Health Mysteries Solved
Mon, Oct 24, 2022 10:36AM • 50:12
Jason explains that mold is, on a very basic level, the beginning of decay. This decay, which is nature’s way of breaking things down, causes a smell that serves as a warning sign to humans. Some people are more sensitive to molds and therefore find it easier to smell mold when it’s in the air or the environment. Mold sends you a signal that the air is not healthy and you want to heed that warning because mold problems just get worse if they are not dealt with.
mold, mycotoxins, remediation, vocs, spores, people, musty smell, cleaned, musty odor, problem, air, test, remove, building, fungi, called, mold growth, chemicals, surfaces, mold remediation
Meet Alison. She was dealing with brain fog and was constantly tired and also felt like she was not getting a good night’s rest. She was experiencing joint pain and felt much older than her chronological age. Alison saw multiple doctors, and they checked her B vitamins her thyroid, her iron, but everything checked out. They did find that she had a positive AMA, which is anti nuclear antibodies. But she was told that it could be anything and most likely that it’s just nothing. When I met Alison, I rechecked her thyroid, because I almost always find underlying issues there that doctors often miss. However, even looking at all the markers and checking them against the optimal ranges, her thyroid function was really okay. However, there’s so many other things aside from thyroid that can lead to fatigue and the other symptoms that she was experiencing. And so I knew that we just haven’t turned over all of the stones yet. After speaking to her at length, we figured out that her symptoms actually got worse after she moved to her new house. My sense was that it was something in her environment, and that possible mold exposure was at the core of her mystery. We needed to figure out if there was mold, and if so, the best way to find it and remediate it, while supporting her body in the process. Every year 1000s of people are told there’s no explanation for their health concerns, and no way to fix them. They feel frustrated, undermined and lost. I know because that was me. Before I figured out the actual causes, and reclaimed my health. Now, I help others do the same. I’m in a tabular and this is health mystery solved.
We just heard all about Allison struggles. Join me on the show today to talk much more about this is Jason Earle, who is an indoor air quality Crusader. He’s the founder and CEO of one 800 Got mold, as well as Miko lab USA, and he’s the creator of the god Mold Test Kit. Jason went from being a Wall Street Wizkid to America’s top mold detective, and connected the dots in his own health Odyssey implicating a moldy farmhouse that he grew up in. And like many of my guests, Jason’s been featured in various publications and media outlets like the Dr. Oz Show Good Morning America, and Extreme Home Makeover. Jason, I cannot think of a better expert to bring on for this case. So welcome.
Thank you. It’s great to be here.
So it’s not news to most of us that mold exposure is not healthy for us, right. But while we’re aware of this, so many of us can be exposed, and we don’t even know it. And by the time we figure it out, there are various health issues. And they really accumulate over time in the mold field is really large. And I feel like it’s not really well regulated. And so with that comes a lot of confusion. And that’s why I’m so excited to dig into everything today so that you can clear this up for us. So when it comes to mold, what is it about molds that so bad for us? What makes it so toxic, and makes us feel so bad?
First of all, I think that on a very basic level, mold is essentially the beginning of decay, our bodies have visceral reactions to things that are decaying and have decayed. He’s just thinking about rotting food, feces, these kinds of things. There’s a visceral repulsion to it. And I feel that this is just observational, right? This is This is, after being in this 20 years, you start to think a little bit differently. And I believe that that’s the primary reason why we have these incredible reactions to it. It is it’s an evolutionary advantage, I would argue, potentially, that that ultimately, it’s part of the reason why also women tend to have a better sense of smell pick these things up more easily. And that by the way, it’s not just humans, it’s also other animals as well. That’s one of the reasons why we only use female mold sniffing dogs, because there’s a better sense of smell. But the that’s an evolutionary advantage. And I think, I think oftentimes, and by the way, the environmental sensitivities in general, are not a weakness, as many people feel that they are those people who, who have them, and then people who judge people who have them. I believe that evolutionary, that’s actually a sixth sense of sorts, that these things are bad for everybody. And it just so happens that if you’re sensitive to it, you got the message before they did. And if you listen to that you can reduce exposure and have a healthier life. And so just because you experience discomfort, doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing that people tend to think that pain is bad and pleasure is good. In this particular case, that signal is giving you a very important signal and it’s something to listen
- Oh Oh my gosh, I love this. I’m literally getting goosebumps just hearing you say this, it’s, you know, my canaries in the coal mine, you know, I say something similar, like your body’s telling you and you’re actually hearing it. And like all these other people that have no idea. So yes, like so agree with that.
And further to that point, I don’t even look at mold as the enemy. I look at mold as a signal, because you get the benefit of it sends you the musty odor, it sends you the message and it says something’s off something’s imbalanced there’s there’s actually look at it, I look at it much like inflammation in the body, where if you don’t deal with the underlying cause of inflammation in the body, you’ll go from acute inflammation to chronic inflammation, which is actually its own disease. The same thing goes with mold, mold, tendency, the signal if you don’t listen. In other words, if you don’t react quickly, it will get worse because mold problems do that that’s what they do, they grow and left unchecked, they grow too, they will ultimately take over the building the job of mold is is to is to take everything that was at one time living in turn it back into dirt. It’s doing that very efficiently outside and it’s doing its job quite well when it’s doing that with leaves and sticks and things like that. If it’s doing that to your wallboard or your belongings, not so much. I would argue that mold is actually not the enemy mold is actually telling you that you’ve got an imbalance in your building, and your building is sick. And when you fix that the building heals and guess what happens also, then the people inside it heal too.
