My inbox is overflowing! Seems like so many of you are very concerned about possible mold in your home. I don’t blame you. Had I been on the other side of the fence and read my own story, I would have immediately wanted to test for mold as well. And if I knew I had an issue, I would want to know what products I should look into when it came to trying to keep mold spores at bay.
Today I am sharing all kinds of information and links to the tests we ran and the products we have purchased to ensure a future that is as mold free as possible. If you are interested in the medical angle – supplements and herbs and whatnot – then check out how I detoxed from mold exposure. Today I am focusing more on the things you should consider for your environment.
What exactly should you do if you have mold in your home, or even suspect that you do?
Mold Tests We Ran In Our Home
If you suspect that you have mold, running the right tests the first time around will save you a lot of money as well as precious time. While testing seems pricy, you want to get to the root of the issue as quickly as possible. We wasted several thousand dollars after our initial test and my hope is to save you from doing the same. If you have mold in your home you still want to test the strains so you can formulate a game plan and possibly better understand any health issues that you may have as a result.
Knowing what I know now, I will outline what I believe is a solid game plan for testing for mold in your home. Do with this what you would like.
Step 1 – Moisture Testing
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. And if you have mold in your home, this is step 1 to finding the source.
Step 2 – Thermo Imaging
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.
Step 3 – The ERMI Test
I cannot stress this enough. You MUST run an ERMI test. The ERMI test 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 score. The higher the score, the more quickly you need to get out of your home.
I used Mycometrics for our initial ERMI tests. They are the gold-standard when it comes to the ERMI test. I opted to test our living room (where I knew there was an issue) as well as our master bedroom. I highly suggest that you run these test separately so you know which room produced which result. You can combine the tests but personally, it makes more sense to know what is going on in individual rooms, especially if you do not have visible mold and simply suspect a mold problem.
You do not need to run ERMI tests in every room if you have visible mold, just the rooms with an issue. This applies so long as you know for sure that the room(s) you are testing have an issue (be it visible mold, a moldy smell, dampness, or elevated levels of moisture as seen in moisture meter readings) and there are not hidden issues in other rooms. If you are really on a budget, these test plates are a viable option and one that I have used with success.
If you would like a less expensive option that is still really solid, give EMSL Analytical a shot. I used them to test our shed and was pleased. They are not as detailed but that’s ok. You still get all the main mold categories covered.
Step 4 – The Mycotoxin Test
While mold can wreak havoc on your health, the mycotoxins they produce are the real killers. Truly. They can kill you. It is imperative that you send in dust samples to test for mycotoxins in your home. This will give you a peek into what you are facing health-wise and treatment wise. Mycotoxins are not something to ignore.
I used Real Time Labs to test for Mycotoxins. The test is simple to do. You need sterile gauze pads, freezer plastic bags, and a sharpie marker. You will take samples from the following areas using on sterile gauze pad per area that you will place into the bag, sealing and labeling it with the date, time, and sample name.
- Air Intake Ducts (not the filter – remove the filter and reach into the duct and get as much dust on the cloth as possible)
- Air Return from Living Room (or most used living space) – use same technique as the intake duct sample
- Air Return from master bedroom – use same technique as the intake duct sample
- Refrigerator coils
- (Optional) Behind Washer/Dryer if there is a good dust collection
The reason you sample your air ducts is to see if any mycotoxins have spread throughout your home. If you have mycotoxins in your air ducts, you have them throughout your house. Period. Sampling the refrigerator coils gives you a historical picture of the mycotoxins in your home. When was the last time you cleaned those coils? There you go. There is a lot of good information to glean there. The washer/dryer sample encompasses the same idea as the refrigerator coils which is why it is optional.
These tests are NOT cheap. But they are critical to determining what mycotoxins you were exposed to specifically as this determines the medical treatment needed. Not all mycotoxins do the same things in your body.
Step 5 – Air Sampling
Air sampling is waste of money in my opinion. We did it and I wish that we hadn’t. You hire a hygienist to come in and take a 5 minute air sample. While this can be useful in concert with the ERMI and Mycotoxin tests, it alone won’t give you a clear picture of what is going on. It is merely showing you what mold spores and how many are in the air during that 5 minute window. It doesn’t look at mycotoxins. Unless you are going to bring a lawsuit into play, I would skip the air sampling.
The only time that it can be truly beneficial is if you have a lot of visible mold OR if you disturbed the mold and are still living in your home.
Medical Tests We Took
Once we knew that our home was teaming with mycotoxins, we enlisted Real Time Labs to run urine samples and test us individually for mycotoxins in our body. These tests are also expensive and for us, not covered by insurance. I decided to run the full panel and me and my daughter. Once we got the results back (and they matched in terms of which mycotoxins were in our system), I only tested my husband for those specific mycotoxins. This saved a wee bit of money.
After we had confirmation that we had high levels of mycotoxins in our body, we ordered additional labs. And by additional, I mean A TON. You can find the full set of labs we ordered here. Learn why you want to run these in this informative post.
I also took a Visual Contrast Sensitivity test online. I failed. This is very telling and shows that I do have neurological issues. The test is pretty cheap and a great tool to get a picture of how the mold exposure has impacted your brain.
Products We Used When Entering Our Home To Clean It Out
Once you know you have mold in your home (and their offspring mycotoxins), you DO NOT want to go into the home without protection. Protection is simple enough. Here is what we adorned ourselves with every time we entered the home:
We also kept ALL the windows open while we were in there.
