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ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS - INSPECT, TEST, REMEDY
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE to TEST CLEAN PREVENT
ACTIVITY of MOLD in BUILDINGS
AGE of MOLD, HOW OLD
AIR CLEANER PURIFIER TYPES
AIR FILTERS for HVAC SYSTEMS
AIR TEST SAMPLING CASSETTE STUDY
AIRBORNE MOLD COUNT NUMBER GUIDE
AIRBORNE PARTICLE ANALYSIS METHODS
ALLERGEN TESTS for BUILDINGS
BROWN HAIRY BATHROOM MOLD
BIBLIOGAPHY for ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, MOLD, IAQ
BLACK MOLD, HARMLESS COSMETIC
BLACK MOLD, TOXIC & ALLERGENIC
BLEACHING MOLD, Advice about
BOOK MOLD, CLEANING
BOOKSTORE - ENVIRONMENTAL
CACTUS FUNGI / MOLD
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPET DUST IDENTIFICATION
CARPET PADDING ASBESTOS, MOLD, ODORS
CARPET FUNGICIDAL SPRAY
CARPET STAIN DIAGNOSIS
CARPET & other STAIN TESTS
CARPET TEST PROCEDURE
CARPETING & INDOOR AIR QUALITY
CHAIN OF CUSTODY - TEST SAMPLE
CLEARANCE INSPECTIONS - MOLD CLEANUP
DIRECTORY of MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERTS
DIRT FLOOR MOLD CONTAMINATION
DISINFECTANTS & SANITIZERS, SOURCES
DISINFECTING BUILDINGS with BLEACH
DO-IT-YOURSELF MOLD CLEANUP WARNINGS
DUST ANALYSIS for FIBERGLASS
DUST, HVAC CONTAMINATION STUDY
EFFLORESCENCE SALTS & WHITE DEPOSITS
FEAR of MOLD - MYCOPHOBIA
FIBERBOARD INSULATION SHEATHING MOLD
FIBERGLASS INSULATION MOLD
FIND MOLD, ESSENTIAL STEPS
MOLD in BUILDINGS
FIRE DAMAGE vs MOLD DAMAGE
FLOODS in BUILDINGS, MOLD PREVENTION
FOXING STAINS on books & papers
FUNGICIDAL SPRAY & SEALANT USE GUIDE
GAS DETECTION INSTRUMENTS
GAS EXPOSURE EFFECTS, TOXIC
GAS EXPOSURE LIMITS & STANDARDS
GAS TEST PROCEDURES
HOUSE DUST ANALYSIS
HOUSE DUST COMPONENTS
HUMIDITY CONTROL & TARGETS INDOORS
LAB PROCEDURES MICROSCOPE TECHNIQUES
LIGHT, GUIDE to FORENSIC USE
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MICROSCOPE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MICROSCOPE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MILDEW ERRORS, IT's MOLD
MILDEW REMOVAL & PREVENTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO MOLD
MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT, HIRE ?
MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
MYCOPHOBIA, STAINS MISTAKEN for MOLD
MYCOTOXIN EFFECTS of MOLD EXPOSURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
RENTERS GUIDE TO MOLD & IAQ
ROBIGUS & Wheat Rust Fungus
SMELL PATCH TEST to FIND ODOR SOURCE
STAINS on & in BUILDINGS, CAUSES & CURES
THERMAL IMAGING MOLD SCANS
TRAPPED MOLD BETWEEN WOOD SURFACES
UV LIGHT BLACK LIGHT USES
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
VOCs VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS
WATER ENTRY in BUILDINGS
Mold related illness research & references:
Here we provide key articles on mold-related illness, including lists of mold related symptoms and complaints, a clinical atlas of mold toxicity, fiberglass hazards, odors and gases, pollen and other allergens, how to recognize allergens in buildings, and suggestions about possible bacterial hazards such as due to sewage backups.
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List of Articles Providing a Detailed Guide to Mold-Related Illnesses: Asthma, Allergies, Lung, Neurological, Other Complaints
This website provides information and procedures for finding, testing, cleaning and preventing indoor mold, toxic black mold, green mold, testing building indoor air quality, and other sick house / sick building investigations. We also offer detailed advice on mold prevention and mold-resistant construction resistant to indoor problem molds such as the Aspergillus sp., Penicillium sp. and Stachybotrys chartarum groups.
