Biohacking Superhuman Performance
Biohacking Superhuman Performance
Thu, Oct 20, 2022 10:31AM • 1:28:17
mold, problem, building, house, home, air, vocs, moisture, people, put, day, great, hepa, find, basement, issue, buy, called, musty smell, source
Nathalie Niddam, Jason Earle
Nathalie Niddam 00:09
Welcome to the Biohacking Superhuman Performance Podcast. My name is Natalie Niddam. I am a nutritionist and human potential and epigenetic coach. And I created this podcast to bring you the latest ways to take control of your health and longevity. We cover it all, from new technology to ancestral health practices, personalized interventions, and a very special interest of mine peptides. Enjoy the show. Welcome back to the show, folks, today’s episode is on a topic that I know is going to resonate with so many of you, we’re talking about mold, and specifically the mold that may be hiding in your house, and making you and your family feel either downright sick or just not quite right, and without anybody really knowing or understanding why.
My guest story is exactly this story. His name is Jason Earle, and he grew up in a moldy house. And he really didn’t figure this out until much later in his life when he was really trying to get to the bottom of all of these allergies and asthma that he admits suffering from for most of his life. This prompted him and inspired him in 2002, to leave his successful Wall Street career behind and to start this healthy home company called 1-800-GOT-MOLD?.
And I mean, there’s no question about how to find this guy. It’s pretty simple. The website is gotmold.com, and you can call 1-800-GOT-MOLD, and they will help you to hack your problems away, they have a directory of mold inspectors. And in the podcast, we talk about… well we talked about mold, we talked about how you can tell that you have mold, we talk about the different types of mold. We also talk about finding the right person to help you figure this out.
One of the points that Jason makes, and I think is so important is that you want to separate the person who’s finding the mold in your house from the people who are going to fix the mold in your house. And he makes a pretty compelling argument for this. So lots and lots of great information in this podcast. Once again, if you’re looking for more assistance and more information, it’s 1-800-GOT-MOLD?. And he’s also created a special landing page just for you guys, just for the listeners. It’s www.gotmold.com/ b like biohacking, s like superhuman, and p like performance.
So www.gotmode.com/bsp. And you will find resources there. And you can also use discount code nat10 and save 10% off your very own got mold kit, if this is something that you think you want to investigate in your own home and the kids are really reasonably priced. So it kind of takes one of the big obstacles in putting down this problem in your own home if you’re not sure that you quite have it. So anyway, there’s a ton of great resources on the 1-800-GOT-MOLD? website or gotmold.com site, so I invite you to check it out. In the meantime, if you’re looking to connect with me, you can do so through my website, which is natniddam.com.
You can follow me on Instagram @natalieniddam. And of course you can find me on Facebook in my Facebook community called optimizing superhuman performance. Thank you so much for being here, you guys, I really appreciate you. And as always, if you get value from this episode, or if you know someone else who can benefit from the information in this episode, make sure that you forward them the link to the podcast. And if you feel inspired, leave us a review because this is how we rise up the rankings. This is how we become more visible and this is how we’re able to help more people. So thank you. Thank you again for being here. And enjoy the episode.
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Hey, folks, just a little bit of housekeeping before we launch into the episode, please remember that all of the information provided in these podcasts is for information purposes only. We are never offering treatments, cures, whatever, for any kind of disease or medical condition. Anything you hear about here is going to be intriguing. There’s some research around it, but make sure that you check with your medical provider, before you go off and do any of this stuff for yourself. Welcome to the show. Jason, it is such a pleasure to have you here today.
Jason Earle 05:34
Thank you for having me.
Nathalie Niddam 05:35
This is gonna be great. We, of course, had our little warm up conversation before we started recording. And I find those are always really fun. Someday I’m gonna have to start recording those so that we can do like a little outtakes. So we are here today to talk about a big topic that I think can be very scary to a lot of people, it’s so massive, and it seems to be a growing issue in the world. And that is we’re going to talk about mold and talk about what it is, what the issues it presents are to people’s health and what to do about it. But before we do that, I don’t think you woke up one morning as a 10 year old and said, when I grow up, I’m going to be a mold experts. So it was some insight into what brought you to be here.
Jason Earle 06:19
It is so true. I mean, you know, I… if you had told me 20 years ago, that’s how long I’ve been doing this, that I would be, you know, the CEO of 1-800-GOT-MOLD? or the founder and CEO of Got Mold?, I would have laughed out of the room. It would not have made sense to me. But you know, that’s life, right? In retrospect, that all makes sense to look at, you know, we’re very, very, very poor at predicting the future. And, you know… so you know, but like most people in this space, by the way, you know, I got into this for very personal reasons, I find that most people that are in this space that do great work, also are.
And I mean that because this isn’t, there’s no academic track for mold experts. Yeah, there are mycologist, but I would argue that they don’t know much about buildings, and there are building science experts, but oftentimes don’t know much about the way these things actually work. And then, of course, how to solve these issues and, and also all the nuances of dealing with the individual, you know, human needs associated with those things, right? So really, this is something that I jumped into when it came to an awareness that my own childhood home was likely the underlying cause of my respiratory illnesses as a kid, so I’ll rewind for everyone. When I was about four years old, I lost a bunch of weight in a 3 week period, about 30% and very rapidly, and I was also having a difficult time breathing.
My parents took me to the pediatrician who said you need to take him to the hospital. And so my parents brought me to Children’s Hospital, Philadelphia, which is a renowned respiratory clinic. And so their initial diagnosis based upon my family history and the symptoms I was presenting with cystic fibrosis, which was of course, devastating. It was a death sentence back then. And it hit close to home for my father who lost four of his cousins to CF before the age of 14. So, you know, he was… they spent the next six weeks basically crying, I was their only child. And they had the second opinion came up, we went back Children’s Hospital, and they said, nope, good news he does not have cystic fibrosis. Evidenced by the fact that I sit here at 45 years old but rather I had asthma compounded by pneumonia.
And I was literally allergic to every single thing they tested me for they put me in a papoose but with an open backpack. It’s like a straitjacket for toddlers and then put all these antigens on my back and I tested positive for every single thing my dad said I looked at the ladybug with big red swollen backwards. And so you know, it was… the list was long grass, wheat, corn, eggs, dogs, cats, cotton, clothing, sheets, you know, soybeans, and I grew up on a small networking farm outside of Princeton surrounded by grass, wheat, corn, eggs, dogs, cats, cotton, soybeans.
And so I was literally awash in these allergens and irritants and but my parents both smoked and, and the house was we didn’t have hygiene, we had low gene. The dogs and cats did what they wanted in the house. And it was just it was a really… for in terms of indoor air quality I could not have probably, they couldn’t have anchored the darkness more efficiently.
It was just very, very it was… it was not a healthy home. And so anyway, I spent most of my time outside and strangely felt better even though I was exposed to all these outdoor allergens. And when I was about 12 years old, fast forward, you know, I’d lived on inhalers, most of my… most of those interim years, and my folks split up thankfully, and moved out of the house and suddenly all makes sense in a way and I never thought about it again because if my grandfather had grown out of his asthma it was just very much written off as you know, an adolescent kind of, you know, it’s very common with asthma anywhere.
And so I just moved on, I ended up having a pretty crazy few years after that. My mom died suddenly… suicide. And although it was not a surprise, it was sudden. And then I also got Lyme disease, or at least I was diagnosed with it. And then given the thermonuclear dose of antibiotics that was so common back in the early 90s. It’s 30 pills a day of Biaxin, and then some other stuff.
Nathalie Niddam 06:40
Jason Earle 06:59
For three days, and then three days off. So it was basically sick for three days, sleep for three days. Combination of those things caused me to lose, missed a ton of school, and of dropping out of school. And for another podcast, another topic, tell you how I ended up getting recruited out of the gas station when I was working, became a stockbroker at a very young age.
Nathalie Niddam 10:45
That is worthy of another podcast. Yes!
Jason Earle 10:47
Yeah, and it was just a wild story. And it was a fairy tale. And I ended up becoming the youngest licensed operator in history. Actually, at the age of 17, I had Guinness World Record, and that a dollar fifty would buy you a half a slice of pizza in New York City. But I did that for nine years, had a great career. And then one day woke up and I wasn’t having fun anymore. I had really enjoyed it. I really loved Wall Street, and I still enjoyed the stock market very much. But I had lost faith because it was right around the time that the dot-com bubble had burst, and the asset class had lost its luster for me.
And so I decided one day to just leave, I just threw my stuff in a backpack and gave my… I walked away from everything. I just was… I knew I needed there was a call and it was mostly driven by my mother’s voice, actually, because she had me volunteer in a hospital where she was the director of nursing as a kid. And she very much to her own detriment was a service oriented person she gave to to a fault, which ultimately was her demise.
But the good part of that, but the positive side of that was that she had imbued that, that philosophy to me, which was that if you improve the quality of other people’s lives, it’s natural law that your life will improve. And I remember saying and it that stuck with me and as a stockbroker, the only people that benefited from my success, but the people who own the source pressure. And you know, there just wasn’t so I volunteered an Operation Smile and did some other international stuff, which really filled me up. And so I decided that I need to do something different. And actually, I know you’re in Canada, I hopped on a train in New Jersey, and went all the way across Canada on D rail.
