Dr. Mehmet Oz, M.D., devoted most of his national TV show on April 6, 2015, to the hazards of environmental mold.
A discussion of the show’s content – including the good, the bad and the ugly – is the focus of a Paradigm Change blog post, titled “Dr. Oz Tackles the Topic of “Mold Poisoning”: How’d He Do with It?”
Video of most of the program is available on the show’s website.
Below is the full transcript of the 2015 show.
In addition, April 19, 2016, Dr. Oz did a follow-up segment on mold growth in homes. He discussed a major mold problem that had been found in his own home and had a mold professional discuss places that mold typically hides in homes.
You can’t smell it. You can’t see it.
But if it’s in your house, it could be the reason that you and your family are sick and don’t know why.
It’s mold poisoning.
That’s what happened to Jill and her daughter Kaitlin. Twenty years ago, Jill moved into this beautiful New Jersey home. Soon she got pregnant with Kaitlin.
Shortly afterward, both began suffering with unexplained health problems.
I want to put this on your radar screen, because it’s happening all over America and we are just beginning to figure out the details.
Please welcome Jill and Kaitlin.
What were you suffering from? What has been going on?
It started off that I was having sinus problems. I actually had two sinus surgeries while I was living there.
But it was much worse for my daughter. Caitlin was very very sick. She had fevers of 105. Unexplained illnesses – she would be vomiting profusely for days. They really couldn’t figure out why.
Then my son was born a couple of years later, and he too had problems. He was needing a nebulizer just to breathe okay.
Kaitlin, do you remember any of this growing up?
You know, Dr. Oz, I don’t really remember being sick, but I really strongly remember when I had to have my stuffed animals taken away.
The most dreaded problem.
Exactly. There was a stuffed Rudolph that when you would squeeze it, it would sing. It was one of my favorites, and I really remember losing that and it was really hard.
You were looking at this point for any clues, stuffed animals, sort of grasping for straws. What did your doctors think was going on?
They really had no idea. They started out by saying, oh, the stomach flu’s going around, or this flu or that. But she just consistently was sick. I was a stay-at-home mom, it’s not like she was in daycare, picking up these things. They tested her for everything from cystic fibrosis to different cancers. She had bloodwork done.
It was unbelievable.
So after five years of diligent search, what ended up being the problem?
Mold. There was mold in the house. We found it in the basement, in the crawlspace. It was up the walls. That’s where the kids’ playroom was. And we had no idea.
So literally, we left the house that day, with the shirts on our back. And literally never came back. We lived with my parents for a year and had a house built.
What about the symptoms?
They were gone. Kaitlin hadn’t gained any weight in a very long time. It was very scary as a mom. But she gained nine pounds in the first 10 months after we left. That was tremendous.
Let me show you how mold begins to grow in your house – how it happened with Kaitlin, when she was a little girl
Molds are fungi. They’re commonly found outside.
See these little dots? They’re spores, they’re seeds. They become airborne. That is how molds reproduce. They sprout and fly away.
And they end up in places where you go. They’ll be attached to your shoes, to your pets, to your clothes. Then they travel inside your home – either with you, or they can go through a window, or they can get through an air vent, they can go through an air system with these outdoor intakes.
Once inside, the spores begin to attach to surfaces. Like wet corners. They find places, like this wet corner down here in the shower. They’ll go to the shower head itself.
Or if there’s a leak in the wall, they’ll go in there and begin to prosper. They’ll be in places where you don’t expect it.
Now the Feeney family experienced many of the same symptoms that we just reviewed. In fact, the Feeneys have been sick for years without any explanation, like so many of you.
So last week, my team had their home tested for mold. What was found will surprise them and you.
We asked home health experts Ron and Lisa Bares to test the Feeneys’ house. They sent in one of their testers, Matt. Matt has inspected hundreds of homes and businesses, and found mold in 60% of them.
Now we’ll be able to find out once and for all if the Feeney family has toxic mold.
