Mold remediation experiences

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david lerner
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Re: Mold remediation experiences

Post by david lerner »

yeah, very similar to lyme in this regard, there's no consensus in the mold medial community regarding the health ramifications of mycotoxin exposure, and Spurgeon errors on the side of the conventional (vs the shoemaker/brewer perspective) viewpoint, based on the available clinical literature. I don't actually agree with him on this point, but his credentials and depth of experience in this area are impressive, and worth taking note of his opinion.
The food concern is real, especially with peanuts and peanut butter and aflatoxins. ~ 20 years ago FDA increased the allowable level of aflatoxins by 20 fold, because none of the big brand peanut butters could get even close to the allowed level. Ideally should be organic, grown in relatively dry soil and sun-dried, and the only companies I know of that do that are Arrowhead Mills and Maranatha (in their organic line). Here are 2 good articles on the topic:

http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/04/1 ... ources.htm

https://draxe.com/aflatoxin/

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Re: Mold remediation experiences

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david lerner wrote:Joe Spurgeon is another industrial hygienist who I trust lots. His website is http://expertonmold.com/, and he's quite accessible via email. Might be worth getting his opinion in the mix.

Also, John Banta is excellent and does telephone consulting. Here's an article he wrote on Neil Nathan's website. Neil is one of only a few clinicians who are trained by both Shoemaker and Brewer, and I consider him to be one of the best mycotoxin clinicians in the country: http://www.neilnathanmd.com/how-to-clea ... banta-cih/
Thanks David; these are great resources. Would you be willing to share more details on your own mold evaluation and remediation? Misery loves company! :lol:
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Re: Mold remediation experiences

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TheBrain wrote: I understand your dilemma. And I helped by adding another opinionated expert to your list (who is, BTW, a member of the SurvivingMold.com community). :) I recall you took the Mold Illness Made Simple course, offered by a Shoemaker-certified doctor. I gather that the course didn’t delve deeply into the details of remediation.

Are you familiar with the document, Indoor Environmental Professional Panel of Surviving Mold Consensus Statement: Medically Sound Investigation and Remediation of Water-Damaged Buildings in Cases of CIRS-WDB, available at:

https://www.survivingmold.com/docs/CONS ... _13_16.pdf

I’ve only skimmed parts of it, hoping I won’t actually need to take a deep dive into mold remediation. So I can’t speak to its usefulness at this point.
Merry Christmas TheBrain!

I am using the IEP document you linked above as my blueprint for mold remediation. The English language is open to interpretation, so what I think I understand after one read, I'm not sure I understand on the second. For example - remediation technique to use on surfaces in direct contact with mold (ex floor joists), versus the rest of the items in the house that most likely have mold fragments and mycotoxins on or in them (nonporous walls, porous furniture). The Mold Illness Made Simple course had 18 chapters, one of which was on mold testing and remediation. So good information, but not enough for best practices implementation. And again, it made sense while watching and listening the first time, less so on second round after realization that implementation is needed! Understanding the theory and the practice are two different things...
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Re: Mold remediation experiences

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david lerner wrote:yeah, very similar to lyme in this regard, there's no consensus in the mold medial community regarding the health ramifications of mycotoxin exposure, and Spurgeon errors on the side of the conventional (vs the shoemaker/brewer perspective) viewpoint, based on the available clinical literature. I don't actually agree with him on this point, but his credentials and depth of experience in this area are impressive, and worth taking note of his opinion.
David, thanks for explaining this lack of consensus in the mold community. I knew Dr. Shoemaker's work is controversial, but I didn't realize that experts disagree with his basic premise: that mycotoxin exposure is damaging to human health. Or am I misunderstanding and is the controversy more about the health effects of mycotoxin exposure from water-damaged buildings?

Nonetheless, I won't throw the baby out with the bathwater. I'll keep an ear open to what Dr. Spurgeon has to say.

I stopped eating peanuts four or five years ago. I reacted to them with digestive symptoms. I thought I had developed yet another food sensitivity, but maybe I was instead reacting to the mold on the peanuts.
Last edited by TheBrain on Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mold remediation experiences

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slacker wrote:Merry Christmas TheBrain!

I am using the IEP document you linked above as my blueprint for mold remediation. The English language is open to interpretation, so what I think I understand after one read, I'm not sure I understand on the second. For example - remediation technique to use on surfaces in direct contact with mold (ex floor joists), versus the rest of the items in the house that most likely have mold fragments and mycotoxins on or in them (nonporous walls, porous furniture). The Mold Illness Made Simple course had 18 chapters, one of which was on mold testing and remediation. So good information, but not enough for best practices implementation. And again, it made sense while watching and listening the first time, less so on second round after realization that implementation is needed! Understanding the theory and the practice are two different things...
Slacker, belated Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year!

