The White Towel Test: 7 Steps to Test How Much Mold is Tracked into Your Home

Today, I am going to share a simple but very effective experiment anyone can do in their own home. This experiment is used for the sole purpose of showing you just how much dirt, mold and bacteria is tracked into your home each day on your shoes. Kind of a gross idea, but one that is very effective, especially if you are trying to convince friends or family members that cleaning for mold is a necessary endeavor. And, let me be clear, I am talking about just everyday tracking here, folks. This is totally separate from mold and bacteria that are introduced to an indoor space by a leak, water intrusion, dampness in a crawlspace, or mold in an HVAC unit. This is “everyday” mold. It can enter into ANYONE’S home, regardless of how clean it is.

Before I give you the 7 steps, I want to say that this “experiment” is NOT scientific. It just uses an everyday, real scenario to exemplify the fact that more dirt, mold and bacteria enter your home via your shoes and feet than you might be aware of.

Ready to test? Here you go!

The 7 Step “White Towel” Test:

Step 1:  Choose the door that you use most to come and go from in your home. For our family, this is our back door.

This is our most-used door. As you can see, we have a no shoes policy in our home, so shoes are frequently kicked off right by this door. This won’t affect your results on this experiment, though, so keeping reading!

Step 2:  Place a white towel just in front of that door on the inside of your home. I actually encourage you to place the towel just beyond your floor mat. In other words, have your floor mat come first as you walk in the door, and then place the white towel where you will step AFTER the floor mat. This will further show you that even when you swipe your feet on the mat, you are still tracking in a large amount of dirt and mold.

Step 3:  Take a picture of the towel on Day 1 before anyone steps on it, when it is nice a sparkling white.

Step 4:  Make sure that you or your family members step onto the white towel each time upon entering or exiting your home for the next 2-3 days. (Note: If you don’t have kids or a pet, I would leave it for 3 days.)

Step 5:  At the end of Day 2 or 3, take another photo of the towel.

Step 6:  Compare your pictures.

 

Step 7:  Marvel at the amount of dirt, mold and grime on your white towel after just 2 days!

Can you believe the simplicity of this experiment? The first time I did it was because Dr. Dennis had encouraged me to become more aware of the mold entering my home—we had professionals remediate everything, then had conducted air and surface testing that came back “clean,” but I was still having mold allergy problems. After I did Dr. Dennis’s “white towel test,” I recognized what was happening: We were tracking outdoor mold inside and onto the rugs, etc.  Because of the insight gained through this simple test, I was able to make the changes of 1) having everyone remove their shoes upon entering our home, and 2) using the EC3 products, like the EC3 Mold Solution Spray and EC3 Laundry Additive on a daily basis to clean the surface and superficial mold from our things and clothing before it could become an allergy issue for me. Problem solved!

Let me know if you decide to do this experiment yourself. I would love to hear from you and to see your pictures!

 

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Allergy Relief with MicroBalance Health Products on Know The Cause

What happens when products and health solutions are created by a renowned doctor simply because he cannot find the products and solutions that his patients desperately need already on the existing market? I’ll go ahead and tell you—mold allergy relief, that’s what happens.

MicroBalance Health Products was born a little over 8 years ago with the patients of Dr. Donald Dennis specifically in mind. One, in particular, struck a chord with Dr. Dennis, because the patient was constantly plagued by sinus infections and general illness no matter what treatment they tried. When the patient finally left his regular indoor environments to vacation at the beach, he miraculously got well. This was Dr. Dennis’s eureka moment: The source of the illness was environmental—mold, and, a mold-free environment, like the beach was the answer for not just this patient, but many other chronic sinusitis patients. Then, Dr. Dennis created a few core products in 2008 that were only available for his patients through the compounding pharmacy in his building. Later, MicroBalance was born to make those products and more available to everyone. Today, the company has grown to offer 9 very targeted and diverse products to their customers. Each product combats mold at the source, whether in the body or in the indoor environment.

Today, I want to take you on a little “behind-the-scenes” tour of the company and its products. Our guides will be Paul Scheib, the COO and Doug Kaufmann from Know the Cause.

To facilitate that tour, today’s post features a short video clip that I think you will really like. This is a clip of an interview that Doug did with Paul about the MicroBalance Health Products portfolio of products. It is designed to help viewers better understand what each product does, and why the company has been so effective with helping its customers get the mold allergy relief that they are desperately seeking.

http://www.knowthecause.com/index.php/watch/know-the-cause/4540-allergy-relief-7-10-2017-11425b

As Paul illustrates in the clip, MicroBalance is completely focused on and driven by patients. For example, even though Paul is the COO, he still answers the phones and speaks directly with customers on a daily basis. He, like Dr. Dennis, understands that mold patients have many times been overlooked, dismissed, and doubted about their symptoms and about mold being the cause of their sickness. He understands that many of his customers are calling, because they are striving to help themselves when conventional medicine has failed them. This is one of the biggest reasons that I am loyal to and love their products so much.

Paul concludes the clip by going through the list of products and briefly describing what each does and is used for—which is extremely helpful, especially if you are on the fence about purchasing one vs. another.

I hope you will watch it and learn a little more.

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Reader Q & A: How Do I Clean an Upholstered Chair for Mold?

I love reader questions!

Being able to interact with readers makes me feel like I am helping people. That is what this blog is all about—helping others to learn more about the dangers of mold exposure and imparting my hard-learned techniques of how to best clean mold from your life safely and effectively.

This week, I had a reader message me through my How To Clean for Mold Facebook page with a very specific cleaning question. She wrote:

“Hi!

I need some tips on how to clean an upholstered chair I inherited from my mom. I am reading your blog, great info and very laymen/patient friendly. Can you help me save this upholstered chair?”

What a great question! I sure hope I can help.

I actually have a few older previous posts about this very subject. First, I sent her links to those, which I will include for you here too:

How to Clean the “Mustys” From Linen Window Panels

How to Treat and Clean Upholstery for Mold and Other Allergens

The Benefits of Cleaning With Steam-The Antifungal/Antimicrobial Powerhouse

Two posts involve the use of a steamer. If you don’t have a steamer, though, how do you go about attempting to effectively clean a piece of upholstered furniture? In particular, for this post, a piece of old, well-loved and most likely delicate furniture?

Well, I have a possible solution for you here. It is a pretty involved process, but tends to yield very good results. I will caution you, though, that the only way to truly know if you have effectively cleaned the piece is to TAP test it for mold afterwards. (HERE is a link to my post on TAP testing objects for mold. HERE is a link to the EC3 Mold Screening Test Plates that I use for TAP testing.) I highly, highly recommend that you do this, because it is the only way to be sure that you aren’t introducing a potentially toxic piece of furniture into your home. Doing that could undo any remediation or cleaning you have done up until now and could make you or your family members very sick. If you clean the piece using all of these methods, but still cannot get a clean TAP test, it is time to let go and get rid of it. It is a difficult thing to do, but I always have to remind myself that it is just a thing, and my health and my family’s health is more important.

This reader actually included a picture of her first mold test plate from her TAP test of the chair. This test was done prior to cleaning.

Back to my answer…

Here is my response to the reader’s question:

“If you do not have a steamer, here is how I would proceed:

  1. HEPA Vacuum the entire chair extremely thoroughly, removing any dust or dirt that is on the surface.

 

  1. If the chair is actually dirty or dingy, with any visible mold, I would make a powerhouse cleaning solution to physically clean it with. Here is how to do that: Fill a bucket with warm water, a 1/2 cup of borax and a pea size squirt of Dawn. Swish until Borax is totally dissolved. Use a sponge or vegetable brush (they sell these at the Dollar Store) to clean the stains, dirt or visible mold from the chair.

 

(Note: Borax is a naturally occurring substance—a boron compound, a mineral and salt of boric acid. It is used to make ceramics and glass. It is particularly good at killing mold, because it is very alkaline, with a very low pH of 9.7 on a scale from 1 to 15, with 15 representing the highest level of alkalinity, and 1 representing the highest level of acidity. That’s pretty high, without be damaging or toxic. Borax is toxic if ingested, though, so make sure children and pets stay away while you are using it. Also, make certain to wear gloves or to thoroughly wash your hands after use to make sure none gets in your mouth. Mold, because it is a fungus, likes more acidic environments and thrives in a pH of about 3-6. So, as you can see, the addition of something like Borax to mold’s environment instantly makes it a LOT less hospitable. Mold is also water loving, so introducing Borax is sort of like pouring salt on a slug—it just sucks the moisture away. Borax is also antibacterial and deodorizing, which is why I like to add it to my EC3 Mold Solution Spray, especially for cleaning upholstered furniture. Chances are, if it has mold, it also has bacteria and needs a little odor elimination as well. Right? )

 

  1. Once done cleaning visible mold or dirt, open a bottle of EC3 Mold Solution Spray and add about 1 TBSP Borax to the bottle. Shake until Borax is dissolved. Spray the entire chair with this solution and allow it to totally dry.

 

  1. Make sure to flip the chair and clean, vacuum and spray underneath as well.

 

  1. Direct fans at the chair so that you evaporate any moisture quickly, or do this outside, so that the chair can sit in the hot sun to dry.

 

  1. Once dry, HEPA vacuum entire chair again.

 

  1. Mist the chair again with the EC3/Borax Spray. Make sure to spray a cloth with the solution and wipe wooden legs, paneling, wooden back, etc., down by hand with the solution. You want to get in every nook and cranny.

 

  1. Allow to the chair to completely dry.

 

  1. TAP test the chair with the EC3 Mold Screening Test Plates to make sure it is mold-free before bringing it into your home. Also, if there is a musty smell that isn’t going away, the mold may be too deep in the upholstery or the chair cushion to remove. It is always best to get rid of something like this then to chance bringing it inside and becoming sick.