Nathalie Niddam 12:22
You’re kidding, that’s a heck of a journey.
Jason Earle 12:24
It was a heck of a journey. It was one of my favorite journeys. I had a backpack with some CDs and a journal and Emerson’s collected essays. And, you know, I was really… it was very Scout, very minimalist. And I went, you know, Winnipeg Churchill hung out with the polar bears, my went all the way over and down to LA, and then I flew to Hawaii. And I hung out in Hawaii for a while. And while I was there, I was reading some local papers. And there was a story about a guy who’d gotten sick from the hotel where he was an employee.
And it was in the building was shut down. Turns out, it was the biggest mold remediation project in history, the total damage was $55 million. And before that, before the dust had settled, and smoke cleared there, all these stories about people who got sick from the building, and this one stood out. And it was, he was 40 years old, and he had suddenly developed adult onset asthma, something I’ve never heard of before, and sensitivities to all these things that he was, he was fine with most of his life. And for me, it was like a light bulb went on. It was immediate, it was a deja vu moment, kind of in a way.
And I immediately thought, geez, I wonder if we had a mold problem at Old Trenton Road. In retrospect, I know very clearly we had a very serious mold problem. But I didn’t have that where I didn’t have the awareness at the time. So I called my father from a payphone, which probably isn’t there anymore, and said, hey, do you think we had a mold problem. And he just laughed at me, he’s like, of course, we had mushrooms. Why do you think… why do you ask, we had mushrooms growing in the basement, you know, like, well, of course, we have mold, and he was just so flippant about it that I look back at that now. It’s just that was the way our culture was mold… basement smelling musty. That sounds like a basement.
Yeah, wasn’t seen as a hazard. It wasn’t seen as a potential health threat. And so it was just a thing. It was just what basement smelled like. And, you know, we also happen to have, you know, all sorts of illnesses that are idiopathic, that nobody knows what the cause is. And so you know, and so I, you know, it’s it’s hard to, you know, parse that out, but at the end of the day, the research is now showing that mold has, has an incredible impact on people’s health, you know, behind food, which is the cause of most chronic illness according to the CDC, air is a very close second and some of the research that I’m putting together make sure the air has a larger impact on your health than the food you eat, believe it or not, on the short medium and long term.
And so but it’s something that’s hiding in plain sight right under your nose and it’s so in we’re so immersed in it, we cannot literally… we are literally it’s a law of familiarity, whatever you’re exposed to long enough to take for granted and what can you can you think of anything you’re exposed to more than you’re indoors air?
Nathalie Niddam 15:00
Jason Earle 15:01
Nathalie Niddam 15:02
So especially these days as people are locked in their houses.
Jason Earle 15:05
Yeah, totally and the COVID has brought awareness to this, which is something I’m grateful for. But I immediately became fascinated, not with mold. Of course, mold is very interesting. It’s more you look at it, the more you’ll be interested in it, it seems people vilify it, but actually molds just doing its thing. You know, mold, actually, is a messenger.
And I’ll get into that a little bit later. But the thing that really got me interested was how buildings impact people’s health. And that’s still to this day fascinates me. Because the blind spots that we have absolutely… to think about hiding in plain sight, the facts this like human psychology of being able to either willingly ignore, or be completely blind to this thing that we’re in. This is our water, right?
Like, if we were a fish, this is water. And yeah, we don’t treat it like that. We treat it as if it’s nothing. But yeah, it’s filled with stuff. And it’s stuff that either nourishing you or hurting you. It’s no neutral, there’s no neutral. It’s either hurting you or helping you. And unlike the outdoor environment, where you have no control, zero, but we have disproportionately allocated resources to correcting this problem, which we can’t fix because China and Russia, anyone else is gonna do what they’re gonna do.
Even if we fixed everything here, and we became the cleanest country on the planet, we’re still to deal with the rest of the polluters. And so we have a disproportionate again, we’re farsighted, we’d like to think about those things and dedicate energy and efforts, which are wasteful. But we have a problem in every single home. And we’re killing ourselves with VOCs and mold. And we have so total control over that.
Nathalie Niddam 16:38
Yeah. Yeah, the smoking thing is a bit tricky. But people don’t think right. I mean, I used to be married to a guy whose mother was a chain smoker, and he had asthma. And it’s interesting as a parent that you would I mean, she finally quit, because, you know, babies came into the picture in the next generation and one of her, you know, one of the young women that she loves, they gave her an ultimatum, you want to see my kid? Quit smoking. And she did.
Jason Earle 16:38
And so my argument is to redirect resources, we spend 99% of our time indoors, maybe 90 in nice climates, 99 in Dubai. 99 percent, right? And yet, we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about the outdoor environment, you talk to an environmentalists and their outdoor environmentalist, somebody who does environmental consulting, generally, you don’t talk about the indoor environment, that’s clear, we’re disproportionate, we’re missing the big, we’re missing the biggest piece. And that was obvious to me 20 years ago.
And that’s what drove me into creating an inspection business where we use mold sniffing dogs, to find the hidden mold, which launched us into all sorts of you know, we had lots of national press from that. And then ultimately, I realized that the inspector inspection company I created 1-800-GOT-MOLD? was creating… it was too expensive for most people, my own parents couldn’t have afforded to hire me to do it. And that didn’t sit well. And so a few years ago, we put the resources together to create a very high quality, do it yourself tested, that allows people to collect their samples using the same devices we do professionally and fresh professionals all over the world.
But without any of the cost or hassle of trying to find them hire a qualified professional. And we just made them publicly available at gotmold.com. So we’re very excited about that. This is kind of like our way of bringing it my way of bringing it full circle because you know what my parents could have afforded to buy this. And then they were forward thinking enough to have what they probably would have. You know, I’ll be you know, they were smokers.
But still, and we don’t have a lot of smokers, by the way. And you know what? We’ve come a long way in our society. Yeah, 45% of the population smoked back in 1965. We’re down in that 10 to 15% range if you include vaping, which is a little bit of a, you know, the numbers are murky, but you know, what’s disturbing about this is that in that same period of time, mortality associated with respiratory illness is up 30%.
Nathalie Niddam 19:08
Interesting. Why is that? Is that pollution or…
Jason Earle 19:12
It’s unclear. I just read a great book called Breathtaking, by Dr. Michael Stevens. I highly recommend it as if he’s a pulmonologist and he is a beautiful writer too. And he goes into great length explaining that we have this respiratory illness epidemic really and you know, in any looks at all these different things, and the whole time believe it or not in this entire book, and I sent him a letter after after this. He doesn’t talk about mold except for for a moment.
And then what he’s also missing is the thing that’s really I think, getting to us as VOCs are we have tighter and tighter buildings and so even if you don’t have a mold problem if you buy anything that comes from China or if you’re renovating your house and using regular paints without buying voc pre paints, these these low level chemical exposures, and the same thing goes for pollutants. Moisture based pollutants are moisture driven pollutants like mold, we are rebreathing that same stuff constantly. So it’s not like you’re getting an exposure at the gas station, like where you just get that little whiff. And you go, oh, I got a faceful of benzene.
Nathalie Niddam 20:13
Jason Earle 20:15
But that will dilute and your body will process that and your liver will do its thing. And you know, and maybe even be hormetic, you may actually get benefit from that little tiny exposure. Who knows. But if you put your… if you’re doing that gas can is in your living room, yeah, you have a problem.
Nathalie Niddam 20:34
Jason Earle 20:34
You have a problem. And even if a tiny little of a tiny drop of that gasoline is in your living room, and you’re re breathing that stuff, you now have a chronic exposure to a small quantity. And so you might as well be breathing a large quantity. Because you’re ultimately you’re, you’re wearing yourself down. And that’s the problem with indoor air that most people don’t realize.
Nathalie Niddam 20:54
Yeah, and even things like and I think people don’t realize this is paint cans, and like, partially used because you know, we all you get your house painted, you’re like, oh, we better hang on to that extra paint. Because what if something happens to the wall, we’ll never be able to find the color again. And then you’ve got the stain for the back deck, and you’ve got the this and then you’ve got all this stuff, and it’s sitting in your basement. And we don’t realize I think many people don’t realize that. Even that there’s a little bit of leaching that’s going on? Constantly, I would think.
Jason Earle 21:28
There is. I mean, everyone who’s ever had that scenario where they’ve kept their paint cans has gone back and open them up and found them dry. And my question is, where did it go?
Nathalie Niddam 21:36
Where did it go?
Jason Earle 21:39
Where did they go? It had to go somewhere? Yeah. And you know, and so and you want the heat to stay in your house with what the heat in your house? Guess what else is staying in your house? The unvented combustion on your gas appliances, when you’re cooking? The other stuff, the candles that you’re burning the scented candles, stop doing that stuff, people, the other, you know anything with a fragrance or at that stuff is bad news, that news. And so you know, I’m a big obviously I’m the mold guy, right? I mean, that’s, that’s one of one of my many names. But you know, the reality is, is that I’m a healthy home. Evangelist.
