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An Experience with Household Mold and Mold Remediation

Sarah Wilson’s life was never the same after finding out she had mold in her home. The dangers of mold are real, and for her, it wasn’t an easy process. She and her family went through a lot while trying to get the mold out of her home, through many mold tests, mold inspections, and an eventual mold remediation. It was a difficult process, but if someone tells you that mold is infesting your home, it’s a life-changing phrase.

“You have mold in your home.”

What are you supposed to do with that information? How long has it been there? What can you do to remove it? There are so many people out there that pass it off as if mold isn’t a possibility. Having experienced first-hand of what mold can do to a family, it’s not a pleasing sight and it can hurt everyone around you. No one should underestimate a mold infestation.

“Not in my home,” they might say.

“Mold isn’t dangerous,” others have said.

Sarah is a coworker of mine and we work at as business analysts here in Orlando. She’s a single mom of a boy and a girl and seemed to live a happy life until recently. She never missed a day of work, aside from her having a sick day or two for her children on occasion. Sarah had a bit of family help for the most part, of course. Since our office is pretty small, we are pretty social with each other.

We’ve been coworkers for a few years now, so we know each other pretty well. She is a healthy, active mother who exercised often. I’ve often went on jogs with her and it’s somewhat difficult to keep up with her pace. Sarah is a kind, friendly woman, so it was difficult to see what was going on with her a few months ago.

For a few days, I noticed that Sarah was tired. While we all lose sleep on occasion, I noticed it over a period of a week. She would come into work and be so sluggish and seemingly exhausted in comparison to her normal mood. Her productivity lowered and she seemed to lose focus a lot. Assuming that she had some issues in her household, I didn’t pry very much.

However, after a week or so, I couldn’t bare it any longer. I asked her what was up.

“I don’t know,” she told me.

Sarah’s kids had been sick for a little while and the doctors didn’t seem to know what was going on. It wasn’t immediate, but it was often. Over the previous months, her children had showed signs of fatigue, heavy breathing, and more. They were getting sick often, as if something was lowering their immune system.  Thankfully, Sarah hadn’t reached that point yet.

Since the doctors were at a loss of why her kids were getting sick so often, I tried to think of a few reasons, myself. I am not a professional medical advisor by any means, but mold is something I know a bit about. There haven’t been many studies done on mold when it comes to the human body, but it seemed that this sounded like a regular run-of-the-mill mold infection.

When I suggested it to her, she seemed to be in a bit of denial. It was clear that it was a concern of hers, but the doctors may have seemed sure it wasn’t mold. When asking further, she merely stated that there was no way it could be mold because there wasn’t any water damage. There was no reason that she would have mold in her home.

It is also understandable why she wouldn’t want it to be mold, too. Mold remediation can be very expensive and costly. If there is mold growing, she and her kids would also have to go through a bit of detoxing to get the mold out of their system. This is a stressful time to go through for anyone, and no one wants their kids to have to change much of their diet for detoxification.

The thing about mold is that it can grow anywhere that has even the slightest bit of warmth and moisture in the air. Around Orlando, that’s quite a bit, considering it’s surrounded by many bodies of water. Humidity can cause a lot of problems for everyone, so mold isn’t uncommon in our homes here unless you have something like a dehumidifier running pretty often.

There are thousands of types of mold in the world and it is one of the oldest fungi on the planet. Only a few types of mold are toxic to humans, but some of these molds grow in the home. Household mold is a very serious thing and it can be rather expensive to get rid of. It’s a very difficult thing to get rid of when it’s there, considering that it can spread easily to other surfaces.

Either way, whenever asked about the mold, she didn’t want to admit it. Mold tests are relatively inexpensive and easy to do, so I told her to try one. It very well could have been mold and it can be dangerous for her and her family if it continues lingering. Not only that, but mold can also bring down a home’s value if it is ever put on the market as well as weaken the foundation.