 

Let me know how it goes. If this doesn’t work, let me know. I have been trying a new technique that seems to work based on some plate testing I’ve done. (I will post about this soon on the blog too, so stay tuned!) It’s also pretty involved, but may help if other things don’t.

Good Luck!!!!!

Catherine

So, that’s it. Now you guys have all of the same “exclusive” info that I sent to the reader.

And, I am happy to report that this technique worked very well for her. Here is a picture of her “AFTER” TAP test plate:

The reader reported that she HEPA vacuumed, then sprayed with the EC3/Borax solution. Then, she waited 5 days and repeated the process. She put the chair in full sunlight to dry. This plate shows her TAP Test results afterwards.

I hope this information and exchange will help some of you too.

Please write to me in the comments section, or send me a message via Facebook, if you would like to ask me a cleaning for mold question, or need any mold-related information. I love to help!

 

 

 

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Best Construction and Renovation Practices for “Do It Yourselfers” Who Live With a Mold-Sensitized Individual

My house is, once again, in total upheaval. As we “speak,” the kitchen and downstairs powder room are hermetically sealed off from the rest of our home. We have set up a makeshift kitchen in the dining room, and we have HEPA air scrubbers and fans sucking the air out and “cleaning” the air from both rooms. Our IQ Air Purifier and whole-house Aprilaire® systems are running around the clock to keep all particulate counts down. In other words, things are a bit crazy in our house right now. The difference this time, though, is the fact that all of this containment is being done by choice, rather than by necessity, as it was with all of the mold demo and remediation a few years ago.

Let me get you up to speed.

We have finally decided to do some home improvements. It has taken us almost 2 years to get here, but we are ready and have decided to take it one step at a time to minimize the crazy—or maximize it, jury is still out on that one. Anyway, because we are all so sensitized to mold and chemicals from our mold exposure, any type of construction or demo, where dust, construction materials, chemicals and possibly hidden mold are being uncovered has to be done in a VERY controlled and methodical fashion.  The last thing we want to do is to reintroduce toxins, allergens and and other inflammatory antigens into our living environment.

The good news that I wish to impart to you today is that, even for the mold-sensitive person, home improvements ARE possible. You can do construction on your home, and avoid becoming sick again by employing some simple, but effective best practices and cleaning techniques to minimize or eliminate your exposure. Today, I want to share those best practices with you, so that you feel liberated to “better” your home too, without the pervading fear of becoming sick. Believe me; I know how immobilizing that fear can be. Up until now, we have actually been living in a kitchen with 2 different kinds of wallpaper, 3 different paint colors, and a textured wall  all of this time, because I was too afraid to begin the renovation. Let’s put it this way, it was an aesthetic disaster that desperately needed help.

To best take you through this and to set you up for success, I’m going to start with best practices to prepare your home for renovation and/or construction, including some containment tips, then proceed to best practices for selecting less reactive construction materials, and finally address clean-up. I will say, though, before I begin that cleaning for dust and mold during any kind of construction needs to be ongoing and sort of constant. I also want to caution anyone who is still actively sick from a mold exposure, or who still detoxing under a doctor’s care to NOT PROCEED with any further construction or   disruption of the home until you have had 6 months or more under your belt without symptoms. If work must be done on your home, leave and stay somewhere else until all work has been completed. Use these tips and tools to give to those working on your home. Have them follow my instructions to minimize any health implications on you when you return to your home.  If in doubt, consult your physician.

Tools & Supplies:

(Note: All tools and supplies can be purchased online through Amazon, or at your local home improvement store, like Lowe’s or Home Depot unless otherwise indicated. I included links to products I have used or recommend, whenever possible.)

  • Plastic sheeting, tarps and wrapping materials – Purchase more than you think you need. It is always better to cover and protect more, rather than less. Keep your receipts and return any unused materials when your construction is complete.
  • Painter’s tape and/or duct tape – Obviously duct tape creates a better seal, but to ensure that you don’t damage furniture or paint, you can use painter’s tape.
  • Self-adhesive dust control zippers – You need these for all of your doorways that will be sealed during construction.
  • Box Fans – You don’t have to purchase expensive ones. These can be the cheaper plastic fans. The key here is to find fans that are pretty powerful. You are going to use these to create negative air flow in the rooms where demo or construction is occurring.
  • HEPA Air Scrubber and duct attachment – For demo/construction, the scrubber will be used as a negative air machine. As such, it uses ducting to remove contaminated air from a sealed containment area. The filtered air is exhausted outside of the containment area. This creates negative air pressure (a vacuum effect), which helps limit the spread of contaminants to other areas inside the home. They are able to clean the air multiple times in a contained space in a short amount of time. Air scrubbers are expensive to purchase. You can rent them from Home Depot or other construction rental businesses. Since we have worked with a professional remediation company in the past, for a small fee, they came out and set one of theirs up for us and are allowing us to use it for our construction projects. I would suggest calling local remediation companies and asking about this, if there are no other rental options in your location.
  • HEPA Shop Vacuum – You can purchase one at Lowe’s, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, online, or you can rent one from your local building supply store. This is an incredible tool to have. I highly recommend purchasing one, if

    This seal on any shop vac you decide to purchase indicates that it is, indeed, HEPA certified.

    possible. We use ours ALL THE TIME, and it has paid for itself 10 times over. There’s nothing better for vacuuming out your car, I assure you. DO NOT use your regular interior HEPA vacuum for this. This is construction dust and materials that you will be dealing with. A household vacuum is easily destroyed with such debris. You also risk cross contamination using it on a construction area and then bringing it back into other areas of your home. It is not worth the risk.

  • Disposable gloves
  • Tyvek suit and goggles
  • 3m masks
  • Shoe covers
  • Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaning Spray – This is an industrial percentage product that is used in buildings and hospitals.

    Use the EC3 Laundry Additive to ensure all laundry is mold free.

  • EC3 Mold Solution Spray
  • EC3 Laundry Additive
  • Cold Fogger – I have a Curtiss Dyna-Fog Sanitizer that I love. (For my previous post on cold fogging, click this LINK.)

Preparing Your Home for Construction or Repairs:

Once you know which rooms you are going to be working on, strategically figure out how to seal those spaces off from the rest of the home during the work. For example, our kitchen has two interior entries to the rest of our house, and one exterior door that leads to the garage. All of those need to be sealed during both demo and construction. To do this, simply purchase rolls of plastic sheeting or tarps that are wide and long enough to completely cover your doorways. Use painter’s tape to create a seal around the door casing. Then, you can cut a vertical slit in each door and apply a stick-on zipper to create a zipper door. These doors can be completely sealed or used as a pass-through, depending on where you are with your construction. The idea is to keep the dust and construction particles only in the area where the work is being done, without introducing them into the rest of the home. This is of particular concern when you are opening up walls, because you never know what you are going to find.

Then, remove all objects and furnishings from those rooms. If you are doing work in your kitchen, this includes all countertop appliances, utensils, food, spices, dishes, glasses, etc. from the cabinets and drawers. This may seem like a pain, but most cabinets and drawers do not completely seal when closed. This means that any contaminants in the air can get on these items. You do not want that to happen. If you need access to your refrigerator, relocate it to another room, if possible. If you are unable to do this, seal it in plastic during demo and construction and only reopen it after all cleaning has been completed. If large furniture is unable to be moved, use the plastic sheeting and tape to fully wrap and seal those pieces to protect them. If drapes or blinds are hanging, remove them and relocate them to another space in the home until construction is complete. Any upholstered pieces or textiles will trap dust, sawdust, and contaminants like mold. The idea is to encase or leave as few of these types of items in a space as possible. Hard surfaces are much easier to clean up.

Roll up and remove all rugs from construction spaces. If carpet is present, cover it with plastic carpet protection wrap. This should be done so that no carpet is left exposed. Carpet is one of the most difficult mediums to fully and effectively clean. If you can prevent any kind of exposure, this is always best.

Air Flow and Contaminant Removal Preparation:

Once your rooms are prepped, the next order of business is air flow. You need to locate the closest path to outdoor air for the space or spaces you will be working on. For example, for our kitchen, we had a window that could be opened in the small hallway leading to the garage. For our powder room, this was more difficult. It sits in a little cove under our stairs, with no windows close by. We had to create a larger sealed area from our front door to the powder room, sealing it off on either side from the dining and living rooms. That way, we could open the front door during demo and construction to use that as our path to the outside. During construction, this spot will be open to the outside, but sealed all around with the plastic. The only opening will be where your fans will sit to suck the air out or your air scrubber will sit to work as a negative air machine, drawing the air in the room out through ducting. (For your box fan, position it in the opening to the outside, with only the area around the fan left unsealed. The fan’s back should face the interior of your home, and the front or blowing side, should face the outdoors. This creates the sucking effect that you need.)

In the case of the powder room, we couldn’t seal the front door, because we also had to use it to remove the demoed materials. We just did the best we could to create a seal with the zippered plastic door, and only fully open it when needed.

