Transcript

Table of Contents

0:00:00 – Introduction

Dr. Gupta

Welcome everyone to this webinar on preventing mold after floods and extreme weather. I’d like to thank everyone for joining us this Sunday morning or Saturday afternoon, depending on where you are. I’m joined today by Nicole Bijlsma. How are you today, Nicole?

Nicole Bijlsma

Well, thanks Sandeep. Fortunately not in the flooded zones.

Dr. Gupta

Yeah, that’s right. You managed to avoid it. However, can you believe how much rain we got over this last week or so around 740 millimeters, which is actually around 75% of the annual average of rainfall, in one week.

I know how severe floods can be because during that flood in 2011, I had my own house become underwater and lost around 10 to $20,000 worth of possessions. They really can be devastating. I know the Northern Rivers area has been hit particularly hard.

Nicole Bijlsma

Is that how your journey started at that time then?

Dr. Gupta

Yes, that’s right. After that 2011 flood, my partner at the time became very unwell and basically was bedbound. I didn’t understand what the reason was, but what I came to understand is that the water that had come into the building had basically affected the substance of that building. As a result of that, even though we couldn’t see mold visibly, it was there inside the walls of the building. And that was basically aerosolizing into the air and she was becoming unwell through a silent killer that I had no idea could cause such severe illness. And you know, here I am, 11 years later, after being on a huge journey of learning all around mold illness.

Nicole Bijlsma

Did it impact you at all? In terms of health effects or…

Dr. Gupta

I suspect so. Yeah. And one of the things about it and I’m sure many of the people listening could relate to this; when you have a lot of stress, sometimes it’s difficult to know what symptoms are being caused just by the stress or the lack of sleep, and what’s actually being caused by mold and bacteria itself. I certainly was not running on all cylinders. My moods were quite low and I’m sure the mold was playing into that somewhere. Also, just the lack of sleep and the stress of having to deal with everything was really compounding and together, and it made the perfect storm. However, one of us had to keep going and that was me at that time.

I understand that in Brisbane there are around 15 to 17,000 homes that have been damaged by floodwaters and have had water inside of those homes. So that’s huge and really, it means that there’s going to be repair and remediation efforts taking place for years afterward. Would you say, Nicole?

Nicole Bijlsma

Oh, absolutely. I mean, many of these homes will need to be bulldozed and start again. I guess the big question I always have when this happens is why do the councils allow people to build above flood zones?

Dr. Gupta

These extreme weather events are exposing deeper issues in the building codes and so on that need to be addressed. And we might touch on that further if we have time. But before we go any further, a little bit more of an introduction of the two of us, I myself basically graduated in Brisbane from the University of Queensland with a medical degree, and actually went on quite a standard journey in my medical career, initially. Basically working in the hospital system, including five years of working in an intensive care unit in Brisbane at St. Andrews Hospital. However, since 2011, I’ve had my own holistic medicine practice on the sunshine coast. And as I mentioned, my own experience with developing CIRS was in 2012, probably a year or so after those floods, I started noticing that there were some ongoing symptoms and had the testing done. And I actually was positive myself. This led me to do certification with Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker from Surviving Mold.

After having read a few thousand-page documents, I realized that we’ve got to make this a bit simpler. That’s where I came up with the idea of creating the Mold Illness Made Simple course, which came out in October 2016. We just revised that last year. If you like to say a few words about yourself and your background, Nicole.

Nicole Bijlsma

Sure. Thank you. I started out as a naturopath acupuncturist and was very frustrated, not being able to help patients with asthma, allergies, and chronic fatiguing-like symptoms. I did further training in a Chinese hospital, had been lecturing university for 15 years in naturopathy and traditional Chinese medicine. Then as a result of my own 10 miscarriages in our home that we moved into, suspecting it may have been the electromagnetic fields from the meter panel on the other side of the wall. Started to investigate the impact of health hazards in the home and their impact on health and was shocked how much data was available that wasn’t taught in my double degree. So I subsequently established the [Australian] Society of Building Biologists and the college in 1999, Australian College of Environmental Studies. I have just submitted my Ph.D. on the impact of environmental exposures to wireless technologies and toxicants, and their impact on human health and wrote the book, Healthy Home, Healthy Family.

Dr. Gupta

I’m very, very appreciative of all the work you’re doing in this area, Nicole.

0:05:57 – Mold-related Illnesses

Dr. Gupta

Maybe before we touch on specifically the mechanisms for mold after flooding, I thought if I just spent a few minutes talking about what are some of the forms of mold-related illness for those who are not aware. These are the main four categories (see slide).

  1. The first one is fungal infection. Really what we mean by that is when you get mold or yeast—mold and yeast are the two main categories of fungi and Candida albicans is the main species of yeast—and there are a number of different mold species. Aspergillus is the most well-known. If that gets into your lungs or sinuses, it causes a condition called aspergillosis. That’s just a fancy name for fungal infection. Fungal infections can also affect the gut and other organs, including the brain.
  2. Secondly, we have mold allergy. This is the condition that most doctors are most familiar with. Generally speaking, the symptoms of this are relatively mild and may include things like sneezing and runny nose, skin rashes, et cetera. However, in some cases, it can be very severe and people can get what’s called anaphylaxis, where they actually start developing difficulty breathing and can actually get low blood pressure and so on.
  3. The third category is a whole-body inflammation process. Now, what I mean by that is you get some people who appear to be particularly susceptible. So let’s say you have a business of 10 or 20 people in which that place of business has been totally flooded. Out of that 20 people, you will tend to get around five people who are not just getting mild symptoms.Pretty much everyone in that business will develop some symptoms I’ve found, like whether they be just a sore throat or runny nose, et cetera. However, maybe five out of that 20 will actually be very sick like my ex-partner was and be either bedbound or very, very unwell with symptoms, such as fatigue and anxiety and depression and brain fog, which is a term we use for when people are really finding just their memory and their concentration and their recall of information is very, very impaired due to inflammation. We call this syndrome CIRS for short, which stands for Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. Mold is not the only cause of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, but it’s one of the most common.
  4. The last one is just called mycotoxicosis where basically people are just affected in random ways by the mycotoxins–the toxins that these mold species create. That can go anywhere from abdominal pain to a general sense of malaise or unwellness.