Right? Now, if mold is not the enemy, though, what is it that the mold produces that makes you sick and makes the building sick?
Well, the best backup what is the enemy is actually moisture problems. Moisture is the enemy of a healthy building. Mold is just the byproduct, mold is the very predictable, natural byproduct of prolonged dampness. That’s it, multiples are everywhere. It they’re just waiting there for the right conditions to be present. And so really, if I could just turn it flip this, what you really have here, moist mold is a moisture problem. Mold is not the enemy moisture problems are. So that’s the first part. The second part is that once you once mold begins to take hold, once the spore is on a surface has the right conditions to germinate. Much like a seed, it will send out shoots called hyphae into the material release enzymes it does the digestion outside of the cell. So we digest inside, they digest outside and then extracts the nutrition from the from that from that material. And while it’s doing that, it’s obviously you know, building structures to increase its ability to eat more stuff. And while it does that it’s creating colonies. And while it’s digesting, it’s producing to overgeneralize three different things. Number one sports which are the you know, designed to go forth and prosper, right because go go go find more places to go eat more stuff and do it shop. And by the way, we really need that because if you imagine if we just had all the dead stuff outside, we’d have piles and piles of trees. And that’s why we have coal and oil and all that stuff. Because at one time we didn’t have fungi. And that’s where that stuff comes from deep within the earth. But we need that stuff now. Otherwise we’d have lots and lots of dead stuff piling up. But the spores are abundant and they’re ubiquitous. And they’re a very important part of the whole health perspective or the health health picture because people tend to react in allergenic ways to an allergic waste to exposure to spores, sinus issues, thermal reactions, itchy eyes, that kind of stuff. So high spore counts can be can be troubling. They also can carry mycotoxins, which is the byproduct of mold growth that only certain molds produce under certain circumstances. But mycotoxins got a lot of bad press.
Yeah, I mean, there’s so many tests out there right from mycotoxins and that’s one of the main things that people talk about.
It’s almost all they talk about. I think it’s a red herring. I don’t think it’s a red herring. It is a red herring. And in fact, it’s a distraction from the actual issue. It’s also it also completely ignores the fact that miCoach only some molds produce mycotoxins and even the ones that do including Stacie buttress, that notorious black toxic mold, which is, by the way, green, not black. It only produces mycotoxins during stress, or hot periods of high competition. And so, so we build this whole medical approach around detoxing mycotoxins. But what about all the molds that don’t produce mycotoxins that would this this philosophy would assume that the other molds are benign, and nothing could be further from the truth? And so the third thing that molds produce when when growing and all molds produced this when they’re growing is the musty smell. And the musty smell known as microbial volatile organic compounds or short M VOCs. are getting a lot of a lot of attention. Now, thankfully, I’ve been talking about this for 20 years because the dogs that we use during inspections are trained to sniff out the source of those microbial VOCs. And so we would go into houses where there would be significant symptoms people were very sick. We take air sample littles they may have normal spore counts, but there’s a strong musty odor. And and we do the remediation, or the we oversee the remediation do the testing at the end spore counts still seem normal, but the musty smell is gone, everybody feels better. And we saw that happen hundreds of times over the course of 20 years. And so now that the research is very clear that the microbial gas is the musty odor have incredible health consequences. It’s the second leading indicator of childhood asthma behind maternal smoking, it increases the risk and for asthma and children by 250%. Just having a baby exposed to the musty odor increases their risk of developing asthma by 250%. There’s wonderful research being done by my friend, Dr. John Bennett at Rutgers University, who wants to rename the volatile organic compounds associated with mold. Instead of MBSE. She wants to call them fala toxins, because she’s doing research on fruit flies, and exposing them to the musty odor. And she’s finding that they stopped producing dopamine, they fly downwards away from the light, they stop reproducing, they develop Parkinsonian like symptoms. In essence, they become depressed and had developed cognitive issues, which is a very common complaint for mold sufferers. They blame it on mycotoxins, but I’m here to tell you that in my experience of doing 1000s of assessments, all health driven, many of them are referred by their physicians that the musty odor is pervasive in all of these cases, toxigenic molds here and there, spore counts, sometimes high, sometimes not. And so, in most of the time, you’ve got kind of got a sweet spot where there’s in chronic dampness, you’ll have the toxigenic molds, you’ll tend to tend to have enough humidity, that you’ll have high sport and you’ll have the musty odor, and that those people are getting sort of a triple whammy. And so but but there’s really, there’s a really disproportionate amount of attention directed towards mycotoxins, as if the color of the mold or the type of mold dictates how you handle the mold. And again, nothing could be further from the truth. Mold is a moisture problem. And when you have those kinds of molds that are producing mycotoxins, by the way, that’s a sign that you have not listened to the early signals, because that’s late stage chronic dampness. Wow. So those are that’s those are the tertiary comments. Those are the last guys to show up to the party. That means that you didn’t listen when they when they first showed up,
right? Wow, this is so interesting. And I have to say I am someone who definitely has a very sensitive nose. So I go in somewhere. And if there’s even the slightest little bit of a musty smell, I’ll smell it, like Do you smell that? And most people are like, no, what are you talking about? I’m like, No, there’s something moldy here. I smell it like and this is, you know, sometimes in basements. But sometimes they could be just in other people’s homes or at restaurants or, you know, schools and things like that. And I was always told, Well, there’s no mold, we checked, right? Like, but there’s a musty smell, right? So they’re called the spore count is fine. So this really, really makes so much sense what you’re explaining, because it’s all of these things. And, you know, the musty smell. And these volatile compounds that come from that are really, really important, and people aren’t talking about them. So this is so, so important to know. So my next question then is if let’s say someone has an issue where they smell a musty smell, right, and they may have had water damage, or maybe they haven’t, or they don’t know, right? If they’re moving into a home, and they don’t know what happened five years ago, or 10 years ago? What are the best ways that they can test and find out because I know that there’s many different testing labs out there. And of course, you can have a technician come, but I feel like the field is just it’s such a big field, you know, and people have different training. And so someone can take, like you said, an air sample and say everything is fine. But is it really fine? Is there really a good test?