Construction/Demo Best Practices:

  • Keep all doors for the other interior rooms in your home closed during construction. A closed door is a physical block for dust and particulates. Even if the work is being done downstairs, upstairs room doors should stay closed. A home breathes. You may be surprised how far particles in the air can travel.
  • Anytime you are doing demo, or are in the rooms where construction is going on, make sure to wear your 3m face mask, gloves, if you will be touching anything, and shoe covers. All of this gear should go on right outside of the space, and should be removed and disposed of outside, before you reenter the other parts of your home. All of these precautions minimize the spread of dust and contaminants to the rest of your home.
  • If you do not choose to wear a Tyvek suit to cover your clothing, make sure to wash the clothing you are wearing during the work separately from your other laundry. Since we did not find mold during demo, we wore work clothes. My husband and I actually take all of our work clothes off in our garage, put them in a plastic bag and put fresh clothes on before reentering our home. We then dump our work clothes directly into the washing the machine from the plastic bag afterwards. We wash them at a warm temperature with regular detergent and EC3 Laundry Additive.
  • Always have your air scrubber and/or box fans running during all phases of work. The more you can suck the particulates out of the air as you go, the better.
  • Use your HEPA shop vacuum to clean your work space thoroughly at every stage. I recommend using the shop vac over any type of sweeping. The vacuum will suck the sawdust and debris without disturbing it and throwing the particles into the air as much as sweeping will. For example, we completed the demo this week. As my husband was unscrewing and removing the kitchen cabinets, I was coming behind him with the shop vacuum, sucking up all of the dust and debris. It may seem like a lot of work, but the sooner you get it up, the less chance it has of getting into your household air and making you sick.

  • Use the hydrogen peroxide and EC3 Mold Solution Spray to thoroughly clean the floors and surface areas of construction spaces at each stage of the work. My best illustration of this is also in our kitchen. After vacuuming the dust and debris, I sprayed all of the countertops with the EC3 Mold Solution Spray and wiped them down with paper towels. I also cleaned the outside of the refrigerator and cooktop with the hydrogen peroxide spray after demo.
  • If you have a portable air purifier or a whole-house purification system, use them strategically to maximize air cleaning in the rest of the house. To do this, move your portable unit or units to the rooms adjacent to the ones sealed off for construction. This will help to remove any escaping particles from the air before they go elsewhere.
  • If you have a whole-house air purification system, turn it to the air-cleaning mode for at least a 3 hour run interval 2 times per day during construction. This will work to minimize contaminants at a rate greater than just the daily purification mode. Aprilaire has a 98% effectiveness rating at removing particulates smaller than a micron from living spaces, so, as you can imagine, this can be very helpful and effective.

  • Always use no VOC paints, sealants and glues in all construction. Your home is a veritable Petri dish. Do not introduce other toxins into it, if you can avoid it.
  • Make sure all contractors entering and leaving your home understand the importance of following your containment practices, and that they do not cross contaminate your home by tracking construction materials or dust to other spaces. A simple conversation is usually all that needs to happen. Leave shoe covers near all entry spots for them to put on and use when entering your home. It will help them to remember and to understand how seriously you take protecting yourself and your family. Also, have any construction materials approved by you before use. Even if it is caulk, it needs to pass muster with you first. There are “no VOC” options for almost EVERYTHING. These should ALWAYS be used over the toxic options.
  • If mold or water damage is discovered, stop demo and construction immediately. Make sure to have professionals remove all wet and damaged materials. All walls, wall cavities, framing, and flooring should be thoroughly dried, and then cleaned with first the peroxide and then the EC3 Mold Solution Spray. Find the source of the water and stop the intrusion or leak. Once that is done, remediate the space for mold and bacteria immediately. No other construction or demo should be done before this is handled properly. I cannot stress enough the importance of making sure that mold is properly handled BEFORE anything else. If this is not done, all other improvements are for naught. The good news is that you found it. If you have done all of the previous steps, the space should be well contained, and the dangers of the mold spreading have been minimized. Finish the remediation with air testing to make sure the space is safe prior to continuing with the work.
  • During ALL work, have your fans and/or air scrubber humming to suck the contaminated air out the entire time.
  • In between stages of construction, if you are able to, cold fog the entire space with your fogger that contains EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate. It should be diluted per package instructions. Make sure to allow the space time to dry out completely before moving onto the next stage of work. Fans should be kept running in the space to help dry things.

Post Construction Clean-up Best Practices:

  • The number one, most important thing on this list is to CLEAN AS YOU GO. This means after every stage. You cannot allow dust and debris to accumulate. You must HEPA vacuum with the shop vac, and wipe down surfaces and floors at each juncture.
  • Keep areas where the construction is taking place contained as outlined above until both construction and clean-up is complete. The plastic barriers are your best defense. These should NOT come down until the area is completely complete and clean.
  • Use disposable paper towels, sponges, mops and cloths. You want to throw all of these materials away once used.
  • Remove construction debris and trash from your home immediately. Use plastic, sealable trash bags. Bag everything up, and dispose of the bags outside in trash bins or landfills.
  • Once construction is complete, fog the whole house. This will bring mold counts down immediately and will help prevent the further spread of particulates.

My cold fogger and EC3 products.

  • Change all of the filters in your HVAC returns and in the central system. These filters will have been working in overdrive during the work. They will be full of whatever dust and contaminants that they picked up from the air. The work is done. Remove and replace them and start fresh.
  • Mist all home furnishings, carpets, rugs, and drapes in ALL rooms with EC3 Mold Solution Spray. Allow everything to dry. Then, use your interior HEPA vacuum—not the shop vac—to vacuum furniture, carpets,

    EC3 Mold Spray is a great, ready-to-use tool that keeps mold counts down and prevents new mold growth.

    drapes, and rugs. This is just proper maintenance and an insurance move to make sure dust doesn’t settle and help mold to grow.

There you have it. As I learn more along the way with our renovations, I will be sure to update this list and let you know about it. Let me know in the comments, if I left anything out, or if you have any tips.

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The “Better Health Guy” Weighs in on Mold and Environmental Illness

Part of my understanding of mold/fungus and its effect on the body has come from personal experience. The other parts have come from constantly researching and reading anything I can get my hands on about mold-related and environmental illness. After all, the whole reason I started this “cleaning for mold” blog was to carve out a niche where I could actually impart some wisdom—maintaining a healthy mold-free home—to others who have suffered or are suffering from similar illnesses. And, just like a small cleaning job that morphs into something much bigger and more involved, the topic of mold has expanded and deepened on this blog as I have learned more. The doctors, professionals, advocates and fellow mold patients I have met along-the-way have also provided wonderful information that continues to aid me and my family on our journey to better health. It has been so comforting to be able to reach out to so many other mold illness resources anytime my health or the health of my family seems to slip, or a symptom of mold exposure starts to arise again. At these times, I ask questions, consult with my physician, and begin online research to see if any new information helps me to figure out the root of the problem. If there is one thing I’ve learned about environmentally-triggered illness, it is that there is always more to the picture than just the immediate symptoms. Usually, one, singular approach is not the answer.

Some of my most recent research brought me to an excellent website: BetterHealthGuy.com. There is also an informative blogcast associated with the site. The reason for my finding this treasure trove of information was my research on some of the co-infections that commonly arise for individuals, like me, who become very sick, because of mold. I was interested in common co-infections for people who have been exposed to toxic mold, because, recently, I was hospitalized for infectious colitis that hit me hard and fast, and seemed to come out of nowhere. I had to have multiple IV antibiotics, and was left rebuilding my gut and immune system once again. I wanted to know if mold had made me more susceptible to this type of infection.

This is how I found “BetterHealthGuy.com.”

You may be wondering, is there an actual “guy” behind the “Better Health Guy?” Yes! As a matter-of-fact, there is! His name is Scott Forsgren, and he is no stranger to chronic illness.

In his twenties, Scott came down with a mysterious illness that caused a litany of symptoms–digestive issues, dizziness, blurred vision, low-grade fevers, joint pain, nausea, brain fog, extreme fatigue, tingling in his extremities, just to name a few. For months, he looked for answers and for doctors who could help him. Finally, he found Dr. Jesse Stoff, M.D. Dr. Stoff diagnosed Scott with EBV, Candida, from all of the antibiotics he had used trying to get better, parasitic infections, and multiple food sensitivities. After a 2-year, carefully coordinated plan with his doctor, Scott’s body seemed to respond positively to the therapy and medications, and he began regaining his health, little by little. Finally, he had tackled his mystery illness—or so he thought. Unfortunately, his first bout with poor health was just the beginning.

In 2004, Scott began experiencing health issues again. Within 6 weeks, many of his previous symptoms had returned. When he reached out to Dr. Stoff for help, he found him retired and no longer practicing, but willing to consult on his care with another nearby doctor. Once again, Scott was diagnosed with and treated for probable parasitic infections (although, when tested for them, the results were not conclusive), Leaky Gut Syndrome, Candida, and multiple food allergies. His body, like before, responded positively to the treatment, but this time, as soon as his treatment concluded, he began to get sick again. In other words, there was no reprieve. A cycle of 28 days of therapy, and then a steady decline back into illness, happened twice before Scott looked for answers in alternative healing.

Scott explored a BioSET™ evaluation, with the idea of having the practitioner test him for foods, so that he could then avoid them—at this point, he could not eat milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, soy, wheat, oats, barley, or rye, and was even beginning to be allergic to some of the supplements that had previously helped him. It wasn’t that he was clearly allergic to all of these things, but, rather that the MD he started over with felt that food allergies were the only explanation for his health problems at this point. At his first meeting with the BioSET practitioner, he was told that he should have his doctor explore Lyme disease and its related co-diseases, namely Ehrlichiosis, Bartonella, and Babesia. Unable to totally believe a potential Lyme disease diagnosis, Scott delayed going to his MD for the identifying blood tests. When he finally did, his blood tests showed antibodies for Ehrlichiosis and an indeterminate result for Lyme.

(Note: Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by Ixodes ticks. The actual disease is caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. An infected person’s symptoms vary and can present in any organ of the body, including the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, and the heart. Many people never knew they were bitten or infected, until symptoms of the infection arise. Symptoms vary and include, but are not limited to, a bull’s eye rash at the bite site, flu-like illness, fatigue, headaches, joint pain, sleep issues, and muscle pain. For more information, visit Lymedisease.org.)

