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UrthPRO Blog RSS FeedA blog about Mold, Water Damage, Disaster Preparedness and Awareness!  The professional source for cleaning experts with a commitment to environmental responsibility. 



Questions from our Readers
Written by Susan Lillard   
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 21:26

Q. Hello.  Our 12 y/o roof began leaking 9 years ago.  Mold covered the plaster and drywall surfaces of all exterior facing walls.  No daughter and husband are both ill with autoimmune disorders.  Only used bleach to remove mold.  Stains still present.  Comments?

First of all, bleach is the last thing you want to use to remove mold.  It actually makes it more virulent and sets off mycotoxins.  Secondly, you need to have your roof totally repaired or replaced and remove all mold-stained materials such as sheetrock and drywall in a contained environment so you don’t cross contaminate.  I hope this helps.

 

Q. Have leased an old church for by consignment boutique from a slumlord. Concerned for my health, employees, customers and merchandise.  Heard NY is unclear on property that is not residential..Recently Irene caused rain & wind to enter the bell tower, ceiling tile caved, and inches of debris covered the vestibule of the church entrance. Smells like old barn and dead animal. How should I proceed?

According to the EPA there are no standards for mold in public buildings.  You could have the mold tested to get out of your lease.  Make sure you have viable testing done, however, as it will determine the health effects.

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How to Hire a Qualified Mold Remediation Professional
Written by Susan Lillard   
Thursday, 20 October 2011 18:34

UrthPRO works great for areas of mold that are small to medium (less than 3 patches of 10 square feet or less each to 3 patches of mold, each smaller than 10 square feet, or one or more isolated patches larger than 10 square feet but a total area smaller than 32 square feet).  But if the mold is extensive you may want to bring in a professional.  It is crucial to have the source of the water damage repaired as well as the mold removed.

A mold area is considered extensive if a single patch of mold is larger in area than a sheet of plywood (32 square feet).  Your mold inspector should be able to discern the magnitude of the mold damage.  It is considered a conflict of interest to hire the same company who conducted the mold inspection.  This is likened to a student correcting their own homework.

Since the government hasn’t set any standards for proper mold remediation you must be vigilante in hiring your own.  The following steps should be taken:

  • Check references and consult with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • Discover what type of training and certificates the mold professional may have.
  • Check their affiliations (Indoor Air Quality Association also known as IAQA, National Association of Mold Professionals also known as NAMP, etc.)
  • If they will remove the mold by replacing drywall, sheetrock, insulation; or use dry ice blasting and/or HEPA.  These types of mold removal are more costly but much more effective.
  • Meet with the restoration professional in person and ask what their plan of action is.  If they claim to use enzymes, heat the chances are that it will not be effective in removing the mold.

Several years ago I had a client in Washington DC who hired several mold restoration companies to remove her mold problem but they apparently made it worse.  She was extremely ill from all of the harsh chemicals they had used.  To this day she is still rather ill.

According to many mold professionals, most mold restoration professionals cut small corners.  It is important to know exactly where they do so.  Furthermore, don’t be afraid to ask questions and do your research.  There is a wealth of information on this site, not only this blog.

The more you know about mold restoration, the greater the chance your job will be a success.

Note: This site is not intended to give medical or professional advice. The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions do not necessarily reflect my peers or professional affiliates. The information here does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supersede the professional advice of others.

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Mold and ADHD Misdiagnosis
Written by Susan Lillard   
Wednesday, 07 September 2011 19:57

The highest rates of drug treatment for ADHD by sex and age were reported among males aged 12 years (9.3%) and among females (2.7%), according to the CDC.

To be diagnosed with ADHD a child must have six or more symptoms for six months including failure to pay attention in schoolwork or play, frequent mistakes due to inattention of schoolwork, frequent failure to listen when spoken to directly, failure to follow up on chores and forgetfulness.

“Health care costs associated with ADHD are conservatively estimated at $3.3 billion annually,” it added.

Once we understand that mycotoxins are common in water-damaged buildings and can damage the body and nervous system, we can start asking a few hard questions.  For instance, since watchdog agencies like the EPA recognize that indoor mold growth can make you sick, why isn’t the government doing more about it?  Furthermore, why are they not involved with mold toxin treatment when one of their own scientists discovered the means to “cure” mold exposure?

The EPA’s mission is “to protect human health and to safeguard the air, water, and land upon which life depends.”  They have 9,000 highly educated and technically trained staff that include engineers and scientists.  So what are they doing to fix these schools?

Almost nothing.  While EPA scientists can study toxic mold, it suddenly stops at the schoolhouse doors. This agency is a watchdog for only outdoor pollutants; it cannot regulate inside ones.

What about OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration?  OHSA’s mission is to “save lives, prevent injuries, and protect the health of America’s workers.”  That means employers and employees, not your kids or grandkids.

We wrack our brains and then remember the big deal over anthrax.  Who handled the anthrax-contaminated Federal Government buildings:  The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, NIOSH.  But state schools are not Federal Government buildings.  NIOSH can’t help.

Surprisingly no U.S. government agency has the responsibility or the ability to regulate indoor pollutants in our schools and homes and as such, no U.S. government agency has any significant efforts underway to study such indoor pollutants such as neurotoxins from common indoor molds.

