5 min read

Mycotoxins and Mold

Published on
May 18, 2023

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I need to preface this with an explanation that mold is terrible. Mycotoxins are even worse. They make people extremely ill. I have witnessed it over and over again in my 15 plus years in the industry. I am not minimizing mycotoxins or their inherent dangers. Having said that, to think you can have toxic mycotoxins in a mold-free home flies in the face of common sense. I have never seen a mold-free home, yet still full of mycotoxins. It just doesn't exist. Yet, it is that idea, that is giving traditional mold remediators a “free pass”, and a built-in excuse for why their customers are still sick from the mold in the home. The root of frustration is that almost every mold pundit in the world will preach that air quality tests are unreliable when the tests, during an investigative inspection, show no mold. And I completely agree with them. Air quality tests unreliable. My issue is that these same pundits will look at a “post” remediation clearance test from a traditional remediation company, and say, “ I can see the mold was removed, and you are still sick, so.......there must be mycotoxins present”. What? Now, all of a sudden, we trust mold tests? In one statement, and one poor assumption, based on tests that nobody believes in, the industry is letting the remediation Companies off the hook.

These same “experts” who say, “tread lightly when looking at air quality tests” have gone from not trusting those initial tests that show very little mold in the home, to trusting these same types of tests, believing that all of a sudden they are accurate, and the home is mold-free, but mycotoxins remain. Hopefully, I can describe the irony. How can you possibly not believe in air quality tests, or other types of testing for that matter, and then give your assessment of the problem based on the tests you don't believe in. And, when confronted with a sick patient or customer, come up with the only plausible explanation is that the mold is gone, and the mycotoxins are tough “son of a gun”, and very difficult to get rid of. And to make matters worse, suggest that homeowners must move, and leave all their belongings behind. I.e.walk-out naked.

Might I offer a different approach and solution? The tests are indeed junk, and the home is still FULL of mold. Every home, to some degree, has mold pockets, producing spores, growing mold, and producing mycotoxins. And it is often if not always, the cumulative effect of these areas, sometimes hundreds of them in a single home, that is the real mold and mycotoxin issue. It’s not the wet wall, that grew mold when the water heater broke. That wet moldy wall is simply a manifestation of moisture and an already elevated mold load in a home. It started growing mold on the moisture because there was already an abundance of spores in the indoor air.

Let's now talk about traditional remediation. It is spot treatment at best. A traditional mold remediator will contain the area, dry out the area, tear out the area, rebuild the area, and then run air scrubbers in the contained area, test the contained area, and finally declare the WHOLE home mold-free.

First of all, mold doesn't just stay within the confined area. It was in the whole home before the flood, and it is in the whole home after the flood. The fact that the home grew mold quickly on the damaged wet material simply is a manifestation of elevated mold load in the home. The entire home is sick, and the confined area that is being remediated within the containment area, may indeed get a little better, but the fact remains the entire home is still sick. I repeat you cannot spot treat mold and mycotoxins.

The frustrating part of this is the customer then reports, after the traditional remediation, to their health care provider that their mold has been addressed. The healthcare provider will congratulate them, however in all reality, the patient will continue to get sicker each passing day as if nothing changed. Time and time again, the healthcare practitioner, or mold pundit will eventually say, “here is the real problem, you got rid of the mold, (based on the clearance tests, which all of a sudden they trust) but there are still mycotoxins in the home” And you know what? They are partly right. The real issue is this. THE CUSTOMER STILL HAS MOLD IN THE HOME, SO OF COURSE, THEY STILL HAVE MYCOTOXINS! It is not because these mysterious little toxins hang around forever. Its because the overall mold load in the home continues to emit toxins. It becomes plain as day, once you have been treated home after home after home, and witnessed success stories over and over again. The whole home needs to be addressed. There are miniature mycotoxins factories throughout the home. They need to be shut down. Once shut down, fresh air will enter the home, and the home will return to a healthy status. But not until all mold/mycotoxin factories are shut down.

The important concept here is moldy homes produce mycotoxins, actively. Furthermore, it is the constant and unrelenting emissions of mycotoxins that make people sick. A truly Mold Free home will have no mycotoxins. In addition to this, and on a side note, mycotoxins or metabolites are susceptible to oxidation. The Pure Maintenance VaPure system works based on oxidation. But, as we mentioned, it's difficult to test, so I opt, at least in this blog, to appeal to a common-sense angle on the issue. We will discuss oxidation in other blogs.

Let's compare this to a more common problem that we as a society have figured out how to address. Let's assume you have a gas leak in your stove and a gas leak in your furnace. Two separate and distinct areas are releasing toxic gas. One upstairs, and one in the basement. You suspect you have toxins in the home because you likely can smell it, it gives you a headache or nausea, or heaven forbid, something worse. We have determined that the best way to solve this problem is to stop the constant flow of natural gas into the home. How is this accomplished? By calling in an expert, and getting the leak or leaks fixed. Stopping the flow of toxins. What if, for example, the expert only fixes the gas leak in the stove. (Let's assume he only fixed the one because that is the only place he could see visible signs of gas leakage) And let's further assume that the furnace is still releasing gas into the home. Let's take it a step further, and imagine that the guy fixing the stove, contains the area of the stove, fixes the leak, runs air scrubbers, then tests that area, and then declares the home safe. Is the area that he tested toxin-free? Well, temporarily. But it won't be as soon as he removes the containment. It would be a travesty if a healthcare provider were to say, well, you fixed the leak, but you still have gas in the air.” You need to either address the gas still in the air, or you need to move because it is very difficult to get rid of the natural gas in the air. “Well, he or she is partly correct, you do still have gas in the air, but it is not from the “lingering” toxins. It's from the other source or sources of gas leaking. The obvious solution is to fix all the leaks in the home, which would be akin to fixing or denaturing all the mold in the home. And as in mycotoxins, the gas will eventually dissipate. I have never heard of someone having a gas leak in the home, and once it is fixed, being told that you need to get rid of that gas that was emitted during the leak, or move out. Is natural gas unhealthy, of course, it is. But we also know enough to believe that if all the leaks are fixed, the fresh air will win. We know that the air circulating from indoor to out and vice versa will solve that issue. Again, the issue is the constant supply of toxins must be stopped. The same applies to mold and mycotoxins, the constant “supply” or the machines creating the mycotoxins must be stopped.

We must stop trusting the “post-remediation” tests, that tell us the mold is gone and let the traditional remediation companies get away with simply blaming the mycotoxins. The mold is still in the home after traditional remediation. Treating the whole home will make the house safe. Give Pure Maintenance a call, for whole-home remediation.