Well, it’s a great question. It’s a question that I’ve heard 1000s of times, and, and, you know, we I, my company is called one 800 Got mold, and we do mold inspections, and remediation consulting, you take 10s of 1000s of calls over the years and one consistent refrain is That sounds expensive, is there a test kit on the market. And so, so if you look at the spectrum of what’s out there, you’ve got basically these $10 petri dishes at the checkout at the hardware store, which are fundamentally, they’re basically a sixth grade science fair experiment. They’re scientifically invalid. They’re good, too. You know, if you want if you if you’re concerned about mold growth in your home, the first thing you should not do is grow more of it, which is what they encourage you to do. Got it makes sense. All petri dishes will grow mold. That’s what they’re designed to do with mold spores are ubiquitous, they will set out the air so that you know the presence of spores does not mean that you’ve got a mold problem. There’s a big difference between having mold which every house does, because every surface does mold spores, and mold growth or a mold problem where you got a real moisture condition that’s causing active growth. Those are very, very different things. So the question about the test kits, the tenella test kit, It’s at the checkout, those are those sort of anchor the darkness, if you will. And people buy hundreds of millions of dollars a year worth a dose. It’s just it’s a terrible waste. And then all the way on the other side, you’ve got very expensive inspectors, many of whom are capitalized on this mycotoxin thing. And they will do all sorts of weird tests the leg back, they’ll often use tests that are not recommended, like Urmi.
Yes. Oh, I could tell you stories about that. We’ll get into that later. But yeah,
bad news. And these guys that are charging, some of these guys are charging five or $6,000 for an inspection, and then they’re handing someone over $100,000 remediation proposal,
right. And I’ve even heard things where people are saying, you know, unfortunately, I had this happened to a neighbor of mine, they had the Urmi done. And they basically were told that everything in their house is bad. And for lack of a better word, they need to basically knock their house down. I mean, they didn’t say it in that way. But it was basically like it’s everywhere. And by the way, you also have to get rid of everything your own, like your clothes, your couches, your everything.
It’s It’s craziness. I’ve heard this for 20 years, most of what we’ve done is we spent time talking people down from the ceiling. Of all of the houses we’ve gone in, I have only one time said this is not habitable. Now, that doesn’t mean I have not recommend that people find alternative living arrangements while the problem is corrected. But to say that a building is uninhabitable is a very different conversation. And to say that all of your belongings are, quote unquote contaminated is to misunderstand contamination. It’s also to misunderstand what remediation is. Remediation is not about killing things. It’s not about removing mycotoxins, it’s about cleaning. You remove the building materials that support the fungal growth and you clean the surfaces. If you mycotoxins are not are not free, freely floating around their little oily substances. And that, that little bit there. Yeah, I mean, they’re very little, they’re measured in Nanos, but they’re, but they’re, they’re on dust and they’re on spores. And so you clean up the dust and the spores and guess what you’ve done, you’ve cleaned up the mycotoxins, there is no additional treatment needed for that. And we can talk more about remediation techniques. And why talk about chemicals and all that kind of stuff a little bit later. But on the testing piece, you’ve got the $10 test kits, and you got the six $7,000 maniacal fear based inspections. We also have, you know, our professional inspections are about 1000 to $1,500, on average, and that includes a full written report in the middle between that $10. And that 1500, which is the marketplace. There’s there’s a lot of junk science, good scientific idea poorly applied. And so what we’ve basically looked at is there’s two kinds of mold problems you can test for one of them would be what some people call hidden mold, starting to call it more sequestered hidden mold just means that you can’t see it sequestered for me it’s it’s, it’s, it’s a wet it is literally not part of the same space. So the stuff that would be growing in a wall that’s sequestered or hidden mold, that mold is going to produce VOCs and the musty odor but not spores. So there’s a different kind of test kit and we actually really like a product made by a company called home air check or actually prism analyticals. The company are now they’re named, I think enthalpy e and t h ALP why, but the website is home air check.com. And they have a voc test kit that will test for manmade VOCs, which are also a major problem in modern buildings, as well as microbial VOCs, which are the byproducts of active growth. And
the manmade, you’re talking about those are things like if people have like varnishes on their floors, right and things that the wood is treated with and paint is that we mean,
that’s right. Anything that you get from any of the big box stores is going to offer some great scenes, whether it’s furniture finishes, on your on your floors, walls, you know, insulation in the walls, unfortunately, many homes is made with formaldehyde. So VOCs in modern buildings are are a real problem, especially in America, Scandinavia, they’ve, they’ve regulated that for a long time, and they don’t have that issue. But we just love our fast cheap stuff. And fast, cheap stuff off gases. And it’s because it eases and plastics and all the stuff all the packaging, even, you know, we’re living in a chemical soup, if you saw the number of chemicals that are in your air, you’d be shocked. And and some of them are really disconcerting. So this test will tell you what your chemical load is in your house. So it’s a really useful overall view on the gases and
the VOCs in your home. And it differentiates between the regular VOCs and these microbial ones that could be for mold.