This is why if you feel that mold is a problem in your child’s school, contact your congressman and let them know.  In large numbers perhaps we can get things done!

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Questions From our Readers
Written by Susan Lillard   
Tuesday, 18 October 2011 18:47


Q. Good day I want to find out some answers on a mold issue I no longer live in.  Back in April 2010 I started getting an off balance feeling that scared me. I moved into basement apartment and lived there for only 2 months. During the month of April is when I started feeling off balance.  I packed my things and moved to my brother’s house for a month while locating a new place to live.

My ENT tested me for mold and I was very allergic to all molds.  25 weeks later I am still getting these feelings that I read about on your website.  I thought it was vertigo but the ENT said there we no signs.  Before April I have never felt like this in my entire life.  I do work in a well vented warehouse 8 hours of the day.  During this time I ran into a woman who lived in the apartment before me with the same signs, she cleared up in about four months.

I am nervous and wondering if I need to worry and when will it clear up?  My ENT said it should clear during the first frost.  October 16th was my first day I felt pretty good until that night and then the morning after.  It seems like it comes and goes.  Would you think its mold related?  Please help!

 A. According to the World Health Organization, one out of every three buildings is deemed s “sick building.”  This includes not only mold but radon and asbestos with mold being the most common problem.  You must determine that mold is the culprit you must have a mold inspection.  You can find a qualified mold inspector through the Indoor Air Quality Association (www.iaqa.org).

If poisonous mold is detected you can find a remediation company in your area on the same website.  I hope you find the source of your problem.

Q. There is a chronic mold infestation in my sister’s home that included all the walls and ceilings in her home, as a result she has develop asthma, coronary artery disease, and her health has deteriorated  significantly.

This existed over a three year period the landlord denied that it was mold. They claimed that the staining and big blotches on the walls and ceilings were cause by smoking, now she has been hospitalized for months and only after the city inspector, directed them did they attempted to attend to the problem by painting over it.Within days the mold started to appear again.  This was predominately in her bedroom where both black and brown mold was found.

Do you think it is safe for her to return to this home?

A. It sounds as though your sister has a major mold problem.  In my opinion I do not think it is safe to return to the building.  The contents of the structure could also be compromised.  You might want to confer with a local industrial hygienist for more assistance on this matter.

Note: This site is not intended to give medical or professional advice. The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions do not necessarily reflect my peers or professional affiliates. The information here does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supersede the professional advice of others.

 

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Questions From our Readers
Written by Susan Lillard   
Tuesday, 27 September 2011 19:09
Q. Dear Susan, I am new to all this, just got a blood test back confirmed I have mold exposure. I got it 12 years ago, and I lost my health hard...had to stop working, and many other things. my question is this...we are just about to move into a 100 year old farmhouse with a limestone basement...it leaks naturally because of the limestone.

I want to hire a home inspector to check for mold and lead paint.  What kind of mold is toxic? All of it? I couldn't find the answers to that online...also what kind of mold should I have him checking for, and how will I know if I should be concerned about that species of mold or not? TY!!  

A. There are thousands of types of mold and only about 35 are poisonous, and still just a few of those are very common in water damaged buildings.  Some types of toxic mold include Aspergillus, Helminthosporium, Bipolaris, Botrytis, Chaetomium, Alternaria, Cienowskia Cladosporium, Epicoccum. Fusarium, and Stachybotrys.

Q. I understand that grapefruit seed extract is what kills mold spores, why does so much information discuss bleach?

Also, what are the ingredients in Urthpro that kills mold spores?
thanks...

Grapefruit seed extract can be helpful in getting rid of some molds, but a common misconception is that bleach kills mold because of the chlorine-it doesn't!  Using bleach on mold simply discolors the infestation, leaving invisible mold spores on the surface.  If you look closely on most advertisements for bleach products, they call themselves "stain removers" and don't necessarily claim to kill mold.

UrthPRO is  actually quite a unique product.  It is made from ethanol (the same alcohol as alcoholic beverages), coconut oil soap, and lavender oil for fragrance.  The inventors stumbled on this formula trying to make a food additive to kill bacteria and extend shelf lives of perishable foods.  Alone, each individual ingredient in UrthPRO does not necessarily kill mold, but together they make for a surprisingly effective disinfectant!

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Which Molds Are Hazardous?
Written by Susan Lillard   
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 21:15

There are thousands of types of fungi but only a handful can be hazardous.  Below are the usual suspects that you should pay attention to:

Aspergillus (pronounced “As-per-jil-us”)- The type of diseases caused by aspergillus are varied, ranging from an "allergy"-type illness to life-threatening generalized infections. Diseases caused by aspergillus are called Aspergillosis. The severity of Aspergillosis is determined by various factors but one of the most important is the state of the immune system of the person.

Penicillium (pronounced “pen-i-sil-ium”) – This mold produces many serious infections that can be focal or disseminated that can affect the bone marrow, kidneys, lungs, intestines, liver, spleen, skin, and soft tissue. The clinical manifestations most commonly associated with Penicillium are fever, weight loss, anemia, skin lesions, cough, and pulmonary infiltrates.  Aspergillus and penicilliam can often be found in clusters.  In my opinion this generally suggests the beginning of a mold problem.