Keywords for topics addressed in these articles include: Sick House Investigations, Indoor Air Quality, Mold, Mildew, Dampness, Leaky Basements, Indoor Air Quality, Stachybotrys, Fleas, Dust Mites, Pets, Animal Hair, Dander, Allergens, Bioaerosols, Asthma, ASHI Home Inspections, ASHI Home Inspection, ASHI Home Inspector, ASHI Home Inspectors ASHI Soot Stains Fungus Fungi American Society of Home Inspectors mold testing services by an expert mold testing lab, mold sample testing, including bulk samples, air samples, vacuum samples for mold spores, spore identification, and mold health concerns, mold report of mold test results by the mold lab include written advice, photographs, mold species identification to help spot dangerous mold species and to guide mold remediation advice. Sick House Investigations, allergy, allergies, allergens, asthma, asthmatics, dust mites, mold, mildew, fungi, indoor air quality, heating system ventilation, soot, stains, combustion air, chimney defects, moisture, water entry, wet basements, surface and roof drainage, flooding, water damage, air quality measurements
For background on how and why molds can be toxic, see this World Health Organization Mold Bulletin. Our page top photo shows severe mold contamination on the ceiling of a building basement exposed to flooding.
Continue reading at MOLD RELATED ILLNESS SYMPTOMS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Mold Exposure, Suspected Mold Related Illness, How to Proceed, How to find a Mold Doctor
Question: Chronic Cough and Post Nasal Drip - PND - What's a Reliable Mold Test Kit?
I have been bothered by chronic cough and post nasal drip for several years, and I am suspicious that the building in which I work is the cause. I know that I am allergic mainly to molds – eight different kinds. So, I tried a test kit that I ordered online. It was not conclusive. Not sure if it was any good either. Can you recommend reliable test kits? - K.H., Wilmington DE
Reply: Mold test kits have a useful role to play, but you may need a competent building inspection first
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem, such as a source of irritating dust that you didn't recognize, a leak or moisture problem, or a hidden mold reservoir. That said, here are some things to consider:
While there is a use for testing as part of an expert building inspection, using any test kit to screen a building for mold is not reliable. See MOLD TESTING METHOD VALIDITY if you want a detailed exposition.
In particular, a "negative" result (a test that does not detect significant indoor mold contamination) used without an expert inspection is unreliable in that there is a significant risk of missing an existing mold problem.
Even a "positive" mold test kit result (the test says problem mold is present at a significant level) does not necessarily identify the actual mold problem in the building as opposed to the mold the kit happened to catch. For example, most molds won't grow in culture, so using a culture to screen for mold is a unreliable.
The use, accuracy, and reliability of mold culture test kits for screening buildings for mold contamination are discussed at MOLD CULTURE TEST KIT VALIDITY and MOLD CULTURE SAMPLING METHOD and see Mold Culture Plate Test Errors.
We recommend starting with a detailed case history of the home and your complaints, combined with a thorough visual inspection for conditions likely to cause an indoor mold problem - if mold's the focus. Don't forget there can be other irritants. I'd also ask the doctor for advice on the sorts of things that s/he thinks would be a particular problem in your environment.
Take a look also at MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT, HIRE ? for help in deciding if it's worth hiring an expert -
Question: where can I find similar advice about a water-damaged automobile?
Are there any good articles on DIY mold remediation for a water damaged automobile? Both my boyfriend and I have cars with long-term leaks in the trunks AND many symptoms of mold sickness. Once we fix the leaks, I would like to know how we can clean the carpets/ flooring/ surfaces and ventillation/ heating and A/C system. - Kate (8/17/2011)
Sure Kate, we've written quite a bit about mold and mold smells in cars. Start at CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION. Or take a look at CAR SMELL - Mold DEODORIZING where we discuss tracking down and curing mold in cars, boats, RVs, etc.
