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The Safest and Healthiest Ways to Manage Mold
The harmful impact that mold can have on your health, and the wellbeing of your family, has been particularly popular in media news outlets in the recent years. Today, we’re hearing more than ever about families being forced to move away from their homes, or spend thousands of dollars on mold remediation just so they can live in an environment that isn’t slowly poisoning them.
Research suggests that over 100 million Americans are living with dangerous toxins in their home. Part of the reason for this is that people don’t recognize that they’re being exposed to mold on a regular basis, and part of it is down to the fact that most homeowners don’t know how to address the mold issue once they diagnose it.
Why is Mold So Dangerous?
Although the symptoms for some people exposed to toxic mold may not be as significant as they are for others – constant exposure to dangerous spores will eventually affect everyone, regardless of their fitness level, general health, ethnicity, or age. Whether you live in dry, or wet climates, you’re equally at risk when it comes to suffering from mold-based poisoning. What’s more, up to 28% of the population suffer from genetic conditions that make them particularly predisposed to severe mold reactions. In other words, 75 million people across the US could be experiencing serious medical problems as a result of mold exposure.
Part of what makes mold especially dangerous, is the fact that we simply don’t know how to kill it properly. In fact, the dead mold that we wipe off the surface of bathtubs and kitchen tiles with bleach can dissolve into tiny fragments which you can then inhale into your body. On top of that, mold spores and toxins can make their way into almost anything, from clothing and books, to bedding and furniture.
It’s no wonder that many experts suggest that those with a severe mold problem should leave their home with nothing but their driver’s license.
The Illnesses Caused by Toxic Mold
Some experts regard the mold problem to be something of a pandemic, suggesting that almost every doctor in the United States might be treating a mold-related illness without even realizing it. As millions of people across the nation continue to suffer from mysterious illnesses that seem impossible to cure by physician standards, the hidden problem of mold continues to seep into the core foundations of our society.
Of course, it’s not necessarily your doctor’s fault that illnesses caused by toxic mold are going undiagnosed. Because the toxins that come from mold spores, and their effects are so broad, the symptoms of mold toxicity can be both varied, and complex – making it difficult for physicians to achieve the right diagnosis.
Indeed, symptoms of mold-related illness have extended all the way from inflammatory and autoimmune issues, to neurocognitive problems such as migraines, fatigue, and more. Some patients have even experienced issues like cardiac arrhythmias, insomnia, and muscle cramps simply because they inhaled a few toxic spores.
As spores can settle into almost any part of the body, the list of symptoms associated with mold toxicity is practically endless, and while not everyone will react to the presence of mold in their homes, many do, experiencing issues that damage their lifestyle, and leave them feeling depressed, weak, and helpless. Many people with mold toxicity actually describe their emotions as “out of control”.
Just some of the most common symptoms include:
- Weight gain – Some people experience weight loss, but most suffer from rapid weight gain that doesn’t stop until they receive treatment.
- Brain fog, lack of concentration or cognitive function, and memory loss. Children have been found to experience drops in IQ after frequent mold exposure.
- Damage to the brain caused by mycotoxins irritating the amygdala
- Nose and eye irritation (itching, redness, soreness, and bleeding)
- Asthma or respiratory infections that may lead to issues such as coughing up blood
- Fatigue, dizziness, and flu-like symptoms
- Vomiting and Diarrhea
- Liver damage
- Damage to the immune system
While the above symptoms have been seen in people who were exposed to toxic mold spores, other symptoms may yet exist. Some reports of animals that have been exposed to mold in laboratory conditions has prompted the appearance of symptoms such as:
- Reproductive cycle disruption
- Kidney damage
So what can you do to protect yourself?
Step 1: Discovering Where the Mold Comes From
When it comes to removing mold from your home, the first step is to find out why the mold has accumulated in the first place. Usually, the answer will be connected to leaking, humidity over 50%, or water damage. In most homes, the presence of mold can be explained by leaking windows or pipes, leaking roofs, and indoor flooding. To grow, the spores need the following conditions:
- Food (cotton, drywall, wood)
- Existing spores
Since all of the other conditions on the above list are almost always present in homes, moisture is the key cause of growth. Of course, not all mold may be as damaging to your health. The most dangerous, or toxic spores are those that produce mycotoxins – substances responsible for causing allergic and other adverse health reactions.
Step 2: Fix the Cause, Not the Symptoms
When most homeowners notice the presence of mold, they turn directly to bleach to solve the problem. However, the truth is that bleaching a surface is perhaps one of the worst things you can do in the fight against toxic mold. Though this product will clean the surface, the water in the bleach will feed the mold you can’t see. Instead, you should be looking to purchase a product known as “Concrobium”.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), were one of the first agencies to stop recommending the use of bleach for dealing with mold problems. What’s more, since then, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have updated their guide to remove their once-suggested use of bleach as a means of killing spores.
While bleach can kill some mold, it only works at removing the spores on the surface of your walls, tiles, or floors. However, the problem is that to ensure survival, mold spreads its roots (or Mycelia) deep into porous surfaces where the substances in bleach that kill spores cannot reach. This means that mold remediation requires a cleaner that reaches deep down into porous materials to remove the roots of the mold. At the same time, bleach contains about 90% water – a substance that mold loves. When bleach is applied to a surface, the chlorine quickly evaporates and leaves behind a lot of water, that soaks into the porous surface, and feeds the mold. In other words, using bleach actually feeds the internal mold spores.
Facts to Remember about Bleach and Mold:
- In some cases – bleach can encourage toxic mold to grow further and faster due to excess moisture.
- Bleach only removes the color from mold – the surface appears clean but roots continue to grow
- The EPA and OSHA have specifically advised against using bleach for mold remediation
- Chlorine bleach – the bleach most commonly used in cleaning mold – is extremely harmful to surfaces. If bleach is used in a substance such as wood, it starts to weaken down the material by breaking the fibers – creating problems with the structural integrity of a home.
Step 3: Know When to Hire an Expert
In particularly bad situations, the best bet may be to call a professional to help you solve your mold problem.
If you’re suffering from mold exposure symptoms, it’s best to call the professionals as quickly as possible, as very small patches of mold can quickly expand, grow, and thrive – emerging into huge mold hassles that damage your respiratory system, and lead to additional health problems for both you, and your family.
The only problem for most people when it comes to hiring an expert to help them save their home, or remove dangerous toxins from the property, is that the world of mold remediation is currently very vast and unregulated. In other words, it’s pretty straightforward for any person – regardless of their scientific knowledge or personal experience – to identify themselves as a mold removal expert. This means that you could call someone out who has no idea what they’re doing, and pay for a service that leaves you with the exact same problems you’ve been suffering from all alone.
The best thing to do is to look for an independent mold remediation professional who has at least some form of credential in regard to the investigation and remediation of mold. This could mean checking out professionals who don’t attempt to immediately sell you their own products, and can provide a written report that includes lab results of surface samples after they have completed the remediation project.
IICRC.org, ACAC.org, and HBELC.org are some resources that can help searching for a mold specialist in your area – and it’s important to remember that if they use bleach – they’re not really an expert.