The next step was to visit a Lyme disease specialist, where his Lyme disease diagnosis was confirmed.  His test results also showed exposure to Bartonella and exposure to Babesia. In other words, Scott did have Lyme disease and all of its primary co-infections. Now that he knew what he was dealing with, the road to recovery could finally begin. As of today, Scott is living a full, healthy life. He is now in “maintenance mode”—still working on his health, but doing limited herbal antimicrobials to maintain progress. He now feels much more in control of his health destiny and, most of all, empowered by all of the information he absorbed along the way. According to Scott, setbacks are sometimes our most valuable teachers. If it hadn’t been for his relapses, he would’ve never discovered and been properly treated for Lyme disease.

So, what does Scott’s background and website contribute to the mold discussion? Well, as it turns out, an awful lot. Not only did Scott have Lyme disease, but he, for 10 years, had been living in a moldy environment, which had made his symptoms worse and prevented his healing to a great extent.  It was not until reading Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker’s book Mold Warriors, that he made the connection. Scott left the moldy environment and many of his belongings behind to better his health—a brave, but highly necessary decision. Ever since, Scott has thrown himself into learning as much about mold/fungus and mycotoxins as he can. As a result, he has published many articles on the subject and is considered an authority on the undeniable relationship between the presentation of Lyme disease and environmental illness.  In fact, today, Scott has suggested that the mold issue was likely a far bigger factor in his chronic health challenges than Lyme ever was.

Lucky for me, Scott agreed to answer some of my more mold-specific questions for the blog. I thought that by picking his brain and linking back to his website that I could also, hopefully, help some of you too.

To that effect, here is my exchange with Scott. If I neglect to ask about something that interests you or you would like more in-depth information about any of the topics we discuss, please reach out to Scott directly or refer to his website.

Scott Forsgren is a Lyme disease and environmental illness survivor and blogger. He founded his site, BetterHealthGuy.com, to bring his story and more information about these health issues to the masses.

Me: Before reading Mold Warriors, did you ever suspect mold was making you sick? When you were living in the moldy environment, were you aware of your symptoms worsening? Would you improve at all away from your apartment?

Scott: It was shortly after the book Mold Warriors came out in 2005 that I first started to understand the impact of mold.  It took a couple of years before I, with the help of my doctors, figured out that mold was an issue.  Once I had positive ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) results in my living environment, I broke my lease and moved within about 2-3 months. 

Most people with true biotoxin illness do not notice a difference immediately when they leave the environment, as the toxins from the WDB (water damaged building)-environment continue to circulate.  If someone has a mold allergy, they may notice an immediate difference, but generally speaking, that is not the case with biotoxin illness from water-damaged buildings. 

At a minimum, if one were leaving the environment, they would also need to be on binders to reduce the reabsorption of toxins, in order to start to observe a shift.  So, I can’t say that I noticed a difference when I was in or out of the moldy apartment.  I knew the apartment had water-damage.  I knew it had mold.  However, until Ritchie Shoemaker came along, no one had made the connection for me to the health implications of living in a water-damaged building.  It was an important revelation for my own recovery.  Many of us owe Dr. Shoemaker a huge debt of gratitude. 

Me: How long did it take you to get the testing done in your apartment and to decide to leave it? Was it a difficult decision? What, if anything, did you take with you?

Scott: Once I had the ERMI results and blood tests that also showed antibodies to mold (allergy; not biotoxin illness), I moved almost immediately.  I properly washed all my clothing and got rid of mattresses, couches, pillows, and anything else porous that could not be washed.  I discarded a number of my books; though not all of them.  I did not have to throw away everything, though there are some people that need to be even more particular about what belongings may still trigger a response.  We’ve also learned a lot more about mold illness over the past ten years since it impacted me personally. 

Me: Upon leaving, did you feel any immediate benefits to your health?

Scott: No, I can’t say that there was an immediate change, but I do think that treatment overall became much easier after getting out of the environment.  I stopped antibiotics for Lyme the same year that I left the moldy environment and never had to go back to them.  I may not have been able to do that if I had stayed; it’s difficult to know. 

The second time I had a major exposure to mold over a period of time was in 2015, and after having been doing very well for some time, I had a profound increase in inflammation.  I went through a hundred or more injections for pain in my neck, shoulders, and spine before I identified the source of the exposure.  When I left the environment and added more significant binders to my program, the inflammation returned to my baseline within weeks.

Me: What did you do specially to treat your body for the mold exposure once you left? How long did that treatment take? Was your mold exposure treatment done in unison with your Lyme disease treatment?

Scott: I won’t be entirely precise here as it has been ten years now, and I was treating both Lyme and mold.  I had a period of doing Cholestyramine (an FDA-approved drug for lowering cholesterol, also used to bind bile salts and biotoxins in the small intestine, so that they cannot be reabsorbed, but excreted in harmlessly in stool. The biotoxin cannot return, unless the person is re-exposed.). But, I also did many natural binders such as zeolites, bentonite clay, various charcoals, chlorella, and others.  If someone has Lyme, my experience is that they still need to treat the Lyme, but doing so while still exposed to mold is nearly impossible – an uphill battle.  Getting out of the mold first, treating for mold illness, and then working on Lyme seems to be the best approach. 

Me: Can you speak a little about your adherence to The Shoemaker Protocol? How did it influence your treatment for your mold exposure? How has Dr. Shoemaker’s view of the biotoxin pathway changed the way you thought about Lyme disease and what you needed to do to regain your health?

Scott: The protocol has evolved over the years and was a little different when I went through it initially.  I removed myself from the exposure, did Cholestyramine, treated MARCoNS (an antibiotic-resistant staph, frequently experienced by people with chronic inflammation or biotoxin illness), supported detoxification with various modalities, and had a brief period where I used VIP (Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide often used to correct chronic inflammatory response syndrome in biotoxin illness patients).  I can’t say the VIP helped; though today, practitioners seem to be more rigid about the things that must be done first in order to make it work optimally. 

At the time I went through the first mold illness, the Shoemaker Protocol was the model from which my doctors primarily worked.  When I had the second exposure in 2015, I worked with a practitioner that blended the work of Shoemaker with that of Dr. Joe Brewer and Dr. Neil Nathan. 

I had some significant impairments in my HLA-DR testing being both multi-susceptible and Lyme-susceptible.  For me, this meant an increased focus on detoxification including various binders, drainage remedies, coffee enemas, FIR sauna, and other tools to maximize excretion of toxins. 

Having had mold illness did not for me discount the reality of Lyme disease, but it did lead me to the conclusion that when mold is an issue, it should generally be addressed first. This doesn’t mean you can’t be treating for both simultaneously, but removal from ongoing mold exposure is critical and has to happen early. 

Me: How did your body respond? Did you feel your Lyme disease symptoms dissipating as you ridded your body of the mold mycotoxins?

Scott: I wish it were that black and white, but I don’t think it ever really is.  Mold and Lyme are two of dozens of issues that many people need to address.  This is where something like the MSIDS (Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome) model from Dr. Richard Horowitz can be very helpful.  I had dental cavitations, I had emotional work to do, I had dietary changes to make, I had detoxification to do, and so on. 

I do think that getting out of the mold, however, clearly led me to more stable and higher ground.

Me: How important in your current regimen is continuing to address mold and fungus in the body? Do you still detox?  Do you still get tested regularly to see if you have mycotoxins in your body?

Scott: Your question is an interesting one. 

The idea of mold in the body or testing for mycotoxins is not supported by the Shoemaker work as I understand it.  This is where Joe Brewer’s work comes into play.  There is a lot of debate here.  I have talked with some people that benefited from anti-fungal therapies; though Dr. Shoemaker makes the point that pharmaceutical anti-fungals may create MARCoNS-resistance.  Thus, I prefer herbs and other non-RX tools here like colloidal silver. 

I do something to detoxify almost every day.  It is the biggest focus of my ongoing health maintenance program.  Ionic foot baths, sauna, coffee enemas, castor oil packs, Biomat, PEMF, etc. have all been helpful tools.  I also have detoxification as a focus of my nutritional supplement protocol, and I continue to take binders.

As for measuring mycotoxins in my body, I did personally find RealTime Labs to be very helpful.  I shared that experience here:  http://www.betterhealthguy.com/realtime.

Me: Since it is difficult to separate the symptoms associated with mold and mycotoxin exposure from those associated with Lyme disease, what would be your advice for someone just starting to explore the reasons behind their chronic illness? In other words, knowing what you know now, would you first address biotoxin exposure, or should it be the other way around, as in what layer should be peeled first for someone to get well?

 Scott: Biotoxins come from both mold and Lyme and can trigger the CIRS Biotoxin Pathway.  I do think that doing a Mycometrics ERMI test of home, work, or other frequent environments should be a first step.  I wish I had known about the impact of mold years earlier as it may have made my journey less difficult.  Creating an environment for recovery is critical, and I do not think most people will recover with daily, ongoing mold exposure.  This doesn’t mean everyone has to move, but specific steps are often required to improve the air quality and reduce or eliminate water-damaged building toxic exposures. 

 Me: Do you see an upswing in the medical community and their general willingness to test for and evaluate patients with chronic illnesses for mold exposure? Why do you think there is so much resistance when it comes to identifying an illness as actually being caused by an environment or a toxin, rather than as just symptoms to alleviate or to treat?

 Scott: Unfortunately, I have not seen a lot of progress here.  The certified practitioner list on SurvivingMold.com is growing, but there are still less than two dozen certified practitioners in the world.  We need many more as this is such an important issue.

 I suspect some of the resistance is the potential financial cost addressing the issue.  If 25% of the population is susceptible and 50% or more of buildings are unsafe for that population, that’s a huge issue.  I also think medicine in general is better at alleviating symptoms that it is at looking for underlying, root causes.