Yes, I can see how the theory and practice are two different things. Hopefully, you'll get some people posting about their experiences here. However, you might need to find an online community devoted to mold illness to find more information on the topic.

I recently discovered http://paradigmchange.me. If you sign up, you'll get a free PDF copy of a popular ME/CFS recovery story, Back from the Edge. It's a quick read. Erik Johnson is the man whose story is told. He actually has mold sensitivity as his root cause (along with two mold-susceptible haplotypes; one of which I have). He became quite close to committing suicide but is now doing quite well. He had to do extreme mold avoidance for a long while. He pretty much had to figure out things on his own. He ended up writing some chapters for two of Dr. Shoemaker's books.

Anyway, in the right column of this web site is a list of related links. I don't see anything specific to mold remediation, but some of the resources might delve into the topic.
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Re: Mold remediation experiences

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Slacker, have you made any progress on the mold remediation front with respect to your home?
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Re: Mold remediation experiences

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TheBrain wrote:Slacker, have you made any progress on the mold remediation front with respect to your home?
I speak with my functional medicine mold expert by phone tomorrow to get her input. Will then attempt to negotiate changes to the remediation plan ($$$) based on said input. Both my mold remediation and mold inspection contacts have been swamped with active water leaks from frozen pipes caused by the cold weather here, so they have not been terribly responsive to my emailed follow up questions. Or maybe I'm just too much of a pain in the ass! 8-)
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Re: Mold remediation experiences

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Slacker, it sounds like things are moving forward. Good luck with your phone call tomorrow and with getting your questions answered. Be a pain in the ass if you have to be. 8-)
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Re: Mold remediation experiences

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I am copying a post I made recently to the Monster CIRS "inflammation" thread (at the intelligent suggestion of TheBrain), since it really is more of a remediation topic..

Update on my mold adventure.
The local remediator, who seemed like he was going to shift a bit in the direction of doing a CIRS compatible remediation, decided that he was not willing to change his approach in any way. So I decided to get in touch with Larry Schwartz, a mold inspector out of the Northern IL area. I believe that he is involved with an new organization called American Academy of Environmental Medicine, and was also recommended by Dr Mary Ackerley in one of her CIRS webinars (recently posted on our website).
Here's a free podcast that covers a general overview from Larry. It's episode 3: Building Health 101.

Without going into excruciating details, Larry was knowledgeable, respectful, and thorough. Phone consult $200/hour. He did not repeat the information from the podcast once I told him I had listened to it. Larry thinks that the mold inspection already done by a local inspector looks pretty complete. Only caveat is that the local mold inspector didn't remove all the basement ceiling tiles, so there may be more areas that need remediation. Larry does not think that he needs to travel to us for additional mold inspection. He has trained teams of remediators in his area to travel to perform the remediation. These teams are separate businesses and not part of his company. I've submitted a floor plan and photos of the house so that they can do a cost estimate. Larry has shared his opinion on what belongings or furnishing will probably have to go given that they are porous or semiporous (like ceiling tiles), or mycotoxin traps (like carpet). Also talked a bit about what needs to be done to reduce the risk of further water damage.

Waiting to hear back. Larry appears to be very busy - there are not a lot of people who do what he does for CIRS patients.
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Re: Mold remediation experiences

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I seem incapable of being brief! So here goes...

I found last week’s consultation with Larry Schwartz to be quite informative. He has done over 150 virtual mold assessments, and he reports that they have, by far, gone well.

Regarding our ERMI results with dust samples collected on the first floor, Larry said, “They’re not a phenomenal disaster, but they’re way up above where they should be. They’re in the range Shoemaker considers absolutely not healthy for a patient with inflammatory illness.”

But he also said, “Know this. The prognosis is good. These things all work. I have every confidence your home can be made healthy. Right now, the tests show there are issues that need to be dealt with. So I’m going to try to help you get it done right for the least cost and effort.”

Larry believes we don’t have any current water leaks going on, but that the mold is historical with most of it likely coming from the crawl space, even though it’s dry now. When my husband and I were doing inspections before buying our home, our home inspector found “wood-destroying fungus” in the crawl space. Both he and the termite inspector said, “Don’t let this stop you from buying this house. It can be remediated; you can even do it yourself.” We naively took this advice, negotiated a $5K decrease in the sale price of the home, and bought it in February 2016. In hindsight, we should have hired a mold inspector and received a valid estimate of the cost of remediating the crawl space.