Products We Purchased To Keep Our Temporary Environment Safe
When we relocated to my parents’ home, I was very concerned about mold cross contamination. After all, toys, books, and our own selves had been back and forth between our home and my parents’ home. I knew that there were mold spores floating around, especially in the bedroom where we were living.
I wasn’t worried about my parents getting a mold infestation. They don’t have a water source to support that. But I was VERY concerned about continuing to be exposed to mold spores and mycotoxins. Neither my daughter nor I could handle that.
I spoke with many trusted sources and did GOBS of research. Seriously. It felt like that was all I was doing. But in the end, I choose several products that I felt confident would eliminate close to 100% of any lingering mold spores.
These are products that I will continue to use once we get settled in a more permanent situation.
Product #1 – Airocide Air Purifier
Hold onto your wallets folks. This is one of the most expensive items we purchased but trust me, this is the BEST thing you can buy if you are battling mold in your home or workplace OR have recently left a mold contaminated environment. Everyone talks about HEPA this and HEPA that but after doing hours and hours of research and making tons of calls, I was confident in my conclusion that HEPA filters can only do so much. The Airocide technology is really where it is at.
Traditional air purifiers utilize filters to trap large particles leaving smaller more harmful pathogens like mold spores, viruses and household chemicals (VOC's) unaffected. Airocide is different. The technology uses a titanium coated catalyst developed by NASA to destroy – not trap – even the smallest of pathogens.
Here's what happens: A quiet fan draws in airborne allergy, mold and chemical sensitive triggers and slows them down, dispersing them across a densely packed matrix of their coated catalyst. As they contact the surface of these catalysts they are broken down at the molecular level in a process known as oxidation. The entire process is safe, produces no ozone, and is encapsulated within their Reaction Chambers. Simply replace the Reaction Chambers (sold as a pair), once a year – there's no mess like filters – just clean air year round.
To me, this was worth every penny. I feel confident that our environment, wherever we are, will be completely free of mold spores plus all kinds of other yucky stuff that our bodies can’t handle right now.
Find the Airocide here.
Product #2 – Miele S7280 Jazz Upright Vacuum Cleaner
Another big ticket item but again, totally worth every penny. Regular vacuums (both bagless and those with bags) spew contaminants right back out as you vacuum. This includes mold spores. In fact, aside from your HVAC unit, your vacuum is the other way to spread mold spores throughout your entire house. (It’s why you ALWAYS want a professional housecleaner to use YOUR vacuum and not theirs which has been used in countless homes). In an ideal world, we would all have built-in central vacuums that exhausted directly to the outside. Since this isn’t always possible, it is important to use a HEPA vacuum.
Although many vacuums may claim to have HEPA-like filtration, very few vacuums actually meet the rigid criteria to be called a HEPA vacuum. True HEPA vacuums not only have a HEPA filter but are also specially sealed so that no air is able to escape before passing through the filter. This means that the particles you vacuum up actually remain in the vacuum rather than being dispersed into the air that you breathe.
The Miele Jazz Vacuum uses this advanced HEPA filter. I choose it both for functionality and for the price. There are other Miele vacuums that employ this technology but this one met my needs.
Purchase the Miele Jazz here.
Product #3 – Essential Oil Diffuser
Even though I had thrown away my childhood by discarding anything at my parents’ house that had been in our moldy home, I still worried that there were lingering spores in the closet where these items lived. I didn’t want to spray the closet and bedroom with toxic chemicals and we didn’t have our Airocide filter yet. I decided to order an uber-powerful diffuser and diffuse Rocky Mountain Oils special blend called Purify. It kills airborne anaerobic bacteria, viruses, mold, fungus, neutralizes mildew, cigarette smoke, and eliminates other noxious odors.
I diffused the Purify blend four times a day for 15 minute increments. I did this for 14 days and felt pretty confident that we got a lot of the mold spores out of the closet. I don’t think I would rely on this method alone but if it is all you can afford at the time, it is better than nothing.
Get my favorite diffuser here.
Product #4 – Naturepedic Organic Cotton/Kapok Pillow
We left our home with nothing but ourselves. We didn’t even keep the clothes we were wearing. While it is hard to decide what to replace and in what order, I knew we needed pillows ASAP. My mom had some super old ones that I was sure were filled with mildew and mold.
I have always loved the Naturepedic Organic Cotton/Kapok Pillow. But as our bodies deal with the effects of being exposed to toxic mold and mycotoxins for such a long time, I have to be diligent about our chemical exposure.
Bedding choices are of the utmost importance. Your head is in direct constant with your pillow for a large chunk of time and a very important time. Sleep is a time for the body to heal. If your body is being slammed by chemcials, it will have a real tough time detoxing. That is why I choose this organic cotton/kapok pillow.
Organic cotton is the purest form of cotton, grown without toxins, synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). Kapok wicks away moisture making it the second best mold resistant fiber. (Wool is the first).
Grab a couple of these pillows here.
Product # 5 – Himalayan Rock Salt Lamp
When heated, the Himalayan crystal rocks emit negative ions into surrounding atmosphere making the air clean, fresh and healthy to live in. These negative ions are known to reduce the effects of dust, bacteria, pet dander, odor, allergies, asthma, sinus, fatigue and even colds. They may also relieve symptoms of anxiety and insomnia. In addition to this, these salt lamps will eliminate the positive ions which are present in our environment, produced by everyday electronics such as computers, refrigerators and televisions (EMFS) plus it will neutralize harmful energies.
When recovering from life in a moldy environment, little things like this can really impact your health. Get this gorgeous salt lamp here.
If you would like to see all my Product Recommendations when it comes to keeping your living environment safe, please visit my Toxic Mold Resources page. I keep it updated as I find and use new products.