Nathalie Niddam 22:15
Jason Earle 22:16
And mold is the four letter word that causes people to pick up the phone. But the real issue is health. And it’s you’re a biohacking and performance, human performance expert, there is no better biohack than healthy, healthy indoor air.
Nathalie Niddam 22:32
Jason Earle 22:33
It really truly is. Well, the first rule is to stop doing stuff that makes you weak.
Nathalie Niddam 22:37
Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Jason Earle 22:40
Nathalie Niddam 22:41
Jason Earle 22:41
And then identify your repetitive habits and and modify them. And what do you do more than breathe, you breathe 20,000 times a day, 20,000 times a day. So if you refine that behavior by virtue of your interface with the world, we’re an open system here, your lungs are that is your interface to the world, right? And so but you have the ability with our in door environment… with modern technology to measure, you know, to quantify and modify that to your heart’s content.
And so I feel like this is an opportunity where you have the highest return on investment of almost anything else you can do for a relatively small dollar amount, air purifiers, vigilance, on monitoring humidity, you know, acting quickly on things, you see a little leak act. The key to this stuff is it all comes down to moving quickly. And, and there is also no greater consequence or price to pay for not making those investments, right?
So you got a double edged sword here that’s very dramatic. And so it’s not, it’s a logical argument, I try not to appeal to people’s fear, but rather to their common sense, right, and just raise awareness about this so that people start thinking a little differently about it and start seeing the world as seeing this particular aspect as a place where they have domain control.
Nathalie Niddam 24:01
Yeah…no… and it’s a, you know, you bring up an interesting point, because a lot of people live and where I live, there’s a lot of new construction. So people will be like, well, you know, mold is not going to be an issue here. And it may not be but the the other side of the coin, the VOC may, most likely, I mean, unless you’ve got an exceptional builder will be the next issue that you’re going to have to deal with. And you know, I live in an old home it’s over 100 years old so airtightness is not a problem.
Jason Earle 24:33
So you’ve got enough you’ve got cross ventilation happening whether you like it or not.
Nathalie Niddam 24:36
Whether I like it or not, believe me I can you know if it’s minus 25 degrees out which it was last week, you feel it through the front door.
Jason Earle 24:43
Oh, should I live in Minnesota, I’m very familiar with with that. And we don’t really understand build, you know, commercial buildings have requirements for air exchange, you know, but residential doesn’t. And so there are tools and devices that again most people are not aware of, like energy recovery ventilators and people in North, great north woods like, like you or me maybe might know what an ERV or an HRV is, but they had to use it in every home because stale air, builds up.
And honestly, my main mission, mold is front and center because I think all mold related illnesses is preventable. All of it is preventable. Because it’s this is a biological reality, something gets wet, stays wet for 48 hours gets moldy, you can prevent that, okay, and you can reduce exposure, there is… mold related illness is completely preventable. And yet it causes an untold amount of harm to 100 million Americans every year, whether it’s through property damage, or through health effects. And so it’s a massive, massive problem.
But on top of that, I think even more, obviously, my mission is to eventually seek the banning of all carcinogenic chemicals used in indoor building materials. There’s no reason we should as long as we’re talking about improving lives, and we’re talking about reducing health care costs. And we’re talking about all these budget issues and all that stuff.
So first things first, stop putting carcinogenic chemicals into indoor environments. You’ll see cancers go like this, you’ll see autoimmune disease, the like that you’ll see all the numbers plummet, and you’ll see the healthcare industry suddenly in which scares them is that the hospitals might be empty.
Nathalie Niddam 26:19
Apparently, that wouldn’t be so bad. But even even beyond that, like the flame retardant like, you know, when you look at kids, I don’t know if this is still an issue. But I know that when my son was born, you have to be careful what you bought, because all the flame retardants that they’re using, so that your child doesn’t burn up in a house fire, supposedly, I don’t know what Kevlar is supposed to be Kevlar or something.
But the the bad news is that, yeah, sure, you shouldn’t be putting your kid in flammable polyester pajamas. But the chemicals that they’re using in the cribs in the mattresses in the pajamas and even in the clothes are pretty toxic. And, you know, I think what’s, you know, what’s so important about this messaging is, and it’s something that you said earlier as biohackers, or people who are optimizing performance interested in longevity, the whole nine yards.
Like, before we get into the fancy stuff, which we’re all doing, whether it’s the peptides, or the bio regulators, or the crazy supplements, or, you know, saunas and cold plunge and whatever else. This is the foundation, this is like, are you sleeping? Are you moving? Are you eating? Are you breathing, something that is not trying to kill you every minute of every hour of every day kind of thing?
So I think, you know, I think that, you know, it can also we almost maybe need to add another pillar to that Health Foundation. And it’s interesting, because breathing has come up a lot more over the last few years with people like Patrick McCown talking about the value of mouth taping, and you know, how that will improve all of your health metrics. Like for men, your testosterone will go up and your recovery will be better and your health brain will be better. But this is now taking it even a step further, and bringing this whole air that we breathe into focus.
Jason Earle 28:13
And it is really for me getting back to basics. You know, the four basic human needs are air, water, food, shelter, and you could argue that shelter and air are…
Nathalie Niddam 28:25
Jason Earle 28:26
Work together. But people don’t think about the shelter part as as an essential human need, you know, because, again, whatever you’re supposed to long enough eventually take for granted, right? Everyone’s home, everyone, humans have homes, homeless people are less than human, right? I mean, really looking at what we do in our society, right? That there’s this thing that happens there. And so you just take that for granted is your… you’ve got a house. Yeah, but the reality of it is that you wouldn’t do very well without it.
And you would do very poorly with that food after a few weeks, and you do very poorly without water for a few days, and you’ll do very poorly without air for a few minutes. And but yeah, the thing that we need the most acutely is the thing that we take most for granted. It’s just a classic thing. I mean, this we do this with our relationships, too, we reserve our worst behavior for the people closest to us, right? This is a very human thing that we do.
And you know, it just it’s almost hilarious. But when I look at buildings, this is an idea to that I play with a lot and I’m going to put it in a book. It’s the idea that we think about houses or work or the buildings that we live and work in, as these boxes that we kind of, you know, that we move through and we work and sleep and it’s something like that. And I think about it more like an extension of your immune system.
Nathalie Niddam 29:42
Jason Earle 29:43
An exoskin and an exoskeleton you know, the buildings are a filter, and there’s some studies to show that they’re, you know about a MERV a MERV 10 filter, not quite HEPA, but you know, particles and stuff, make it through, right and so just like our skin, these things make it through outdoor pollution, actually, the biggest source of indoor pollution is actually outdoor pollution, believe it or not and when it gets in, it recycles oftentimes. And so that’s why indoor air pollution can be 100 times more polluted than outdoor air, according to the EPA, it’s because of this.
Nathalie Niddam 30:14
Because it’s more concentrated, right.
Jason Earle 30:16
And you get infiltration. And then you also have sources indoors, we bring stuff in with us on us, we bring in our boxes from the stuff we bought from China. And you know, we open that stuff up. And so we bring in our pollutants, we grow our pollutants with moisture problems, we do lots and we invite other critters to come in with extra moisture problems. So we bait insects and the pests, and all that good stuff. So we bring all that stuff in, but also stuff comes in, it just infiltrates in and then we breathe it.
And so it’s really important to recognize that air filtration is super important, I look at that as a fundamental appliance in the house. If you have a refrigerator and a toilet, you need an air purifier, too. I mean, it’s up there with toilets and refrigerators and homes, because we create pollution in our home. And then it also comes in and so you have to mechanically remove that on a proactive basis, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to keep up with it because the pollution is coming in 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 365 days a year.
But the essential immune system is an interesting thing. Because you start then you start to look at this and you start to think well, the building content seems like an organism in a way. We love to personify our cars, for the first time, right people would love to personify their boats in there. But what about personifying your house a little bit? We like to objectify humans and personify our things. Let’s personna… let’s look at this house and say, well, what if this house is kind of like a system of systems, it’s kind of like an organism, it has a birthday, right? It was… it may have a death day. Its longevity is determined by how well you care for it.
And what’s interesting is that it has all these other components of an organism, you know, lungs, potentially your HVAC system circulatory for, you know, you’ve got, you know, a neural network. Now, these days, many houses. What about the immune system, we’re the immune system, we’re almost like the mitochondria in the house, if you will, but really what we have this relationship, but the thing is when the building develops aches and pains, and it does because maintenance has to occur, the first thing that manifests is a moisture problem.
And that moisture problem, the first thing that manifests from moisture from is a mold issue. And so much like the body has a campaign and since inflammation, the mold in the building is a lot like inflammation in the body, an acute leak and acute problems, you can treat that quickly. But chronically, much like chronic inflammation is his own disease.