Really the spectrum of mold-related illness is very broad. The take-home point here is that if you have had a flooded home or business and you start developing new symptoms, you need to suspect mold-related illness as being a cause.

Nicole Bijlsma

We’re seeing at ground level in damp environments—and that’s probably the more correct term “damp environments,” because mold is everywhere, as we both know. The moisture that supports microbial growth—what we’re seeing at the ground level health effects is often people will get recurrent colds and cases of flu that keep coming back and no matter how many courses of antibiotics or treatment they have, they keep coming back and they’re persistent. And, of course, upper and lower respiratory tract infections. As you mentioned, there’s another subset of people who are more likely to get, like your partner, these chronic long-term fatiguing symptoms, which can often be very similar to many autoimmune disorders that we’re seeing in clinical practice.

Dr. Gupta

Exactly. Yeah. Thank you for that addition, Nicole, that’s very true. I’ve definitely witnessed those sorts of illnesses as well, due to mold. Why don’t we take a moment to switch gears now and talk a little bit about the buildings and how they’re affected by floods.

00:10:25 – 1st step: Drying building structures (& contents)

Nicole Bijlsma

Absolutely. Looking at the cause for mold after flooding may seem obvious, but let’s go into the mechanisms and timeframe for microbial growth after severe water ingress. We know the problem with adverse effects associated with mold is due to moisture and moisture penetration. What is so important once you have a flood event or a water event, is you’ve got to actually dry the building.

If only part of your house has been impacted by the mold, what you want to do is to obviously remove water sodden material, anything that’s wet for more than 48 hours is going to turn into a mold remediation type of issue because you’ve got microbial growth. Therefore, you only have a very small window of opportunity to deal with water damage contents.

Drying

Starting with drying, the ideal drying conditions are as follows. There are three areas of psychrometry you need to look at.

  1. Heating, if you can get that room or that part of the house heated up to 27 degrees celsius that is considered to be the ideal temperature to maximize drying. The reason is that hot air holds more moisture. The more warm the air is, the more it’s going to lift that moisture off the surfaces in that room. Anything above 27 degrees doesn’t seem to make any difference and it’ll just be a waste of energy. So heat the air.
  2. The second thing you need to do is dehumidify. So, as that moisture’s been pulled off the surfaces, you need to pull the moisture out of the air because eventually, the air’s going to be high in moisture. The relative humidity and absolute humidity are going to be increased. If you don’t pull the moisture out of that air, it’s going to reprint and cause what we call secondary damage and put moisture back into the room.
    So you must dehumidify and heat at the same time is very, very important. The only way you’re going to do that is three ways.

    1.  You’re either going to use your refrigerated air conditioner or your split system. The way split systems work is they dehumidify. They pull moisture out of the air. So if you have power, then put your air conditioning on, keep them on indefinitely to pull the moisture out of the air as it’s evaporating off the surfaces. So keep them on.
    2. If you’ve got a portable dehumidifier, then please bring them in, they’re very effective. Problems that people come across are when they heat the room to dry but they don’t dehumidify at the same time can cause secondary damage and exacerbate the problem.
    3. The third way is fans. If you’ve got a fan, put them on, it just speeds up the evaporation. So if you can get those three factors into the room to dry it and provide the optimal drying conditions, that’s really important.

The other thing I strongly suggest if you have it is air filtration, especially HEPA (high efficiency, particular air) filter because after 48 hours, you’re going to have microbial growth and we’re talking spores are going to be germinating. They’re going to be using the food, which is everything in the house, and therefore producing more spores, more hyphae. Often these spores and hyphae have high levels of mycotoxins. When you are smelling any damp musty odor, that is a trigger that there is actual microbial growth. So a smell and any visible mold are two big red elephants that there is a problem, and you need to do something immediately about it. So the air filter, if you’ve got one, put it on indefinitely on the higher settings to remove the fungal particulate in the air, just to create a try and reduce the amount of fungal particulate in the air, which is going to be exacerbating those health symptoms that Sandeep spoke about just now.

00:14:14 – Condition Assessment of Building Materials and Contents

Nicole Bijlsma

Once you get visible mold, you’ve got a problem Houston. The simplest way I can talk about mold remediation is there are two things to determine what to do with the contents and the built structure.

The first is to assess the condition and I’ll clarify what I mean by that. The second is to determine the porosity of the material that you’re dealing with. So when we talk about conditions in remediation, we’re talking about three different areas.

Condition Assessment

  1. Condition one means normal fungal ecology; for that house, that climate zone for that soil, ecology. Remember most of the fungi that you are normally exposed to in a healthy home are probably going to be coming from your soil and your flora. Whatever you find outside, you’ll find inside in lesser numbers, that’s considered to be normal fungal ecology. I want to reiterate that when it comes to normal ecology on a surface, you can have up to 500 spores of mold per square inch to be considered normal providing the fungi reflects what’s in the outdoor air, which is normally what’s in the soil, Ascospores, Basidiospores, maybe a bit of Cladosporium that’s about it, normally. That’s normal fungal ecology. It’s normal to have fungi inside up to 500 spores, providing it reflects what’s in the outdoors, in the soil.
  2. Condition two is high levels of settled spores, and that happens when you have a water event. For example, you overflood your bathroom, the water laps into the hole away, and you don’t dry it within 48 hours. Then the spores already sitting on those surfaces are going to utilize that moisture and spew out more fungal particulate, which is going to travel throughout the house. So you could have high levels of settled spores on a surface, and you are not going to be able to see that it’s visible mold. The reason is that by the time you see visible mold, you are looking at about 65 million spores per square inch, per a couple of centimeters, to even register it as mold. By the time you see mold, it’s already a problem because you don’t normally see it unless there are millions and millions of spores per square inch. And that’s a problem. Condition two is very difficult to establish unless you get a building biologist or mold testing technician to test that building. However, the history [of the building], will give us an idea of whether it could be condition three. If you’ve got a major flood of event, like what’s happening now, South East Queensland, for example, Northern New South Wales then you can assume you’ve got… I always assume condition two, unless I have evidence to the contrary. I think that’s the best way to go, especially if being flooded, like what’s happening now. If you assume condition two, then you’ll know what to do to remediate in a moment.
  3. Condition three means there’s actual growth. Actual growth is often you can smell damp musty odors, and second, you can see visible mold and that’s, of course, a big red flag and that’s the worst-case scenario.