Mucor (pronounced “mu-kor”)– A fungus which may be allergenic (skin and bronchial tests). There may have been scattered reports of individuals who have been infected by this fungus through wounds. These were reported as a causation agent of a primary infection in an otherwise healthy person. This organism may cause an infection called “mucorosis” in immune compromised individuals (i. e., transplant recipient, herpes, common cold). The sites of infection are the lung, nasal sinus, brain, eye, and skin. Infections may have multiple sites.

Alternaria (pronounced “all-ter-nar-ia”) - Specimens of alternaria are often found growing on carpets, textiles and horizontal surfaces such as window frames. It is commonly found in soil, seeds and plants. It is known to be a common allergen. It appears as a velvety tuft with long soft hairs and its color ranges from dark olive green to brown. Alternaria is a dry spore and is readily found in air samples as well as on tape lift samples. Alternaria is commonly found in water damaged buildings, and a significant increase in its numbers compared to outdoor levels can be a sign of growth.  It can affect the brain, lungs, and gut by infection.

Acute symptoms include edema and bronchi spasms, chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema. As with other toxigenic molds, alternaria can also alter DNA, as well as destroy the human immune system.

Fusarium (pronounced “few-sar-i-um”)  - Cases of sinusitis and catheter infection have been reported.  Upon initial exposure, fusarium generally ascends right into the colon, then through the tissues and through the central nervous system.

Stachybotrys (pronounced “sta-key-bot-tris”) - Individuals with chronic exposure to toxins produced by this fungus reported cold and flu symptoms, memory loss, muscle aches, sore throats, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, dermatitis, intermittent local hair loss, and generalized malaise. The toxins produced by this fungus may suppress and could destroy the immune system affecting the lymphoid tissue and the bone marrow.

Chaetomium (pronounced “kay-toe-mium”) - Unlike most other mold pathogens, there is medical evidence to suggest that people who are exposed to chaetomium may be predisposed to permanent neurological damage of the myelin sheath. Therefore, noticeably high incidences of autoimmune diseases have been linked to exposure of this mold such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, lupus, etc.

Cladosporium (pronounced “Klad-o-spor-i-um”) - This is a common fungus that is a known and documented aero-allergen which is usually associated with plants, wood products, and leather goods; the spores are easily made airborne and as such are a common cause of respiratory problems; allergic reactions and can be an agent for hypersensitivity diseases; has been shown to be a common cause of extrinsic asthma (immediate-type hypersensitivity: type I). Acute symptoms include edema and bronchi spasms, chronic cases may develop pulmonary emphysema. Another health factor to consider is toxicity in some strains.


It is important to remember that even if you find these types of mold in your home you may not necessarily get sick.  There are many variables such as a compromised immune system, length of exposure, age, etc.

 

 

This article is not intended to give medical advice.  Seek the advice of a professional for medication, treatment options, and complete knowledge of any symptoms or illness.  The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions do not necessarily reflect my peers or professional affiliates. The information here does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supersede the professional advice of others.

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Proving a Mold Case for Renters
Written by Susan Lillard   
Monday, 26 September 2011 20:06
For many renters it is often difficult to find a lawyer who will take a mold case.  Additionally, mold cases are very expensive to prove and tedious to endure.

Painfully, they lose their precious belongings, health and even getting out of their leases and getting their security deposits back.  Some people do the following to rid this burden -

  • Photograph all mold damage and furnishings such as upholstered items, photos, and clothing.
  • Provide receipts if possible.
  • Do a tape lift mold kit (available at www.mold-help.org under the title of inexpensive mold testing now available).  In some states your local health department may conduct this test.
  • Wait for the mold report and pay attention to the health effects on the returned document.
  • Provide medical records if possible.
  • File a claim with small claims court. 

Remember that proving your case is very important.  In cases where the health effects are extreme you may want to contact your local BAR association and request a referral to an environmental lawyer.

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Renter’s Overview
Written by Susan Lillard   
Thursday, 22 September 2011 19:19
Renter’s Overview
The most frequent question I get from renters is, “I think I have a mold problem. . .What do I do?”
This can be a real problem; especially if you have a lease.
• What many renters do is to conduct a self-test available through Mould-works Labs  (231-735-2937).  Mould-works will give you a complete consult and report that includes the health issues involved with your mold exposure.
• Take photos of all organic materials that need to be disposed of (such as beds, upholstered items, leather, photos, stuffed items and papers).
• Gather any medical records that endorse the fact that you have been exposed.
• Finally, take the documents to small claims court and see if you can be reimbursed for your expenses and lease to be canceled.


The most frequent question I get from renters is, “I think I have a mold problem. . .What do I do?”  This can be a real problem; especially if you have a lease.

