Unfortunately, it’s not just about sneezing.
In addition to sinus problems and wheezing, mold exposure can lead to a wide variety of other health issues. According to Dr. Mark Hyman in the Ultra Mind Solution, mold exposure can also cause immune system abnormalities, autonomic nervous system abnormalities and brain damage including short-term memory loss, impairment of executive function/judgment, concentration and hand-eye coordination.1
Symptoms of mold exposure vary but can include2:
- Light Sensitivity
- Red Eyes and/or Blurred Vision
- Sinus Problems
- Focus/Concentration Issues
- Recollection Issues
- Decreased Learning of New Knowledge
- Abdominal Pain
- Aches, Pains
- Shortness of Breath
Here are some steps you may want to take if you think you have been exposed to mold:
1. Test your space
Test one or more of your rooms for mold growth using an ISO certified lab like EMLAB P&K. The test is easy to perform. The lab provides collection kits that attach to your vacuum. After vacuuming and filling the collection kits, the kits are sent to the lab for an analysis.
The lab will provide a report using the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) to assess the risk of indoor mold growth. The ERMI will show the relative moldiness index value (from -10 to 20) and how this compares to a sample of US Homes. Homes with an index value of 5 or higher are in the upper 25% of homes tested and represent the highest risk of significant indoor mold growth.
Why is this important? Based on this test, you can determine if you need to remediation in order to live in a healthy environment.
2. Check yourself for mold exposure
You can check to see if the mold exposure has affected your health. Take the mold exposure screening test called the Visual Contrast Sensitivity Aptitude Test (VCS) which is available online.
A single test is $15 and takes only 15 minutes or so. Your results are available immediately. The online screening test is a measure of one of the neurologic functions of vision called contrast and is a good indicator of mold exposure.
Don’t panic if your test results are positive. You can recover!
3. See a physician trained to treat mold illness
If you believe your health has been impacted, find a physician trained in Functional Medicine at www.functionalmedicine.org.
Why Functional Medicine? Functional medicine focuses on finding the root cause of issues rather than simply treating symptoms and is ideal for treating health problems caused by mold exposure. Referred to as medicine for the 21st century, functional medicine will help you regain your health.
Sounds like just what you need, right?
4. Find a professional mold remediator
Depending on the extent of the mold growth and water damage, you may need to opt for professional mold remediation. According to Greg Weatherman, principal owner of Aerobiological Inc, you should look for the following when hiring a consultant:
- Consultants should have “professional” or “errors and omissions” insurance with a “pollution” policy specifically stating “microbial investigations” on their certificate of insurance.
- Best qualified consultants have PE, CIH, CIAQC or CMC certifications.
- Check out the ACAC (American Council for Accredited Certification) website which has a listing for insured, certified companies.
5. Get immediate relief with the best air purifier
If you have concerns about airborne mold, you can get immediate relief by using an air cleaner to improve air quality. One of our favorites is the Austin Healthmate Plus™ and Healthmate Plus Junior™.
The Austin Air HealthMate™ Air Cleaner removes 99.97% of particles in the air – mold, dust, pollens and VOCs. The Healthmate Plus™ is cleans 1500 sq ft and the Healthmate Plus Junior™ is cleans 700 sq ft.
With the right air cleaner, you can breathe easier without worries.
6. Clean up with a HEPA vacuum
You can clean up mold spores using a vacuum with a HEPA filter. The HEPA filter will ensure that the mold and other particles remain trapped in the vacuum bag and do not re-circulate like standard vacuums.
You may also want to do some additional reading. The resources below should help!
Stories of people who’ve been made ill after they were exposed to water-damaged buildings. Great chapter on testing and remediation.
Moisture Control Handbook: Principles and Practices for Residential and Small Commercial Buildings
This reference is an up-to-date guide that touches on moisture control and treatment techniques in a problem/solution format.
My House is Killing Me!
This book shares experiences of others who can identify living with mold and the side effects that may occur. Also learn how to identify the source using a step-by-step approach to control and eliminate indoor pollutants.
What Every Home Owner Needs To Know About Mold (And What To Do About It)
In an easy to read format, a homeowner is given a helpful checklist to battle mold.
1. Mark Hyman MD, The Ultra Mind Solution (New York: Scribner, 2009)
2. Ritchie C. Shoemaker MD, Surviving Mold (Baltimore: Otter Bay Books, LLC, 2010)