 Me: What are some things you do on a daily basis that you feel are paramount to maintaining your health?

 Scott: I start each morning having had 8-9 hours of sleep.  Then I move into my “Power Shake” with healthy proteins, fats, collagen, minerals, phospholipids, fiber, and other nutrients to fuel my body. 

 I do still take a number of supplements for ongoing detoxification support, antimicrobial maintenance, methylation support, and other key nutrients.  I continue to support my body for KPU using zinc and other co-factors. 

 I try to do something like PEMF, ionic foot baths, sauna, Biomat, castor oil packs, or similar at least 3-4 days a week.

 I avoid gluten and eat a nutritionally-dense diet. 

 I also work on minimizing my stress levels and doing something each day that aligns with my purpose and passion for helping others.

 Me: What are some of your favorite products and supplements that you are using right now and why? Any mold/fungus specific products that you’d like to recommend?

 Scott: I am a big fan of binders like Takesumi Supreme and BioPure ZeoBind. 

 I use several formulas from Beyond Balance and have found their products to be very helpful for me over the past many years both for microbial support and detoxification support.

 Melatonin has been incredibly helpful for me over the years, and I continue to use it in liposomal form based on Dr. Klinghardt’s work and how it may also support detoxification. 

 I use UVB light therapy twice a week to support Vitamin D levels and provide immune support.  I try to keep my Vitamin D level around 100. 

 Other than the binders, I am not doing anything specific for mold or fungus, but I did do Researched Nutritionals Transfer Factor ENVIRO for many months, and I think it was helpful. 

Me: Thank you so very much for taking the time to answer my questions. I hope this information goes on to help my readers and to give them hope for their own health battles.

As you can see, this interview opens up many new topics for discussion on the blog. I would love to hear your thoughts and questions. What topics would you like for me to cover?

 

 

 

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Is Mold Making You Sick? Get Answers with a FREE Sinus and Mold Sensitivity Online Evaluation

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Do you suspect mold in your home, office, car, etc. as the underlying source of your health issues? Are certain smells irritating you?  Does your body seem to react to everything—“musty” smells, perfumes, chemicals, dyes, foods, heat, fabrics—negatively, even though those things never seemed to bother you before? Is your energy sapped easily, or do you wake up after 8 hours or more of sleep feeling exhausted and unable to face the day? Do you have chronic sinus infections, headaches, confusion, or brain fog? Are you constantly missing work, school, or social gatherings due to sickness?

If you have gone down this long, but by no means exhaustive list of questions, nodding your head and saying, “Yep. That sounds like me,” you may be experiencing a mold exposure somewhere that you spend a lot of your time.

As a matter of fact, all of these questions are ones that I was asking myself when we were in the thick of our mold ordeal. I kept wondering why I was ALWAYS sick. Why were my children getting frequent ear infections and congestion? Why was my husband sleeping ALL THE TIME? Why couldn’t I have a conversation without forgetting simple concepts or words? Why was everything I was eating not agreeing with me? Things just weren’t adding up.

After at least 20 doctor visits, consulting countless specialists, being diagnosed with everything under the sun including “mysterious” illnesses, and trying numerous medications and supplements with zero relief, I started looking for my own answers. Our home was the one thing we were all sharing on a daily basis. It was the one place we kept getting sick, and when we left for extended amounts of time, we all seemed to get better. Was our home making us sick? Were our symptoms in line with mold-related sickness? Was the musty smell coming from our HVAC vents to blame?

If you have started to ask these questions, but don’t know how or where to begin evaluating your symptoms without yet another expensive doctor’s visit or testing, I have a simple starting point for you: The Free Sinus and Mold Sensitivity Evaluation available on the MicroBalance website.

The survey takes only about 5 minutes to complete and will provide you with results to indicate where your symptoms fall on the severity scale (Slight, Moderate, Severe). The evaluation will also help determine if those symptoms are mold related. It is also FREE. The only thing required of you is to enter your first name and email address, and to honestly answer each question. Your results are private and confidential. Your email address is required, so that your results and a monthly e-newsletter may be sent to you. After receiving your results, you may opt out of the newsletter at anytime—although, if you are having health issues caused by mold, the newsletter will continue to provide you with useful and medically sound information.

The first section of the survey asks questions about your sinus history, everything from how many sinus infections you’ve had in the past year, to whether or not you have lost your sense of smell, to if you have non-food-related allergies. The second section deals exclusively with your actual environment. It asks very specific questions about your home and work environments. The final section asks additional medical history questions that involves rating your level of fatigue, and an area to check any other diagnosed health conditions, illnesses, or symptoms. When you are finished, you click “Submit,” and your results will appear. The results will also be emailed to you for later reference—which I found very helpful.

The survey offers a pretty thorough starting point. It can also be completed by a parent for a child, if needed. The coolest feature, and worth the whole exercise, in my opinion, are the simple suggested solutions and products providing solutions with your results.

Since we have fully remediated our home and have detoxed and treated our bodies for the mold exposure for about 2 years now, when I took the survey to write this post, my sinus severity score was on the very low end of “Mild.” I was obviously very happy with that after all that we have been through. All of the products and solutions suggested to me are things I already do—nasal washes and CitriDrops Nasal Spray—and an immune-boosting supplement—Logos Thymic Formula—that I currently take and love. So I guess I’m all set.

BUT, if your results fall in the “Moderate” to “Severe” categories, the results will include products for treating your symptoms as well as information on testing for mold, what to do if and when you find it (aka remediation), and environmental products that can help you manage the situation until you can get out of the moldy environment or get the proper professional help to remove it. You are immediately given a wealth of helpful and pertinent information, especially for those who just feel lost, sick, and don’t know where to start or where to turn for help and relief. At least at the end of the survey, you have some answers and advice, which, for me, was much more than I started with. Finally, the test results will aid you in your discussions with your physicians, providing clear, medically understood phrasing.

Honestly, I don’t see a good reason why you shouldn’t take the survey. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!

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Tips and Tools for Staying Well on Vacation

I am in Florida right now vacationing with my family, and because of the way that I travel now—with all of my mold prevention products and remedies—everyone suggested that I should write a post about it. I actually cannot believe that I haven’t done this sooner, since it has become my “new normal,” but better late than never, I suppose.

First of all, when you or your family members are mold sensitive, entering a new “home away from home,” or hotel room can be quite scary. You just don’t know if you can trust what you are walking into. The fear of getting sick again may even cause such great anxiety that you opt out of vacation altogether. I used to dread vacation. That is sad, I know, but after losing my health for so long, I wasn’t willing to chance anything, even for a vacation. These days, after much experimentation, and lots of preparation, I feel like my family and I can go just about anywhere, and am ok. There are definitely some environments that would be toxic to just about anyone, but a typical hotel room, condo or vacation rental home doesn’t worry me much anymore.

Why?

I bring an arsenal of mold-cleaning, prevention, and immune-boosting products with me. These products seem to do the job of keeping me and my family well outside of our mold-free bubble. So, instead of yammering on any longer, I am going to give you my tried and true lists of tips and tools to take with you when getting away for travel or on vacation.

Tools:

(This list consists of the products I pack to bring with us on our trips. Obviously, if plane travel is involved, you may have to curate and filter your own list according to how much you can pack.)

(Note: All of these products offer temporary solutions or “barriers” to less-than-ideal indoor environments or air quality. They will not solve an extreme or toxic mold problem. Please use all products and supplements in this list as directed, and with the understanding that they are for keeping you well in your temporary environments.)

  • CitriDrops Nasal Spray – I pack this in my purse, and label each bottle for the members of my family. I want to have it handy to spray our noses to keep our sinuses free of mold spores. It comes in handy if you are flying as well. I find that whenever we go to a rest stop, restaurant, or anywhere else where I feel like the air quality is subpar, if I go ahead and spray my nose with the CitriDrops Nasal Spray as soon as I leave, I don’t end up congested and sick.
  • Sinus Defense – I use this product everyday to foster my fungal resistance to mold and to build up my immune system. (Here is the LINK to my post all about Sinus Defense, what it is, how it works, and why I love it.) This product can be used more often if you know you have taken a mold hit. It will help your body fight the fungal invaders more efficiently.

A trifecta of great products to use on a daily basis at home or during travel to stay well.

I always pack a few candles in my suitcase to set out to burn as soon as I get to my destination.

  • EC3 Air Purification Candles – These are amazing. Within an hour of continuous burning time, the candles can bring the mold count down to zero in a closed room. (Here is a LINK to my post on the candles and how to properly use them.) For a house rental, I bring one candle per bedroom and 2 for the common areas. For a hotel room, I bring 2-3, depending on how long we are staying. Don’t forget to bring a lighter as well. The candles are designed to sit inside the tin top-lid to minimize fire hazards. As always, though, I caution you to never leave a candle burning unattended and to never leave a burning candle within reach of a child or pet.

  • If I will have laundry access—EC3 Laundry Additive – This product will come in handy for clothes washing while you are away. Use it in every load per package instructions to ensure that you aren’t picking up and bringing home any unwanted mold spores from your trip. (Here is a LINK to my post on EC3 Laundry Additive, should you want to know more about it and how I typically use it.)

You can literally spray anything and everything down with the EC3 Mold Solution Spray to bring mold counts down temporarily. The travel-size is available for easy transport and is TSA compliant.