  •  What many renters do is to conduct a self-test available through Mould-works Labs  (231-735-2937).  Mould-works will give you a complete consult and report that includes the health issues involved with your mold exposure.
  • Take photos of all organic materials that need to be disposed of (such as beds, upholstered items, leather, photos, stuffed items and papers).
  • Gather any medical records that endorse the fact that you have been exposed.
  • Finally, take the documents to small claims court and see if you can be reimbursed for your expenses and for your lease to be canceled.
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Parents Q & A
Written by Susan Lillard   
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 18:39

Parents, here are answers to some of the questions you might have about mold in local schools:

Q. How do I know if my child is getting sick at school from mold?

A. Some children are more sensitive than others. But watch out for symptoms that seem to appear only at school – for example, wheezing, hoarseness, cough, runny nose, acid reflux, digestive issues, headache and irritated eyes.

Q. What can parents look for?

A. Visit your children's classrooms and other parts of their schools. Do you see or smell mold or mildew? Are there signs of water leaks on walls, around windows or on the ceiling?

Just because you smell an earthy or musty odor at school doesn't mean there's mold. But it often means there's at least an indoor air-quality problem. Dirty carpet and water damage might also mean mold and bad air quality. Mold grows where there's moisture.

Q. How do I know if it's mold?

A. If you see fuzzy, slimy, or discolored surfaces — especially in damp or wet areas — it's probably mold. Molds can be green, black, gray, purple or even orange.

Q. What if I see a problem?

A. Alert your principal or a School Board member. A lot of times, it will take more than one call or e-mail to get a response. Although calls might be quicker, your letters will provide a paper trail. Also, be sure to log all your calls, letters and observations.  Inform other parents of the problem.

Q. How can I protect my child?

A. Educate yourself. Talk to school officials about what they're doing to control humidity and how quickly they're fixing leaky roofs and windows. Ask to see copies of investigative reports and work orders for repairs and mold removal.  This website contains a wealth of information that can help you and your child.

Teach your children about the health symptoms they may experience around mold so they can alert someone if there's a problem.  Symproms are located on this website.

Research and talk to your doctor about Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act or Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). If your children have serious reactions to air quality, you can request an "accommodation" for their environmental health needs such as a transfer to another classroom.

Sources: Healthy Schools Network, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Mold Toxicity
Written by Susan Lillard   
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 18:55

A semi-new condition of the 1980’s is affecting approximately one third of the total population of Western industrialized countries.  This disease involves a generalized fungal infection.  It affects nine different body systems:  digestive, nervous, cardiovascular, lymphatic, respiratory, reproductive, urinary, endocrine, and musculoskeletal. The mold syndrome (systemic fungal disease) manifests itself with symptoms throughout the body, and they can vary over time from one person to another.

One reason for this is because approximately 20% of the population is classified as “non-detoxifiers” and these people have acquired an inherited gene that produces a substance called anoxinase.  They tend to be affected (over time time) in different ways from people who have inherited this gene.  They are called “natural detoxifiers.”  “Non-detoxifiers” often lose a great deal of weight and seem to decline more rapidly than their counterparts, “detoxifiers.”  Although this illness is much more common than most people think, “non-detoxifiers” are at far greater risk for illness.  It is extremely important for them to follow the Mold Help Diet.  Natural “toxiifers” appear to often gain weight because once infected, the brain sends fat cells to encapsulate toxins within the body.

One simple way to produce anoxinase is to ingest 1 teaspoon of psyllium hull twice a day in a small glass of reverse osmosis or distilled water.  It must be drunk within a few seconds of mixing it together.  Although mold toxicity can be very dangerous, there are some simple ways to mitigate some of the symptoms.

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Back to School and Mold Issues
Written by Susan Lillard   
Tuesday, 06 September 2011 14:06

With the beginning of the new school season it is important to know that according to the World Health Organization, over 70% of all schools--with flat roofs to enhance the skyline and avoid maintenance--can lead to a plethora of health problems stemming from Sick Building Syndrome (SBS).

Until recently, few physicians had any understanding of SBS, much less how to treat it.  Few had accepted that mold toxins from sick schools and buildings often affect childrens' health as well as their learning and behavior.

Then the recently published EPA-funded family study that advises “medical clinicians should be on the look out for neurological affects of indoor mold” started turning heads toward this problem in an unprecedented way.

Nowadays, people come to doctors after months or even years of traditional allergy testing, child psychiatry or pediatric drug treatments, diets to control yeast or wheat gluten, fad diets for this and that and physicians who sell their own “remedies” of vitamins and supplements, brain scans, numerous psychological and neurological tests, blood tests, urine tests. . .but nothing helped.

What we now know. . .

  • That the billions of dollars being spent on prescription drugs to treat illnesses from Sick Buildings NEVER WAS and NEVER WILL be effective. Traditional drug therapies only appear to treat the symptoms and do not cure the root of the problem.  These make the drug companies rich but keep your child sick.

  • That when there are multiple symptoms involving several organ groups and when traditional medical testing does not find the problem, biotoxin exposure from indoor mold growth is almost always the source of the illness in children.  While the symptoms can seem somewhat mysterious to the untrained, biotoxin induced illness once properly diagnosed, is typically easily and successfully treated, with initial progress often showing up within weeks and sometimes days.
Because the pharmaceutical industry has so much influence over most doctors it is difficult to convince a mainstream doctor about the dangers of mold exposure.  The pharmaceutical industry sponsors our medical schools, thus we are producing a large pool of high priced drug salesmen whom I refer to as “pharmadocs.”