Question: We moved out of a moldy home but may have brought along mold or moved into a new one also moldy; my children appear to have serious mold-related illnesses. How can we find a suitable doctor? What else can we do?
We are a family of 8 who previously lived in a modular home built against code without vapor barriers or flashing around wooden windows frames. It was many years before we realized there was mold in between the walls and after many medical diagnosis of my family.
We have since moved from that house, but my eldest will still react when she visits, and had vomiting and diarrhea along w/ her other usual allergy symptoms. So I'm guessing we have dragged some of our microtoxins with us and she is now more sensitive to them. Her allergist in Az had her tested for molds we found present in our home, and she did test (+) for some of them.
These were basic tests w/ basic molds identified. I do not believe they tested for microtoxins.
My quandry is that the new home we live in not only has the mold we apparently dragged with us, but with such high ground saturation in the NE area in the past 3 years, much of our possessions in the downstairs part of our split level ranch is now newly contaminated with mold.
We are considering moving to Az where we know through my eldest's experience, there's a resolution. However, I've yet to find a doctor beyond who my eldest has seen, to link (toxic?) mold to what the rest of us suffer from.
Could you please advise me of any doctors in the mid-Hudson NY State region that specialize in toxicology of mold? I am an RN and have done much research and realize from credible sources such as the US EPA or the Mayo Clinic that my children seem to suffer from toxic reactions of mold and not just allergy reactions, but I've yet to find a doctor to confirm this. Could you please help me?
Thank you so much - N.N. (2/29/12)
Thank you for mold/health question - it helps us realize where we need to work on making our text more clear or more complete. A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem with building leaks, high moisture, and both visible mold and potentially problematic hidden mold reservoirs. That said, here are some things to consider:
Did mold make someone in your home sick?
It is very difficult to prove absolutely that a potentially harmful building mold has actually caused or aggravated a medical complaint. Burge lists criteria that are burdensome enough in cost and trouble that all of the steps she outlines are rarely followed. Instead most professionals agree on the position that if there is a large reservoir of problem mold in a building, professional cleaning, correction of the cause, and in cases such as you describe, consulting with a medical professional are all appropriate.
See our clinical mold references  below for authoritative citations of specific molds that are associated with specific illnesses.
Watch out: individual sensitivty to mold and other indoor contaminants varies widely and, as your own description suggests, individual sensitivty to mold, allergens, other indoor contaminants can be increased by exposure. Also, don't rule out other possible indoor contaminants (such as mis-applied chemicals, pesticides, paints, cleaners).
Do you need to look for harmful mold or other contaminants more carefully at your present environment?
From your description of your case, it is certainly plausible to suspect that
Watch out: Beware of a "mold consultant" who simply stops by to conduct a few "tests" - that alone is an unreliable approach and even if such a superficial test suggests that action is needed, it was not suffiiciently diagnostic - you would not know how to proceed without still another costly inspection.
How to find a mold doctor:
The right place to start in looking for a physican who has the expertise in mold and enviornmental hazards that you seek is with your own primary care doctor, one whom you trust. Ask his/her help in recommending a physician who specializes in environmental medicine and who has expertise in the mold, complaints, and conditions that you can describe.
Aso see MOLD DOCTORS - ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE and when you find a local physican who you find helpful, encourage him/her to submit a listing to us for that directory - there is no cost or fee to anyone for such listings.
Question: brain infection, meningitis; suspected moldy home, is mold on a nasal spray bottle diagnostic?
My husband, a Baptist evangelist, has been debilitated since last June with an illness that we believe is mold-related (our travel trailer, which was our only home, was severely infested, and we had to abandon it). He was hospitalized then for a brain infection, although the pathogen causing the infection was never uncovered.
Traditional doctors in our area refused to consider mold exposure, and he was released, being told he would recover from the meningitis within weeks. He has yet to recover to a point where he can preach (a few attempts have gone poorly), so we have been without income and home for quite a while. We have since been seeing a naturopath,who also cannot pinpoint the illness or the reason Ron is not healing.
