5 min read

Is Your Home and Your Body Full of Toxins? What can be done?

Published on
May 18, 2023

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We all grew up with the notion, “you are what you eat”. But there is a much less known axiom relating to this which is, “You are what you Breathe”. The ‘we are what we eat’ saying, is true and proven, and the” you are what you breathe” is, well, I just made it up. On a serious note, it has only been in the past 25 years that toxins and indoor air quality has become ‘widely’ known, studied, and verified. VOCs and MVOC’s (microbial volatile organic compounds) are now a common language in the indoor air conversation and the quest for healthy homes and workplaces.

VOCs that trigger reactions with people include latex, paints, paint strippers, wood preservatives, dry-cleaned clothing, moth repellants, air fresheners, cleaners and disinfectants, and aerosol sprays. Along with VOC’s which are obviously plentiful, there are MVOC’s of Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds. This quite simply is a home or workplace with elevated “Mold load”. This includes mold growth, mold spores, dormant mold, and mycotoxins. The ever-changing yet consistent load of VOCs and MVOC’s, in every home and workplace, often creates a toxic mess, which is oftentimes not realized until someone becomes sick.

This is well now well known. Our houses and our workplaces are full of toxins. Some worse than others and some people have worse symptoms of different toxins than others. Some can live with mold, and mycotoxins, some are incredibly ill with the same mold and mycotoxin in their home. Some can live with VOCs, others can’t. This variability of the environment and the toxin resistance of each person creates something of a moving target for each individual as well as your physician or health care provider. No wonder there exists thousands of help and support groups, and tens of thousands of books written and devoted to indoor air quality. There are a number of variables for each person, each toxin, and each home or workplace. Examples of this are plentiful, but one clear example of this is memory foam mattresses. Some sleep very comfortably in a brand new memory foam mattress, others, and it is documented, have noticeable and often acute symptoms of their body reacting to the off-gassing of the memory foam material, or VOC’s. Additionally, some sleep fine in a memory foam mattress yet gets extremely ill when combining a memory foam mattress with a mold-laden home. It could be a case where either the mold or the VOCs, on their own, would be fine, but combining the two and it's now a toxic cocktail. You can see that the variables become mathematically exponential, and tracking them becomes almost impossible. For this reason, there is not a “one size fits all” solution.

So what to do about it? First of all, your toxin load, which includes VOCs and Mold or MVOC’s must be lowered. The path to a healthy home or workplace is worth the effort. A few tips I have come up with from working in the indoor air quality industry for years are:

1. Listen to your body. You know what items your body reacts to. Additionally, you know what situations cause stress, which in and of itself is toxic. You also know what areas in the home seem to give you the most acute reactions. Do what needs to be done to address various issues in the home or workplace. If for example, your co-worker's perfume makes you sick, address it. If the air conditioner turning on in your workplace or home makes you feel anxious or nauseous, address it with the building manager or a mold professional. If your car is full of mold, or a musty smell, address it.

2. Inventory your home, your workplace, and your belongings, and determine what items are causing you the most health effects. This may mean throwing out a mattress, changing dry-cleaners, and modifying when and how you use cleaners in your home, or even changing your employment situation and your workplace. Many people get the inventory step confused with listening to your body step. Both are separate and distinct steps, and both are important.

3. Get advice and encouragement from others who have gone through what you are going through, and lean on others for support.

4. Rely on a professional mold remediation company with a history of satisfied customers. Seek health care providers who specialize in chemical toxicity, and mold toxicity.

Along with this, one of the easier toxins to reduce are the MVOC’s. You don't have to live in a moldy home. Steps to reducing mold in the home include:

1. Try to determine the history of the home, including the building process itself. Was the home completely “dried in” before rain and snow? Also question the previous owners of the home. Unfortunately, a past homeowner will not always be forthright with you, but it is worth a try. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about the history of water intrusion, the better you can attack and correct the issues.

2. Determine where the water intrusion has occurred. Correct it, if it still is wet, and determine the most beneficial remediation available. Remember remember remember, the area of the leak is not the only area to be remediated. Mold moves throughout the home. Mold spores find new homes, in which to spore out, grow and produce mycotoxins. Whole house remediation is needed. You can't spot treat mold and expect the home to be healthy and without mold, spores, and mycotoxins. It's simply impossible. The entire home must be treated if the goal is to be a healthy home.

The message here is that although you may not be able to eliminate every stress or every toxin, you can lower the overall toxin load. Additionally, you absolutely can rid your home of elevated mold, spores, and mycotoxins. Your body will eventually respond in a positive way, and you will begin the healing process. Pure Maintenance may be your first step to a healthy home or workplace.