This creates quite a quandary for the patient.  The patient or their parents are often written off as crazy or even with hypochondria.  In many other cases they the poor child is misdiagnosed with certain psychiatric disorders.

With the proper testing this situation can be alleviated.  I often ask clients, “Who is in charge of your child’s health?” and many cases they respond, “My doctor.”  We, as a nation, tend to augment the ideology that doctors are put into the same status otherwise known as the “God” complex, when the truth is that physicians are our equals although they may have more knowledge about traditional ailments.

I have often been accused of being hyper-vigilante about my own health and that of my loved ones.  This is not a popularity contest and as long as I know my physicians know what they are doing, I am just the opposite.

If you suspect your child is being affected by mold, I suggest you demand a blood test for mold and its antibodies.  Blood tests are generally not covered by insurance but Realtime Labs and Labcorps can help determine mold exposure.  I strongly suggest you convince your physician to do a blood panel with one of these labs.

This is the only way to ensure your doctor conduct one or more of these tests.  Additionally, I suggest you go to a naturopath who is not biased by the pharmaceutical industry.  Do your research to find the appropriate doctor who will diagnose your child properly and accurately.

Mold exposure can cause a variety of health problems other than asthma and learning disabilities such as ADHD and autism.  Cladosporium can be responsible for behavioral issues, stachybotrys can cause memory issues, some strains of aspergillus can affect hearing, eyesight and even skin rashes.  Remember, knowledge is power.  The more you know, the better of your child will be.

If you suspect that mold is affecting your child from school, contact the Center for School Mold Help www.schoolmoldhelp.org.

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Questions from Our Readers
Written by Susan Lillard   
Tuesday, 30 August 2011 21:43

Q. Hi Susan,
We recently had a bathtub replaced that was leaking.  The people that put in the new bathtub just sprayed the wood underneath with Clorox (as the wood was still a little wet when they installed the new tub). The bottom of the floor is open to the basement, and we can see the underside from down there.  We do not see any further water or mold stains from the underside in the basement.  My question is, do you think this repair is adequate from a mold standpoint.  Thank you.

A. Hello.  Anywhere you can see that is not waterproofed under the tub from the basement is not sufficient to stop mold from proliferating. You might want to bring a contractor out to thoroughly seal the tub.

Q. Susan, could you please call me and talk with me about this issue. Just found out recently that mold is making my life miserable. Thanks.

A. Since you did not leave your phone number I am unable to call you.  Basically, all of the information you need is available on the website, www.mold-help.org.  If I can provide any additional or specific information please call me.  Our number is on the site.

Q. Susan, as you may have guessed by my email- I am a remediation contractor, I have worked on many homes and with many people who have mold concerns. Now, we just recently purchased a home and my family and I are all exhibiting signs of mold exposure. I wanted to see your thoughts on this issue. Thanks Again.

A. I suggest you do a good visual inspection for any water damage.  99% of the time mold is caused by water damage.  If you have further concerns you might want to get the home inspected.

Q. Is there a natural alternative to questran?  Due to chronic constipation issues...we need another idea.  I understand that the similar drugs affect the body the same way.  Currently taking taurine, milk thistle, herbal liver support and normal daily vits for autistic and celiacs.  Would appreciate your help.  thanks

A. Questran produces a natural enzyme call anoxanase.  Another way to produce it naturally is by mixing a tsp of psyllium hull (available at any health food store) in a small glass of distilled water every morning and evening.  It’s the same proponent used in Metamucel and it is very effective if used daily.  I also suggest you obtain one of our health guides as it contains a lot more information on this subject.  The guide is available on our website.

Q. how bad can mold be health wise... and how bad does it have to be in home, Can it also be hidden?

A. I suggest you read our website (www.mold-help.org) to find out about the permanent neurological, psychological, pathological and immunological damage some molds can cause.  If I were to explain it here it would take too long and be redundant.  If you have any specific questions please feel free to email or call me.

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Avoiding Food Molds and Their Toxins
Written by Susan Lillard   
Monday, 22 August 2011 14:55

8 Lines of Defense Against Aflatoxin and Other Mycotoxins

  1. It is generally a good idea to avoid eating moldy or rotten food. This is your first line of defense against aflatoxin and other mycotoxins.
  2. A second line of defense is a properly functioning liver, which is the organ of your body that detoxifies harmful chemicals. You can improve your liver function by taking supportive herbs such as milk thistle and dandelion green tea, and by detoxifying the body with hyperthermia.
  3. Plants and foods with high Brix (sugar content) will dehydrate before spoiling (getting moldy). Therefore, we would suggest that high Brix are your third line of defense against mold, helping to prevent consumption of aflatoxin.
  4. Your fourth line of defense from aflatoxin is antioxidant foods such as Maharishi Amrit Kalash (MAK) that support the liver by helping to remove toxic chemicals from the body.
  5. A fifth line of defense is chlorophyll found in all green leafy vegetables.
  6. Your sixth line of defense is certain foods which have been show to provide defense against aflatoxin:  strawberries, grapes, turmeric, Fava tonka, garlic, cabbage, and onions.
  7. The seventh line of defense is electro-medicine. The blood electrification devices developed by Dr. Bob Beck are reported to neutralize mycotoxins in the blood.
  8. The eighth line of defense is sodium chlorite. Sodium chlorite "inactivates neurotoxins from fungi and moldy foods" - McCabe, page 182. Sodium chlorite also destroys fungi in the body. Read more about sodium chlorite Part 1Part 2 and watch the DVD.  For a "maintenance dose" we suggest a few drops of sodium chlorite with water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. The taste is OK and stomach acid will activate it.  Electro-medicine and sodium chlorite may be connected because "chlorites are products of electrolysis, and bioelectrolysis suggests that body electricity may generate these helpful oxidants" - McCabe, page 184.

