Following are some Q&A’s on mold remediation issues by Lisa Petrison (executive director of Paradigm Change and owner of the Mold Avoiders group).
Q. I am having a problem with surface mold, such as may be springing up in my bathroom. What should I do about it?
My main concern with regard to surface mold is that it very often is a clue that a bigger issue is present, with regard to either hidden mold growth in the building or a problem location. That being the case, I don’t think it’s a good idea to just address the surface mold without doing some investigation into whether bigger issues may be present.
In terms of just dealing with the surface mold itself, I would suggest using something more natural and gentle to treat the issue, such as ideas thatAndrea Fabry (who seems to have put a lot of thought into this issue) has discussed.
I don’t think it’s a good idea to use human-made chemicals (especially ones that promise to “kill mold”), since those tend to disturb the microbiome of the environment – killing off harmless fungi and bacteria and setting up the conditions in which more problematic fungi that make especially harmful toxins are likely to grow.
Q. How can I remove mycotoxins from surfaces of my environment or from objects?
Many people who are reactive to mold toxins have found that they react to certain items that have been exposed to problematic environments even after those items have been thoroughly washed. The theory here is that the toxins from the mold (or bacterial) spores have transferred themselves to the objects themselves.
It is the observations of many mold avoiders that insofar as we are talking about particularly problematic toxins, they can be extremely difficult or impossible to remove. This topic is discussed in the Paradigm Change blog article “The Mold Avoider’s Dilemma: What Should I Do About My Stuff?”
Removing these mycotoxins to the point where extreme reactors can tolerate the environments or items without experiencing negative symptoms has been reported to be a challenge. Thus, many individuals conclude that the best strategy is not to even try, and instead to focus on attaining a home and belongings that have not yet been permanently contaminated with problematic toxins.
Following is some basic information about using different methods for this purpose. Note that for all of these tactics, the items tend to feel worse before they feel better, especially if spores and spore fragments have not been thoroughly removed beforehand.
Ozone has been reported in the literature as having the ability to break down at least some mycotoxins and also reported as having been helpful by some mold avoiders. This generally requires very long treatment times with high-strength ozone, however.
The strength required tends to be difficult or impossible to achieve inside buildings and also has the potential of damaging electrical wiring and certain fabrics and surfaces. Accordingly, I have rarely heard of people who were unable to tolerate their homes after proper remediation and cleaning being able to move back in without negative symptoms through the use of ozone. In some cases people do report ozone making buildings somewhat more tolerable for them, however. (My own experiences with this are summarized in an open letter discussing ozone and hydroxyl machines.)
On the other hand, many mold avoiders have reported success at remediating a variety of items by putting them in a cardboard box and exposing them to strong ozone (such as may be generated by a machine creating 5000 mg/hour or higher) for extended periods of time (such as overnight or for multiple days).
UV light is reported in the literature as having the ability to break down mold toxins as well as to kill mold. Some mold avoiders have reported success with this method. Strong sunlight (such as may be found in the desert) is reported to be much more effective than artificially generated UV light.
Probiotic bacteria is reported in the literature as having the ability to break down mycotoxins and has been reported as successful at remediating contaminated belongings in certain circumstances.
Sara Tamames reports using effective microbes for this purpose in the Living Clean blog article “My Experiments with Mold Avoidance in the Portuguese Countryside,” for instance.
However, a few people now have reported that they have ended up inadvertently grown the worst toxin (“Hell Toxin”) in their effective microbe solution, making their problems much worse. Thus, I am not sure that this is a great idea, especially if people are trying to remediate items that are contaminated with Hell Toxin.
My own experience with microbes was in remediating the black water tank in my RV after it was unable to remediate a contamination through the use of cleaning and various chemicals. Pouring a quart of homemade milk kefir in the tank, adding warm water to the top and then letting it sit overnight made it feel fine to me. Subsequent to that experience, I routinely added milk kefir to my black water and gray water tanks after draining the and never had any problems with them.
Conceivably, working to improve the biome of a building using a product such as Homebiotic could be helpful in breaking down stuck-on toxins left subsequent to a building remediation, but I do not have reliable reports about how long it might take or how effective it would be.
Q. How can I find out if my chimney has a mold problem?
I doubt anyone other than a chimney cleaner would clean a chimney.
Personally, I would probably see if what was removed from the chimney felt bothersome to me and if some, have a remediator try to figure out what was going on.
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