While she seemed more hesitant, she agreed to get a mold test kit. For someone who has never experienced mold before, there are certain things you must do for it to work. Mold tests are very accurate and they can be used inside or outside. She had never used one herself, so if you’re in the same position, this is how you do it:

  • Purchase a mold test kit.

These mold tests kits can be purchased from any big retailer like Home Depot or Amazon. They are relatively inexpensive, costing anywhere from $100-300. These usually only carry one test kit, though. If you want to test multiple rooms, you will either have to get an electronic device or multiple test kits, which can be a bit more expensive. Sarah was able to pick up a few to test multiple rooms in her home.

The thing with mold kits is that you usually have to send them to a laboratory for processing. There are two different types that you can get: a surface testing kit and an air quality kit. The latter is a bit more expensive since it’s usually an electronic device you have to use, but some kits have both. It is possible to rent these as well, so there’s no reason to avoid getting your home tested for mold.

There are a few different parts to a mold test kit:

  • Step-by-step guide
  • A couple petri dishes or surface samples
  • Air-sealed bags or pumps
  • Prepaid envelope or mailing information

After you have everything in front of you, there are a few methods that you can do to get the samples to apply to your test kit.

  • Set up your petri dish or surface sample.

If it is a petri dish, it may take a bit more setting up. You have to pour the medium for the mold growth into the petri dish and allow it to sit. A surface sample is normally a microscope slide. All that is needed for the slide is a sample of the mold or area that you want to find out about. There are many types of mold, but there are only a few that are toxic—a lab test will tell you what type it is and possibly suggest remediation.

  • Test the air quality.

If you have a kit that can test the air quality with a petri dish or an air pump, you should place them in a place where you want to test the mold. After collecting the air with a pump, you’re pretty much done. However, if you have a petri dish, you’ll have to leave it open for about an hour for the spores to collect, if there are any. You should close it after an hour and check it after 48 to 72 hours to see if there is any additional mold growth.

  • Test actual mold growth.

As said above, there are thousands of species of molds. Not all household molds are toxic to humans, so you should take samples of the areas that you see with the naked eye. These mold patches may not be dangerous at all, but only a lab can tell you that. If it’s not toxic, a good scrub may be all that it needs. However, if it’s something like black mold, it can be a lot more dangerous than you think.

  • Send in samples for lab analysis.

Some mold test kits come with prepaid envelopes and even offer free lab tests. However, many labs have a fee (from $40-60) for testing mold samples. Some mold tests are a bit more expensive because they include the lab test fees, but you don’t have to send them in if you don’t want to. It’s always something that you should do, though.

Of course, there are times when you may not need to do a mold test at all if you feel that you may have mold in your home. There are a few big signs that will show if you do have mold. Aside from the very obvious patches that might be around vents or windows, there are also signs like these:

  • The smell of mold. Mold has a very unique and specific smell. If you or someone around smells the scent of mold, it’s highly likely that it is in your home.
  • Health issues, like Sarah had. These might be a bit harder to pinpoint, as there are many sicknesses that share the symptoms of mold infection. However, if it’s constant and long-lasting, it could be mold.
  • Water damage like leaky pipes or humidity. Mold can come from many places, but leaky pipes and faucets are one of the leading causes of mold. If water damage isn’t taken care of quickly, you can be sure to see mold popping up in the area.

Use your best judgment when considering a mold test. You won’t have to go through the process of buying a mold testing kit or anything like that if the mold is visible. You can skip right to the next step, which is a mold inspection and then move to mold remediation. It is a long, drawn-out process, but remediation is worth it in the long run.

Showing Sarah how to do a mold test, she proceeded to get one and send it off to the lab. A few days later, she told me that she actually did have mold in her home. She wasn’t sure how it got there, but the results came back that she had some pretty bad mold. In fact, it was one of the worst molds that she could have—it was black mold.

Black mold is another name for the toxic mold called Stachybotrys. This mold can grow on many areas inside the home, usually out of sight. Many older homes can have a problem with molds like this, considering there isn’t much ventilation in areas of the home. Newly-built homes seem to be having this problem as well, including Sarah’s home.