Yes, it does. And that’s that’s the that’s the best part about that test that and I am unaware of any other such tests in the industry that does that. That sounds really neat. Yeah, so I recommend them. The other kind of test kit that’s out there that’s actually valid uses same professionals actually we make one that uses the same devices that professionals use called spore traps. And that’s looking for a different kind of mold problem. That’s the kind of mold problem that’s growing on surfaces on the inside of your buildings so on exposed surfaces, now those exposed surfaces might be underneath the bottom of dresser drawers, they may be underneath furniture, but they’re still exposed surfaces within your airspace, if you will. And those mold problems, which are often caused by prolonged periods of elevated humidity, those mold problems, and if they, you’ll see that you’ll tend to have visible mold in areas, you know, a well experienced, well trained professional will find those kinds of problems fairly quickly, they tend to be low underneath furniture, on the backsides of dressers, and outside corners, cold closets, things like that, that’s from just having too much moisture in the air or from having something get wet and stay wet for too long. Those will those kinds of mold problems will create high spore counts. And so you, you basically are looking at much like COVID testing, there’s different kinds of COVID every kind of tests really, there’s there’s different ways to sort of look at the data and gather a perspective from from the methodology use. And so we like to pair them together. Because if you if you really want to get a holistic picture of what’s going on your air, you need to look at the gases and spores are the gases in the particles. And and so I like to suggest that people get a spore trap based test kit like ours, which we sell it got mold.com and the VOC test kit. And when you have them together, you can quickly see not only if you have a problem, but the type of problem you have. Is this a problem that’s hidden in the walls? Or is this a problem that’s actually growing on the surfaces in my airspace
that’s so helpful, I never really thought about it looking from both angles. But that makes so much sense. That’s great. And that’s really great resources for everyone to have, then, once someone does the test, and they see that it comes up for something, either the spores or the microbes are both. What’s the next step? Where do they go from there.
Unfortunately, we have not yet figured out a way to create a consumer friendly, low cost way to do your own remediation. And and Or even to do a proper inspection, without the benefit without the benefit of having some professional experience there on site. So even with our test kit, what we recommend is that if there’s any alert conditions detected, using our kit or any other test kit, for that matter, the best next step is to hire a professional. And the key element there, though, is to hire an independent, qualified professional who has specialized experience in mold and mold remediation, that does not have a relationship, a financial relationship of any sort or kind with a remediation firm. Of course, you’re depending on them to attest to that and be honest about it. But But that’s, that is so important. I cannot emphasize that enough.
I could certainly understand that. Because I can definitely see the relationship being a problem in a lot of different ways, for sure. So what types of questions can people ask the person that they’re potentially looking into to do the inspection just to know that they’re going to be good? So, you know, we can ask them, as you said that, that they don’t have an affiliation specifically to a remediation company? Is there anything else that we would want to know?
Yeah, actually, you know, it’s funny enough that we know we made a welcome page on our website for your listeners, and it’s got mold.com/mysteries solved. And on that page, we have an ebook called How to find mold, that has a bunch of frequently asked questions and includes in there, how to hire an inspector, what to ask and what to look for. And so that’s a free resource available to your listeners,
that’s great. Yes. And we’re gonna put that landing page in the show notes for everyone to see. And then they could download that that would be very, very helpful. And then once they have the inspector, and as you said, the inspector would not be connected to a remediation person or remediation company. How would they go about that, because there’s lots of companies in use, you mentioned before, some are very on the surface, some kind of go away to the other side, it may not be needed. So tell us a little bit about what remediation is and what it isn’t, and then how people can find the right person to remediate.