I’m scared to find out if there is something wrong with my house, but I’m also anxious to find out if there’s something making us sick. If there’s a reason for our congestion, for our nasal drip, our coughs.
We’ve been having leaks in our bathroom since 2007. It’s been leaking through the ceiling downstairs.
Show me the bathroom areas then, that you’re concerned about.
Matt first pulls out his moisture meter, to detect any moisture behind the walls.
So you can see that the lower part of the wall has a higher moisture content than the higher part of the wall. I can see a little bit of cracking here, in the grout work as well. That could be a potential source.
Matt then uses a humidity meter to get a read of the overall moisture in the room. Nothing unusual.
So he heads down to the basement.
I want to look downstairs. If there is moisture in the bathroom, that can leak down. So we want to look underneath, to see if there could be some mold issues there as well.
This is where our daughter plays with her friends, a lot of times. We had a leak down here, so potentially mold is a concern for us.
About three weeks ago, we had a leak down here. You can see where the wood is separated.
Matt removes some wood panels and sure enough, there are water stains – a tell-tale sign of leaks.
Matt takes a surface sample of a suspicious-looking white residue and uses a thermal imaging camera to detect moisture invisible to the naked eye.
Moisture conducts heat differently and typically will show up as a blue color.
I’m not seeing any areas where there is current moisture.
Next, Matt tests the air throughout the house for any sign of mold – in the daughter’s bedroom because she always has a cough, in the master bathroom, and in their living room.
This test basically can suck air in through this collection device. Then the lab can read how many mold spores are on the cassette.
The last place to check – the attic, where mold often grows.
Attics often may have areas of hidden mold that the owners have no idea that it is there.
Matt then finds something that alarms him.
I see down here a black substance which most likely is mold.
A final surface test and Matt’s mold inspection is done. The test was sent to an independent lab – and today, reveal the results.
Health experts Ron and Lisa Beres are here, along with Danielle and Robert Feeney.
Now, we can’t be certain if mold is causing health problems. Why did you begin to suspect that it was an issue?
For years, I’ve been having ear, nose and throat problems. I had pneumonia, neurological problems. I have been to numerous doctors. They haven’t found anything, and I am still suffering.
I can see my daughter’s starting to suffer. I had her tested for CF, she had the sweat test done. It came back negative, thank God.
So a lot of chronic issues, no answers.
Mold, I think, should be on everyone’s radar screen in these kinds of scenarios. Things don’t have to be as severe as yours, for us to begin thinking about it.
So, Ron and Lisa, you have results of the mold tests.
We do. So in the basement of your home, we found high levels of two of the most common molds that are found in homes, which are Cladosporium and Aspergillus. Now these can cause hayfever-like symptoms like you’ve been having, as well as asthma, to those who are allergic. So that’s what we found in the basement.
In the attic, we found two molds there as well. We found Penicillium, which is another common household mold. And this can be highly allergenic.
And we found Stachybotrys mold. That is the black stuff that Matt showed. Stachybotrys has the potential to be extremely toxic because of the mycotoxins that it produces.
These can be linked to sick building syndrome, bleeding, internal damage of organs. It’s dormant right now, but it’s a potential health hazard if it should become airborne.
So all of these spores can actually become airborne and circulate through the home through the ventilation system. So this is a concern.
Black mold. We hear of it as black toxic mold, and that’s really what we’re dealing with here. And a high level.
Any idea how long this has been going on?
Our homes are the perfect environment for molds to grow. There’s oxygen, there’s optimal temperature, there’s a food source of the building materials in our homes. The only thing missing is a water source. So I highly suspect that ever since the big leak in your home, that’s when the mold started to grow.
As you hear this right now, what do you feel? Is it fear, anger, frustration, relief?
Well, let me just start by saying – let me apologize to Danielle, because I thought she was overreacting and a little off-base. So I’m sorry.