Sarah didn’t know where the mold came from, but it’s hard to pinpoint a source. The truth of the matter is, mold can appear anywhere if moisture has gotten in without ventilation. Even if it’s just humidity, untreated water damage and other things like it can cause mold to grow on surfaces. She was distraught, but fortunately, she knew what she had to do then.

Mold is never something you should play around with, so she needed to get help pretty quickly. Diet is something that can come afterward, but there are many professionals out there that can help with mold remediation. It’s a long, taxing process, but Sarah is a strong woman and she managed to pull through. She knew what she had to do, too.

The first step is obviously testing the situation yourself. Now that she knew she had mold in her home, the next step was inspection. Mold remediation services can usually determine how much they need to work, but a mold inspector will always be a good choice. This is especially true considering mold inspectors can give you information on the best remedial services they know of.

A mold inspection can be relatively quick. Aside from the average cost of $300-500, depending on your home, it should be included with the remedial service that you purchase. These mold inspectors will tell you the level of infestation and the amount of remedial service you’ll need. There are different types of mold, as I’ve said, so it may be a bit less than you thought.

Mold inspections are a big deal. When selling your home, a home inspector will also likely test for mold. These mold infestations can lower the property value of your home, considering no one wants to deal with such a problem. Not only can it cause health problems, but it can also cause structural damage. With mold, there is moisture. Moisture will soften the foundation of a home, whether on the ground or in the supporting beams, leading to expensive damage. Remediation will likely be recommended or added to the costs of selling.

Sarah needed to act quickly; otherwise, there may be a lot more problems down the line. Giving her a few numbers to call, like Damage Control 911, she took to the phone in an instant. It is relatively fast to set up an appointment and she managed to get one in the week that she called. She had professional services set up for the end of the week.

Sarah didn’t know what to expect whenever she prepped for the remediation. So, if you’re in her position, here’s a bit of a rundown of what can happen whenever mold remediation companies begin their services:

  • Cleaning before they arrive. Initially, it’s a good idea to begin cleaning the rooms and relocating pets and other animals will be beneficial to the mold removers. Make sure to move things out of the way for the people to do their jobs.
  • Preparation from the remediation professionals. Mold remediation services usually keep your home clean, so you don’t have to do much. They will begin laying out plastic and other things to keep everything from getting covered by their chemicals. Putting on HAZMAT-like suits, they will make sure they don’t get infected, too.
  • Finishing preparation. After verifying the level of mold infestation, they will continue prepping. They may seal up the areas to prevent the mold from going elsewhere while they clean, so it might be a good idea to stay somewhere else while they work.
  • Attempted salvaging of mold-touched items. They will begin removing things that they can’t save. Most mold remediation services can save things if they have mold on them, but not all the time. Removing these infested items will be good for you in the long run. However, they will try to save what they can when cleaning.
  • Pinpointing the source and levels of mold infestation. Mold usually has a main source if it hasn’t spread too widely through the home. Once the professionals seal off the source, they will begin the process of decontamination and sanitizing the rooms.
  • Decontamination begins. For the actual decontamination, they will begin spraying and wiping down everything. Mold spores are likely still in the air, but getting the mold at the source is one of the top priorities that they have. The airborne spores will be taken care of otherwise during the remediation.
  • It takes time. Mold remediation is different for each home or room, but a full remediation will take up to 3-7 days of work for the cleaners. You may want to find another place to stay during these times, especially those not taking part in the actual cleaning. That means any family, pets, or other things may need to be relocated.
  • Finishing touches. Whenever they finish with removing the mold, there will likely still be mold spores in the air. This is dangerous, considering that if they don’t get the spores, the mold can come back. It will spread on new surfaces and the remediation will be for nothing. Mold remediation specialists will likely use an ozone generator or some sort of encapsulating spray to keep everything from being affected.

Sarah went through all of this and she can safely say that her home is mold-free now. It took a week for them to make sure all the mold was gone, considering it was black mold. Since it is one of the most toxic, they made sure to get every bit of it. It was a trying time, but she was strong to get through it, especially for her kids. Black mold is never something to mess around with.