If you follow all of these eight defenses against aflatoxin and other mycotoxins, you may help prevent many other diseases as well.

Besides food, another potent source of toxins may be your bed and pillow. People spend around one-third of their life in bed. The presence of moisture and food makes the bed and pillow ideal habitats for mold, fungus, dust mites, and a variety of other unwanted guests. Every time you move in bed you stir up a cloud of dust mite fecal material and other substances that get rubbed into your skin and inhaled. We highly recommend covering your mattress and pillow with a waterproof mite barrier, and wash this material in hot water every two weeks. For example, see www.healthguard.com.

While we are on the subject of mites, you may be interested to know that most acne may actually be caused by mites, not by bacteria. The mite known as "human demodex follicular mite" inhabits hair follicles and the pores of the skin. About 98% of humans have these mites. The human immune system can make antibodies to defend against mites; however, when the immune system is stressed or compromised (such as with cancer patients) the mite population may expand quickly. Other factors that stimulate the mite population include poor diet (the waste coming out of your pores provides a feast for the mites), and teenage hormones which also come out of pores to be ingested by mites. The mite can be killed by a special soap from China that contains seabuckthorn oil (Hippophae rhamnoides). This soap is available from www.TaoOfHerbs.com and is called Herbal Rejuvenating Soap by FaceDoctor.

I am not A Doctor. I am not giving medical advice or treatment. I am advising you to consult your own Doctors and/or medical practitioners. The contents of this website are my theories, opinions, and commentary regarding my personal experiences and my personal research. They are intended for educational purposes only. They are protected under free speech. I am not responsible for the content of any and all web sites and/or research papers which I link you to from this site. You will not hold me, or any of my associates, responsible for any content on this web site. Any and all content on this site is to be used for personal use only, not for profit. Any reproduction of any of the content from my web site must include the attached legal disclaimer. I assume no risk for any use, or misuse, of the content of this web site. 

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Hiring a Mold Inspector
Written by Susan Lillard   
Tuesday, 30 August 2011 21:14

Last week we discussed effective ways to self-test for visible mold.  In many cases the mold is not visible and therefore a qualified mold inspector should be hired.  Two good resources for finding a qualified inspector are at the Indoor Air Quality Association ( www.iaqu.org ) or at Mold Help (www.mold-help.com).   We have been receiving many clients’ complaints about inspectors who only do visual inspections without the use of laboratory testing (and visa versa).  Although this system works most of the time, laboratory testing is important to establish a baseline if a large remediation job is necessary.

Since there are no real governmental guidelines for mold inspectors they can get away with this.  Before hiring a qualified inspector we suggest you ask the following questions. . .

  • Reputation is important.  Check references before anything else.
  • What type of training have that had and how long did that training last? (Look for associations such as CIH, IAQA, etc.)
  • How long have they been a mold inspector?
  • Do they do both viable and non-viable testing?
  • How many inspections did they do last year?

Remember, a visible inspection is important because you can rarely have mold without water damage.  A good inspector will use science, biology and knowledge of construction to conduct a thorough and effective inspection.  For remediation, see our section on how to repair mold damage.

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Questions From our Readers
Written by Susan Lillard   
Thursday, 18 August 2011 16:35

Q. Currently away from Florida home.  Those checking our home say a broccoli smell is strong.  We have air at 81.  We are located in Charlotte Country.  There is no evidence of internal water.  Our air system is 20 yrs old.  The smell has been in the home for about 6 weeks.  I read the information on this page.  Could this odor be mold?

A. There is only one way to conclusively test for mold and that would be with a qualified mold inspector.  Look at the Indoor Air Quality website for a referral (www.iaqa.org).

Best of luck.

Q. My son, 56 appears to have become delusional because of what started as a sinus condition, probably because of mold, and then prescriptions of steroids. He has agreed to go for psychological help, but I'm sure there is more, mold, diet, etc. Are you familiar with this type of mental disorder?  Thank you.

A. The effects of mold and the mind differ from person to person.  According to a study by the Mayo Institute demonstrated that 97% of all sinus infections are from mold.  It has been suggested by Dr. Michael Gray that mold exposure can cause permanent neurological, psychological, pathological and immunological damage.

The Mold Help Diet works if mold has colonized within the body and it appears to be the problem.  The book can be ordered at http://www.mold-help.org/content/view/839/.

Best of luck with your son.

Q. can I eat oats with soya milk and a teaspoon of honey for breakfast? Many thanks.

A. Oats do not contain gluten but they may have gluten on them.  Therefore, it would be a matter of tolerance for you.  Honey is good but soy milk is typically genetically modified and full of mold.  Try almond milk instead.

