Mold IllnessTwenty years ago virtually no one in the medical community recognized this very common cause of fatigue, pain, cognitive and mood issues. Check out this list of common mold symptoms to see if you might be exposed to a toxic mold.
Common symptoms of mold exposure
- Headaches and migraines
- Confusion, “brain fog,” memory loss, loss of cognitive function
- Abnormal weight gain
- Chronic sinus or lung issues
- Burning eyes, blurred vision
- Stiffness and body pain, especially in a.m.
- Vertigo, dizziness, lightheadedness
- Unusual sensations – numbness, tingling, shocks, jolts, bolts, shooting pains
- Getting sick more often than others
- Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Frequent urination, drinking lots of water but still feel dehydrated
Anywhere that humidity stays above 45% for more than 24 hours plus a food source (any organic material) equals the potential for a health-threatening mold problem.
Suspect a mold issue? Test Home and Office
- ERMI - this test involves sampling the area of interest with a cloth that is sent to a lab for identification and testing of 26 toxic/potentially toxic types of molds and 10 “normal” everywhere/outdoor types of mold to arrive at an index of relative moldiness with a ratio of harmful to harmless molds. Upside: Gives a comprehensive picture of all mold blooms since the last deep cleaning of the space with good sensitivity. Downside: Can’t localize the problem.
- Environmental Mycotoxin Test – There are several labs that offer this test for the poisonous compounds that can be made by the harmful molds. This sample is usually taken from the furnace/HVAC filter. Upside: Can occasionally find a problem that’s hidden (mold spores are trapped under a floor or behind a wall but the toxins can get into living space when spores can’t). Downside: May be low sensitivity if the furnace filter hasn’t been in use for several months or more.
- Spore trap testing - This is the type of testing performed by all mold remediation contractors. It samples current levels of several types of mold spores in the air for 1 minute in each location of interest. Upside: Can localize the issue if it’s active at the moment of testing. Downside: It may miss a problem on a day with low humidity or a problem that may occur intermittently with moisture intrusion into a space such as a crawl space, attic, basement, or interior of a wall.
Test For Mold Yourself
Thorough exam by a mold-literate physician and applicable lab testing:
- Visual contrast study – Take it ONLINE or at our office
- Testing of inflammatory markers commonly associated with mold exposure
- Testing of your urine for evidence of toxins produced by toxic molds with RealTime Laboratories or Great Plains Laboratory
- Organic acids urine testing for evidence of abnormal mold growth within the body.
Here’s the 1,2,3 to get you started. These simple steps help a great many people before they even arrive at Dr. Barter’s office or the office of another specialist:
- Toxin binders such as charcoal, bentonite clay, cholestyramine (prescription), or chlorella (organic glass-grown) help to neutralize and bind up these potent poisons in the gut after they are expelled by the liver. The binders prevent recirculation into the bloodstream.
- Detoxification aids such as:
- Liposomal glutathione – this is listed first for a reason.
- Alpha-lipoic acid
- Curcumin (from turmeric)
- Milk thistle
- Amino acids – glycine, taurine, glutamine
- Dry skin brushing
- Neti pot or sinus rinses
- Electrolytes for alkalizing urine and enhancing hydration
- Adrenal support – the vast majority of mold patients seen in my office have drastically reduced ability to manage inflammation due to hypothalamic/pituitary/adrenal axis dysregulation cause by mold. Herbals or prescriptions to support these systems are often key to recovery.
More about MOLD and MYCOTOXINS
- Regular everyday harmless molds do NOT produce substances that make humans and animals sick, but you might be allergic to them. This is an easy fix. Get rid of the mold source (mold spores and hyphae, do a medium-duty (see below) housecleaning, and you’re cured.
- Toxic molds produce SPORES as small as 0.3 microns in size, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) ranging from benzene, toluene and other organic solvents as small as 0.0007 microns, to airborne gaseous compounds known as mycotoxins approximately 0.1 microns in size that can soak in directly through the skin, the lining of the lungs, eyeballs, and cause significant illness to human and livestock. The livestock industry has been testing animal feed for these compounds for far longer than we’ve been testing humans for them!
- Mycotoxins are exceedingly challenging to remove from an indoor environment due to their minute size of ~0.1 microns. HEPA filtration only filters particles 0.3 microns and larger.