Okay, so I’m actually i, this is the first time I’ve announced this, but we’re working on a consumer version of the industry standard. It right now it’s locked away with the trade association. It’s a copyright protected document. And so the consumer can’t even get access to it unless they want to pay 75 bucks to buy this, you know, this paper hefty, very technical guide. And so I think that’s probably the underlying reason why there’s so much confusion about the subject and why contractors are able to just go rogue and have no consequences because the consumer doesn’t know they’re not informed. And so we’re working on on remedying that through a combination of little guides, pamphlets and also some explainer videos. In essence, remediation is about removal of mold and its byproducts is is not about killing mold. It is not about killing mycotoxins I love that one mycotoxins are alive never happens, you can’t kill them. But, but basically, in essence, mold remediation is a controlled interior demolition of effective materials, removal of such, and then a fine cleaning of all of the affected areas in the building. And then, of course, the most important part is the root word of remediation is remedy, you must fix the underlying moisture problem. And that actually should be done first, or at the same time that the cleanup is done. Because if you don’t, you know, keep up this is a really important point is that mold occurs within 24 to 48 hours of a moisture problem that isn’t dealt with properly. And according to the industry standard water damage material, porous water damaged materials that stay wet for 72 hours or longer are automatically considered moldy and should be removed regardless of whether there’s visible mold on it on them or not. And so, so the guidance, the professional guidance, the industry guidance, talks about mold problems and reaction to them in in matters of hours and days. Most homeowners or property owners or property managers tend to delay the reaction, at least a few days. They think about it in weeks and months, I’ve only had that question that way for a while now. But it is it moves very, very quickly. And a water damage problem is very cheap to fix. By the way, mold is very expensive. So the faster you move on that the less you have to involve significant budget outside contractors. By the way, as soon as it goes from 24 to 48 to 72 hours, you can no longer have your handyman, or your local guy or your dad or your or your or even yourself do it, you have to engage a professional to do removal of anything more than 10 square feet. And I even think that’s too much.
Okay, so if it’s right away, yes, you can remove the little bit of sheetrock or a little bit of the ceiling. But if it’s past 72 hours, then it’s really not a DIY type of project.
That’s right, if you can get wet sheet rock, if you can, if you can get to something within the first day, wet sheet rock and you don’t have the tools to dry it out, which of course most people don’t cut it
out. Now, can you just put a fan on it or that’s not enough it? The thing
about water and a wall is if the walls got insulation in it and that wall insulation got wet insulation will never dry. And so it just depends on the dynamic again, this is why professionals are necessary. You know, finding a qualified remediation contractor is almost as hard as finding a qualified inspector. It’s true. And it’s again, it’s a lot of it has to do with the fact that there’s there are a lot of mistakes that are made in the industry that are repeated by by contractors who just are not there’s IICRC certified, but they’re not actually following the standard at all. For example, fogging is not in the standard, it’s addressed to not do it. It’s specifically addressed as a not recommended practice.
May I ask why only because that’s something and again, I’m not a mold expert. That’s why I have you on but you know, it’s something I definitely hear about, and people sometimes even buy foggers and special solutions. I mean, there’s so many things, some are natural, some are not. But you know, it’s such a big thing that people talk about, can you tell us a little bit more about why that’s not recommended? And is it making it worse? Or is it just not making it any better? Well, first,
let me tell you why they do it. Okay. The first is they use it because it precipitates the particle. So in other words, what it does is it you create this mist, and and there’s something called agglomeration where these particles will will gather together. And by virtue of them getting larger, they the mass increases and they fall out of the air. So basically, the idea is fogging done. Well, if you can say that should should basically clear the air so to speak, and allow the surfaces to be clean. The thing is, is that the fundamental misunderstanding or the sort of the flaw in the logic about fogging in the first place, is that you have to most of the time, there’s their their antimicrobial components. So this fog, they’re trying to kill something. The fact is, is that there is no place when I say zero plays no place ever for anti microbials during mold remediation, unless you’re concerned about bacteria, like if there was a sewage leak, or you’ve got you know, river water or something like that, that has a high nutrient content that could potentially have or could have a lot of microbes in it. Those Those circumstances should be treated with sanitizing agents, because of the concern about bacterial infections are viable. You know, there’s there’s other critters in there that you got to worry about. But when it comes to mold, mold remediation, doesn’t need chemicals. And I have a very hard time finding contractors that will even listen to this by the way, even though by the way, that’s also in the industries. Wow. So keep in mind that oftentimes when you use chemical some of these chemicals have leave a legacy behind. Some of them are hormone modulating their quaternary ammonia which actually dry out And there’s evidence and the research that that says that once that become once it dries out becomes dust, it becomes airborne, and it lodges in your cells, and they can actually cause harm on modulation, and estrogen dysregulation, and all sorts of wonderful things like that. So antimicrobial, so the idea is that you spray a toxin, onto something that you don’t need to kill, the toxin stays behind. And oftentimes, the contractor thinks that they’ve just killed the mold, so they don’t need to remove it. So now you’ve got a high fungal load and a high chemical load. Congratulations.
Oh, gosh, yeah, because I guess what you were saying, like, if it’s making the spores or like the mold, kind of, you know, because you said that it’s going to be larger, so it falls down. So they have to almost like clean it up from the floor, right? But they don’t. So that’s right.
