The state of Virginia does not require any education or licensing to conduct mold inspections. As a certified Mold Inspector, A. Leigh Construction’s first concern is the health of your family.
Know the difference between an allergy and toxicity
An allergy is a histamine response and produces hay fever-like symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itching, nasal stuffiness, watering eyes, wheezing, coughing and asthma. Allergies and asthma can significantly impact the quality of life and can be deadly.
Toxicity refers an excess amount of toxins stored in the body causing damage to the body’s systems. Mold toxins suppress the immune system and cause major health issues. The symptoms of toxic exposure are typically neurological and can include headaches (including stabbing feeling like ice picks), extreme fatigue, dizziness, loss of balance, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, nausea, disorientation, memory problems, slowed reaction time, neuropathy, joint pain, depression, anxiety, mood swings, respiratory difficulty, irregular heartbeat, skin rashes, nose bleeds, burning sensations in the nose and mouth, gastrointestinal disorders, bloating, food sensitivities, chronic burning in the throat and nasal passages, vision changes, insomnia, hair loss weight gain/loss, intolerance to fragrances or chemicals, urinary incontinence, Dysautonomia. Symptoms of many autoimmune-like conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, MS and Parkinson’s—to name a few, are sometimes caused, at least in part, by mold toxicity.
Know the difference between Mold Spores and Mycotoxins
Mold spores are tiny structures produced by molds for the purpose of reproduction. Mold spores are common in our environments. Due to their light weight, mold spores are often floating in the air both outdoors and indoors. However, some mold spores are heavy making them non-detectible during air sampling. Inhaling mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by microfungi that are capable of causing disease and death in humans and animals. Mycotoxins aren’t actually alive like mold spores and may take years for them to breakdown. They are as small as 0.1 microns. Mycotoxins have also been linked to neurological diseases, cancer and used for biological warfare.
DIY Mold Testing Kits
Mold testing kits purchased from home improvement stores can be misleading and sometimes result in both false positive and false negative results. Similar to air samples, these kits only test for the mold that settles into the Petri dish in that given area for that given amount of time. Some mold spores are heavier or stickier than others and may not settle in the dish. This may result in a false negative result. It is true that mold is everywhere. A mold inspector, knowledgeable about home construction, will conduct a visible inspection to determine what type of testing is appropriate. After they have gathered all of the necessary information, an assessment regarding the health of your home can be made.
Mold spores will fragment into hundreds of toxic particles when killed. When inhaled these micro particles, and the toxins residing on them, trigger the immune system causing disease. Killing mold spores also causes them to produce more mycotoxins and other defense mechanisms such as microbial VOCs as they die. Disturbing and killing mold spores actually increases their toxicity. All contaminated materials must be contained and removed from the property. People usually don’t complain about purging too many things. If you try to salvage some items, they can contaminate the new or remediated space.
After the mold is removed, the mycotoxins must be neutralized. There are several ways that this can be accomplished. However, the safest methods include a solution of 50% clear ammonia/50% distilled water or PureBiotics all purpose cleaner. If your environment has been contaminated with one of the top five toxic molds, the safest option is to purge everything. After you have gone through remediation, you may consider getting an air purifier to improve the air quality of your home. There are many great ones on the market. Keep in mind that mycotoxins and mold fragments can be as small as 0.1 microns. Choosing an air purifier that captures VOCs may also be beneficial.
After the mold has been remediated and before restoration begins, the source of the moisture must be resolved. This can not be stressed enough. Remediating the mold without addressing the moisture issue is counterproductive. At some point will find yourself in the same situation with a water damaged home and destructive mold growth.
Think twice before you have the HVAC ducts cleaned
Ideally, if mold is found in your HVAC system everything should be replaced including the ducts. While some people tolerate duct cleaning, it makes others extremely sick. After the ducts are cleaned, you are left with loose particles of dust, dead mold and increased mycotoxins. These dangerous particles are then recirculated into your home.
Risks of Fogging
Ozone generators and other mold-killing measures can be more toxic than the mold itself; and they don’t actually stop the mold at its source. Remember that mold has to be completely removed, the moisture problem fixed, and the wet materials either dried or replaced. Some say Ozone will kill most or all of the remaining mycotoxins after the remediation is complete. However, ozone is not safe for humans. Not only is ozone potentially dangerous to your health, it may not even work at all. Ozone is a tiny molecule which is composed of three oxygen atoms. It is highly reactive which makes it an unstable and potentially toxic gas.
Both, hydrogen peroxide and Ozone create free radicals and there in no way to know how long it lingers in the air. The EPA has reported there is a variety of health effects associated with high levels of hydrogen peroxide and ozone. This may include decreased lung function, throat irritation, severe asthma symptoms, cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, irritation of lung tissue, and the higher sensitivity to respiratory infection. Also, these gasses do not remove particulates such as dust or pollen from the air. This includes the particles which are primarily responsible for allergic reactions. Mold fragments and mycotoxins are around 0.1 micrometers.
Mycotoxins are easily transferred to other items and locations. Cross contamination may occur when mold remediation is done incorrectly. Quite often, industry guidelines for mold remediation are not followed. In addition, some “so-called mold remediators” will spread the contamination by blowing the contaminants throughout the structure and the HVAC system by using fans and not following the proper containment procedures. This cross contamination increases a person’s harmful exposure to mycotoxins.
Learn more about our services and what you should know when choosing a mold professional. If you have any concerns about mold in your environment, call ALC Mold Consultants (operating under of A. Leigh Construction, LLC) for a Mold Inspection today.