Nathalie Niddam 32:43
Jason Earle 32:43
And so when you start talking about the toxic molds and the black molds, they are the byproduct of chronic dampness. And so that’s an indication that you’ve not been listening to your building that we have a symbiotic relationship, or at least we should is what I’m arguing. And again, I’m working through some of that stuff. So it’s Schuerholz all you want. I’ve loved to to pressure test this a little bit because I think that you know, we have a relation, we have a mutualism. You know, you ever see a house is left unoccupied for six months, it collapses.
Nathalie Niddam 33:12
Jason Earle 33:13
Right? So we need to it needs us we need it. And if we can establish that mutual, you know… I’m engaging people to consider having a more intimate relationship with the building that protects them, they take care of it, it takes care of them. The building gets sick, you get sick, the building heals, you heal.
Nathalie Niddam 33:32
Mmhmm. Yeah, no, that’s great. So you know, let’s talk about the connections between mold and Lyme chemical sensitivities gut health, I mean, you know, if mold is as rampant and we know that any you know, what’s amazing to me is with all the environmental disasters that are happening in all these different places, so many of them have to do with water, right?
And you can only imagine like we can only imagine the scale of damage that’s being done to buildings and even like for example in Texas where they’re having all these problems with all of a sudden we haven’t you know, in Austin we have an ice freezing problem and people’s pipes burst and so it’s ice except really it’s water and then you’re living in a place that’s super hot, super humid all the time anyway. And even the air conditioning can be a source of mold.
You know, like I’ve I’ve gone to hotels turned on the air conditioning and gone yeah, it’s not gonna work. Smell the stuff coming out of this thing. I you spewing and you smell it coming out, right? And so anyways, but going back to my first thing, like, I do also think that some people may be more sensitive to mold than others like because our bodies differently genetically, some people are able to clear toxins more efficiently than other people.
And yet at the same time, we’re all eventually if we’re exposed to enough of it, if you overwhelm the body system, you’re just it’s just going to become a problem, right? So would you say that basically, mold is almost setting the stage for these other things like Lyme, chemical sensitivities, and microbiome imbalances, and hence your propensity to just get sick more often.
Jason Earle 35:18
Nathalie Niddam 35:19
It’s a challenge to the immune system, ultimately. And if the immune system is busy fighting the mole, it’s just not going to be available.
Jason Earle 35:24
Yeah, I look at it. There’s a couple different perspectives. I kind of think, you know, there’s this you can start a… you with…. So I look at the body is like a juggler.
Nathalie Niddam 35:35
Jason Earle 35:35
Ba-ba-ba-ba boom. And it’s doing and it doesn’t need to touch too much… to it just doing his thing. Things are moving and you got a rhythm to it. And mold is the guy across the room throwing a ball at the juggler.
Nathalie Niddam 35:49
Jason Earle 35:50
Something’s gotta give, right? And but the thing about mold is tricky. And also chemical sensitivities, which sometimes it’s chicken and an egg, you know, like, people oftentimes develop chemical sensitivities. In my experience, I’ve been doing this just 20 years, I’ve done 1000s and 1000s of assessments.
And so all my stuff is anecdotal. The minute much of it’s been backed up by research, right, so like, when I first started seeing these things, I was standing on my butt… my, you know, pounding this drum telling everybody and you know, it slowly, the research comes out and validates these things. So it’s been very gratifying, although frustrating, because 20 years is a long time to be pounding a drum.
Nathalie Niddam 36:25
Jason Earle 36:28
And so the the thing about chronic mold exposure, is that mold produces a number of compounds when it’s growing. So this is great mold 101. Let’s go back to basics on this.
Nathalie Niddam 36:38
Jason Earle 36:39
Mold spores. Is everyone familiar with spores? They’re like microscopic seeds, if you will. And so they but they are they are designed to hang out forever. I mean, they’re, you know, they there are viable spores pulled out of the ice.
In Antarctica, there are viable spores in King Tut’s tomb. These things last a long, long time, they’re waiting patiently for the right conditions to be present. And that’s the right temperature, the right moisture, they out there, they do require oxygen to grow up. And of course, moisture, nutrients and source rather and of course, moisture. And so when you get all those lined up, boom, suddenly that the all the you know, this thing wakes up and send out a shoot called hyphae. Basically a little feeler.
Nathalie Niddam 37:23
Jason Earle 37:24
And it’s looking for something to eat. And it finally lands on something that is made of cellulose or some other nutrients that that resonates with this critters DNA and it releases the perfect enzyme to do to digest it. And instead of digesting in the stomach, like we do it digest outside, and that process produces mold farts, old farts, which is the musty.
Nathalie Niddam 37:46
Jason Earle 37:48
That’s the technical term.
Nathalie Niddam 37:48
Jason Earle 37:50
Mold burps, mold farts. And so it really is truly that musty smell, you have to think about it as if it is the digestive byproduct. This isn’t that that’s part it’s not good to inhale people’s diet or other critters digestive byproducts, right? So so so we’ll start there. The musty smell is something again, we talked earlier, it’s something that’s been dismissed as simple a nuisance as an aesthetic nuisance. For most of our lives.
Until recently, when the musty odor has been identified as a trigger for immune responses in many people is linked to headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, difficulty constant… brain fog, the brain fog people talk about with mold, oftentimes, is related to the musty smell. But that musty smell is comprised of a whole potpourri of chemicals, many of which look like industrial solvents, in fact, it’s many of them are industrial solvents.
Benzene, for example, which we talked about the gas station is also a component of the musty smell in many cases. And so that’s a carcinogen. You’ve also got, you know, all sorts of alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, this whole chemical, but the bottom line is all that stuff is enough, especially low levels to trigger these responses and people now the question is, what’s the response? And what’s fascinating is that many times it’s that trigeminal thing, where you’ve got a creates a fight or flight type of response, people blame mold for allergies, allergic responses, of course, and toxic responses. And but there’s this thing in the middle here, which is very, is becoming more well understood, which is the fight or flight, which is that this is a threat to my survival, and the body shuts down, and then associates whatever it’s exposed to, in that moment, and then projects forward says if I’m ever around that, again, I’m going to shut down and I’m going to experience right or general inflame right and start sending resources to this. And so that’s how you become chemically sensitive.
If you expose yourself long enough to the musty odor, that’s what happens. So most of the time, it’s interesting. There’s a tremendous percentage of people that I’ve served that either lived in a basement apartment, or lived in the basement of a house, or, or worked in a moldy space, so they spent concentrated times in a space that they knew You had had a dampness issue.
And and they develop with chemical sensitivity. And it’s perfumes and it’s, you know, they can’t go to the gas station, you can’t go to Walmart, you know it’s a real it’s a real burden. And that takes a lot to unwind that and some people are successful at it and some people aren’t. The mycotoxins, which everybody wants to talk about. Yeah, and mycotoxins are important, they are not the main issue. The main issue is dampness you people are chasing the tail. Okay, instead of fixing the accuracy really getting to the source. The source.
Nathalie Niddam 40:41
Yeah, your website you talk about biocides, like don’t bother, like don’t do it. Biocides being that thing that kills the mold when you’re actually haven’t done anything to stop it from reoccurring. And then you have like kind of corpses, mold corpses lying around.
Jason Earle 41:00
You leave on dead mold, which is which is the which is one of the favorite things for live mold to eat. You’ve left on dead mold oftentimes with a biocide, which is water based in many cases, you’re leaving behind water too. And people use those biocides not to facilitate cleaning, but in lieu of cleaning. And the whole point of mold remediation is first of all remedy is the root of remedy aviation.
Nathalie Niddam 41:21
Jason Earle 41:21
So remedy. So what’s the remedy? It’s not kill mold. It’s not kill mycotoxins, by the way. mycotoxin that alive. Everyone wants to kill mycotoxins, you can’t kill them. They’re not alive. They can’t be alive, they can’t be dead. Their inner mycotoxins are chemical, oily chemical substances that are very effective at killing other microbes, but they’re not alive or dead.
So you can’t kill them. But people want to kill them. You want to kill, kill, kill, you know, human ingenuity. Rob Dunn, Never Home Alone. Great book. If anyone wants to read about about the critters in your house, he tells this beautiful story. And he’s just a fabulous writer. And so he says human ingenuity largely relies largely upon our ability to kill things. Well think about it. That’s a bit harsh, but many antibiotics.
Nathalie Niddam 42:05
Jason Earle 42:06
Nuclear bombs. Whatever it is, our engineers are great Apex moments seem to be many times on how we can most efficiently kill things. And and Rob Dunn’s argument is that we need to stop doing that stuff. Because in the houses that he’d studied, he’s applied ecologist at done in North Carolina University. I’m ashamed that I remember of my head.
But anyway, the bottom line is that he does citizen science and has people sample their houses and send stuff in and he does, you know, significant, statistically relevant quantities of submissions and, and he concluded that the healthiest houses have the most microbes. Not the least, the most diverse, not the most, the largest quantity, not the largest, the largest variety, versity rather than the largest quantity you follow.
Nathalie Niddam 42:58
Yeah. It’s like a migrant like a healthy microbiome.