  • EC3 Mold Solution Spray – This product can be used for just about anything. You can spray surfaces, textiles, carpets, rugs, luggage, anything you feel might contain mold. MicroBalance even offers a small TSA compliant size that is easy to pack or to throw into your purse for travel.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide – A bottle of 3% drugstore peroxide can make a world of difference in a space that needs a little extra mold clean-up. You can use it to run through a washing machine in a rental prior to putting your clothes in it, or to wipe down a countertop. It is just great to have on hand. We actually used peroxide on our trip to clean the mold from the rubber gasket on a front-loading washing machine in our rental house.
  • CitriDrops Dietary Supplement – This product works for so many different applications. You can put a few drops in a glass of water to help cleanse your system of bacteria, microbials and fungus, you can use it on produce to wash off chemicals, pesticides, bacteria and molds, and you can use it in a nasal wash, if you feel like you need a more thorough cleansing than what the CitriDrop Nasal Spray provides. (Here is a LINK to my post on nasal washes. Here is a LINK to my post on using the CitriDrops to wash produce.)

The Wein Mini Mate is such an easy tool to pack and use for air travel and otherwise when air quality is subpar.

  • Wein Mini-Mate Personal Ionic Air Purifier – This personal purifier comes in handy on planes, in hotel rooms and for restaurants, etc. to purify your immediate air supply. It destroys odors, chemical contaminants and dust before they can enter your nose. It can be clipped onto your clothing or worn around your neck.
  • High-Quality Vitamin C Supplement – When traveling, I take 1000mg of Vitamin C everyday to help boost my antioxidant production and to help my immune system. I advise you to check with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.

  • Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin D Supplement – This supplement is a potent combination that will help your body fight bacterial and fungal contaminants. Calcium, magnesium and zinc are 3 of the most important minerals to help the body maintain health. Zinc is essential to immune function. Definitely consult your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.

 

Tips:

  • Preview where you will be staying – I highly recommend this. We go to the same beach in Florida every summer, but we always rent different houses, depending on when in the summer we have to go. Each year, we have started booking next summer’s trip while we are there. We take an hour or so out of our current trip to preview a few potential rentals for next year. You can walk in and know whether or not the air quality is good sometimes. I react pretty instantly to mold, so if I feel crummy in a home, we DO NOT rent it. You can also look for moisture intrusion, visible leaks and mold. If any of these are present, do not stay there.
  • Read online reviews about where you are going to stay – Many times, if there is mold, leaking, moisture, or air-quality issues, people will mention it in their reviews. I would avoid any rental or hotel where people have reported leaks or that the hotel is unkempt or dirty—disrepair can indicate poor maintenance as well. With online access to just about anything these days, use it to your advantage, and do your research.
  • Opt to stay in newer properties – Whenever possible, we choose newer hotels and homes to stay in. Newness doesn’t designate mold-free, but it does offer the probability of less time for the home or hotel to acquire leaks, deep moisture intrusion and toxic mold growth.
  • Call hotels or property managers/owners ahead of time and inform them of your mold sensitivity – You need to make sure that the room/home you are staying in has good air quality. Just taking this extra step will many times alert them to your needs and give the hotel/rental owners/managers the opportunity to put you in a good room, or to fess up to previous or current mold issues. Believe me, it is better to know and to cancel a reservation before a trip, than to show up and have to deal with it there. For hotels, you can also ask if they have PURE Rooms or you can go to the PURE Rooms website to find hotels with their approved process. (Here is a LINK to my post on PURE Rooms, if you want to find out more.)
  • If you are doing a long-term rental—for 2 weeks or more—I would ask the property manager or homeowner if you can pay extra to have the ducts cleaned before your arrival – We actually did this with the house we are currently renting in FL. The management company was extremely amenable to having that done for us. We were charged the cost of the cleaning, and they emailed us a copy of the invoice to show it had been done prior to our arrival. It was an extra $300 to our rental bill, but we travel with 2 other families, so split between all of us, it was well worth the price for the peace of mind.

Having your pillow from home on vacation is not only more comfortable, but helps to limit your mold and bacteria exposure.

  • Bring your own pillows and pillow cases from home – I don’t recommend this for plane travel, because the contamination that a pillow will encounter during travel would negate the benefits. But, when you are driving and then going straight to your room or rental, bring your pillow and pillowcase along. Since your face touches this item each night, it is extremely important that it is mold-free. Every morning, I mist my pillow with the EC3 Mold Solution Spray. This helps keep it mold-free while I am there. I also wash my pillowcases with EC3 Laundry Additive as soon as I get home to prevent any mold from coming back into my house.

Lighting an EC3 Candle in the rooms where you will be spending most of your time will help to significantly lower mold counts and make the environment much safer for you to be in.

  • Upon arrival, light your EC3 Air Purification Candles – In a hotel room, light one or two and place them in top of their lids in safe places where they cannot cat anything on fire and cannot be knocked over. In a house rental, place one in each bedroom, and one or two in each common area, depending on its size. I would leave the candles burning as long as possible this first day. They need to burn for at least an hour, but longer is better to knock out the mold counts in the air. Also, light the candles whenever you are in the rental or room for a prolonged amount of time.
  • Mist bedding, carpets, drapes, pillows, and even furniture, especially in the bedrooms, with EC3 Mold Solution Spray – Just walk around misting upon arrival. Allow it to air dry. You will notice the air quality improving as the spore counts go down. I cannot reiterate enough how much this simple task will temporarily improve your new environment.
  • If there is a washing machine, run a cycle without any clothes, but on a hot water setting, and with 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide added to the tub while filling – Do this prior to washing any of your clothes. It will clean the machine of mold, bacteria, and residue before you put your clothes inside. You can also use the peroxide to clean the rubber seal on a front loader if you find that it is harboring mold from previous use.
  • Use the EC3 Laundry Additive with each load to keep your clothing mold free – This will help prevent you from bringing mold spores back into your home as well.
  • Mist luggage, bags and suitcases with EC3 Mold Solution Spray outside before bringing them back into your home – Luggage can harbor all sorts of bacteria and molds. It gets thrown around and is often on the floor. Help keep your home mold and bacteria free by misting it all over and allowing the spray to dry before bringing it back into your home after a trip.

    Make sure that last load of laundry, or those bathing suits are good an dry before you pack them to head home.

  • Dry all swim suits, beachwear, and towels thoroughly before packing them in your suitcase – This may seem like a no-brainer, but packing wet or damp swimsuits and towels promotes mold growth in your luggage. If you must leave with wet or damp clothing, pack it separately in a plastic bag, and empty and wash the items in the bag immediately with the EC3 Laundry Additive as soon as you get home.
  • Beware of vinyl wallpaper – The use of vinyl wallpaper promotes trapped moisture and mold growth under the wallpaper. If a hotel or rental has copious amounts of vinyl wallpaper, it most likely has hidden mold. You don’t want to jeopardize your health by staying there.
  • Choose hotels/rentals with central HVAC and thermostats, rather than manual/window units- Manual/window heating and air conditioning units are notorious for harboring mold, because they don’t run continuously to circulate the air. Water from condensation can easily pool in the units too, because the fan doesn’t run as often to dry them out. If you have the option, choose rooms with thermostats instead. The air quality is generally better, and you can keep your room at a more constant temperature and promote better ventilation.

I know this seems like a long list, but I promise you, doing all or even some of these things will make travel so much more comfortable for you and your family. Mold and environmental illness are so debilitating. Now that I am in recovery, for the most part, a little extra planning and work to take a vacation or to hang out with friends and family is worth it to me.

Please let me know in the comments if you have any other tips or tricks that I left out. I would love your input.

 

 

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How To DEEP CLEAN Your Washing Machine for Mold

Hi, Guys!

I realize I hadn’t written a DIY post in a while, so today is where I do just that. Today, I am going to teach you how to properly DEEP CLEAN your washing machine for mold.

Wait! I have already talked about this, right? Well, sort of. I wrote a post about laundry and about cleaning your washing machine for mold periodically as a preventative measure and to remove an surface mold or grime. (Click HERE to read that post.) BUT, this post is different. This post gets into the nitty-gritty of taking apart and cleaning your washing machine. This post details a technique that you only should have to do every other year or so, if you are using my other cleaning technique. I have actually found that since I have been using the “maintenance cleaning,” we were able to wait almost 3 years before having to do this deep cleaning again. This is a rather large job and time-consuming, but is incredibly necessary for maintaining a healthy home, especially if you are mold sensitive.

Ok. So have you ever entered your laundry room and been confronted with a musty smell? If after careful investigation, you do not find water intrusion or another source of mold, chances are, your washing machine itself is the culprit. Think about it. If you are anything like me, you use your washing machine multiple times a day. Therefore, it stays pretty wet, never fully drying out between loads. Also, debris and lint can get imbedded in the little holes in the drum of the machine. This organic material is perfect food for mold to grow on. Then, if you wash large loads, as I do, you can have a slight overflow effect, where water and sometimes detergent can spill over the drum and get trapped between the tub and inner basin of the machine. Water can sit in this cavity of sorts and cause mold growth. Any mold growing in hard-to-clean spots will get into your clothes and linens, and make everything smell musty–not to mention these mold spores can be disturbed and made airborne to get into other areas of your home by running a moldy machine. Convinced you should keep reading? If not, wait for my pictures. That will sell you.

Let’s just say, we had noticed this musty smell in the laundry room in our home. We knew that the normal washing machine cleaning wasn’t solving the problem. It had to be deeper in the machine, more internal, if you will. Luckily for me, my husband is extremely handy, and was able to disassemble our washing machine in no time. You can also call a local handyman/repair person to dismantle and clean your machine for you, if taking it apart yourself is daunting. Just make sure you have the person cleaning it follow my cleaning instructions, and make sure they use the proper products to ensure that the mold is gone. Just so you have the information, I called a couple of local handymen to price this out. I had quotes from $50-$100 to do this for me.

At this time in my post, I will caution you to wear disposable gloves and use a a breathing  mask (you can buy both at Home Depot), especially if you are susceptible to sickness caused by mold exposure. You will be having direct contact with a possibly moldy area and disturbing it will release mold spores into he air.  So, in my opinion, you cannot be too cautious.