And that’s the way remediation is done. So the way remediation is done, is you you go in, you identify the areas of water damage, you remove, for example, sheet rock, carpet, carpet, padding, ceiling tiles, anything that’s been damaged, or where there’s growth, so anything standing, and you remove within two feet of those materials, you leave behind structural elements, and anything that isn’t damaged. And this is all done under containment and negative air pressure. So this is to control the dust, fungi laden dust is nasty stuff. And so of course, everyone doing the work has to wear proper protective equipment, because low spore counts before remediation will become very, very high spore counts during remediation as well. And so all of that work in containment under negative air pressure to control the dust, you will then they’ll then do fine cleaning. After that they’ll vacuum up everything using HEPA filter vacuum cleaners and wipe everything down. This is where they want to use chemicals and sprays. But they don’t need to just a damp wipe and with a detergent mix is very, it’s perfectly sufficient. It’s elbow grease. This is the biggest problem with remediation contractors, they don’t want to do the work they want to pay, they don’t want to do the work. They want to spray something or fog something and they want to have it smell good. They want to paint something they want a payment surface so that it looks like it’s been treated. All that stuff’s that the consumer is happy. But those all those things are unnecessary costs, they leave behind a smell, they leave behind a chemical. And they also don’t get to the heart of it, which is remove the fungi remove the mold, vacuum it up, wipe it down. So it’s HEPA wipe HEPA. That’s the mold remediation, Montra, HEPA wipe HEPA. And you do that four or five times and then you do it three more just for good measure. And, and that you’re also running air purifiers, HEPA filter, vacuum HEPA filtered air cleaners the entire time. And then even after they’re done cleaning, we leave them on for two days. And then they turn them off for 24 hours before we test that the byproduct of mold remediation should be a white glove clean space with zero odor, zero chemicals, zero residue, no paints, no encapsulants. You don’t need to add them antimicrobial paint or anything. Because if you didn’t, if you fix the water problem, not going to go back. If you didn’t fix the water problem, it’ll grow on the antimicrobial paint in six months, just give it time, mold always wins. So there’s no point in doing that. Plus you’re adding a line item writing expense. Does that all make sense?
Yeah, it does. So then in terms of the air, because I understand what you’re saying in terms of not using foggers. That makes complete sense in terms of cleaning it and wiping it. And I know you’re doing an under negative pressure. But let’s just say that someone has no say it’s in their basement, right? Or maybe like in a crawlspace. And typically, for many people, their air conditioners or their heating units are also in those spaces. So then, because the mold even though wasn’t growing in the ducts, let’s just say maybe, because there was spores and some of these volatile compounds. Could they have gone into other areas, right? Because I know you’re doing at a negative pressure in that space. But what if the spores got into the ducts? Or you know, and then they went upstairs from the basement? How would you address that? Because you’re using the HEPA filters, but you’re using it in the space where the mold was not everywhere else? Do you know what I mean? Yeah.
So that one of the things we tested for spores, right? I mean, I you know, our got mold tested as a sport trap test kit. But I must remind people, I’m not in the camp, that spores are what make you sick, I use spores as a measure of the Oh as a way to know more about the problem. Also, spores are a great way to know if the space has been cleaned. spores are microscopic dust. And I can connect it to a specific origin because mold doesn’t grow in the air, it grows on a surface. And so I use the spores as a way to measure the degree of contamination the degree of a mold problem. So you know, we test the whole house in most cases, and you know, the area you test the area of concern where mold is clearly present and where the remediation will occur regardless, and then you test the non complaint areas where there’s nothing visible because contamination can occur beyond that and that those areas need to be taken into consideration as part of the overall remediation so that would mean running air purifiers and HEPA vacuuming and wiping down those areas to
in those areas to got it
okay. Yeah, including duct duct work needs to be cleaned. There’s a standard for that natca And AVCA mechanical hygiene system standard. And so you know, getting your air ducts cleaned by someone who’s NACA certified is is always a good thing. But you know, I’m not in the camp that we can’t be away from spores. Let me give you a funny statistic. There’s a great book by the way, called the entangled life, anybody who’s interested in fungi will find that to be amazing is written by a guy named Merlin Sheldrake, beautiful, beautiful book. And he quotes that there are the kingdom fungi releases 50 Mega tons of spores into the environment every year 50 Mega tons is the equivalent of 500,000 blue whales. Wow. So is font king of fungi is the largest producer of biological particulate on the planet, we are not going to get away from spores. Right. So So but the thing is, what we what we want to do is make an environment which is not conducive to their growth and proliferation indoors. And so we use testing for spores to determine the extent of the problem where it needs to be cleaned up. And then also to assess whether or not it has been. That makes sense.
Yeah, it does. So then what about the end? Vocs because as you mentioned earlier, this is the stuff that can really make people sick, even more so than mycotoxins or the spores, as you say. And I’m just playing devil’s advocate, I guess a little bit. But is it possible that let’s just say someone had water damage or issues in their basement? It was musty there. But again, the ducts are there, right? Their heating system, or the air conditioning system is there and went through the ducts into the other parts of the house? And then the must even though the basements cleaned up? Could the musty smell still be in other areas?
Well, so the good news about the musty smell is that it’s airborne. And so as soon as you ventilate, it’s gone. If it’s not producing being produced, it well it does absorb into porous materials everybody has can relate to the idea of like a musty book. Right? The book may not be moldy, but it’s got a musty smell. You know, you look at the book and it looks fine, but because the paper will absorb that, that odor. So porous materials will absorb that odor of clothing. That’s why people who live in moldy houses sometimes smell musty. Yeah, it’ll absorb into their clothing and so so that musty odor can be you know, that can be washed out of clothes, by the way.