0:17:24 – Porous Materials and Contents

Nicole Bijlsma

Now that we’ve established the condition, then you want to match that with the porosity, and that will tell you how to remediate, what to do with your contents, and what to do with the built structure.

If you have a porous surface, such as clothing, textiles, fabrics, bedding, anything with textiles, curtains, for example, if it’s condition two, the rule of thumb is you can wash it in a washing machine and then dry it in sun, or put it in clothes (condensing) dryer.

You don’t need to spend thousands on laundering it at a laundering company, dry cleaning agent, don’t bother doing that. You don’t need to. As long as you can’t see visible mold on your clothes or textile, then the simple rule of thumb is just to wash in hot water and then dry it in a closed condensing dryer or put it outside in the sun if [outside] is dry enough.

If however, it’s condition three with clothes, textiles, et cetera, you’re going to have to discard it. That’s the rule of thumb because what’s happening is the mold has actually infiltrated into that textile and started to break it down. It’s very, very difficult to clean and remediate. If there is a visible mold on any textile, any curtain, any clothing, the rule of thumb is to discard it. When I say that, just put it in a garbage bag and put it in your normal rubbish.

When you have visible mold on surfaces, it’s just considered part of nature. You don’t need to put in a contaminated site through a special council or anything like that. Don’t worry about it. Just put it in a bag and throw it out. If it’s upholstery, carpet, rugs, underlay, mattresses, wicker furnishings. If it’s condition two, you can’t see any visible mold. Again, the rule is you can clean it. Now whoever does the cleaning needs to have a good constitution. They shouldn’t have asthma, they shouldn’t have allergies, they shouldn’t have any autoimmune disorders. They shouldn’t have any chronic fatigue syndrome because the process of you cleaning that surface is going to expose you to high levels of fungal particulate. So that’s really important to know.

Personal protective equipment. (PPE)

Therefore it’s important you wear appropriate personal protective equipment. If you have a full face respirator, please wear it. Obviously, most people aren’t going to have it unless they’re already in the building industry, for example.

So if you have a respirator, any form of mask that is important, wear that. Don’t forget to protect the eyes. Wear protective goggles. If there are any holes around it, seal them off. Because many of the people I saw when I studied mold testing 20 years ago, got very sick with these weird thyroid diseases. And now what we refer to as CIRS, which Sandeep mentioned is because the spores got in through the eyes. If you’re going to do any cleaning, make sure you protect your eyes, put sunglasses on, and block it off. You don’t get any spores and hyphae through the eyes. Of course, protection with a respirator is really important, a P2 or P3 respirator.

Remediation (Condition 2)

So the way to do that, if you’re going to clean, because there’s no visible mold is to vacuum clean it with a vacuum cleaner fitter with a HEPA filter, a High-Efficiency Particular Air filter, most vacuum cleaners now come with HEPA filters, which is fantastic. Vacuum clean it first, follow it through with a damp microfiber cloth. I just put the microfiber cloth in a bucket of warm water with some detergent in it. Detergent is better than bleach and any biocide. Do not use bleach, do not use strong chemicals. Just detergent is sufficient because detergent emulsifies the fat off the surface, which is what the mold is growing on, the organic matter. That’s all you need to do. So the microfiber cloth is dipped into a bucket of warm water with detergent. Then you might wipe it through and then follow again with HEPA vacuuming. That’s what you do with upholstery, carpets, rugs, et cetera if it’s condition 2 no visible mold. If there’s visible mold on upholstery, carpet, rugs, et cetera, discard it, double bag it in a garbage bag, and then throw it out.

It’s got to come out of the house. Paper goods again, visible mold… Sorry if there’s just no visible mold on the paper goods and books, et cetera, then you literally are going to vacuum every page. I mean, who’s got time to that? What you could do is mold remediators normally charged by the box. They put it in a plastic tub and then they air wash it in their own facilities. So you may pay, I think, 50 bucks per box or whatever.  Ask a mold remediator to do this for you.

Dr. Gupta

Yeah, I think for that also, Nicole, have you found gamma radiation can be useful in some cases?

Nicole Bijlsma

Yeah. It can. In the end, anything can be remediated, even expensive art and books that have visible mold, but they might be spending thousands, tens of thousands of dollars, in the end. It’s going to be: how much is that book worth to you? Is it worth more than the cost of buying that book? Because in the end, this is what it’s going to come down to for most people.

Dr. Gupta

Is it reasonable, would you say if people aren’t sure to put them in plastic boxes and seal them until they’re more in a mindful state to actually decide?

Nicole Bijlsma

Yes, you can do that. However, if there’s any moisture on that surface or on the contents, it’s going to support microbial growth. So within 48 hours, it’s going to be a mold bomb. It’s going to start microbial growth. So providing it’s dry and there’s no visible mold, yes, put it in the box. But don’t be surprised if you put it in the box, open up the box three months later, it’s full of visible mold. And if you put your head in there and expose yourself to this fungal particulate. Unfortunately, everyone’s really stressed, but they have to act quickly because you’re going to lose stuff really quickly if you don’t act as soon as you can.

So that’s porous materials.

0:23:05 – Semi-porous and Non-porous Materials and Contents

Nicole Bijlsma

Semi Porous

The second thing is semi-porous materials like unsealed timber, plaster, concrete, oriented strand board, basically particleboard. The rule of thumb is if there’s no visible mold on the particleboard or any of these materials, unsealed wood, then again, you’re doing the HEPA sandwich, which I described.