We have a top-loading machine, so if you aren’t inherently handy and need specific instructions on how to dismantle it to clean it, here is a YouTube video that takes you through all of the steps:

You are not replacing the drum, like he is in the video, but you need to separate the drum from the basin to do this cleaning. Once he lifts the drum out, you are where you need to be with disassembly to properly clean the machine.

If you have a front-loading machine, here is a YouTube video that will show you how to remove your washing machine drum for deep cleaning: https://youtu.be/zjULf1lLW5U.

The most important thing to remember with these machines is to also thoroughly clean inside and around the detergent dispenser once you remove it—this is a place where detergent overflow gets trapped and creates mold. Also remember to thoroughly clean and dry out the rubber liner at the front of the machine. This is often a huge source of hidden mold for front loaders. Use the same process and products that I outline below to do this properly.

Ok. Now that you have performed surgery and have everything opened up, you will more than likely have revealed the obvious source of your musty smell. Ours was mostly from water that was trapped between the basin and the drum that had started to grow some mold. There was also some mold in the center cavity of the machine where the fabric softener reservoir is (fabric softener is food for mold) We had to get down into that and remedy the problem.

Here are the somewhat gross pictures of what we found inside our washing machine after it was dismantled:

Now, if there is standing water inside the drum, it is likely that your washing machine is not draining properly. This is an entirely different fix and will require repairing, unclogging or replacing the drain, which is NOT what this post is about. If that is your issue, get the drain fixed first. You can clean the machine later. Also, many new machines have a drain at the bottom to empty the water that accumulates in the lowest portion of the machine.  This can be easily done regularly to prevent standing water from growing mold and bacteria.

Back to cleaning: You will need your cleaning products at this time. What I recommend using is a combination of tried and true mold eliminating products. The first is a hydrogen peroxide solution. Just pour 3% hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. (You can purchase this type of hydrogen peroxide online or at a building supply store, like Lowe’s or Home Depot. Drugstore hydrogen peroxide is usually at a much lower percentage and will not be as effective.) Spray the inside of the basin and drum with this solution and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. I know it seems long, but studies have shown that for peroxide to effectively kill pathogens, bacteria and mold, it needs at least that amount of time to fully oxidize and have its wonderful “preventative” effect, in which it inhibits future mold growth. After 10 minutes, take dry paper towels and wipe everything down completely. Repeat this process until any visible mold is gone. Now spray both the drum, inner basin, and any other place where you found and cleaned mold all over with EC3 Mold Solution Spray—or, you can mix your own spray using the EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate. Allow the spray to air dry completely. Once clean and bone dry, reassemble your washing machine, so that it is ready for use.

Here are our AFTER pictures. As you can see, the cleaning made a world of difference. Our clothes and laundry smelled so much fresher and cleaner afterward.

As you see, the hard part here is really in the disassembly and reassembly of the machine. The cleaning part is quite easy.

Please let me know if you get around to doing this. It is amazing how much better your laundry will smell and how much cleaner your clothes will be with this simple fix.

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Dr. Jack Thrasher: A Toxicology Pioneer and Mold Warrior

This post is definitely late for me, but after I read the excellent article published on SinusitisWellness.com as a tribute to Dr. Jack Thrasher and his most recent paper with Dr. Dennis, I just had to go ahead and write this. (The paper is entitled, “Surgical and Medical Management of Sinus Mucosal and Systemic Mycotoxicosis.” The synopsis and explanation is excellent on SinusitisWellness.com, so I won’t go into that here. (Click through with the link to read more.) I want to always provide you guys with the whole story when it comes to mold, so that is where this post comes in. Sadly, Dr. Jack Thrasher passed away at the beginning of the year, so this will have to serve as my small acknowledgement of his work and his insights into the worlds of toxicology, immunotoxicology and teratology (the study of abnormalities of physiological development and what causes those abnormalities). We all benefit from his accomplishments and the safety implications and policies that resulted.

First, if you are not familiar with Dr. Thrasher, I want to give you a brief rundown of who he was, what he believed, in terms of environmental illness and toxicology, and some of the formidable work he accomplished in his lifetime. I had the privilege to have his insights and professional opinion during our mold ordeal, so I really hope I can convey what a true pioneer he was in my writing.

Dr. Thrasher started his career in California in the 1960s. When asked, he would tell the story that his first foray into toxicology came when he was using a popular nasal spray to relieve his nasal congestion. Always one to examine the details, he turned the spray bottle over to the ingredients list and found, to his dismay, that the spray contained mercury. He knew mercury was toxic to humans, so he started questioning why we were being exposed to that sort of poison in medications and otherwise. In short, why would something created to heal, contain an ingredient that could also poison? This was a dichotomy that he would never be able to ignore again. Hence, he heeded his calling and began his career.

In 1988, he became interested in a group of people living in mobile homes that were all chronically ill. Many of them were elderly or immunocompromised in some way, so their being sick wasn’t really taken very seriously by most doctors. Dr. Thrasher wanted to look closer to figure out what was causing their sickness. He began investigating their homes. What he found was that the materials used to build the mobile homes contained formaldehyde. Their homes were making them sick. Once they got out of the poisonous environments, they could get well. A novel concept at the time, but one that would lead Dr. Thrasher into the bulk of his work that centered around indoor environments and the contaminants present that could cause sickness. Today, formaldehyde is recognized as a known carcinogen with regulations on the amounts allowed to be utilized in building; however, there is more work to do here.

This led Dr. Thrasher to his extensive work investigating, “Water-Damaged Building Syndrome.” He and his partner, Sandra Crawley, actually published a well-known and highly-regarded paper, entitled, The biocontaminants and complexity of damp indoor spaces: more than what meets the eyes. Very basically, the paper presents their findings of  indicator molds; Gram negative and positive bacteria; microbial particulates; mycotoxins; volatile organic compounds, both microbial (MVOCs) and non-microbial (VOCs); proteins; galactomannans; 1-3-β-D-glucans (glucans); and ipopolysaccharides (LPS — endotoxins) in high concentrations throughout water-damaged indoor environments. The paper discusses the dire health implications of all of these particulates in a building or indoor environment, where humans are working or reside. He shows how the bacteria and molds are equally infectious and work together to cause significant and sometimes deadly (cancer) health problems. Thrasher would go on to point out the existence of protozoa also present in these wet indoor spaces, capable of causing infestation and infection—which was never indicated or tested before this paper.

Dr. Thrasher wholeheartedly believed that excessive mold was more dangerous to the human body than heavy metals or pesticides, simply because his work and testing had shown him that mold could adapt and mutate. Mycotoxic molds would affect human biology from a person’s head to their toes, interfering with protein synthesis, and suppressing the immune system, so that humans can never become resistant to them. His paper with Dr. Dennis highlighted the impact that mycotoxins can have in the sinuses and the complex diagnosis and treatment required for patients to get well.

I am merely scratching the surface here with my synopsis and description, but I want to bring you more and different information than what is everywhere on the internet about him. When I was working from afar with Dr. Thrasher and having him advocate for me and my family during our mold ordeal, I was able to send him the results of some of our air testing. He pointed out mold species and particulate counts that were of particular concern to him. When we dug deeper and investigated, we found the HVAC infestation and contamination that was causing us horrible sickness and distress. As a matter of fact, Dr. Thrasher and his passion for helping people in similar situations was unparalleled. He testified for people in countless court cases, and was able to provide the scientific proof and expertise needed for people to see and understand why homes, buildings, offices, etc., that were water-damaged and contaminated were health hazards and were, indeed, the reason why the patients were sick.

Because I had the unique honor of having Dr. Thrasher’s input in our situation, I also would like to share a little bit about what I learned from him. I think this information will help anyone looking to test or determine what about their work or living space is making them sick.

First, Dr. Thrasher always, always recommended multiple testing mechanisms for the same space. He liked dust sample testing from at least 4-5 places and ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) testing to find out the species of mold present—he was BIG on knowing what you are dealing with, so that you could fight the battle properly. Dr. Thrasher was also a proponent of culturing surfaces, even hidden surfaces, like refrigerator coils for bacteria. For example, if everyone is getting sick in the kitchen, but the mold counts in the undisturbed air read ok, and there doesn’t seem to be moisture intrusion, start looking behind things. In this case, when he pulled out the refrigerator and tested the damp coils, he found rare and dangerous bacterial cultures. So, when the fridge was opened or closed or disturbed in anyway, a poof of bacteria and particulates was flying around, making folks sick. There’s your answer. Always dig deeper was his motto. He wasn’t a huge fan of just air testing, because it really has no bearing on your actual indoor space when you are comparing indoor counts to outdoor counts. (Here is a LINK to my post air testing, if you want to go deeper. Here is another LINK for using EC3 Mold Test Plates for surface testing and TAP testing.) If you must do air testing, Dr. Thrasher would recommend you do one test where the “still” air is tested, and then one test where the air is disturbed with a fan or burst of air. The disturbance causes the smallest particulates that no one is looking at to come to light. He taught me that mycotoxins are associated with the tiniest of particulates. These are the particulates that enter the body easiest by inhalation or ingestion and can get into the bloodstream, or breach the blood-brain barrier through the sinus. This is of great concern and is often totally overlooked with indoor air quality testing.

Second, Dr. Thrasher cautioned the “mold folks” to never downplay or discount the existence of Aspergillus, or Penicillium, even in small amounts, when they pop up on mold testing cultures. (We actually had elevated levels of Penicillium in our bedroom when we tested during our ordeal.) In Thrasher’s studies, Aspergillus had proved to cause illness in humans, even those not susceptible to mold illness or those who were immunocompromised. Aspergillus also is one of the only molds to produce a Gleotoxin that is proven to cause cancer. Penicillium indicates indoor moisture, produces mycotoxins and is even thought to be carcinogenic. So, just because you don’t have Stachybotrys, or what is called “black mold,” you are not in the clear, if you do have some of these other molds.