Q. My son has a doublewide mobile home hat has a 2 year old central air unit and all new duct work. He has found a gross looking firm growth setting in water down in one of his vents.

A. Mobile homes are notorious for mold problems.  If the mold is visible, he can save money by self testing.  The only Mold Help approved test kit is available at http://www.mold-help.org/content/view/826/.  Once he knows the health effects he can proceed with remediation, if needed.  If the mold isn’t in too large of an area UrthPRO would be the best way to solve the problem but he will have to get the HVAC system cleaned and fixed.

Best of luck.

Q. Hello Susan,

we are looking for a guidance in mold testing/litigation.

We are currently on the stage were we need to arrange for testing for identifying fungus DNA and linking DNA in human fluids to fungus DNA found in the environment. We also found that mycotoxins must be tested by use of gas chromatography/mass spectrometry GC/MS to be admissible as an evidence. We very much struggle with finding a right expertise & providers.

We are about to lose an access to the premises (we only have 2 days left), so testing needs to be done within 2 days. The apartment is in Malibu, CA.

We would highly appreciate your guidance and expertise for our case.

Thank you.

A. If I were you I would speak to our indoor air quality expert, Chris Rad.  His number is (512) 442-5326.

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How Do I Self-Test for Mold?
Written by Susan Lillard   
Thursday, 25 August 2011 23:49
Self mold testing is a low cost way to determine not only the genre and species of mold you are being exposed to but a good test will also inform you about the health effects.  The only self-test I recommend is a viable test.  This test is usually conducted with a piece of tape and if the mold is visible, one simply applies the tape to the mold and puts it in a special envelope and sends it off to the lab.  I recommend Mould-Works Lab (231-735-2937).  The sell viable test kits that include a consult of the potential health effects.  They even offer a renter’s kit.

It is an absolute waste of money to order many self-test kits either over the internet or at the big box stores as they are simply petri dishes that are full of agar and have most likely have been compromised as mold is ubiquitous.

If you have any questions, call the lab at the number above.

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Mold Testing 101
Written by Susan Lillard   
Monday, 15 August 2011 18:56

Many people write me each week and tell me they think they have a mold problem and ask what they should do next.

Of course if the mold is making you sick you should vacate the premises. Many people try to describe the mold or send photos.  With over 300,000 types of mold, identifying it is impossible.  The only conclusive way to determine what type of mold you have is to have the mold tested.  If the mold is visible you can have the mold tested through Mould-works Labs (231-735-2937) or hire a qualified inspector.

Hiring a qualified Inspector

Since there are no governmental regulations just about anyone can call themselves a “mold inspector.”  Check affiliations before hiring any inspectors.  The Indoor Air Quality website (www.iaqa.org) is a good resource.  Do not allow the inspector to “visually inspect” the premises for mold but to do some air/tape samples.  Insist on it because there is no such thing as a visual inspection.

A cardinal rule for all inspectors is to do their own remediation.  This is like a student checking their own homework.  This is a good question to ask when looking for a good inspector.  Mold Help has a small list of remediation experts and inspectors on our sister site, www.mold-help.com.

Sometimes getting a second opinion is a good idea.  There is no replacement for good old fashioned remediation for big jobs.

For small to medium mold problems, we suggest you try UrthPRO (http://www.urthpro.com/how-to/how-to-repair-mold).

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Questions From our Readers
Written by Susan Lillard   
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 17:32
Q. Is wheat allowed if not in a yeast bread?  I thought wheat was a moldy grain?

A. Wheat should be avoided if one has leaky gut syndrome.  I have not seen wheat bread without yeast.  Quinoa and spelt are better.  It just depends on your tolerance to such products..

Q. Can I spray UrthPRO inside of the air handler, on the pan, the coil of my HVAC system and have it clean any mold that may have collected there due to a clogged drain?

A. Yes, but the drain must be unclogged first otherwise your moisture problem will not go away, and no cleaning product will be able to help you.  Also, make sure the HVAC system is turned OFF and that no pilot lights or heat exchangers are active.  You should allow the unit to cool completely before spraying any product.

Q. Hi Susan, I am 29 years old with 3 kids I live in Johannesburg, I have been sick almost 5 months, yeast infections twice, pains in my body, night sweats, always tired, eyes burning, itchy throat, my two kids are sick currently, coughing, red eyes etc. husband has had earache for two weeks, i have a whole list of things that have been happening to me but those are just some to give you an idea, my room has mold in it, behind my bed, window frames, its black, dark green and spotty, after wiping behind my bed it came back 2 days later, I’m a stay at home mom so inside 95% of time. if I leave my vegetables in the kitchen they grow fur within 3 to four days and its winter. I have become extremely moody and depressed it seems i have no control over my home, body or life and worst of all the doctors don’t seem to know what tests i need to take. I am so afraid and really need help please. i have been exposed to this for a while, as the pipes burst in the roof last her and ceiling in wardrobe collapsed, wooden floor is lifting and its a very old house, thank you Marlene

  1. A. Dear Marlene,

It sounds like youre home has gotten to a point where you need to evacuate immediately to get your family out of this toxic situation.  You should consider having an industrial hygienist check out your home to recommend how a remediation should take place.  Make sure you do not bring any contaminated items with you!