Vacuuming it first, follow it through with the microfiber cloth that’s damp with dish liquid and water, and then follow it through with vacuuming again. Now, if it’s structural, like structural timber, joist spares in the house, what the remediator would normally do—instead of replacing it, because of the cost involved—they can use sandblasting, either dry ice, or talc, or sand or something like that. So it is salvageable and that’s where the insurance company and remediators will determine what they’re going to do about it.

If it’s condition three and it’s a semi-porous material, most items will not be restorable. I think this is where people can get really sick is they’re so desperate to save their stuff that they end up compromising their health in the process. They’re better off actually discarding that where possible.

Non-porous

The last is non-porous material and this is probably the only good news I can give you is that if it’s glass or metal or laminate or plastic ceramic or sealed timber or electronics, then even condition two and three, you can normally salvage it and do something about it.

So normally it’ll be a HEPA sandwich again, vacuuming then microfiber cloth then vacuuming. Ultrasonic cleaning, gamma radiation, as Sandeep mentioned, could do that, which obviously normally involves an expert to do that.

If it’s condition three, again, the same thing. The only time you’re going to discard is if the metal starts corroding, for example, then you’re going to have to discard that.

Summary

The general rule of thumb, the contents that contain visible mold, condition three need to be discarded, end of story, no point in testing. The reason is that if you get those contents and put that into a healthy home, you are contaminating that new home with fungal particulate in that room and potentially adjacent rooms. I’m sure time and time again, Sandeep, you and I have both seen clients who are continually sick and they go into new homes and they’re still sick because they’ve often brought their contaminated contents, especially mattresses, and their soft furnishings into a clean home. Now they’ve contaminated it, which of course is continuing their adverse health effects.

Dr. Gupta

Don’t worry, I did that myself, the first time around. So it happens to the best of us.

Nicole Bijlsma

We all learn the hard way. This is why I would never buy antique furnishings. Unless I know the full history of that furnishing, you’re going to contaminate. Apart from the lead paint, you’re going to have potential. I just assume now everything’s contaminated until I have evidence otherwise.

0:25:57 – Mold inspection & testing

Nicole Bijlsma

Health Issues of Occupants

Now when to test my house: is there a history of water ingress? Most of you who are already listening have got this issue. If you have health issues. Sandeep mentioned the health issues, the ones we are seeing as building biologists, time again is they either develop asthma allergies or their asthma allergies is exacerbated in the house. So it’s getting worse and worse. This can also include skin-related conditions. We see quite a bit of contact dermatitis and problems like that. Recurrent cold and flu that keep coming back and they’re not responding to treatment, persistent upper and lower respiratory tract infections, hay fever-like symptoms, lacrimation (eyes tearing), noses are congested and watery.

Of course, lower respiratory tract infections like bronchitis, pneumonia. I see a lot of pneumonia where patients are hospitalized because they are in water-damaged buildings. Persistent fatigue, that’s not alleviated by anything. I see quite a few women with MS, which I don’t think is MS in these patients because the history shows you, it occurred in the water-damaged building.

When to test the home

When you suspect the structural integrity of your house is compromised because there’s been long-standing water damage. When you get persistent moisture in wood of more than 37%, it’s going to impact the structural integrity of the wood. You’re going to need a builder to assess that as well. And of course, termites, you’re going to start attracting termites, dust mites, pests, cockroaches to a water-damaged building, which in turn can cause allergic responses in susceptible individuals.

If you need someone to test the building if it hasn’t been so waterlogged that the insurance companies decide to bulldoze it (that is probably the best-case scenario if the insurance company signs off on that, because then you know you’re going to start at a clean home providing it’s not in a flood zone). If you have a home and it’s still there, then testing may be the best option.

Make sure you get an ACES certified building biologist or mold testing technician. The website is for the association here and make sure that person shows you their ID card that they’re actually certified. This is a nationally accredited course. I am biased. I run this course. It’s the only government accredited course in Australia and it’s 150 hours. So they do learn best practices.

0:28:30 – When to get a mold remediator

Nicole Bijlsma

If there are high levels of fungal particulate in the air or surface samples, if there are moisture-laden materials that have not been removed, then that’s going to support microbial growth. If the person’s symptoms are getting worse, or if they’ve developed symptoms in that house.

How do you know if you get a good mold remediator? Make sure the insurance company recommends someone who is IICRC certified. They need to show you this card (see slide). On this card, there should be two things on the card, applied microbial remediation and water damage restoration to show that they’ve been adequately trained to be able to deal with water sodden materials and more importantly, microbial mold remediation. So you can find them on this website, IICRC.org. For more information on my book, Healthy Home, Healthy Family, and also buildingbiology.com.au my website has a lot of useful information and these slides will be available to you.

0:29:19 – First steps after a flood event / Dealing with insurance companies

Dr. Gupta

Thanks, Nicole. A few more questions. I might just throw in just, I know this has been a lot of information for people, but just going back to some basics, if someone’s house or business has been flooded, what would you say are the first steps that they should take in terms of getting an insurance claim started and so on?

Nicole Bijlsma

They need to ring the insurance company, that’s very, very important. Take photos, take lots of photos for the insurance. Ideally, this is where you want to take photos, well before an event like this, so you know what your contents are when you’re claiming on insurance. Let the insurance company know of course, and hopefully that you insist on a properly certified remediator to come and actually deal with the problem. Sorting out all the contents is important. Disposing of water sodden materials is very important, getting it out of the house as fast as possible.

Dr. Gupta

Okay. So, so let’s say someone’s house had water, that’s actually gone into the substance of the house. They’ve started an insurance claim and they can notice a little bit of mold on their favorite lounge suite and so on. That’s going to have to go, right?

Nicole Bijlsma

Yes. The first thing is you want to make sure that the insurance company, whoever they’re brought in, is drying properly. Most of them do, but unfortunately, sometimes especially in a flood crisis like this, they end up getting cleaners who don’t have proper accreditation. So make sure with the drying that they’re not just heating, but they’re dehumidifying at the same time and using air movers and air scrubbers i.e. that they’re doing all those four things I mentioned before. A big one too, that a lot of remediators complain to me—because I get a lot of remediators through my course—is that clients turn off the air scrubbers units because it’s too noisy at night. Please don’t do that. For the sake of your house getting remediated, do not turn off the air scrubbers, do not turn off the dehumidifiers. I know they’re noisy. If you can get to someone else’s house, family, or friends to sleep over the week, while they’re remediating your house, please do that.