Okay, so that’s something that isn’t going to make you sick, thin, right? If you were that closer if you’ve read that book, because there’s no mold on it, or Canada,
a lot of know a lot of people will react to that and they’ll think they’re reacting to mycotoxins. This is. Everyone’s by the way. People also think mycotoxins are radioactive or something is if they’re in the wall, they’re gonna get you. These are you have to have a contact. There’s a lot of misunderstandings around mycotoxin. And let me also clarify something here. People get sick from mycotoxins. Okay. mycotoxins are not to be messed with. I have leaned over to take a sample of a tape lift from a really infested wall. It had black dents, mold growth, that was about a quarter of an inch off the wall furry, and it was up three or four feet. It was an entire basement and I went in there in the arrogance of of my early years as a mold assessor, went in there without a respirator and I leaned over, I felt, you know, that little bit of blood pressure rise in my face. And as I leaned over my face, my nose bled out, it just bled out like oh my gosh, and that’s one of the symptoms of tricot. The scene exposure is that it’s hemorrhagic, it will break capillaries. And so that’s why the whole the whole story about the Cleveland Clinic and the kids who got sick back in the 90s they all there a bunch of babies came into the Cleveland Clinic after a flood two weeks after a series of floods in Cleveland, and the babies were limping bleeding from their their orifices, and they, obviously everyone was scared to death. And the results were kind of inconclusive, but people blamed toxic mold and CDC said that it’s probably something else, but I had that experience. mycotoxins are serious mycotoxins are used in chemical weapons. The T two toxin used between Iran and Iraq was it was a kissing cousin of the same psychopathy and the sakib officemates. So it make no mistake, these are very potent chemical toxins that should not be taken lightly. I’m just saying the vast majority of illness that is blamed on mycotoxins is incorrect in my experience. So that’s the good news. And I think that is good news because mycotoxins our relationship with them is poorly understood. You know, we use mycotoxins to cure disease to antibiotics or mycotoxins. And I believe that that also causes a lot of sensitivities and people who, who had used antibiotics to treat things like Lyme disease, and then wonder why they had end up with a mold sensitivity when they just took gargantuan concentrated doses of mycotoxins to treat their Lyme disease. So these things are all kind of inextricably connected. And so my whole philosophy is, is that this the buildings that we live in work in are essentially extensions or our immune system. So in other words, it’s an extra skin or an exoskeleton that you live in. And I would even argue that the building you have synergy, you have a symbiotic relationship with your building, it’s here, it will protect you, as long as you protect it, if you take care of the building, it will take care of you. In fact, the longevity, the building is largely if it has a birthday, by the way, and it also may have a death day. And its longevity is determined by how well it’s cared for. And when the building gets sick, you get sick, the building heals you heal, I would argue that, that the most important relationship you might have, might be the one with the building, that you that you that you live in, the one that you take for granted. So often, then you think about this inanimate, inanimate thing. But in fact, there’s a sense of mutualism there that you require each other to survive.
So then going back to and it makes sense what you’re saying about mycotoxins that it’s not, it’s not produced by all molds. But if it’s there, it is an issue. But then with the N VOCs, and that sort of musty book, or musty clothes even after the remediation has been done, and mold has been removed and cleaned for some of the sensitive people, my canary so to speak, right, that’s still react, they read that book, and they start to maybe sneeze or feel like they have brain fog or just kind of feel off. Does that mean then that they that book needs to be cleaned? Or, you know, potentially thrown out?
Yes. Yeah, I mean, the bottom line is that moldy materials that are not of great financial or sentimental value should be disposed of, when in doubt, throw it out. Okay. But that’s not to say wholesale, right? You don’t just go wholesale, anything that’s porous and absorptive. Especially if it’s an odor, or if it’s been water damaged, or visible mold growth should just be disposed of, you can clean some things, but the question always is, is it worth it? You know?
All right. So we’re speaking about cleaning. And I know this may be a trick question. But is there a good mold kind of cleaner for porous things? Right. So obviously, you said it with countertops and things like that all you need is just a damp cloth and some soap. But clothing, for example, means you just wash it in detergent, or is there, you know, because you see, there’s so many things on the market that are called, you know, mold killer, so to speak, is there such a thing, are there good ones,
most of the time, the smell, unless mold has grown on it. And it’s hard to make that assessment. Oftentimes, these things are best removed with dry cleaning, or with last but not with typical sort of, you know, perchloroethylene, dry cleaning with like, carbon dioxide, or with an organic cleaner. And I mean, the organic chemicals, I mean, you know, a healthy dry cleaning, they tend to be very effective at removing odors, as and in some cases, actually, I’ve seen with, you know, expensive materials, where it can actually be removed. Well, with that much damage, it just depends on the material and, and how, how much time someone’s willing to invest in it. But in most cases, a good hot wash, and a good hot dryer, if the mold has not actually grown on the material will usually remove any of the odor, if it’s just absorbed from ambient air. And also if there’s sort of settled spores and fungal matter just from the ambient air again, not growing on that that can be just washed off. I mean, just in the wash borax if you want to if you want to get you know if you want to get fancy with it, but it doesn’t really require too much
more. Right, right? Because if it has the musty smell right, then that would mean that it is the VOCs that are on it, or at least that it was near those, right?
I would argue that if you wash something and it still has a musty odor, it’s contaminated and it’s garbage.