 

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Bad faith and insurance
Written by Susan Lillard   
Tuesday, 09 August 2011 13:30

Insurance companies sell trust when they sell you a policy. Because of that relationship, insurers are required to deal fairly and in good faith with their policyholders.

Bad faith involves one if not more of the following elements: fraud, misleading or deception of a policyholder, neglect or refusal to fulfill a duty or contractual obligation, or the conscious doing of some wrong. If found to have occurred, in many states, bad faith exposes the insurance company to significant liabilities, including amounts well in excess of the policy limits or punitive damages.

Much has been written and published to help insurers avoid bad faith. Regardless of these efforts by industry groups, many insurers continue to employ bad faith and/or unfair claims handling practices. And, once some insurers begin to employ these tactics, more often than not, they continue on the course which only exacerbates the problem and further entangles them in the web of liability.

Bad faith and unfair claims handling practices are not only expensive for the insurance industry, but also for the policyholder. In many cases, a claim that could have been resolved early on if good faith and fair dealing was employed, becomes like a snowball rolling downhill -- the problem grows bigger and bigger and the only recourse is taking legal action against the insurer.

Bad faith is much like one legislator's description of pornography: I can't exactly describe it but I know it when I see it. While states will vary depending on statutes, and case law, here are some things to look for to determine if your insurance company has resorted to bad faith and unfair dealings:

The Big Picture

No one single action, in and of itself, will typically constitute bad faith. Instead, look at the insurer's overall conduct and reason for non-payment. The critical evidence here is the insurer's overall response to the policyholder's request for coverage. In other words, the policyholder needs to put requests for coverage, investigations, and prompt adjusting in writing.

Here are some practices that may arise to the definition of bad faith:

  • Wrongful denial of claim
  • Unreasonable delay in paying benefits
  • Unreasonable cancellation of the policy
  • Failure to conduct a reasonable investigation
  • Unreasonable demand on the policyholder to contribute to a settlement
  • Refusal to diligently pursue post-trial remedies
  • Failure to keep the policyholder informed of significant developments
  • Failure to advise the insured of a right to arbitrate

Elements of Bad Faith

Depending on your jurisdiction, you will either have to apply "reasonable behavior" to an objective standard or subjective standard. If applying the objective standard, a policyholder need only prove the insurance company acted differently than a reasonable insurance company would have acted in the same or in a similar circumstance. If a subjective standard is applied, the policyholder must prove the non-payment of benefits was done without any reasonable ground for dispute. This second standard is tough to prove because insurance companies can fabricate almost any type of defense for non-payment.

Bad faith can also be alleged against a policyholder, and is usually done so as a defense. Policyholders have a duty to cooperate with their insurance company and any effort made to disallow a claim to be adjusted can only work against the policyholder. The most common examples of alleged bad faith on the part of the policyholder are:

  • Refusing to allow adjuster or contractor into home
  • Withholding information critical to the adjusting of a claim
  • Falsifying documents

Even if you totally disagree with the adjusting practices and experts retained by your insurance company, you must allow the insurance company a chance to either make it right or screw it up. If state law permits, record (without their knowledge) any and all conversations you have with insurance company staff and/or experts. And, make a log of events as they occur. Memory can fade over time and what does not seem important at the time may be a critical piece of evidence later. Document everything you can (audio taped conversations, video tapes of inspections by insurance contractors/experts, keep a log of developments and communicate via certified or faxed letter to adjuster or supervisor) in order that evidence is preserved should you need it later.

Unless otherwise instructed by your attorney, do not withhold information necessary for the proper adjustment of your claim. If consequential damage arises out of an insurance company's action (or delays), be sure to inform, in writing, the insurance company so that they are put on notice. If this information is not made known, you cannot blame the insurance company for further delays. Give them the rope and let them hang themselves.

Do not falsify documents to bolster your side of things. If the facts work against you, do not stoop to such conduct. Rarely do we see cases where the policyholder resorts to fraud but when such conduct arises, it is usually out of retaliation for fraud committed by the insurance company. Again, let the insurance company be the only one resorting to that conduct. They will hang themselves with that rope.

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The most inexpensive primary mold test
Written by Susan Lillard   
Thursday, 04 August 2011 16:46

Do you feel you have a mold problem but do not want to purchase a "mold test" kit because you think it's too expensive?  Does fruit in your kitchen mold rapidly?

An inexpensive mold test that is not diagnostic yet still effective is to cut a potato into two pieces.  Leave them at opposite ends of your home.  Mold will definitely grow but its important to check it daily.  But if the mold that grows is black and hairy looking you have good reason to believe you have a mold problem.

At this point it is wise to get a viable mold test kit to determine the type, genre and health effects.  Mold-Help approved test kits can be ordered by calling 231-735-2937.

There is no way you can tell what type of mold you have by photos.  If you are a renter, this may help in proving your case for small claims court.

Disclaimer: This site is not intended to give medical or legal advice advice.  Seek the advice of a professional for medication, treatment options, and complete knowledge of any illness.  The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions do not necessarily reflect my peers or professional affiliates. The information here does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supersede the professional advice of others.

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