I’m glad you cleared the air on that one. And did It publicly, which is even better.
But I’m relieved that this may be a cause, for what Danielle and our daughter Megan are feeling. So I think more or less relief.
I’d feel relieved too, if I were you. It’s very frustrating to walk around without knowing for sure.
I hear stories of people moving out of a home and their whole life changing, which I always thought was a bit of an exaggeration until I started studying it a bit more.
Then I realized that we have a tremendous amount of opportunity to look at these issues.
Let me bring in a colleague, a pain specialist and clinical professor at Columbia University, Jim Dillard, who’s seen the effects of mold firsthand.
Please explain to folks what it’s like being in practice and seeing these patients. What are they like?
Dr. James Dillard:
I have patients come to me all the time for neurological problems. I see more and more of these cases, because I’m looking for them.
But you can only find this out by doing good medical testing that goes beyond the usual stuff. The medical establishment doesn’t really believe that mold exposure is dangerous. But that’s contradicted by 30 years of good scientific evidence.
The tricky thing is that diagnosing these people is tough because mold mimics many other illnesses. I have had people come to me who think that they have had chronic Lyme syndrome, numbness and tingling, persistent nerve pain, brain fog. And these people actually turn out to have significant mold poisoning, which we can prove by good laboratory analysis.
Mold is a serious health problem.
What should you do if you have toxic mold in the house? Now I’m going to walk you through what everyone needs to do today, to make sure this is not part of the problems you’re facing in life.
Now, if you have visible signs of mold in a small area, ten square feet or less, like the Feeneys had downstairs in the basement, you can clean it yourself with detergent and water, or 3% hydrogen peroxide.
We recommend using gloves and a mask, because you don’t want to get re-exposed to these mold spores as they become airborne. You just spray the detergent or the peroxide on the mold, let it sit for about 10 minutes, and then scrub the mold away.
Now if you have a large area of contamination like the Feeneys had in the attic, you definitely want to hire a professional.
If you’re having symptoms – if you’re feeling sick but you don’t know what it is, and you don’t see visible mold, which is very common – you can get a DIY affordable and reliable test kit, like this. They run about $50 and they test for a hundred different molds, and you’ll get tests back from an accredited laboratory.
So whether you see it visually or you have some of these symptoms we’re talking about, this is an easy answer. Protection is the key though.
Let’s talk about what families can do in their home today, to make sure that they don’t end up like some of the folks we’ve talked to today. So walk us through it.
First and foremost, if there’s a water leak, you have identify and then to fix it right away. Because in 24 to 48 hours, the mold is going to grow. You have to make sure that you are really active and get that finished.
Number two, you want to make sure that you do not have carpeting in your bathroom or your actual basement. Because it’s literally just a food source for mold.
Third, you want to make sure that when you take your shower, Dr. Oz, that you ventilate the bathroom. You want to ventilate the kitchen as well when you’re cooking with an exhaust fan or you want to make sure you open the windows to reduce the moisture in your home.
Good steps. Now, Lisa, you argue that there are some products that we should be considering carefully. Walk us through. Things you can do to prevent the growth of mold in your home.
Absolutely, proactive measures are key. So you can use an air conditioner or dehumidifier in your home. This will keep the humidity levels low, which is what we really want.
And if you have a basement, I advise putting a dehumidifier down there. This is a common spot for mold to grow, and it will help reduce that moisture.
Now, you also want to change the furnace filter, which is your HVAC system, your heating and cooling system. You need to change that every three months. A good rule of thumb is to do that every season. Because these will remove over 90% of airborne mold spores that pass through it. When you’re looking for a healthy living filter, they literally capture those airborne mold spores. So very important.
So for the Feeneys, we did an airborne mold test and there was mold in the air in their home.
Right. We found mold in the air and in the surface tests.
So if you’re going to miss it in the walls, because it can hide, at least get it out of the air so it’s not affecting your family.
Links on this page are in orange (no underlining).