But do not turn off their equipment. It will delay the drying and essentially go from a smaller job to a much bigger job. So I think that’s important to tell consumers to let the remediators do their job properly as well. Of course, as you mentioned, if visible mold is starting on porous materials, they need to be discarded.

Dr. Gupta

Okay, great. I think this is some really good information that you’ve given people to understand, to look at their goods with regard to the porosity. So those items that are very porous, like the mattresses, like the fluffy toys, like the sofa sets and so on, if they’ve been affected by mold in terms of being visible, or even if they clearly have been in a building that’s affected by water damage, they’re generally going to be items that are not easy to remediate. Is that correct?

Nicole Bijlsma

That’s exactly right.

Dr. Gupta

While if you’ve got things on the other hand that is metal or glass or hard plastic, then, generally speaking, they can be remediated.

Nicole Bijlsma

That’s right. Make sure you wear appropriate PPE because we don’t want to get sick in the process of you doing this.

0:32:444 – Mold Illness Made Simple online course

Dr. Gupta

Okay, great. I think that’s given people some basic concepts around how they can deal with the situation after floods. So there are a lot of questions. So what I might just do very quickly is give people the information on the course, if they want to basically learn about mold in a lot of depth, this course is definitely very, I believe it is the most in-depth course on mold-related illness that’s out there and for the public that is. It’s around 17 hours of lectures and it covers screening, diagnosis and treatment of mold illness and also inspection remediation and prevention of water-damaged buildings. There’s also a bonus section in there where we talk about the emotional trauma side of going through mold illness, which is very, very significant. And also some other things like dealing with COVID, if you’ve been a mold patient. So we are doing a 25% discount. So if you go to this website Moldillnessmadesimple.com and go to sign up. If you use this coupon PREVENTMOULD, you’ll get a 25% discount for the next few days.

We have also created a mini-course for those people who are really just wanting the prevention information and really what this relates to is how to know which inspectors are going to be the most suitable. What inspection process to expect and what sort of sampling might be done. And then learning a little bit about remediators and what sort of standards there are for remediators and how structural and contents remediation may look. So some of the same information that Nicole has given, but in more detail. And then also talking about finding and keeping a mold-free home once you have remediated yours. So this one is just $99. And again, you can just access that through the same website, moldillnessmadesimple.com. So hope people find that useful. Okay, so if that’s okay, Nicole, we might jump onto questions at this point.

Question & Answer

0:35:05 – Symptoms of mold illness

Dr. Gupta

What are the main symptoms of exposure to mold or mold illness? Do you want to do that one or I do have a slide that may help, let me jump onto that.

Just explaining this in a little bit more depth. Once you have flooding, that’s basically affected the substance of a building. So again, let’s say you’ve had water inside your actual house, affecting the floorboards and affecting the walls to some degree. That means that the substance of that building has become wet. And therefore by definition, especially if that’s gone for 48 hours or more, there’s going to be some microbial growth. So the one analogy I think is quite useful is you think of a wet sponge. You’ve just washed up your dishes and you haven’t dried that out, that wet sponge in the morning, if you come and have a look at it will start getting some bugs and dirt on the substance of it. And that’s the same as modern building materials. Modern building materials act as a sponge. And if they become wet, then they naturally attract mold and bacteria and actually a range of other different bugs and microbes. There’s also something called VOCs, which are, if you like chemical, like compounds, which are released when a building has become wet.

Nicole Bijlsma

Can I just react to that?

When it comes to water-damaged buildings, we really still don’t know what it is about the building that elicits these adverse health effects. But we do know it’s this chemical stew or biotoxins, like you mentioned, fungi and bacteria-specific, especially when it’s long-term standing water because the water activity from most of these bacteria increases with time. And also all their byproducts. So bacteria and the endotoxins, and mycotoxins from the fungi. And of course, as you mentioned, microbial VOCs or fungi farts, which is a damp musty odor.  Actually, it’s interesting in scientific literature, the only two things that are associated with adverse health effects in a damp building even to this day are visible mold and damp musty odor. At the moment, in terms of a correlated to or associated with asthma and allergy. So if you have those two, that’s already a big red flag that there is a problem and a sign of microbial growth.

Dr. Gupta

If you’ve had water into the substance of the building, you know that’s going to be a water-damaged building and if there’s visible mold or musty odor it’s even more clear, you say. Then, what we’re saying is that in certain susceptible individuals, you may develop a multisystem, multisymptom illness. That’s the inflammatory type of illness we’re talking about. Of course, it could be more localized, but here are some of the main symptoms. Severe fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, impaired memory, impaired, concentration, diarrhea, constipation, reflux, skin rashes, joint pains, muscle pains, sinus congestion, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath, and cough. Okay. So the key thing is to suspect it. And if you notice any of those symptoms starting particularly a number of those symptoms, then you need to suspect that you’re starting to develop a mold-related illness.

Nicole Bijlsma

The timing is so important, isn’t it? This is why an environmental exposure history is such an important thing because that’s where the timing and duration of exposure can be quite indicative as to the exacerbation of those symptoms.

0:39:10 – Testing and treatment for mold illness

Dr. Gupta

I think that’s pretty much covered the next one, which is how do we know we are affected by mold-related illness? I will very quickly jump onto testing, but I think the big thing here, after flooding is to suspect it. If you’ve had water in your house and you start developing the symptoms, it’s highly likely you have it. So the thing is to pay attention to your body. And if you are developing new symptoms that were not there before, it’s highly likely, even without testing, you can pretty much diagnose it without testing in the majority of cases. If you decide to work with a holistic practitioner, there are a number of tests you can do, including mycotoxin tests, inflammatory tests, and organic acid tests.

