Here on Dr. Nuzum.com we talk a lot about toxins in your food, in the environment, and the impact they have on your body. However, there is one toxin in many American homes that we often don’t think of, and sometimes don’t even see. That substance is mold.
The Invisible Danger
Most of the toxic mold in the air around us we cannot even see. We may or may not be able to smell a mildew type odor, or something we refer to as musty. More than likely the cause of this is mold.
Even if you do not see it, this means you are breathing in unclean air, spores of mold that studies show cause everything from simple allergic reactions to depression, serious respiratory illness, or death. Especially if you experience asthma or seasonal allergies, you may be more sensitive to mold than others might be.
Of course, if you see mold you know you have a problem. Black mold often becomes visible in bathrooms, laundry rooms, under sinks, and in other damp areas of your home or office.
Mold spores join using tiny tube like arms to create a single organism known as a cluster. These clusters are visible, like the green spots you see on bread when it has sat too long in a closed plastic bag. Black mold is more commonly found in bathrooms and damp crawlspaces, is highly toxic, and is also visible because of several spores clustered together.
The issue for your lungs is un-clustered mold spores that are flying around in your home and can be breathed in. They are often too small to be filtered by standard HVAC filters, and are actually spread by your heating and air conditioning system.
Most molds produce allergic reactions and issues with the nervous system. However, there are certain types of molds that produce what are called mycotoxins which are particularly dangerous. Studies have shown that breathing in large amounts of these mycotoxins can impair the entire human system, and can even lead to death.
How Mold Survives
Mold thrives in warm, humid environments where there is any kind of organic material for them to live in. Areas with high levels of moisture like a basement or a shower are favorite places for it to grow.
It can also grow under wall paper, on windowsills, and in ceilings especially if you live in an area with high humidity, and can even be present under your refrigerator.
There are more than 10,000 types of mold that have been identified. The other scary fact is that often the air inside our homes is more toxic than the air outside, and many of us spend 60% or more of our time indoors at home.
Obviously, if you see signs of mold growth, or if you smell a musty odor, especially if you have experienced any water leaking issues, you know you have mold in your home. If you are simply experiencing some allergy symptoms or other issues you may feel are related to mold, you can also get mold test kits to actually test the air in your home for mold.
You can also hire a professional mold tester to come and check out your home, and even find the source of the mold if it is not readily apparent. This may be expensive, but if you are experiencing the symptoms of mold toxicity, it may be worth it for your health and that of your family. This is especially true if the more toxic forms of mold have found their way into your home.
Getting Rid of Mold
Of course, for extreme cases of mold, you need to hire professionals that are a part of disaster cleanup to remove the mold from your home. This may be covered by your homeowners or renter’s insurance depending on your coverage.
Keep in mind that if the area of mold is larger than 10 square feet in total, it is recommended that you hire a professional. But there are three solutions you can mix at home with normal household cleaners you already have.
Bleach: Use bleach in the ratio of 16 parts bleach to one part water, keeping in mind that you must keep the area where you use bleach well ventilated and keep children and pets away from the area until you are done cleaning. Bleach is harmful to humans if ingested or inhaled, and it will harm clothing and fabric as well.
Vinegar: You can use distilled white vinegar without diluting it. Although the smell is not delightful, it is a non-toxic alternative to bleach. It can be used on nearly any surface safely, but should be used sparingly on porous surfaces like wood.
Baking Soda: Again, this does not work well on porous surfaces, but it is a good alternative to commercial cleaners and it also works as a deodorizer. Mix ½ cup baking soda to 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon mild liquid detergent, preferably organic.
Hydrogen Peroxide: This can be used on any surface, including porous ones like fabric and wood. You should use Straight 3% hydrogen peroxide, or 10% for difficult mold, you can also add it 50/50 to vinegar or baking soda, which will aid in preventing the mold from returning. The disadvantage is this compound may not work as well as bleach for stubborn mold.
Borax: Borax is a great substance for mold removal. It is safe to use on all surfaces and is non-toxic for the most part, although it should not be ingested. Mix 1 cup of Borax to one gallon of water.
If you discover you have mold in your home, or even suspect that you do, you should take significant steps to remove it. Consult with a professional, and even if you discover you can clean it yourself, be sure to avoid toxic chemicals and use natural solutions outlined here.
Want to learn more? Here is an interesting video on mold produced by the History Channel.