- For a toxic mold problem, Ultra low particulate air (ULPA) filters are required. ULPA vacuum filtration systems are 99.9995% efficient in removing particles 0.12 µm and larger, grabbing the majority of the mycotoxins.
- High grade carbon air filtration systems are effective to 0.003 microns, grabbing most VOCs which tend to bind to particulate matter in the air.
- A toxic mold situation requires a deep cleaning (see below).
Clean It Up
Get a mold remediator who understands the difference between a MOLD SPORE and a MYCOTOXIN. If your mold remediation company hasn’t heard of a mycotoxin (mold toxin), run the other direction. A mold remediation contractor who doesn’t understand what molecular compounds toxic mold produces and what it takes to clean these out of the environment is likely to aggravate your problem by spreading it around.
Mold Remediation - Two phase process
- Phase 1: Source Remediation
- Phase 2: Home Cleanse
- Medium-duty Cleaning
- Deep Cleaning
Phase I - Source Remediation
First, establish control of humidity in the space. If moisture control is not established first, mold will regrow after remediation. Proper grading and drainage, sealing cracks and other foundation issues, encapsulation and humidity-control systems are essential for success.
Source area preparation
- Containment of area
- Implementation of negative pressure to prevent spread of spores and fragments
- HVAC vents, registers, A/C units sealed
- All non-removable fixtures wrapped
- Contents all removed
- Discard of all water damaged and mold contaminated contents
- Wrapping up any carpeting within containment during HEPA air scrubbing before removing.
Source area cleaning
- Remove all non-salvageable contaminated building materials:
- Carpets and carpet padding, drapes
- Compressed wood products
- Ceiling tiles
- Any ductwork lined with fiberglass
Clean salvageable affected building materials with microbicidal product by scrubbing/wiping
- Solid wood such as framing and studs
- Tile, glass, metal
Phase II Medium-duty Cleaning
For non-toxic mold
The goal is to remove dust from all areas and contents
- Air scrubbing with HEPA air scrubbers.
- All surfaces walls, ceilings, cabinets are HEPA vacuumed & wiped clean.
- Removal of all carpet and carpet padding throughout the home.
- Porous objects such as upholstered furnishings are difficult to clean and may need to be replaced. Consult the doctor to help you evaluate your health needs at this time.
For Toxic Mold and Mycotoxins
Mycotoxins are STICKY. They have strong electrostatic charges and stick to walls, ceilings, furnishings, and can soak into any porous object. This is the way to eliminate them
- Pack out all removable items. All items should be wiped down in a clean location with anti-microbial clean damp cloths using a non-toxic compound such as Enzacare® or hydrogen peroxide wipes before being returned to the cleaned space.
- Consult the mold remediator to plan the best time to have the HVAC ductwork, heating and cooling units and vents cleaned or replaced.
- All contaminated building materials, carpeting and drapes have already been removed in Phase I.
- Continual industrial air scrubber (HEPA and carbon filters) use during cleaning process leading up to fogging to pull particulate and gaseous compounds from air.
- Fogging of entire area (including injecting inside walls) with non-toxic mold-killing product such as Enzacare® allowing at least 4 hours, ideally overnight for particulate to settle to floor and horizontal surfaces
- ULPA vacuum of every surface starting with ceilings, walls, horizontal surfaces, and finally the floor. This is the crucial step that removes the mycotoxins from the surfaces in the environment.
- Post-testing 48-72 hours after treatment to ensure complete remediation.
Keeping It Clean
Prevent a future problem with these hygiene measures
- Keep it dry – address any spills, leaks or intrusions immediately
- Maintain humidity below 45%, especially below-grade areas.
- For cleaning utilize a HEPA vacuum
- DO NOT DRY DUST – this just spreads particulate around. When dusting use a clean damp cloth to pick up the particulate. Use a non-toxic cleaning product such as Enzacare®
- Keep storage areas dry and well-ventilated – let the closets breathe.
- Avoid carpet – too difficult to keep clean.
- Avoid clutter - where there’s dust there’s mold.
- Have HVAC Systems, duct work, A/C units and radiators professionally cleaned once a year
- Utilize air filtration such as HEPA plus carbon filtration, and/or purification with and ionizing air disinfectant. The ionizer systems work best in conjunction with HEPA and carbon filtration systems.