Got it. Okay, good rule of thumb for sure. Now, when we talk about mycotoxins, and I think it’s just so eye opening what you were explaining about that and how not every mold produces it. But what about testing for mycotoxins in the body? I mean, it’s such a popular thing. And so many functional medicine practitioners do that. And there’s many labs that will look at mycotoxins in someone’s urine, which would in turn, in theory, right show if they’ve had exposure to a mold, whether it’s past or present, and that there could be an issue and of course, there’s different binders and different kinds of things that can be used for that. What is your opinion on that? And if someone has no mycotoxins, I’m assuming it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t have other mold exposure, right?
Yeah. So I as you might imagine, I’ve got kind of a contrasting view on this too. And I do believe again that mycotoxins have a place and they are a causal factor in some human disease. But in terms of the way this has become sort of an industry around testing and binders and all that stuff, I’m a big fan of root cause most mycotoxin exposure in my estimation is actually through food for my own personal health journey. The so one of my solutions was a no sugar, no grains diet. If you look at the mycotoxin levels, in the grains, and and they and they and even sugar, whether or not but in many of our of our imports, and even peanuts and things like that. You’d be shocked shocked at how high those levels are aflatoxin, there’s an acceptable amount of aflatoxin and peanut butter according to the FDA. And, and the best part about Apple toxin is is it’s only the most potent chemical carcinogen on demand, aflatoxin b1, there’s an acceptable level in peanuts, and that’s coming in from the same kind of mold, it will grow on the sheet rock in your, in your living room. And so, so many times, people are being treated for mycotoxin exposure, and they’re being told that their house is the issue and a lot of people can’t find the problem, because the problem is in their diet, and they’re eating a high, highly processed diet comprised of non foods, primarily non foods, wheat and you know, and then you exacerbate that by having it be GMO non food with its mycotoxins and glyphosate on top of it, right, so just pile it on. And we wonder why we have these inflammatory conditions. And so So my suggestion is in terms of root cause, is if you want to detox first stop taxing so that means remove exposure. And so when if you have an air quality problem, you could do one of three things you can either filter the air, you usually remove the source, which is you know, remediation, not always possible or practical. You can filter the air which of course I do recommend, I think air purifiers are required appliance in every single home.
Do you have a favorite?
I love mattify air. I love IQ air too, they’re too expensive these days. And also bulky and they haven’t really changed change too much. But that’s a great all that help plus is great all around. workhorse. I have them throughout my house. But I also love mattify air. They’re lightweight, and they’re they’re very inexpensive, but they’re powerful. And they also look really nice. And and they’re quiet. And and so I’m a big, big fan of that company.
Do you have any thoughts on Austin Air, or air doctor? Because those are two popular ones that people talk about a lot? Do you think those work?
Yeah, they’re good filters. A true HEPA is the most important thing you’re going to look for. Because if it doesn’t say true HEPA, it isn’t and what is not what is not true HEPA. That means air actually will bypass the filter. The other component of a really good air filter is that you want to have enough activated carbon in it to remove the VOCs. Because healthy indoor air is not just low on particles, mold spores and combustion byproducts and things like that, but also low on gases and the VOCs. Whether they’re manmade or not, those can only be removed either through ventilation or through filtration. And so the filter needs to be able to capture those HEPA filters don’t do it, you need to have the carbon in there, which actually chemically binds to the VOCs. And so that means that you also have to replace those filters pretty regularly, otherwise, this VOCs will just pass through again. So I do like air, I think any filter is better than no filter. First of all, I don’t care if you put a pleated filter on a box fan. Seriously that I mean, that’s a very effective way of reducing particles to an acceptable level if you have a small budget. But But really, if you want to do the best you can for your air, you want to make sure there’s a decent amount of carbon in that filter, so that you can have a more well rounded perspective. Again, we’re testing for these problems, we’re looking for Spark spores and VOCs. So when we’re filtering, we’re also doing the same thing, we’re looking to take both of those things down to an acceptable level. The third part, so that you can you can either do the source removal, you can do the air filtration, or you can dilute dilution is more complicated conversation. That means you wouldn’t really open the windows to deal with a mold problem. But you might open the windows to deal with, you know, an odor, you might want to ventilate ventilate the house if you if that’s your only option right now. Because you just had you just listen to this podcast and you go, Oh my god, I’m living in this messy, you might want to get some fresh air in there. But that’s not a sustainable solution. And so ultimately, the most sustainable thing is obviously remediation. And the second most sustainable thing is air filtration.
As you can see, there’s quite a bit to mold and certainly many misconceptions about it. Sometimes it can be worse than we think. But other times, it may actually be not nearly as bad, especially when it comes to mycotoxins in the next episode, which is going to be episode 118. Jason and I are going to talk about how the body actually deals with mold and the best ways to support it. As you can probably guess, there will be many more myths to bust and practical advice that you can use right away. So please stay tuned. And in the meantime, if Alison sounds like someone you know, or you know anyone that’s dealing with mold, please share this episode with them. And please be sure that you subscribe to the show, so that you never miss an episode. And as always, when it comes to your health issues, please please don’t give up. The answers are out there. And there is hope. I’m in a tabular. Thank you so much for listening, and I will see you next time on health mystery solved, where we continue this conversation
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