Very briefly just talking about the treatment, obviously, the number one key, which is what Nicole’s talked about a lot is you’ve got to try and get away from water-damaged materials.o if you have those in your home, you’re going to have to try and get them remediated. Nicole talked a lot about the contents, but then there’s actually the substance of the building. If the substance of the building has become wet and hasn’t been dried out in a relatively quick sort of time period, you’re looking at the possibility that it’s going to need to be replaced. And so that may feel overwhelming, but the thing is once you know what needs to be done, you can take the steps necessary. Okay.

Nicole Bijlsma

You mentioned the development of symptoms, it’s likely to be associated with the water damage body. And the fact is when you visit other people, friends, family in dry homes, or you go on holidays for a weekend or where can you start feeling better, that can also be indicative that maybe it was a water-damaged thing.

0:41:05 – Considerations when building a house

Dr. Gupta

When building a new house, what can we put in place to prevent mold? Would you like to talk to that one Nicole?

Nicole Bijlsma

How long have we got? All right. There are lots of things I would say about that:

  • The first is to look at the climate zone you’re building in and specifically the microclimate zone, your vapor barriers are very important. From a volume building–just a house off the plan–and plunking it anywhere in Australia is a recipe for disaster. There are certain things you definitely want to be very strict about. One of those is being mindful about getting a system of water vapor management, like Pro Clima (I don’t get anything from them, by the way by mentioning them). Where it’s based on the climate zone, the material, the vapor material itself, and how it allows water vapor to move through, making sure you use permeable wraps because the big problem with the national construction code, the way it is at the moment is that the buildings are sustainable and energy-efficient.They’re like plastic bags and 40% of new buildings in temperate climates in Melbourne and Tassie are now having condensation and mold by their first winter, because they’re not thinking about how water vapor is moving through the building.
  • It’s simple things like in a bathroom, in a kitchen, in a laundry, having exhaust fans that pull that moisture out, not just from the room into the roof, but actually outside is really, really important. In Melbourne and Tassie where it’s dry–like we can have 30% relative humidity–opening windows regularly when you’re showering, et cetera. In Queensland, however, where it’s very humid, humid air moves from high to low. In Queensland, if you open a window, the reality is it’s going to be coming in. So you do the opposite to what you do in Melbourne. That’s why it’s really important to have homes that breathe. Having building materials that are hygroscopic, that can absorb and release moisture, like untreated timber, that’s treated with oils and natural resins, as opposed to polyurethane. Like your Queenslanders, it’s built beautifully for that environment.
  • Good cross ventilation in the subfloor that you can walkthrough.
  • Timber that can absorb and release moisture, a big hat, big eaves, a house built without a hat is a disaster because you want the hat or the eaves to protect against wind-driven rain.
  • Having good cross-flow ventilation is also important like louver windows, et cetera, is very important as well.
  • The second last one is waterproofing. Most waterproofing is done really, really badly and most people don’t understand that the liquid membranes that most builders are using only have a service life of five to seven years. Can you even imagine doing a bathroom reno every seven years? I couldn’t afford to do a 20 grand reno every seven years. I’m sure most people can’t.If people spent an extra $2,000 or so on a proper system, like using our [inaudible 00:44:12] decks or Gripset again, really good quality top-end waterproofing applications that can only be applied by a proper technician, that’s all they do. I would not get the builder to do the waterproofing of a bathroom or laundry. I would get a company specializing in to do it, spend the two grand for the room to do it properly. And your service life will go from about seven years to 30 years. So this is where you spend the money. And the long-term ramifications will be much better in reducing the risk of condensation and mold.
  • The last thing is things like, how your occupant behavior can also impact the built environment in a new build and any build. So if you’ve got an aquarium, then you want to dehumidifier there.If you’ve got an indoor pool, you need dehumidification. If you’ve got six people living in a two-bedroom apartment, it’s not designed for that. Every person in that building is equivalent to around 10 liters of water vapor per person. It’s sixty litres of water vapor that the apartment has to deal with. And it may not be built for that. So being really mindful. If you’re having two showers each day and there are four people there that’s eight hours a day, that’s a lot of water vapor that the building has to deal with. So you may need to bring in a little portable dehumidify in the bathroom to be able to deal with it. How do you know you need to dehumidify because you’re getting condensation on the walls when you’re showering or when you’re bathing, that shouldn’t happen. If it is happening and you’re in a rental, then just get a dehumidifier to pull that moisture out of the air and that will prevent a mold disaster from happening.

Dr. Gupta

Wow. That’s a lot of info for people, but you just need to know that if you really start researching this area and find a builder to work with, you definitely can build a home that’s going to be much more resilient.

Nicole Bijlsma

This is why building biologists can help because we have a build a healthy home course and we focus a lot on this. If you think about condensation and mold at the design stage, getting advice from a building biologist along with your architect can make a huge difference in preventing condensation and mold-related problems.

0:46:20 – Wet concrete after carpet flooding

Dr. Gupta

Shifting gears back to the main subject, flooded buildings, a question from Liz, the space that she’s living in is on a slab and the carpet has been written off due to water ingress all the way through. The carpet has now been removed and is awaiting a new carpet replacement on insurance. Today she’s noticing that the concrete slab is still quite damp, the space could receive immense runoff and flash flooding from neighboring properties again in the future. Is there some advice for the slab that basically is still damp prior to placing new carbon?

Nicole Bijlsma

That’s a great question. What the insurance company should do is make sure that the building biologist or mold remediator is testing that slab with concrete moisture meters. They are very specific moisture meters you use to confirm that slab is dry, because of course, if you put underlay smooth edge and carpet on that, it’s going to get wet and become a microbial box and potentially cause significant adverse health effects. So you need a concrete moisture meter. They’re about this big, et cetera, and you put them on as a pad because they’re checking surface areas. It must be dry before you lay anything down. The second thing is, of course, if you’re getting moisture penetration to the slabs, slabs take ages dry. There are 210 liters of moisture that goes into per cubic meter of the slab and 90 liters of that has to evaporate before the concrete even cures.

So it can take months to dry. Unfortunately, there are specialists in drying technicians but there’s only about three in Australia that can dry slab out. So that’s definitely worth looking into, and again, looking at drainage immediately around that part of the house to make sure water doesn’t get into the slab in the first place is important.