Jason Earle 43:01
Yeah. And so… And actually, the same thing goes with water, the healthiest water and he talks at length about this is not the water that’s free of microbes. It’s the water that has actually archaea and these amazing old creatures. That shows a very diverse, healthy ecosystem, where we have problems as we have high concentrations of one critter, high concentrations in specific areas. So that’s why chronic dampness chronic mold, toxic mold, black mold, that’s the last stage of a mold problem. And that’s when black mold toxic mold comes in.
Mold has three stages primary colonizers, secondary colonizers and the tertiary colonizers. Primary colonizers are the first guys to come to the party. They grow quickly, they eat a lot of stuff. And then if that moisture persists, a secondary wave comes in. New molds actually, is why testing for mold species is a joke microbial such a joke too. Because if you’re looking for a species you make you may not find it today, if you test tomorrow, it might be there might be That’s how fast these things shift.
It’s a landscape of shifting it’s it’s like the edge of this of like the beach, or like the edge of a lake where you’ve got this entire gradient from the water all the way up to the trees. And there’s an entire ecosystem of creatures and moisture conditions that occur in a building instead of water problem is no different. You’ve got an entire like a like a like an ocean shoot like a shore right? And so as that moisture ebbs and flows, or as it dries, and you know as the as it as it as it gets wet and dries, you’re going to see these shifts in the critters that do well. The ones that dominated the end, the tertiary colonizers are the ones that have the chemical weapons.
Nathalie Niddam 44:37
They’re the farters.
Jason Earle 44:38
Nathalie Niddam 44:39
Jason Earle 44:40
Yeah. And they come in and they kill everybody. And we get caught in the crossfire. So my thing is, if you have a moisture problem, and you don’t fix it, just know that that’s around the corner. It doesn’t matter what kind of mold you have today. If you wait, you’ll get that one. You know, so the key is you have to be vigilant in your awareness of a moisture problem. And then act quickly when you have one super important so…. but when you ask them questions about Lyme disease and that stuff, and I brought that all around for reasons. So Lyme chemical sensitivities, mold, it’s a Venn diagram, there’s a lot of overlap there.
Again, biotoxin related sensitivity is the inability to detox, big deal. A lot of times the… that fear response, the panic response is also common with all of these with these things, right. And the general inflammation, you know, I have some physician groups reaching out that want to want to prescribe our test kit to all of their new patients, because they’ve identify…
This is a psychiatric practice, because they’ve identified inflammation as present in all of their intake, with very few exceptions, except for relationship issues. But anyone that’s there for any sort of psychiatric issue is not completely exhausted. And you know, that’s not just a relationship issue. They can identify an inflammatory component. That’s fascinating to me. Yeah, and not surprising. Yeah, you know, Edmond Shenassa at Brown University connected, mold, dampness, indoors, and depression.
Nathalie Niddam 46:16
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And now let’s get back to the episode. I just came back from the holidays moved into a place which fortunately, we were only in for five days. And it had just been redone. It was by the beach, like on the beach almost just been redone. And it was amazing. And I go into the bathroom, and I go to open the cabinet under the sink to put my stuff in so that I didn’t leave my crap lying around. And I was hit with a wall of smell that knocked me flat on my butt. I don’t know that I’ve ever smelled such a like, I’ve just been hit with such a wave of that smell.
And you know, it’s funny because I slammed the door shut I knew not to put anything in there. It’s only in retrospect that I’ve now figured this out. I had a blinding headache for about for almost for almost the whole time I was there. Like I spent a lot of time sitting outside. And it occurs to me that you know, even though it was isolated, it was in the bathroom. And we had a two story place. I wonder if it was that it was a reaction. And I’m don’t consider myself to be particularly sensitive to anything. But I don’t get blinding headaches as a rule. Like I’m not a headachey… You know, you get people who get headaches all the time. I’m not that person.
Jason Earle 48:39
Nathalie Niddam 48:39
And it was I just felt like I was so sad because I’m like these people had spent all this money virtually almost gutting this place. And it was beautiful. But some schmuck, it was the contractor or someone decided to just, you know what, we’ll just slam the cabinet in there, they won’t see nobody will know, it’ll be fine. It just it kind of had this horrible tumor in the bathroom like it was that was kind of oozing, you know. And so I guess one of the questions I wanted to ask you was, you know, do you always smell mold?
Jason Earle 49:15
Yeah, if it’s growing well, so that the smells are tricky. So we get called for odor investigations a lot. And there’s a lot you said there I want to go back to that game. You’re faithful and you know the reaction and even drywall. Drywall, by the way is the perfect growth medium for mold. It’s up there, it’s better than a Petri dish. We build buildings out of what I call paper mache that we build building on a mold food. But my mentor used to say we build buildings out of paper mache just you know, and really we do we actually build self composting homes.
Just add water. And you know, but we used to build buildings out of concrete and boy at least brother brick and stone and and plaster. We didn’t have mold problems back then the way we do because we didn’t build buildings out of nutrients. which substances. Now because of the interest, I wrote a piece on Huffington Post a number of years ago called A Brief History of Mold, and I expand on this significantly, but basically, we built because of the the housing boom, after World War Two, we developed fast building products that fast and cheap. And, and so we basically mean, even the dumbest of the three little pigs didn’t build this house out of paper. You know, like…
Nathalie Niddam 50:26
Good point, I never thought of that.
Jason Earle 50:28
It’s so dumb. And if it gets wet, it will get moldy in 24 hour, 48 hours, you know, 72 is on the outside, according to the industry standard. If something gets wet and stays wet for three days, it’s treated like a mold problem, even if you don’t see mold on it. And so, you know, do you smell mold, if you if if you have mold, most of the time, and at the end, I can goes back to that? It depends.
Nathalie Niddam 50:49
Jason Earle 50:50
The very, the thing that happens with with odors, is that you have to have a pollutant or at least a source, you have to have a pathway. And then you have to have the person that senses it. And if you don’t have a pathway between them, right then so for example, mold can be growing in a wall, where there might be a pressure differential.
And so this is a little bit Building Sciences. So I apologize, but sometimes a building can be positively pressurized, or negatively pressurized. So in other words, if you got an exhaust fan blowing out that constantly, whether it’s a dryer vent, or whatever, air that goes out of a building has to come in from somewhere. This is an interesting concept. If a cubic foot of air leaves a building a cubic foot of air must come in.
Nathalie Niddam 51:36
Jason Earle 51:37
Really. Otherwise the building would crumble.
Nathalie Niddam 51:39
Yeah, right. Yes, no you’ll have a problem.
Jason Earle 51:41
Volume of air means in. And so if you’re negatively pressure, then you will pull stuff from walls, you’ll pull stuff from nooks and crannies, right? So it because we’re all venting out, kitchen exhaust bathroom exhaust dryer vent, right, this is a common thing and negative pressure. So if you’ve got mold in exterior walls, you will often get that smell after buildings positive pressurize because you’re because sometimes buildings are designed to be slightly positive, which is actually a healthier type of building. And that way, when you ventilate out, you come back to neutral. And so you keep pollutants in the walls, you’re not pulling from outside.
And if you’re doing the right thing, slightly positive pressurize, you’re actually in better shape, you probably won’t smell it. Because there’s no pathway to you. It’s actually going out right. So that’s the so sometimes and this is really tricky when it comes to certain types of construction. Where like the synthetic stucco that was very common in the 90s effects. They call it EIFS where they put those typically people don’t smell. Instead, the building just the wall just rots out. Lovely. Right.
Nathalie Niddam 52:41
Jason Earle 52:42
And so you don’t notice it until you until you until you see that the sheetrock is a little soft, and you put your finger through the wall.
Nathalie Niddam 52:48
Jason Earle 52:48
So it’s you know that at that point, you can report down the road.
Nathalie Niddam 52:53
Jason Earle 52:53
So but the but the reality of it is that the musty smell is so I always say if you see something smell something or feel something, do something.
Nathalie Niddam 53:01
Jason Earle 53:01
If you see something that’s water damage, signs of moisture, you know, discoloration, any of that stuff, blistering paint, you know the trim pulling from the wall trim pulling is a dead giveaway. He said…
Nathalie Niddam 53:14
Buckling kind of thing. Yeah.
Jason Earle 53:16
Yeah. Yeah, that’s, you know, so if you see something, if you smell something the odor is, is you know, the musty odor can sometimes be present and you won’t be able to find it because a lot of times it’s happening in weird places like in the carpet. And you won’t see, like in the basement in the carpet. Carpet in the basement is a no no, but everybody does it.
And by the way, the house I’m in right now has carpet in the basement, which we will eventually correct right. Cobblers son has no shoes. Yeah, no. You know, listen, in Minnesota it was unbelievable trying to find a house where that wasn’t completely mold infested.
Because we’ve got the opposite problem that most people have in Florida, which is we have moisture produced in the building but it’s very cold outside so like you in Canada, we had condensation on the wind… condensation and the mold problems people have of North people down south don’t think we have because outside it’s so we create our humidity inside and it condenses inside walls and we get some pretty nasty mold problems in our climate.
