Mold remover formula

Why more and more people are struggling with mold in their homes — and 5 preventative steps you can take

This article is reproduced with permission from The escape house, a newsletter for second homes and those who want it. Subscribe here. © 2022. All rights reserved.

The pandemic has caused millennials and baby boomers to reassess their life choices, especially where to live and the quality of life those choices brought. As a result, the second home market exploded, with Florida the No. 1 destination. Buyers were willing to forgo midnight deliveries of pizzas topped with truffle oil and arugula for warm weather, a pool and 5 000 square feet of living. While home offices were a must on the checklist and the usual property inspections were ordered, there are hidden dangers that just don’t show up on the radar of potential buyers until they do. Abigail Napp from The Escape Home has the story.

A few months after moving into a brand new apartment building in West Palm Beach, Florida, one of the tenants started having strange health issues. She and her husband were working from home and were excited to live in a warm climate for the first time. But the night brought multiple trips to the ER for shortness of breath, panic attacks and brain fog. It was new territory, and despite what doctors initially thought, it wasn’t Covid-19.

Mold problems often involve at least four parties, which makes them complicated to solve: the victim, the doctors, the remediation experts and the owners.

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“A lot of my symptoms were related to neuropathy, and half of them are caused by scary things, so I started thinking about what was in my environment,” the 31-year-old nutritionist said. years who asked not to be named due to ongoing litigation. .

She noticed their apartment’s HVAC system was leaking, so she told the building.

“It took them two months to fix the leak, which is absurd,” she said. When she asked about the air quality tests, they said the humidity levels were ‘normal’ so nothing more was needed.

But her symptoms persisted and it seemed no doctor could make the connection. A week before Thanksgiving, her husband noticed that the hardwood floor under his desk in the living room was damp and soggy. They had found another leak.

This time, the building promised to fix the water damage and clean the air vents. He hired a disaster relief team to begin repairs. When they tore down the walls, of course, they discovered black mold. They sealed the room, fixed the leaks, replaced the drywall and repainted.

But she quickly realized that this would not solve the problem. “You want to get it tested right after you find the mold to find out what types you have because some are toxic and some aren’t,” she said.

At their own expense, the couple hired a consultancy who advised them to do a PCR test for mold – not just an air sample, which won’t detect everything in the house. They also checked for micro-toxins in their blood and urine.

Doing a mold inspection before moving into a new property is crucial.

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There is remediation and then there is remediation

They discovered that even after the remediation, the mold had spread throughout the house and invaded their bodies, reaching toxic levels. The results even showed that a Gram-negative bacterium – one that can cause sepsis in hospitals – had grown well beyond the healthy threshold. Adding to their confusion, her husband was asymptomatic despite higher levels. His suspicions had always been correct.

“They say one in four people are susceptible to mould, and that’s the scary thing. We’ve both been exposed and the tests show we’re both suffering inside, but someone like my husband doesn’t may not know because he doesn’t have the symptoms,” she said. “It can lead to autoimmune disorders and cancer.”

The woman and her husband filed a lawsuit against the property management company. In addition to thousands of dollars in medical costs, reimbursable detox treatment can take years to have an effect. They could spend thousands of dollars more to clean up their belongings and get a new home, just because the property wasn’t mold-free. Two years after their marriage, they were forced to throw away many sentimental possessions.

Mold experts will tell you it’s all too common. Since mold problems often involve at least four different parties – the victim, the doctors, the remediation experts with the appropriate certifications, and the property owners – it can be a complex investigation that requires immediate attention and a scientific approach.

“Now we’ve started to see that the majority of homes we test have mold,” said Corey Levy, a second-generation indoor air quality expert and certified microbial investigator based in Florida and New York. “Too many people are misdiagnosed and told they are crazy. They are given a band-aid solution that will not go to the source of their problem.

And because most home insurance only covers water damage, many homes are never tested or inspected. Mold can spread through the air, so simply removing a damp piece of drywall or cabinetry often won’t get rid of the organism, especially if it’s been there for a long time. Many homes are “restored” without ever considering what is really going on. Without a microbial approach, the health ramifications can be serious.

“Mold is everywhere, but the idea is that your body gets a break from environmental toxins when you’re in your home,” said Liz Keefer, a certified indoor environmental consultant who studies the indoor environment and manages mold issues. in the south. “In the past, it was difficult to prove that a building was making someone sick. But with many people working from home, it’s easier to rule it all out. »

A moisture meter used to see if there is a leak and if building materials are still damp. Photo: Liz Keefer.

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Business is booming… unfortunately

Mold experts said they were not happy to see businesses in demand as more and more people were falling ill. Historical extremes of temperature, tight and energy efficient homes and housing shortages mean that the foundations and walls of our homes are prone to moisture and will be neglected over time. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not perform mold inspections despite efforts by the World Health Organization and other medical publications to prove the harmful effects of mold on human health. Not only are there more conditions for mold growth, there are few regulations to protect indoor air quality.

Michael Rubino, a certified mold and water damage remediation specialist who focuses on helping immunocompromised people and survivors of mold exposure, said the problem is partly education. .

“It’s really difficult because our society hasn’t realized this to the level that we need to.”

“I’m a big advocate for awareness because so many people go through this and suffer for long periods of time before they realize that their environment is exacerbating their disease,” he said. “I go to the doctors all the time – we all do. I do an annual medical examination, but they never ask anything about my environment. It’s disconcerting to me. We take 20,000 breaths a day. Air is extremely important for our existence.

It is important to measure the temperature and humidity levels in your home.

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Five preventive measures to stay on top of mold

  1. Before moving in, do a mold inspection. Most home inspections do not include this step. If you are sensitive to contaminants in the environment, it is recommended that you hire a certified inspector to fully understand if mold is present in your home. Liz Keefer said an average 3,000 square foot home would cost around $650 to test. It includes five tests that will detect dampness through thermal imaging, humidity readings, particle counts, and building diagnostics (to cover things like dampness). Another safe option is to purchase an ERMI test online and have a certified mold inspector interpret the results.
  2. Always monitor the temperature of your home. If you live in a tropical climate and will be away for a long time, you will want to know the humidity levels in your home. “If you control humidity, you control mold,” says Keefer, who was poisoned by mold and has since recovered. “Mold confused me and I hated it, because I couldn’t figure it out, but it literally comes down to monitoring relative humidity and controlling humidity by having a system in your home.” Keefer recommends Nest for controlling temperatures and says if you live in warmer climates, keep your HVAC systems on, consider buying a dehumidifier, and check your windows to make sure there are no leaks.
  3. Always use vents in kitchens and bathrooms. This keeps the air moving to reduce condensation and humidity while cooking and bathing.
  4. Install sensors on water pipes to monitor leaks before they go unnoticed. If your pipes are in danger of freezing, turn off the water before you leave. “A lot of people have leaks and don’t even realize it,” says Keefer. “You can look at a wall filled with 100% humidity and not even know it without proper meters.”
  5. Consider buying air filters and dehumidifiers to help reduce dust and humidity.

This article is reproduced with permission from The escape house, a newsletter for second homes and those who want it. Subscribe here. © 2022. All rights reserved.