0:47:35 – Color of mold

Dr. Gupta

One sort of simple question. I’ve got white mold forming in the garage and my neighbors have black mold forming. Is there a difference and is one more dangerous?

Nicole Bijlsma

The color is generally reflective of the substrates. So Aspergillus and Penicillium will change color depending on the substrate. What I mean by the substrate is just whatever the surface it’s growing on. The more I’m in this industry, the less I’d ever say, that mold is Stachybotrys, that’s Chaetomium, that’s Cladosporiuml. From the color alone, you cannot determine what type of mold it is. We do know that the same mold can be of different colors on different substrates. When it’s white, it’s not likely to be mold on concrete. It’s likely to be a sign of fluorescence of salt. I don’t often see white mold, although it does exist. On concrete, if I see that white salt like surface, it’s normally salt where the moisture has allowed these salts to migrate to the surface and cause what we refer to as a fluorescence, which is a sign that there’s excessive moisture on there, it needs to be remediated, not necessarily a sign that it’s actually mold.

0:49:35 – Using an air conditioner to dehumidify or heat

Dr. Gupta

Thank you. So a couple of questions about drying the building, just using a split system air conditioner, should we put the split system onto heat at around 27 degrees, our dehumidification mode doesn’t allow for temperature setting and in fact, makes the room feel cold. And can we use cold instead of heat, many split systems have dehumidified settings, which is neither hot nor cold. I guess it’s just the same question rephrased or should I put heat on the air con rather than the dry setting plus a few use portable dehumidifier and fans?

Nicole Bijlsma

I would definitely use the air conditioner as a dehumidifier, not a heater, especially if you’re in a flood-prone zone because now you need dehumidification. If you can just get a fan heater, they’re cheaper, they’re easy to find. I would use, get a fan heater and just try and increase the temperature. Even your phone, get an app to do temperature and humidity. That’s really important. So with the temperature, you can try and get it as close to 27 degrees.

Use the air conditioner as a dehumidifier rather than as a heater because the problem is when you split systems is up hot air rises. So it comes out of the air conditioner, but it’s going up. So it’s not heating the surfaces down and that’s a problem. Therefore, it’s best used as a dehumidifier. So keep the air conditioner on as a dehumidifier and bringing portable heaters to increase the temperature of the room because hot air holds more moisture.

If you have cool air in that room, you’re going to do the opposite. Moisture’s going to come out of the air and condense onto surfaces. You’re going to exacerbate the problem. So heat up the air in the room with heaters, conventional heaters, whatever it is you’ve got in the house, and use the air conditioner as a dehumidifier. The heaters will heat the air up and pull the moisture off into the air and the air conditioner will pull it out of the air. That’s going to be the ideal drying condition.

0:51:40 – Cleaning air conditioners

Dr. Gupta

One more question on air conditioners. I noticed a very small amount of mold just starting on the fins of my split system air conditioning, they’re professionally cleaned by Sanitair twice a year or when necessary. Is there anything else that needs to be done to maintain these air conditioners?

Nicole Bijlsma

Yes. So getting it cleaned is great. Sanitair is good, providing the way to clean a split system is to make sure they do it properly and the way, I’m not a HVAC technician, by the way, however, to do it properly what they’ll do is the technician should come and double bag the split system and then high pressure hose. Most of the fungal particulate in a contaminated split system will just be at the back of the barrel fan. When you open up split system, you’ll see the silver blades at the front. That’s the condensing coil. A person who’s not doing the job properly will just spray it with chemicals and make it look really shiny and silver, that’s not cleaning the split system. The way to clean it is to bag it and then high-pressure hose it, this is what the Sanitair guys, or any HVAC technician, should be doing. Then that should show you all the dirty water that’s coming out of it, especially focusing on the barrel fan at the back of the split system, which is behind the condensing coil.

What I would do is get a torch, have a look. If you’ve got visible mold on the blades. Now the reality is if there’s visible mold on a split system and on the plastic blades, that’s a problem, that shows you it’s dirty because mold doesn’t grow on plastic. It only grows on plastic if there’s enough dirt sitting on it. It’s actually sitting and feeding off the dirt on the blades, which means it’s dirty. So any mottling, any dust, any dirt you can see on the condensing coils or behind. I look where the fans are and where the blades are. Have a look where the torch just behind the condensing coil, that’s where most of the fungal particularities, that’s where the contamination happens. If there’s any dirt on there at all, you must get someone to clean it. As I said, the way they’re going to clean it is to bag it and high pressure hose it and get all that dirty fungal particulate off. If they don’t do that, they’re not doing their job properly.

0:54:00 – Determining which mold-related illness you have

Dr. Gupta

Okay, great. Thank you. So switching gears again, just regarding the different types of mold illness, there’s a question on how do we know which type of mold illness we’re affected by? I’ll just quickly go back to my slide if that’s okay. When we talk about fungal infection, generally speaking, we’re talking about localized symptoms. So the classic thing is if you’ve got fungal rhinosinusitis, you’re going to have facial pain, blocked sinuses, and perhaps headaches. Sometimes you can get a fever. You can also get fatigue with more generalized symptoms, but you wouldn’t expect that you’re going to start getting a range of other things like joint and muscle pains and anxiety, and so on. Mold allergy is just basically any symptoms that are generally attributed to allergy. So skin rashes, runny nose, it can be difficulty breathing. Those are going to be three of the really common signs, but a hay fever-type syndrome would be quite common.

That tends to be only a fairly mild illness unless it goes all the way to anaphylaxis. There is another kind of similar illness called Mast Cell Activation, which shares some of the same features of allergy, but is a whole-body process.

For the sake of this presentation, probably just considering that to be a type of whole-body inflammatory response would make sense. Now, when you’re talking about a whole-body inflammatory response, you’re talking about any organ and virtually any symptom. As I mentioned before here, these are some of the more common ones, but this isn’t an exhaustive list. You can get virtually anything. You can start getting neurological symptoms where parts of your body are becoming weak. You can get major headaches, you could get seizures in some cases if it’s very severe. So it basically can involve virtually any symptom.

