Mold has saved countless lives thanks to its contribution as the antibiotic, Penicillin. Mold also plays an important role in breaking down organic materials. Its nature’s way of recycling nutrients back into our ecosystem. Without it, life as we know it would cease to exist.
Some of the enzymes found in molds are beneficial to the food industry. For example, mold is used to enhance cheese production. Meanwhile, a species of fungus known as Aspergillus tubingensis, was recently found breaking down plastic. This exciting discovery could one day help to save the planet. At this point, you may be asking, how did mold get such a bad reputation?
Well, there are more than 100,000 different species of mold. Some are relatively harmless, others produce toxic compounds known as mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are a type of defense mechanism for mold. Whenever a toxic mold feels threatened, mycotoxins are released into the air. A subtle change in temperature could be perceived as a threat. Or even a secondary mold competing for growing space. Needless to say, molds aren’t too fond of humans that prod and poke them.
Once mycotoxins become airborne, they are small enough to be inhaled. They are also large enough to cause a chronic, inflammatory response. Some mycotoxins are considered cytotoxic (toxic to all living cells). This means mycotoxins can have an impact on you and your pets.
Other species of mold are able to spew out aflatoxins. Some aflatoxins go on to become poisonous carcinogens. You can learn about different mold types later in the book. For now, let’s explore how these problematic molds get inside our homes.
Mold reproduces by way of releasing spores into the air. Almost like a dandelion reseeding itself in the spring. But mold spores are much smaller and therefore invisible to the naked eye.
Out in the wild, these tiny spores float effortlessly on the wind. Wherever they land, they seek out a source of moisture and begin growing as nature intended. As the mold matures, it’s then exposed to sun, rain, and wind. As such, the negative effects of outdoor molds are somewhat diluted.
Indoors, a very different story tends to play out. When mold grows in a bedroom or a kitchen, the toxic effects are far more concentrated. Depending on the species of mold, this can create a wide range of health problems. For many, sneezing and wheezing are the tip of the iceberg.
To be clear, microscopic mold spores have no trouble finding their way into our homes. They enter through open windows and air-conditioning units. Some get sucked into heating ducts, others can attach themselves to our clothing and pets. It would be rare to find a home without mold spores. They are inside my home and I suspect they are in yours.
Once inside, mold spores can lay dormant. They have learned to wait for the right opportunity to develop. Mold will thrive in places with insufficient ventilation and a lick of moisture in the air. This makes attics and basements prime candidates.
Mold also likes to feed on porous materials such as drywall. Drywall is used in the construction industry to build internal walls and ceilings. Contractors like working with drywall because it’s fast to install and inexpensive to buy. It’s also porous which means it turns to mush as soon as it gets wet. This now becomes the ideal surface for mold to snack on.
There are alternatives to drywall. Across Europe, most internal walls are made of brick or breeze blocks. These are then plastered over to give the wall a smooth finish. When painted, the two walls look identical. The main difference being, one is prone to mold, the other is not.
In an attempt to combat the mold problem, fungicides were added to household paints during the 1970s. Unfortunately, this action is now believed to have created mutant strains. Many turned out to be even more potent than the original mold!
Drywall also gives mold a chance to stay out of sight while it gets established. Perhaps being drip-fed by a leaking pipe somewhere inside the wall. By the time it’s noticed, the invasive roots of some molds may have taken hold. This process can happen in as little as 24/48 hours.
To add to the problem, many homeowners believe that spraying bleach on drywall will kill the mold. Sadly, this is unlikely to have any impact. In some cases, it may even cause the mold to spread.
Catching mold early is the key to saving thousands of dollars in remedial costs. As you look around your home, pay particular attention to new watermarks on ceilings. If it’s accompanied by a weird, musty smell it warrants further investigation.
Whether you own your home, or you choose to rent it, it pays to be vigilant. Yes, landlords, are required by law to provide safe living conditions. This is referred to as “implied warranty of habitability.” But unless you are paying close attention, mold can spread from room to room.
By that time, landlords may be unable or unwilling to spend money on mold remediation. Others may cut corners making your situation worse. Maybe you have a few thousand dollars to mount a legal battle, and maybe you don’t. At all times, remember that your health is your responsibility.
This brings us back to being aware. Aware of your rights, aware of the health implications, and aware of your options. Personally, if I was dealing with an uncooperative landlord, I’d rather move on and keep my health. Am I saying giving up your home is easy? Nope, never did say that. But oftentimes, it pays to pick your battles.
If living in a moldy house is making you are sick, the chances are, you have already lost everything dear to you. The good news is, once you separate yourself from the problem, you’ll start to feel much better. No really, it’s true.
I appreciate moving out isn’t an easy option but those caught in a dire mold situation don’t have a choice. Trust me, walking away is by far the fastest, most effective way to separate yourself from toxic mold. As Oliver Goldsmith once said, “He who fights and runs away, may live to fight another day.”
Unfortunately, mold spores and mycotoxins are notorious for hitching a free ride. They like to follow along by attaching themselves to your furniture, bedding, and clothes. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse. Regular laundry detergents are no match for mycotoxins. But, all is not lost.
Applying an additive known as EC3 to the wash neutralizes mycotoxins. EC3 has the power to clean deep without using any harmful chemicals. EC3 also makes an all-natural mold solution. This can be sprayed onto hard surfaces such as wooden furniture and plastics.
If you are in a bind, you can also use white vinegar to remove mold spores from your clothes. Fill the washer machine with water, add three cups of white vinegar, and let the clothes sit. After an hour, allow the washer to run its normal cycle. Drying the clothes on an outdoor washing line, in direct sunshine, will also help to kill off mold spores.
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