airborne mold in the indoor environment can it hurt you or cause toxic reaction?” If the person says, “No, don’t worry about it. All it can do is cause allergies,” then stay away from that person. That person is not well informed.”
After air sampling, Dr. Thrasher also takes swab and bulk samples of the mold growth; actually cutting out a piece of the affected area if necessary, for proper lab testing. Dr. Thrasher explains what he typically tests for:
“We culture for the bacteria. We culture for the mold. We do what we call ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index), which is an EPA test that was developed by a group in the EPA. This is a PCR-DNA analysis for 31 different species of mold… that is very inexpensive, relatively speaking. It costs $350 to do that test… [W]e take swab samples looking for endotoxins. We also look for… polysaccharides called 1,3-beta-D-glucans… We want to get a good idea what’s going on in the indoor environment.”
Next Step: Remediation
As soon as you’ve identified the problem, you have to stop the water intrusion and remediate the problem at its source.
“Let’s say you have an infested wall that’s in the middle of the home between the living room and say, the adjoining den; what is recommended is that the whole area must be walled off from the rest of the house… In other words, you drape them with a plastic and you have to tie the plastic down with masking tape so that that area will not, theoretically, contaminate the rest of the house,” Dr. Thrasher explains.
While you can clean affected metal objects, all organic materials (such as wood, particle board, and carpets) must be completely removed and replaced. You want to make sure that the contractor you hire for the job uses a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arresting) filtration machine to trap minute particles, and that they’re meticulous when using it.
WARNING!! Be Careful How You Chose Your Remediator
There is no question that a high quality active air purifier can help control mold issues but it will NOT remediate against them. You can use the best air filters and purifiers and they will never solve the problem if you continue to have water intrusion into you home that increases the humidity and feeds the growth of the mold.
You will need to stop the water at its source and carefully remove and clean the mold infested materials. While this may superficially seem an easy task, let me assure you that it isn’t.
You need to find a qualified expert and professional that is certified by one of the agencies below. I would also suggest getting several bids for the work. You can find contractor or professional listings on the following sites. Both the IICRC and NORMI are certifying organizations for mold remediation, but the IICRC certification is perhaps the most widely used:
- IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification)
- ACAC (American Council for Accredited Certification)—a certifying body that is third-party accredited.
- The IAQA (Indoor Air Quality Association)—a membership organization with no certification program (the ACAC handles this by agreement)
- RIA (Restoration Industry Association)
- NORMI (National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors)
Keep in mind that a mere certification or listing may not be enough. Also evaluate the remediator’s qualifications and insurance (liability as well as workman’s comp). With the ACAC, there are a few different levels.
How to Clean Up Minor Surface Mold
If you have just a small area of surface mold, you probably don’t have to call in an expert. However, only attempt to clean it if it’s limited to the surface of a small area. You cannot “clean” deep-rooted mold. Dr. Thrasher has one word for those of you who have bought into the home-remedy advice to “kill off mold” with ammonia or bleach: Don’t.
“What happens is you’ll kill the mold but you’ll leave the carcass behind,” Dr. Thrasher explains. “The carcass will disintegrate and release toxins into the air. So you really went from one problem (mold growth) to another problem; dead mold and the release of all of their toxins… and then once water is reintroduced in the environment, the mold will grow right back to the surface.”
However, for minor visible surface mold on say a baseboard, or on a piece of furniture, you could use a little bit of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and vinegar to wipe it off.
“I just use the concentrated vinegar and baking soda,” he says. “All you need is a couple of tablespoons [of baking soda] to a quart of water. The vinegar I just take straight out of the bottle… I generally do the vinegar first and then follow it with the baking soda… The vinegar will kill the mold and the bacteria but you’re going to leave residue on the surface and so you scrub the surface to try to get rid of the residue.
Air Purifiers – make sure you purchase the right one!
Thanks to recommendations by Jordan Rubin, my family depends on the technology of “Healthy Perceptions” and their Aclare Air zone Purification system – it is a must in my household. You can learn more at : http://healthyperceptions.com/
“As many of you know, for many years I worked with various physicians and was able to prove to them that mold caused significant health problems. Are you now seeing suspect diagnoses in your children like chronic sinusitis (documented as being mold induced in 95+% of cases), or bronchitis or asthma, all of which can be due to mold? We have three of these Aclare units in our home, and as health care workers begin to understand the mold link to serious diseases and learning disorders, I am certain that John and his family will sell out of these incredible units…” Doug Kaufmann , “Know the Cause”
“A healthy environment leads to a healthy life. Toxins in the air we breathe can have a negative impact on many systems of the body. To ensure the air I breathe is as healthy as possible, I use the Aclare Air Purifiers made by Healthy Perceptions. I have used these air purifiers in every room of my home for the last five years. I have often used the portable units in hotel rooms when I travel. The health of my family is a primary concern of mine and I trust the health of the air we breathe to Aclare Air Purifiers and you should to.” Jordan Rubin, CEO of Garden of Life & CEO of Beyond Organic
Could Your Health Problems be Related to Mold?
Common health problems that can be attributed to poor and potentially toxic indoor air quality include:
Neurological problems; poor concentration and forgetfulness
Joint aches and pains
Stomach & digestive problems, such as dysbiosis, leaky gut, and frequent diarrhea
Asthma or trouble breathing
It’s important to determine whether or not your health problems are indeed due to mold, in order to properly treat it. Most doctors will simply prescribe an antibiotic for chronic sinusitis, for example. But if your sinusitis stems from bacteria- and mold growth in your home, it’s not going to clear up.
This article is not to alarm but to educate – yes, these symptoms can be caused by several other health concerns.
During my consultations, I have helped to point many in the direction of researching mold in their lives due to the mold reactions that I find during the LSA Pro screening. I have also found that homeopathics work very well with strengthening the body during this time.
Vitamin D Fights Mold Allergies
Researchers found that vitamin D not only reduced the production of a protein driving the allergic response to mold, it also increased production of the proteins that promote tolerance.
This means vitamin D may not only help treat mold allergy, it may help prevent it as well.
This makes perfect sense when you consider that sufficient vitamin D is also imperative for proper functioning of your immune system, and virtually everyone who is sickened by mold has an immune system that is functioning well below par.
For asthmatics, who are among those most impacted by this particular mold, the benefits are even greater, as optimal vitamin D levels can help lessen asthma severity and symptoms in addition to reducing the risks of an allergic reaction to mold.
As I mentioned in the beginning, this mold issue is something I wanted to make those who follow Palm Beach Nutrition & Wellness away of.
Knowledge and education are key to our health – followed by being proactive in the way we live, eat and the supplements we take.
I hope you find this article informative – if you want more info, here are the links:
Have a healthy day ~ Kim Butler, Natural Health Counselor