After my journey with toxic mold, I realized just how important it was to share what I had learned throughout the process. There are so many of us out there, struggling to make sense of what to do and how to do it.
In recent years, mold has become the subject of mounting health concerns as well as numerous lawsuits. As such, there is a lot of misinformation (as well as good information) about mold, specifically toxic mold. This page is a resource page designed to provide you with accurate information about mold. As such, I will be continually updating it so please check back often!
Every great resource pages starts with a foundation. So before you dive into all my other nuggets of information, let's take a brief look at a couple of important topics.
What Is Mold?
You probably already know that mold is a form of fungus that grows both indoors and outdoors and thrives in warm, damp, and humid environments. There are over a thousand different varieties of indoor mold.
Mold spreads by generating spores which are able to survive for long periods even in harsh, dry environments in which mold itself could not grow. This is what makes mold so hard to eliminate.
Mold spores are invisible to the eye and can become airborne. Mold travels in all sorts of ways, including through open doors and windows and through air conditioning, heating, and ventilation systems. It can be carried indoors on shoes and clothing or brought inside by pets. Since mold lives everywhere outdoors, it doesn't take much for those spores to find their way in.
Most health problems related to mold exposure arise when there is a build-up of high concentrations of mold (and their offspring, mycotoxins). Reactions vary from mild and annoying to death.
What Creates Toxic Mold
The phrase “toxic mold” is a bit misleading as all molds are toxic and can create health problems in high enough concentrations or if your genetics allow for extreme reactions to it.
A few forms of mold are called “toxigenic,” meaning that under certain conditions they can produce small molecular toxins, called mycotoxins. These mycotoxins are usually spread by way of the mold's spores and may be the cause of potentially serious health problems if ingested in sufficient quantities over time. You can learn more about what makes mold toxic here.
In contrast with mold in general, which is found virtually everywhere, toxigenic molds are less common. Two of the best-known examples of toxic mold include Stachybotrys Chartarum and Aspergillis.
Are you ready to check out some or all of the toxic mold resources I am including on this page? Here are my offerings, broken down into the following categories (click on the category name to jump to that content):
Mold Testing & Detection
Air Filters and Purifiers
Toxic Mold Related Products
If you suspect you have mold issues in your home, it is important to conduct the right tests to get to the root of the issue so that you can decide where to go from there.
Go out and get yourself a moisture meter like this one or this one. Test EVERYTHING! Test your floors. Test every wall in your home. Test base boards. Test under windows. Test around doors. Literally test every wall in your home.
Each meter will come with a guide. If any of your walls or floor spaces show elevated levels of moisture, you can bet you have the right conditions for toxic mold to grow in.
If your moisture levels come back high, you probably want to get a sense of just how extensive the affected area is. Thermo Imaging is a great way to see inside walls and floors without tearing into them and releasing millions of mold spores. You don’t absolutely need to take this step just yet. But eventually, you will need to see just how much of your home is affected.
If you want to take a look yourself, there is a really cool thermos imaging phone app. You can learn more about it here. The other option is a handheld thermos imaging device like this one. You can also hire people to come do this for you.
The ERMI or HERTSMI Test
I cannot stress this enough. You MUST run an ERMI or a HERTSMI test. These tests will tell you exactly what species of mold are present and at what level. You will receive a breakdown of the individual spores and spore counts as well an overall ERMI or HERTSMI score. The higher the score, the more quickly you need to get out of your home.
The ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) test is a dust sampling analysis offered by several labs to evaluate the health of a building. ERMI uses a DNA-based method for identifying 36 different species of mold.
Labs currently offering this test include:
- EMSL Analytical ($172-$350 plus shipping)
- EMLab P&K (call the lab for pricing)
- EnviroBiomics ($200-$380)
- Mycometrics ($290)
A smaller version of this test, the HERTSMI (also called the HERTSMI-2), uses similar technology to identify and quantify five of the more common and toxic species of mold. This test is offered by EnviroBiomics ($105-$212) and Mycometrics ($155)
All four labs offer vacuum canisters to collect the dust samples, while Mycometrics and EnviroBiomics also offer the option of using a Swiffer-type cloth to obtain the settled dust.
The Mycotoxin Test
While mold can wreak havoc on your health, the mycotoxins they produce are the real killers. I used Real Time Labs to test for Mycotoxins.
Mold Test Plates
Not everyone can afford the more expensive testing options. You might also not be 100% sure that you have a mold problem. If you are looking for a simple, inexpensive test that helps you determine your next course of action, there are two options that are very solid. I wrote an entire post discussing my experience with these test kits so please visit An Affordable Mold Test to get the full scoop.
We literally have all of these filters and air purification products. While price might be an issue, you really do get what you paid for. I have listed the filters in order of quality.
Products We Purchased To Help Keep Our New Living Environment Mold Free
Products We Used To Keep Ourselves Safe When Cleaning Out Our Home
Surviving Mold (This is Dr. Shoemaker’s site and really is the best site out there. Spend a lot of time here and if you feel compelled, grab the one month membership and gain access to all of his documents.)
Dr. Jack Thrasher’s site (he is the toxicologist that we worked with. His site is a little old-school but there is a TON of information there! In some ways, I like it better than the Surviving Mold site. You just have to patiently wade though the site design flaws.)
Microbalance Health Products is a wealth of information! If you want to get your home and body healthy, start here!