Recently Ron believed that he felt the illness migrating to his sinuses. A day later, his nasal spray bottle grew spores. We believe that these came from his body, and we would like testing to determine what exactly they are, and if they could be the root of his ongoing problem. Perhaps if we have a clear-cut cause for his illness it will aid us in its treatment. I would like to request that you consider either pro-bono or reduced fees, but if not, then please advise me on what costs would be and on how to send you the sample on the nasal spray bottle. - A.A.
If someone in your home is seriously ill, in my opinion you and that person should consult a medical doctor, starting with your general practitioner who can refer you to a physician who specializes in envrionmental medicine if that is what's needed. If you are not comfortable with your local MD, ask him/her for a referral to another doctor - as one point in starting your own search for a physician in whom you have confidence.
While I respect your wish to consult with a naturopathic physician, there may be important differences between a naturopath (unregulated in some jurisdictions) and a naturopathic physician - an M.D. who also uses principles of naturopathy in his/her practice. In any event, you may be consulting someone who lacks the specific expertise and experience that you and your husband need.
Regarding conditions in your home, a competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem well beyond what a homeowner may observe.
That said, here are some things to consider:
Therefore, although you could collect a tape sample of what's on the nasal spray bottle, it's not, in my opinion, a reliable direction of investigation.
If you want to collect one to four samples of suspect mold and perhaps some settled dust from a room where your husband spends a lot of time, we'll examine them in our lab - pro bono (no fee) and report to you. But keep in mind that your collected samples, as you're not an expert, are not by any means a thorough investigation. Follow the sampling procedure at MOLD TEST KITS for DIY MOLD TESTS and Include a copy of this email with your samples so I won't be looking for a check.
Take a look also at MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT, HIRE ? for help in deciding if your home conditions justify bringing in a professional.
Question: Salem Oregon Environmental Contamination Concerns, EPA studies, Recommendations
12/12/2014 - Email from K.M. in Salem OR: [our dogs ] ... just jumped off the couchand couldn't get up.
We have been trying to figure out what is going on since the beginning of summer in 2014. It started out we were planting new grass in the backyard. Suddenly it all died and would not grow. Then we noticed that our dogs were all \4/ were getting black "hair" on them and very dry or course. They started showing signs of a neurological disorder and or little one was even paralyzed for four days for unknown reasons.
Just jumped off couch as always, and couldn't get up, test show nothing after day 3 he started to walk but "drunk like" now back to normal. When thee dogs go outside, whatever is on them changes temp and the have a very strong "chemical" smell when they come in,giving us a headache and feeling anxious and short of breath. We are having a lot of medical problems that cannot be pin pointed to anything wrong. Can you help us figure out what the heck is going on. No one we call can help us and we are out of money due to testing and medical bills,but I feel that our lives are very much at risk here as I personally can't take much more of this. Please contact me at 503-856-8462 in Salem Oregon if you have any ideas for help.
Quoting from News & US EPA studies conducted in Salem Oregon,
This was followed-up by
I also found other articles describing environmental worries in the area including complaints about soot and cinders dating to 1919 - "Salem's Pollution Problem (1929)", reporting that Spaulding and Oregon Pulp were the principal sources of the cinders. - retrieved 12/12/2014, original source: http://www.salemhistory.net/brief_history/pollution.htm
We cannot pretend to diagnose environmental complaints nor possibly-environmentally-related health worries by e-text nor phonecall. But some general advice would include:
1. consult with your doctor as well as your veternarian, or if appropriate ask for a referral to an expert in environmental medicine
2. if there is compelling evidence of building or site environmental complaints some research about possible contaminant sources - industries, spills, etc. - can sometimes point the way to just what toxins or contaminants for which to look. Without that intelligence it is in my OPINION a bit too easy and glib to perform some more arbitrary tests and find no indications of anything worth attention.
At MOLD STANDARDS - and also MOLD RELATED ILLNESS SYMPTOMS [this article] we discuss circling disease in sheep - a mold-related illness that I have observed in dogs who live in a moldy environment (depending of course on animal sensitivity, exposure level, and particular mold genera/species present).
Keep me posted
References: Environmental Contamination / Health Studies re: Salem OR
Questions & answers or comments about Actual or Suspected Mold Related Illness.
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