She was back at work the next week and seemed as exhausted as ever, but she had successfully gotten her home remediated. She had no more mold problems afterward and she steadily got better. Sarah got back to her normal life and became even more successful with us. Of course, this was due to her having to change her diet as well. Mold takes a bit of time to purge from your body. Detoxing is a necessary thing, but it’s separate from mold remediation.

Inquiring about Sarah’s new diet, she told me a few things she had learned on the Internet. There are multiple diets around, but there are a few things that each of them have in common. When doing a detox diet, a few key things should be done:

  • Remove foods that contain mold. This is something you should stay away from when going through a detox from mold. A few of these foods include: yeast, dried fruit, most alcoholic beverages, corn (which includes corn syrup, popcorn, and other things like that), and some cheeses.
  • Remove foods that have high histamine. While alcohol and cheeses are part of this category as well, there are other foods like picked and canned foods, beans and pulses, nuts, and smoked meat products. Shellfish also carry high amounts of histamine.
  • Remove refined sugars. Things like high fructose corn syrup, crystal and brown sugar, sweeteners, and more fall under this category. Boxed cereals, salad dressings, energy bars, most fast food, and many yogurts. There are a lot of things in this category, so you just have to do your research when making your list.

The removal of these foods is the first step in detoxification from mold. This doesn’t have to be done immediately, and it shouldn’t be, considering it can cause a shock to your body. Taking it slow is more beneficial, so take a month to remove the refined sugar first, then the second month to remove the moldy foods as well as the foods high in histamine. Around this time, you should also begin drinking a detoxification juice two to three times a week.

These juices can be made from a few different things. They’re not entirely pleasant, as Sarah has told me, but they can be made to taste nice. The real challenge was getting her kids to drink it. Browsing the Internet, she found some pretty good recipes that helped her and her kids stomach the detox juices. They can even be made in different colors, depending on what sort of ingredients you have!

There are a few things to keep in mind whenever you’re making the detox juice, however:

  • Wash all the ingredients completely. Pesticides and other things that remain on the veggies can do more harm than good.
  • Remove peeling from any fruit or veggie that you use. This will ensure smoothness whenever you’re making the juice and you won’t have weird chunks in it.
  • It’s a good idea to cut the veggies into smaller chunks, about one to two inches, before putting them in the juicer.
  • Put the entirety of the items in the juicer together. Make sure to read the instruction manual and safety precautions that come with the juicer!

Common ingredients of detox juices consist of:

  • Green apples
  • Kale
  • Lemon
  • Ginger
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Spinach
  • Beets
  • Pineapple
  • Pears

One of the best pieces of information that Sarah gave me is that fruits are able to mask vegetables a lot. There are a lot of people out there that don’t like many vegetables, especially kids, so it was difficult to find a good recipe. There are quite a few out there, though, and she has found some kid-friendly ones too. She has added it to her diet as well as her kids’ diets.

There are quite a few fruits out there that are pretty high in sugar, but keep in mind that it is only refined sugar that you need to stay away from for a time. Kale and ginger are great items to assist with your detoxification. If you’re making a detox juice for a child, be sure to add things like oranges, apples, and lemons to mask the ginger, kale, and spinach if you decide to make it like that.

One of the best juices Sarah told me she used was:

  • 2 green apples, halved or quartered
  • 2 carrots, peeled and washed
  • 6 kale leaves
  • 1 piece or root of ginger
  • Half a peeled lemon
  • Mint

One thing that you should know is that you should not replace solid foods completely. Detoxification juices are good for you, but they are not a complete substitute for food. Not eating will do more harm to you and your children than you think—especially your children. Never force them to stave off food, especially since they’re still growing and need nutrients more than adults do.

Sarah did this for a few months. It was difficult for her, but she and her family went through it. She let me taste one of her juices and, truth be told, it wasn’t the best-tasting thing. She worked through it and slowly reintroduced things like grains and other foods with histamine in them. The interesting part about going on these sorts of diets is that sugars don’t really taste that great after reintroducing them to your diet.