Three months after we bought the home, I discovered I have two mold-susceptible haplotypes. Still, my CIRS blood test results were largely unremarkable, except for low MSH (melanocyte-stimulating hormone), but other things can cause this finding. However, late last year, I learned I had “extraordinarily high” levels of two mycotoxins in my Great Plains GPL-MycoTOX urine sample. So this test result, along with my symptoms, confirmed CIRS due to mold. Per a recent MRI, I also have scattered periventricular and subcortical white matter hyperintensities. These are the white spots found in “moldy” brains (but they can also be due to Lyme, chronic migraines, and sleep apnea).

A few months after we moved into our new home, my husband remediated the crawl space himself and did a really good job, per Larry. The moisture problem is gone. However, the fungus on the wood was not removed. It has stopped growing, though.

Prior to our consultation with Larry, my husband did some testing using a MyMoldDetective kit. We learned that the mold on the wood in the crawl space is identified as “Smuts, Periconia, Myxomycetes.” Per our report, this produces no known toxins. The two air samples from the living space on the first floor (the bedroom and the kitchen) showed normal mold concentrations. According to an analyst at MyMoldDetective, it appears that the mold in the crawl space is not becoming elevated into the kitchen and bedroom; in fact, they aren’t even “on the verge.”

I’ve since learned that traditional mold inspectors and remediators don’t know even what the ERMI is; instead, they rely on air testing and other tests. However, the very few CIRS-aware mold inspectors and remediators out there trust the ERMI and rely heavily on it because it’s aligned with health outcomes of CIRS patients. They find that air samples correlate poorly with the ERMI.

During our consultation, Larry didn’t even mention the MyMoldDetective test results (except I believe he trusts the results for the tape lift test we did for the mold on the wood in the crawl space). He focused on the ERMI results.

A few weeks ago, my husband took a look inside the air handler (part of our first floor HVAC system), which is in our crawl space. The fan has abundant mold; it’s very dry and most likely grew when the crawl space was too wet. We’ve turned off the HVAC for the time being.

To my surprise, Larry thinks it’s fine to leave the mold on the wood in the crawl space. He thinks what we need to do now is keep the air in the crawl space out of the home. He suspects that the air is coming into our living space (despite what the two air samples showed).

Larry is recommending we do a HERTSMI-2 in the crawl space to see if it matches any of the molds that were high in our 1st floor ERMI/HERTSMI-2 test. He’s also suggesting we do a HERTSMI-2 in the second floor to determine if we need to do small particle cleaning there. It seems clear he’ll be recommending small particle cleaning on the first floor.

He told us we should probably replace the entire air handler that’s in the crawl space, or possibly clean it, and we should get the HVAC ducts cleaned. Larry suggested we move forward with that.

If the HERTSMI-2 in the crawl space confirms his hypothesis, he will be recommending we use a whole-house positive air pressure system, costing somewhere between $3-5K. It pulls in air from the outside, dehumidifies it, filters it, and creates pressure such that air flows down into the crawl space, versus the other way around.

The problem is, our home isn’t “tight.” We have a leaky flue for the fireplace, an air dryer vent, a kitchen vent, and three bathroom vents. In addition, during nice weather, we like to have some windows open, and my husband and dog are in and out the door many times a day. A positive air pressure system would leak a lot of air outside, even to the point of opening the flaps that all of our vents use. My husband doesn’t think we need this system or that it would even work.

Larry told us that in one case, a client tried using negative air pressure, with the intention of pulling air out of the crawl space using a Humidex in the crawl space. The intention was to pull air from the living space into the crawl space (thus keeping the living space “clean”). That makes logical, but for some reason, it made matters worse in this case because it somehow pulled contaminants into the crawl space. Larry is cautious about using this approach, but I still don’t understand what happened here. What were the contaminants, and where did they come from? Why does it matter if the crawl space has more contaminants, especially if they aren't being drawn into the living space? Have other clients, other than this one, had success with this approach?

My husband and I used a negative air pressure setup in Colorado to keep radon levels in our home low. It was inexpensive and easy, and it worked.

Last week, I had a blood draw for 8 CIRS tests (some repeats, some I haven’t had done before). I collected my urine sample for my second mycotoxins test. Soon enough, I’ll see what my body is saying about living in this house and how it’s responding to my current mold treatment regimen.
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