You know in this heating climate. And so it’s it’s it’s tricky. The smell is a dead giveaway. If you smell it, you have to investigate it. And again, what you’re investigating is not where the mold is, but where the moisture is coming from. The key to this whole thing, people this is the most important thing if I can just emphasize one thing is mold is not the problem. Mold is the symptom.
Nathalie Niddam 54:39
Jason Earle 54:40
Moisture is the problem. And since you can’t control any of the other variables the mold likes which is food, temperature and oxygen the only thing you can control and you must control is moisture. Yeah, and then mold remediation again remedy, you remedy the moisture problem. And then you clean up the symptom. Then you clean up the mess that it made which means ripping the wall apart where, where it was affected cleaning all the exposed surfaces using HEPA vacuums and damp wipes, again, no chemicals, scrubbing the air with HEPA filtered air cleaners, and then getting testing done by third party, that’s the way it needs to be done.
So see something, smell something and then see something, see something, smell something and then feel something. And that the list of symptoms from mold is so long that that you’ve got the upper respiratory, typical respiratory allergic stuff, you’ve got the more nebulous sort of cognitive, headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, a lot of people talk about, like I said, the depression, sleep disturbance is a big one, nightmares, mold, nightmares, mold rage is is a thing.
And and then all the overlapping stuff, you know, a lot of people, you know, again, you know, mold, mold will tend to exacerbate other illnesses, and at the very least, it will make you susceptible to other things. And so it will weaken us so that when, you know, in times like this, where we have a pandemic, you know, you may very well be more susceptible to another infection as a result of your…
Nathalie Niddam 56:11
Well or get sick or from it. Right. I mean, how interesting would it be? Would it have been? I mean, not that anybody had the bandwidth while running from the fire? But how interesting would it have been to draw lines between the most serious cases and the condition of the air in their home? Nevermind metabolically, we know that people with metabolic imbalances had a harder time than people without those metabolic imbalances.
But, you know, we we’ve all heard about those people who didn’t seem to have metabolic imbalances who had a really tough time. How interesting might it be to go back to those people, those people’s living environment to see was there a contributing factor there that just compromised their immune system or their lungs or whatever the case may be like, to your point, this constant, low level kind of irritation, that will lead to bigger issues down the road?
Jason Earle 57:01
No doubt about it. I mean, if you just sit here and just do this tier…
Nathalie Niddam 57:06
Jason Earle 57:07
Gently, all day, you’re gonna have a problem? Yeah, we’re doing that to ourselves 20,000 times a day. Right. That’s the… that’s my, that’s the distilled thesis.
Nathalie Niddam 57:18
We have the problem, we have the mostly the issue. Let’s talk about now, let’s not let people go away with a nightmare on their hands. Let’s talk about what they can do. So, you know, there’s, there’s, and there’s different degrees. And and it’s interesting, you know, I don’t particularly have air filters in my house.
But now I’m sitting here listening to you going, Man, I need to go get a couple of HEPA air filters. And the problem is, I live in a four storey home, because I live in, in the city where it’s older homes, and we’re multi level and I’m like, do I need four of these things? Or can I get one really big one, I don’t have central air, which is maybe a good thing. You know? So how do we help people to solve the problem? And all that stuff?
Jason Earle 58:05
There’s a few things. So first of all, recognize that mold is a fact of life. It’s up there with death and taxes, it’s a guarantee. And so, you know, this is something that you should arm yourself with the knowledge of, of being able to navigate, because if it hasn’t happened to you it will. It’s just…
Nathalie Niddam 58:21
It’s not an if, it’s a when. Yeah.
Jason Earle 58:23
It’s a when, right? And so it’s not something like lightning striking or like, like an earthquake that happens to you, you know, it’s actually something very predictable, very repeatable. And in fact, mold is doing its thing when it’s when it’s taking stuff and turning it back into dirt in your yard, like sticks and leaves, not supposed to be taking your house and turning it back into dirt. And that’s what it’s trying to do.
So what do you do if you have an air quality problem, okay, or a mold issue, first thing you do is of course, stop the water, right? Find diagnose the water. And that means if you can’t fix it, that’s when you need to get a professional. And that comes first post before you do anything else. The second thing you want to do is assess figure out what the extent of this problem is. And so that’s why testing is useful. If you have the budget, it’s great to find an independent meaning that they’re not a remediation contractor and they don’t have relationships with an independent inspector that does not do remediation or repairs.
Okay, and this is hard to find. Yeah, 1-800-GOT-MOLD?, my mold inspection business that’s how we differentiate ourselves in the beginning and still no conflict, we don’t do remediation. Never have we don’t pick up a hammer or you know, there’s there’s no HEPA vacuums in our truck. So we go out and do the diagnosis and we help find contractors and vet them and then we do the testing and inspection at the end.
So we’re kind of the the gatekeeper in the front and the warden in the back and if you can find a consultant like what we do in your area, please do. You can look at acac.org which is the trade association that, that trains and certifies Environmental Consultants in our industry, and you can search there for certified indoor environmentalists, they tend to bemore well rounded than just a mold inspector. And also, many of them are independent, although there are not many of them there, not enough of them, that’s for sure.
So, getting doing an assessment to determine the extent of the mold problem, or the extent of the pollution is, is a very, very important next step. But the three things you can do, once you’ve identified the cause, and the extent are ready, number one, you can remove the source, which is of course ideal, right? So that means that you’re gonna go in, you’re gonna take out that mold, or you’re gonna take us that pollute whatever the building material is, if it’s VOCs, you know, your source removal is not always possible. If you’ve refinished your floors.
That’s hard to fix, right? So source removal for mold, sometimes it’s a budget issue, sometimes it’s a logistics issue, sometimes it’s you can’t find the right contractor. So source removal is sometimes not possible or practical, doesn’t mean you can’t, you shouldn’t continue to try to figure out how to do that. Because ultimately, that’s remediation. But the second thing you can do, if you can’t do source removal is you can dilute to bring in fresh air from elsewhere.
This is also very tricky, because if it’s too hot, or too if you’re bringing air from outside, and it’s hot, or cold or humid, or precipitating or raining or snowing, you don’t want to do that. And so oftentimes, you know, we have walls and windows and doors because it’s often too hot or too cold or too but outside. And so diluting is not that easy. But that’s why there are devices like we mentioned earlier, energy recovery, ventilators, heat recovery ventilators, your HRVs and they’re very different. So in fact, we’re going to be doing a piece on our blog about that, to help people understand a little more about that, that allows you to ventilate, without losing the embedded energy that is in the air that you are heating and cooling.
So energy recovery ventilator, like get that out energy recovery ventilator will take air, it will purge the outs be stale inside air, and then transfer the heat or for cooling energy to the insider and will also filter it and dehumidify the really neat contraptions and so they are highly recommended in every building, and they’re using very few. And I don’t care what climate you’re in, unless you have an open air scenario in the Caribbean or Hawaii. This is a great appliance… That’s the dilution. Okay. The third thing, which is oftentimes the most effective, both in terms of cost and results is filtration.
Nathalie Niddam 1:02:30
A must. Okay.
Jason Earle 1:02:42
And I could go into length, we could do another podcast just about air filters. But because they are not all created equal, the thing you’d want to look for when it comes to mold is you need to look for an air filter that has a has a true HEPA and I true is defined by a sealed unit. So the air that comes in the filter goes through the filter, and not around it. So if this is listen, this is marketing, right? You go buy a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner, most of that air goes through it, but a lot of it doesn’t. And so but that same brand will have a true HEPA.
So what is that one? If this is true, what’s that one? Yeah, so that’s also true for air purifiers. So you can see if it says true HEPA, then they have they have a gasket, or at least it’s it’s, it’s sealed. So that air that comes in is brought in goes through the filter and does not bypass and and so the other thing is that HEPA filters are not all created equal also, because well, there’s a lot of reasons for that there’s HEPA is high efficiency, particulate arrestance.
And it means 99.75% of the particles point three microns and up are removed. There’s another one called oppa, which is what you call hypo hyper HEPA in some cases and other brands, though, when you start getting into the smaller fringes, you’re doing better, they’re more expensive. That’s point one microns and oppa. That’s really where you want to be because the deeply respirable stuff that gets into your bloodstream, the superfine particles, especially from combustion byproducts, most of that stuff, it’s super tiny. And so the ULPA is really important.
But the piece that’s most important for mold problem, when it comes to an air purifier, in addition to the HEPA is you have to have a lot of carbon in the filter, right? You have to have a lot of activated carbon, because a mold problem is not just spores, it’s also the microbial VOCs. And also remember we’re killing ourselves with VOCs in our country, in any event, Well, there’s a bunch of reasons. First of all, there’s a lot of science that shows that when we’re ionizing and we’re zapping VOCs and all that stuff, we’re actually producing new VOCs that are not understood, many cases that we’re producing formaldehyde is the most common byproduct of these things where these things get kind of shattered, and then they recombine.
And then they create more carcinogens. And so we humans have this massive with this incredible propensity for taking some simple, safe things and, and creating complicated dangerous ones out of them, you know, and, and this is a great example. So what we want to do is capture the particles, capture the gases, we don’t need to kill things in every step of the way, we don’t need to kill a voc, you know, it’s not alive, people, we don’t need to kill the airborne particulate matter, we don’t need to zap it, destroy it, or, you know, like, we’re just so focused on just like, so but capture it and remove it. And then, of course, you want to stop bringing it in.