Even Sarah’s kids didn’t seek out sugars and candy like they used to. They still like them, of course, but it wasn’t high on the list. Sarah kept it out of their diets for the most part and they seem as healthy as ever. A diet is important for anyone and you might find yourself sticking to it even after the amount of time you put into it.

Along with these self-made recipes, there have been a few retail outlets that sell pre-made detox juices and shakes. They usually have the same ingredients as above, but be careful of the ones that add sugar. Some of them will add refined sugar to make the shelf life longer. Always read the labels and make sure there are no “special” additions.

Among the diet, Sarah also mentioned detoxification bathing. While it’s not the most crucial thing in the world, she did mention that she enjoyed the feel of it. From what she said, it helps promote smooth skin and it can be relaxing as a whole. She told me her process and stated that it can dehydrate your body a bit, so drinking a lot of water before-hand is a good thing.

There are some bath bombs on the market that can assist with this, but most of the ingredients for a detox bath are:

  • 2 cups of Epson salt
  • ½ cup of Bentonite clay
  • 1 cup of Baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon of essential oils like lemon, orange, or tree oil
  • ¼ cup of Sea salt
  • ¼ cup of Apple Cider vinegar

For children, you should only measure about half of these measurements.

There are a few other things that you can add, like ground ginger, rose oils, and other things that are therapeutic when it comes to smells. You can intertwine aromatherapy while you detox, which takes into account the essential oils.

Sarah mentioned that she felt a bit lightheaded whenever she took these baths, but that is merely a sign that it is working. The natural things in the water are pulling out the toxic chemicals from your skin and you can aid the process with a long-handle dry brush or loofa. Brushing yourself and soaping yourself up can assist with pulling the toxins out of your body.

However, whenever you’re bathing in the salts and oils, make sure to time yourself for about 20-40 minutes. Any longer and you might find it does more damage than good. It can dry your skin out after a while, so make sure you have lotions on hand as well. If you experience flu-like symptoms afterward, be sure to relax a bit more while out of the water.

Sarah mentioned the dry skin, but she had lotion on hand. This will help moisturize your skin and make it even better to keep the new hydration in. Drinking lots of water is important, so you’ll want to drink a full glass before and afterward. This will help you stay hydrated and keep the water in your body, so be sure to use lotion for you and your family afterward. This is especially true for your extremities like hands and feet.

When doing these things, make sure you monitor your children. They can suffer some of the same headaches and such as you when it comes to taking detox baths. Make sure they rest and drink lots of water before and afterward because it can be dangerous if they don’t. Detoxification can be a tradition for the entire family, especially if you’ve suffered from mold infestation.

Similarly to the retail juices, there are some bath bombs that you can purchase that have the same amount of salts and oils you need. It is a bit difficult for them to add the essential oils into it, so you may need to do that yourself. Either way, bath bombs are a great way to have a bath for you and your kids to where you don’t have to measure out your materials!

Closing Thoughts

Sarah came out of this stronger and healthier than ever. Mold is a terrible fungus that can ruin your life if you aren’t careful. I was very worried about her, but it seems I may have helped a bit more than the doctors she was seeing! It’s never a good idea to skip medical health and checkups, though. Science hasn’t done too much research on mold, after all.

Regular checkups can save your life. Never underestimate the medical knowledge of a doctor, but keep in mind that not everything can be done by the book. Some natural remedies are better than a few pills. People have been using these techniques since ancient times, so there must be some merit to it. Mold is no joke, especially when it comes to you and your family’s health. Don’t wait on mold remediation–do it as soon as you can.

If you ever learn that there is mold in your home, don’t panic. There are logical ways to clean and get rid of any mold inside of your house. Mold tests, mold inspections, and mold remediation is always available to you. It can be a difficult time, but like Sarah, you can make it through. It only takes about 6 months to purify your body of the mold infection that you may have suffered and she’s even healthier for it.

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