Third, VOCs, both man-made, like perfumes and solvents, and microbial, are extremely irritating to the respiratory system and should be avoided, especially in indoor environments. Also, if you are living or working in a water-damaged space, you are in a literal soup of contaminates already. VOCs can magnify their deleterious effects and make everything all the more toxic.

Fourth, remediation techniques that Dr. Thrasher liked always, always involved investigating and examining the WHOLE home or building to find and stop moisture intrusion first. If moisture cannot be stopped, then the house or building must be demoed or vacated. It cannot be fixed or remediated. If the moisture issues can be fixed, remediation that does NOT involve any toxic chemicals can be performed. According to Dr. Thrasher, if the environment is already toxic, why in the world would you treat it with toxic chemicals? He did not like heat curing or pasteurization methods of remediating mold. He liked physical removal, like cutting out drywall and damaged wood, and then using boric acid to kill and clean the mold. He also liked the EC3 products by MicroBalance to maintain a healthy environment.

Finally, to close, I really want to give Dr. Thrasher the last word of sorts. He would say that our knowledge of indoor environments and our understanding of them changes daily. He would tell you to read everything that you can get your hands on—read all of the papers, studies and scientific literature. You need to know what you are dealing with. We cannot deny that “sick homes and buildings” exist anymore. Get involved and make your own decisions, so that you can safeguard yourself and your health.

That’s all for today! I hope you will read more and explore Dr. Thrasher’s site on your own as well.

 

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Humidifiers and Mold: Are They Helping or Hurting Your Health?

Hi, friends!

Today I want to conquer a controversial topic: humidifiers, and more specifically, cool mist humidifiers. Ok, ok. I know that humidifiers are not exactly what you would call controversial, but in the world of mold-related illness, they actually are.

The whole reason this topic is coming up today is because a girlfriend of mine recently posted a request on social media looking desperately for help with her son’s allergies, chronic congestion and ear infections. She had seen her

The designs of many cool mist humidifiers are even geared toward children’s rooms, so that they become part of the decor. I highly caution you against falling into this trap. You don’t want to increase the moisture in a child’s room. Microbial and mold counts can climb quickly, causing health issues, like asthma.

pediatrician already and did not want to accept that putting her child on another antibiotic or on allergy medication for the rest of his life were her only options. She was seeking more holistic advice and answers from other Moms about things that had worked for them.

I looked through all of the comments. It was startling to me how many Moms posted the advice of putting a cool mist humidifier in his room. In my mind, cool, aerosolized water in a closed, possibly carpeted, indoor space seemed like a no-brainer “no-no,” but to others, it was a solution to a health problem? What kind of information is out there that is touting humidifiers? Why, with what we are starting to know now about the link between mold/indoor humidity and chronic sinusitis (96% of chronic sinusitis is caused by an allergy to mold—Mayo Clinic), do people still use them? Aren’t there better alternatives? I wanted to investigate, and make my case about why you should think twice before bringing one into your home to treat allergies or sinus symptoms.

First, the ideal level of relative humidity for sinus health is between 35-45%. (This is even lower than the previously advised 50% humidity—National Asthma Council Australia.) This level is also generally recommended to avoid mold damage in your home. I’m not sure if you realize this, but that is very low. We have a dehumidifier on our HVAC system to help control the humidity inside our house, and even when set at its highest drying setting, it is difficult to get indoor air in Memphis, TN, below 40% humidity, especially in the summertime. I do realize that exceedingly dry air, combined with indoor gas or electric heat in the winter can be a recipe for excessive dryness, and irritated nasal passages, but there are other, more holistic solutions, that do not involve pumping moisture (possibly already contaminated moisture, as you will see later) into your home. I will go into some alternatives at the end of this post.

Second, according to the EPA, the moist environment of the humidifier itself is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. The EPA states: “Microorganisms often grow in humidifiers which are equipped with tanks containing standing water.” Moreover, when that contaminated water is sprayed out via the humidifier, it creates a “toxic mist,” that is later breathed in by everyone in the room. “Research has shown that breathing in dirty mist from humidifiers can lead to lung problems, including infection, and humidifier use is actually associated with an increased risk of developing asthma in children. Keep in mind, also, that too much moisture in your air increases the development of mold, which is a toxin you don’t want to be breathing in on a daily basis.” (Mercola)

The last thing you want, especially when your child is sick or battling allergies is to introduce MORE contaminants into their nasal passages and lungs or into their sleeping space. Ok, so what if you just clean the heck out of the humidifier? Then no contaminates can get in it, right? Well, unfortunately, not exactly. Consumer Reports states that even in the top, best rated-models, when they were thoroughly cleaned after each use, there were still small amounts of microorganisms detected. A small amount is still too much for me to be okay with. Excessive indoor moisture also encourages and increases the dust mite population in your home. Dust mites are a very common cause of allergies as well, so aside from the humidifier itself, this is a big reason to be wary of increasing humidity.

Third, the very water being used inside the humidifier can cause problems of its own. The Berkley Wellness website reveals that cool mist humidifiers may also emit minerals and other substances from the water into the air. “If your water contains contaminants, the humidifier will spray them into the air. Using tap water in a humidifier is not a good idea, because the minerals in it may be dispersed in the air as white dust. Minerals may also appear as a crusty deposit inside the humidifier, which is a surface on which bacteria and mold can grow.”

Finally, I decided to give our ENT a call to get his thoughts on the use of humidifiers in the home. Dr. Dennis, whom I have featured in a number of posts, is ahead of the curve, in my opinion, with this type of information, because his approach to all sinus issues and sickness is very holistic and focuses on the cause of the sinus issue, rather than the symptoms and the quick fix. Here is his response:

“Humidifiers should be avoided and are actually banned in hospitals, due to the possible spread of infections. Since the water inside the humidifier is room temperature or warm, especially if it is sitting in the tank, bacteria will grow inside. Those bacteria are then aerosolized into the lungs of the room occupant. The humidifier will also quickly bring the humidity in a room above 50%, so that mold growth occurs. This is acutely true in the summer, because humidity levels in your whole house are already up, and adding the humidifier causes a moisture increase above safe levels fast. If nasal dryness is severe and causing irritation or an inability for the sinus to work properly and filter the air, use only a vaporizer, which heats water (purified or distilled only) to steam, thus killing any organisms. BUT, ONLY do this in the winter months, when humidity is low and indoor heat is drying the air.”

So, the takeaway here is to avoid using humidifiers whenever possible. If you choose to do so, I would really do it sparingly, only using a vaporizer during cold months, and making sure humidity levels don’t get too high. To do this, you would need to use a hygrometer. A hygrometer can be purchased online or at a hardware store and measures the amount of moisture in your home’s air. Then, you can keep an eye on the humidity level and adjust your use of the vaporizer accordingly, never allowing the humidity to exceed 45%. I would also take extra precautions of only using distilled or purified water in the vaporizer, adding 4-5 drops of CitriDrops Dietary Supplement to that water to kill and prevent microbial growth, emptying and cleaning the tank with EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate or hydrogen peroxide and soap after each use. Be careful to rinse the vaporizer reservoir out thoroughly to remove all cleaner before the next use, and most importantly, never ever leaving a hot-mist vaporizer going in a child’s room unattended or anywhere where they could reach it and scald themselves.

If you really need moisture, opt for a vaporizer, which heats the water and emits steam.

To close my post today, I want to end on a can-do, positive note and offer some non-humidifier solutions to the issue of dry or irritated sinuses and the need for added moisture and relief.

  • Stay hydrated. Chronic dehydration is a problem for children and adults alike. Make sure you are actively drinking filtered or spring water throughout the day. Do not wait until you are thirsty. Thirst is the first sign of dehydration. Just carry water with you and sip on it all day. I like to pack water bottles in my kids’ school bags in the morning. I always praise them when they are empty when I unpack their bags in the afternoon. You will find that this simple change will improve your energy levels, your colon-transit time, and your overall sense of well-being.
  • Use a drug-free, moisturizing nasal mists, like NeilMed NasoGel, Ocean or Simply Saline. This can be used to provide moisture directly to the nose.
  • Use a facial steamer. Vicks makes a good one. You can fill it per package instructions with distilled or purified water, and add 2-3 drops of CitriDrops Dietary Supplement to the water. Then, gently inhale the steam through the nose and mouth. This will provide direct relief without increasing the humidity in your home.

    Personal steamers are a great option when you need to loosen mucus and to open your nasal passages to gain some relief.

  • If congested and struggling to clear their nose, bring your child in a steamy shower with you. Allow the steam to open them up in a controlled setting. Then, you can use a child-approve saline spray to further moisturize and clear their nasal passages.
  • Add a high-quality DHA or Omega-3 supplement to your daily regimen. I would suggest brands like Nordic Naturals for kids and Jarrow Formulas Krill Oil for adults. This supplement will increase overall lubrication and moisture in the body, and prevent dryness.
  • Limit ambient heat use indoors in the winter. I know this may sound a little crazy, but we try to keep our heater use to a minimum. At night, we just dress warmly and add extra snuggly blankets to our beds. There is honestly nothing worse, in my opinion, than having hot air blowing on me all night, and waking up feeling dried out and inflamed. You can even choose to just turn your heat off at night and back on during the day to give your skin and mucus membranes a break from the constant dryness. The cooler temperature will also help to create moisture in your body naturally, which, if you are having sinus irritation, is an added benefit.

That’s all for today. Let me know if you have any other tips of suggestions. I love to hear from you guys!

 

 

 

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