But when it comes down to it, you’ve got three things you can source control, you can dilute, or you can filter. And keeping in mind that the filtration will reduce exposure, it will make you feel better in most cases. But don’t stop there. If you can remove the source, you should. Because it’s it you’re you’re only buying time and you’re only really reducing exposure, right?
Nathalie Niddam 1:07:31
Yeah, you’re pouring water into a leaky bucket, basically. So I mean, that, you know, and again, we can, we can create analogies to help in the same way, right, you can take an anti inflammatory, if you’re not going after the source of inflammation, you’re chasing your tail, it’s the same thing. That totally makes sense. So but the HEPA, or the ULPA, or the HEPA filter, ultimately will at least allow you to breathe until you can figure out the solution to the problem.
Jason Earle 1:07:58
And for your case, and for everyone’s case, standalone air purifiers don’t do well with walls indoors.
Nathalie Niddam 1:08:07
Right? Like 27 of them in this place.
Jason Earle 1:08:12
So we generally recommend that people focus on the areas where they spend the most time, which is your bedroom.
Nathalie Niddam 1:08:19
Jason Earle 1:08:19
Bedrooms, living room, office, you know, that kind of thing. And any area where there’s where you’re going to have stagnant air, where you’re going to have a propensity for buildup of things where, you know, like basements, you know, I mean, you may not spend all your time down there. But you’re probably well, it’s probably a good idea. Well advised to put an air purifier down there.
Nathalie Niddam 1:08:44
What are your thoughts on dehumidifiers? Like, are they just like a nursery for mold? Basically? I mean…
Jason Earle 1:08:52
We can do another show on those too.
Nathalie Niddam 1:08:53
Yeah, we can. And we don’t… Yeah, because we’re gonna run out of time soon. But I you know, it doesn’t escape me that my dehumidifier which I have to have in the basement, because in this, I mean, in the summertime, it’s just, you know, like, I learned about 25…
I’ve never bought a house that I didn’t, the first thing I didn’t do was rip out the carpet, from the basement from the main floor from where I could find it. Like I just, I won’t tolerate it. I put tile ceramic tile down. I won’t even do wood in a basement because of wood also, in my mind, like with water damage. And in these old homes that we live in. We’ve had so many floods in our basement, if we didn’t have tile, we would have had to redo the floor like five times by now. So…
Jason Earle 1:09:35
I tell people never to put carpet in the basement for that reason. You have to treat it. You have to finish a basement like a boat. Yeah, with materials like you would use on a boat.
Nathalie Niddam 1:09:43
Yeah, and waterproof it and the whole nine yards. Right. So the dehumidifiers are, you know, in Minnesota, you probably have the same issues in the summer. It’s really hot, humid in the winter. It’s really cold like, so that dehumidifier in the basement makes a big difference. But is there such a thing as a dehumidifier? That’s not just going to become a mold nursery.
Jason Earle 1:10:04
Yeah, so dehumidifiers is a really good question. So the ASHRAE, which is the American Society for heating, refrigeration, air conditioning engineers, just this sort of trade association for all HVAC guys in the United States. Their guidance is that you should keep humidity in relative humidity between 40 and 60%. Indoors. Now, below 40%, you begin, you begin to develop discomfort your mucous membranes will dry out. That’s why people get sick in the winter, by the way, their mucous membranes dry out, and then they have direct pathway paths and pathogens are everywhere. They always are, and you just happen to have a direct direct line.
It’s not because it’s cold, it’s because it’s dry. And so, so you want to make sure that you’re humidifying as much as you can without causing condensation problems. And also creating other issues because humidifiers are more of a petri dish and dehumidifiers. They’re both potentially right, those. But the the key to a dehumidifier is a don’t modify what you don’t quantify. So get a humidity gauge and put it in a place opposite of far away from dehumidifiers. I love it. They have humidity gauges on them. I love that. So of course it’s dry right next to the dehumiidifier.
I want to see what’s going on on the other side of the room over there, right? Yeah. And so So you want to get a good humidity gauge. I like ones that have a base station that allow you to have wireless sensors that you can put throughout your house, I like to put one outside to see if I need to put a coat on I got the newspaper, I put one of my crawlspace because who wants to go in the crawlspace. And if I see it spike, there might be a leak, there might be an issue, right? I like to put one in my, in my in my basement, I put one in my bedroom, I put one in my son’s room so I can see if the if if the heat is you know if it’s too warm in there, too.
Anyway, I have the sensors all over my house and they’re cheap, you know, you can go be make some sensor push, they’re cheap, and they’re great. And, and you can you can monitor the humidity. And you’ll see in most climates, it shifts wildly gets way too dry in the winter. And way too humid in the summer. And so, so you’re you’re you’re humidifying presumably, respectfully and carefully and on in the winter, and then you are dehumidifying in the summer.
So what I suggest people do is with dehumidifiers get a really good efficient one, get one that’s operates at a low temperature because they that the key is they have to they they the difference between the temperature ambient temperature and the temperature of the coils is the is it’s how much condensation it creates. And so you end up having you want to have a very efficient dehumidifier and you want to have it drain automatically.
So in other words, don’t have to go empty it out because out of sight out of mind, right and then. And so you want to have a drain automatically, ideally not with an auxiliary pump because pumps fail. Ideally, it drains so you can mount them a lot of people successfully we’ll put a dehumidifier up on up on a shelf or on a pedestal and then allow it to drain into a utility sink, right? So it just gravity drains.
Nathalie Niddam 1:13:11
Jason Earle 1:13:12
I also it’s good to put a dehumidifier in the space for your heat, or your furnaces actually believe it or not, because that warm air again, the temperature difference between the coils inside the cost of condensation and the ambient humidity or the ambient temperature in the room. That difference actually facilitates more dehumidification. Hmm, that’s really interesting. Put it near the warmer stuff not near the colder stuff. If you put it in a cold area, you’re more likely for the coils to freeze up and then they don’t condense if they’ve they’ve stopped working.
And so yeah, he dehumidifiers are crucial. And you also want to make sure that size appropriately. You know dehumidifiers if you buy the one at home Home Depot or Lowe’s, most of the time those are those are toys. And they will they will work for a few years and then they’ll die. The appliance that… the dehumidifiers we recommend are like appliances.
They’re like 1000 bucks, and they will last you a very long time. They’ll take 100 pints a day out of your out of your basement, and you set it in the winter, you set it to the lowest setting, you’ll never get it. I mean, in the summertime, you’ll never get it low. It’ll never really truly get where it needs to get. But you’ll be taking 100 pints of water out a day, which is 100 pints of water that’s not forming condensation and pockets of comfort for a lot of uninvited guests.
Nathalie Niddam 1:14:29
Right, right. Right, the uninvited guests. I love that. Okay, so we have energy exchange units. We even have either HEPA or ULPA filters of stay away from the fancy stuff because we don’t want to modify organisms that we don’t know how we’re going to modify them and maybe make them worse. We want to dehumidify and re humidify appropriately and then talk a little bit about your kits. I’m curious about how the kit works. So I should probably should have ordered one before we recorded this podcast.
Jason Earle 1:14:58
Oh well, we’ll make sure that Have you get yourself a kit. Also with the with the HEPA filters, just I want to emphasize carbon, carbon, carbon, carbon.
Nathalie Niddam 1:15:06
Jason Earle 1:15:07
Mold is mold is a… so most air pollution to hyper reduces is a combination of particle pollution and gas. Particles and gas. If you’re only using a HEPA filter, you’re just taking out the particles, you’re only using carbon, you’re only taking out the gases, you want to have both. Okay, that’s really, I recommend Medify by the way, Medify Air is fabulous.
I love this company. They make very reasonably priced units. hyperaware is also a great brand. They make some some very strong products as well. My favorite brand, in terms of the product itself is IQ Airs Health Pro Plus, I’ve had some issues with the company lately. They cut off all their distributors without any, they just cut them off. They built the company on distributors, and then they just ended all the distribution.
Nathalie Niddam 1:15:58
Jason Earle 1:16:00
I really loved it. I did Extreme Makeover Home Edition with them twice. And I really loved family. That was the founding family. But they’ve gone in a different direction. So in any case, you had questions about the test kit. So yes, let’s talk about the test kit. So the test kit uses a method known as spore traps. Spore traps are the most common form of air sampling done by professionals uses these are the cassettes, okay.
Nathalie Niddam 1:16:27
Sorry, to people who are listening, it looks like one of those little sample containers, you might get of a face cream or something.
Jason Earle 1:16:35
Like about an inch and a half in diameter. An inch and a quarter high circular, it’s got a port for air to go in and port for air to go out. And the when the air goes in, it gets drawn through, let me back up. So if you want to have your house tested by a professional, you will hire somebody that will come over presumably do a physical inspection, identify the areas where they want to collect their samples, they’ll pull out an air sampling pump, which, which is generally put on a tripod, and it’s $1,000 calibrated instrument, these cassettes interfaced with that pump, they’ll run it for five minutes in most cases, and then ship it the lab, what happens is the air goes through the cassette, and then there’s a little adhesive slide inside that captures the microscopic particles that are within a certain mass range, certain size range, and then the rest of the air goes through.
And so we’re capturing all sorts of stuff. I mean, we’re capturing pollen and dander and all the stuff that’s airborne, keeping in mind that this is, you know, one test, this is not a silver bullet, right, because there’s lots of different tests for everything, whether it be health, you know, human tests, or building tests. This is testing for what’s floating around in the ambient air.
Okay, so there’s mold growing in a wall, like I mentioned before, it may not be detected using this method that may require more invasive tests, but as a screening method to find out what’s floating around in your air. This is what’s most widely accepted. But the problem is, you’d have to spend $1,000 or more to hire somebody to come over and take those samples, right.
And then you have to rely on them to interpret the data. And you also have to trust, they’re going to interpret that data in a way that’s both accurate, and also not attached to some other product or service that they have to sell you that is very difficult to find is a truly ethical person is going to come over and gather data and not use it as a way to generate more revenue. And by the way, watch out for the free inspections the most because someone’s got to get paid sometime, right?
Nathalie Niddam 1:16:38
Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Jason Earle 1:18:27
And so really, we created the do it yourself, we created this kit, because of the pump jockeys the guys that don’t run around and just grab samples and don’t even do an inspection and then sent send a lab report are the people who take samples and then use it to scare people into remediation they may or may not need. Or, you know this, this the people who you know worse cut their samples and don’t know how to interpret the data.
They don’t even know how to guide the consumer through the remediation process. So what we did is we created an air sampling pump to duplicate the professional air sampling pump exactly, but we make it for a fraction of the cost of $1,000 air sampling pump and…. pulls in exactly the same airflow rate. And you know you do side by sides and they will they will look very similar. The the way it works is we have a we provide you with enough cassettes to test up to three rooms.
So you can either choose a one two or three room kit once you collect the samples and we provide other resources to so in other words, in the instructions, we tell you to identify areas of concern, we give you a link to an e book we created called How to Find Mold that has all sorts of checklists and FAQs and really is an inspection guide for someone who doesn’t know anything about mold. And we suggest you do an inspection in your home using this guide and then collect the air samples you submit them in a prepaid return mailer to our lab partner, which is the number one lab in the country EMLab P&K so you can rest assured the results are the same you would get from a high end professional consultant.
And once at the lab. You’ll get results within two business As the pricing is that is such that we put all of the shipping and lab fees in to one price so that there’s no alacart nonsense. There’s no surprise fees or hidden charges. So it’s $149 for one room, $199 for two, and $249 for three rooms. But when you buy… when you get a kit, you get to keep the pump, you can also share it with a friend if you want and they can reorder supplies. And so then the first one, the next one room kit is only $99. It’s $50 less. So it’s $99, $149 for two rooms, and $199 for three rooms.
Nathalie Niddam 1:20:38
So it’s just finding the cassettes at that point.
Jason Earle 1:20:40
That’s right, and again, all black peas are baked in all the shipping fees. Both ways are baked in. So there’s never you will only pull out your you only hit Apple Pay once.
Nathalie Niddam 1:20:51
Is your service available for Canadians too or is it just us?
Jason Earle 1:20:54
Not right now. Not yet. But we’re getting there. Actually, we were very excited to announce that our lab got acquired by the biggest lab in the world, shortly after we secured our deal with them, which happens have 900 locations in 50 countries including Canada. So our next expansion will be into our northerly neighbor. There’s…
Nathalie Niddam 1:21:14
Jason Earle 1:21:15
No doubt about it. Yeah, absolutely. So we’re really excited about it. And the thing that’s fun about it is that most of the time people, you know, we got calls, especially when we were when we were you know, doing a lot of national press, we got calls from every single state in the country, and most of the people who call us couldn’t afford us. And many of them are renters in our budget. And I couldn’t help but think that this was haves and have nots. And in the most deplorable way, healthy indoor air should not be cost prohibitive period. Right. This is a fun, it’s a basic human need. And we should not have there should not be insurmountable costs associated with that.
That’s why we created this it was it was to take the ethics and ethical component out of the equation. So the consumers could could just get a gut check. You know, am I worried about this for no reason? Or do I have something that I need to invest more time and attention to energy, and that’s the driving force behind the test kit.
And so also on our website, you’ll go, you’ll see we have a learning center, we’re building out a tremendous amount, putting online courses there, and for free in partnership with the University that I that I will not mention yet. And so the idea here is really to create a place for people to get reliable information about a very scary and controversial subject, but in a no nonsense kind of a way. And so more of an education company, I think is what we’re turning into the happens to sell the products that we use to measure and detect these things.
Nathalie Niddam 1:22:42
I love it. I think it’s great. I mean, I think it’s also admirable how you’ve kind of separated yourself a little bit from selling the solution, because to your point, just as you want the diagnostics to be done by someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in finding a problem, which happens too often, right?
Like I have my furnace company right now has been chasing me down for months, they want to come in and do a free electrical and plumbing inspection. And I’m like, really, I can’t imagine why you would want to give me that for free. That’s so nice. And you know, maybe there’s a you know, I mean, it’s kind of nice, but there’s an ulterior motive Anyway, you’ve clearly really put yourself in a position of education and communication and just and providing a solution that is way more accessible, at least to diagnosing the problem.
I mean, in terms of solving it, there’s going to be a cost to that. But hopefully people can figure out ways around it. And I would say that, you know, we spend money on so many things, and making that this is like an investment in your health and your longevity. And we, in our space, we talk about that a lot. And would you maybe it is worth putting off that vacation for six months or a year.
And instead making the infrastructure investment in the place where you spend the most amount of time no doubt about by the right filter the right filters in the right you know, you know, pull out a wall or whatever the case may be. And you know, the tricky thing with water as it travels, right? So where you find the puddle is not often where the water’s coming in. And that’s where I’m sure things get you know, things start to go sideways and get expensive, real fast.
Jason Earle 1:24:23
And the sad part is that you really oftentimes can’t get away without hiring a professional so like this is the reality of it is I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get around that and by the way, many of the chemicals and the the buzzers and gadgets and sprays and Pogs all the things that I rail against all the time, are developed by people who very, in a very well intended way, are trying to solve that problem, which is that there’s there isn’t a cost effective DIY kind of a thing for remediation.
There just isn’t yeah because it takes too much, you too much experience too much training too much equipment to do it in a way that’s safe for the people that live in the building. And so there so that’s, yeah, thank you for recognizing that we, you know, we anchor ourselves very firmly on this one side. And you know, what I’m gratified to see, though, is that we’re not alone in the industry is starting to, you know, emerge and mature, the internet’s hopefully going to mature too.
But, you know, we’re in a nascent industry that will eventually settle out and you’ll see that the cream rises to the top. And, and eventually, it’s just right now, it’s very frustrating because the resources are scant nationwide for these kinds of resources for these kinds, these kinds of services. So we just hope to be useful. So we created a welcome page, by the way for your listeners, that that, that we’re excited to share. So any anyone who who would like to learn more about what we’re doing I got mold, you can go to gotmold.com/bsp, which is stands for biohacking super human performance.
And, and there, you will find a link to the ebook that I mentioned How to Find Mold, it’s 45 pages, this we get a lot of really positive feedback on that one piece alone. And also, there is a coupon code and a link to, to our website, to our shop page actually, for the test kits. So you get a 10% discount. You can also if you want it to just go to gotmold.com. You could also just use the coupon code nat10 n a t 10, for a 10% discount on on any of our test kits, and refills, although you want to buy a test kit first.
Nathalie Niddam 1:26:43
Yeah, buy the test because first and then buy the refills or buy extra. Like I’m sitting here counting. I’m gonna 1 2 3, I’m gonna need extras. Anyway, Jason, this has been amazing. I’m, I feel like we could just keep talking for a long time. But maybe we just have to plan another episode on another day with more of those fun topics.
So thank you so much for your time today. And for all the work that you’re doing. I think it’s so important. And it’s as to your point, it’s so overlooked by so many people.
Jason Earle 1:27:15
Thank you for your work tonight. You do great work. I was very excited to join you for this show. I’ve heard a lot of wonderful things about you.
Nathalie Niddam 1:27:23
Thank you. Thanks so much for joining me on this episode of The Biohacking Superhuman Performance podcast. If you enjoyed the show, please remember to leave us a five star review on iTunes, because that’s what helps us to be heard and to be seen. If you’d like to connect with me directly. Or if you’d like to leave any comments or if you haven’t any questions about this episode, please reach out to me directly through my website, natniddam.com.
And of course, if you’re not already a member of the Biohacking Superhuman Performance community on Facebook, that’s where you’ll find me every day. It’s a short application, just answered a couple of questions and you’re in and interfacing with other amazing biohackers thanks again, and we’ll look forward to seeing you on the next episode.