It’s generally diagnosed by the fact that it includes at least three or more body systems. So if you’ve just got sinus congestion, then that’s not a whole-body inflammatory process. If you’ve just got the gut symptoms, let’s say you’ve got some diarrhea and abdominal pain. Well, again, that’s more likely to be a fungal infection again in the gut. However, if you’ve got both of those, you’ve got the sinus symptoms, you’ve got the gut symptoms and you’ve got anxiety and you’ve got fatigue and you’ve got impaired memory and you’ve got impaired concentration. Then it’s starting to look more like you’ve got a whole-body process going on. So it is important to differentiate because the treatment is different. All of them are going to involve getting away from the source of mold. That’s the most important thing for all of them.

Treatment

Fungal infection: you’re going to need herbs or antifungal medications. Most importantly, with regard to the whole-body inflammatory response, you’re going to need binders and anti-inflammatory treatments. Mycotoxicosis, again, can be almost any symptom. It’s where the mycotoxins themselves are causing direct irritation. I more see that they involve the gut. Also, if you’re talking about asthma, which is more like a localized, inflammatory response, you expect to get a dry cough and shortness of breath, and a wheeze. So basically there are a lot of different patterns there. And the key is to recognize that you are starting to become unwell and especially if you have a negative test, it’s not COVID, it’s the mold, mold’s actually a bigger problem at the moment.

Nicole Bijlsma

We’re finding many people who end up with CIRS and mold-related illnesses involving the whole-body inflammatory response become more chemically sensitive. You may find over time that you can’t cope with the perfume you’ve been wearing for 20 years, that you can’t deal with ink on newspapers and perfumes you are reacting to and getting headaches too, and it’s also people even start reacting to, or become what we call electrically sensitive. Nearly all of my clients I see with electromagnetic sensitivity started with mold illness or started in the damp environment. And I really don’t think we can separate chemical sensitivity, electromagnetic sensitivity from mold sensitivity, I think CIRS is really encompassing all of those environmental sensitivities.

Dr. Gupta

Yeah, absolutely. So there’s definitely a range. Then when it goes back to the question of finding a safe home, you then have to keep in mind the chemical piece and the EMF piece. We’re looking at the possibility of working out a temporary housing solution and working with Dr. Tim Law to work out a temporary housing solution for people with mold sensitivity and EMF and multiple chemical sensitivity. So watch this space, but it definitely takes a lot of precision with regard to the designing of spaces.

0:59:10 – Claiming under insurance: storm damage instead of flood

Dr. Gupta

Jumping into the area of insurance, is it correct that if someone doesn’t have flood insurance, in some cases, they may be able to claim under storm damage?

Nicole Bijlsma

Oh, I couldn’t answer that. I haven’t looked, it depends on the policy. This is where you really got to read the policy to see what it’s going to cover. I think most people are always shocked that mold is very rarely covered because it’s such an expensive thing. So you really need to check with your policy as to whether it’s covered, it’s normally a recent water event, but you need to read your policy to see if it is covered.

Dr. Gupt

My understanding is that flooding generally is defined as water that’s coming in at the ground level. So for instance, if you’ve got broken roof tiles and so on and you’re getting water coming in from above then that may well go in under storm damage, even if you are not covered for flooding. And so it’s certainly worth trying, claiming under storm damage or under liquid intrusion or whatever other terminology you might like to use because really insurance should be covering this.

1:00:10 – Mold in the walls

Dr. Gupta

Now jumping over to contaminated building materials in the wall. Can you test water damage inside the wall cavity? And secondly, if you think you have invisible mold inside the wall cavities, can you treat it without having to move out of a residence?

Nicole Bijlsma

Yes. You can test. You need to be careful how you test a wall cavity. The way a building biologist would do, they would use a wall knob, so to speak, pull it in and then put a tube in with a bio pump and then do a short sample because the amount of dust, depending on the age of that home, you could have insulation that’s already broken down. For example, if it’s an exterior wall and creates a lot of dust, how you take that sample’s important because if there’s too much dust on the slide, the lab cannot analyze that and they’ll charge you and you won’t get any result. This is where a technician or a building biologist is going to be very important in doing that testing. The thing I want to say about when you find mold hidden, what I’ve found over the years is that I could have mold levels in some homes that are in 50,000 in the wall cavity and in that room, it might be a thousand because the wall acts as a filter.

As long as it’s completely sealed, et cetera, is it causing adverse health effects at that point? These are the sort of questions you’ve got to ask. Once you open a wall, you are going to potentially allow whatever’s in that wall, is this mold it’s going to cause secondary damage and contaminate that room and potentially adjacent rooms or even the rest of the house. I can’t tell you how many clients I see who have lived in their house for years and years and years, then did their bathroom reno because they had termite damage. Termite is already a big red flag is where the termites are, the moisture is. The builder came off, pulled off the chip rock, pulled off the tiles, and found lots of hidden mold in the walls.

They then dragged that material through the house, contaminated the whole house with fungal particulate unknowingly. Then the client got really sick and so did the kids. This is really common. That’s why it’s really important before you do bathroom renos and other things like that, if you know, they’ve been water ingress, if you suspect it’s hidden in the walls, a building biologist will the air in that room. If it’s high and we can’t see any visible mold, we know it’s hidden. And then the remediator will come in and set up containment. We’ll seal off that area. We’ll bring in air scrubbers and other things, using negative air, in order to pressurize that environment. So when they start cleaning it and pulling things off, they’re not going to contaminate adjacent rooms. So it’s so important it’s done correctly. It’s important that it’s tested properly because you could end up causing huge problems if you start pulling off tiles, and there’s hidden mold in that wall.

Dr. Gupta

Yes. Agree. That’s very, very important. So people, if you’re looking at having contaminated building materials in your home, that’s definitely where professional help is warranted. Because if you go in there yourself, you’re going to get [exposed to] massive amounts of spores and so on.

1:03:30 – Other than remediating the home what can be done if suffering from mold illness

Dr. Gupta

Now a question of other than fixing our home, what other things can be done to improve the health, if we’re dealing with various types of mold-related illness?

I’m just going to spend a couple of minutes on this one. I’ve already briefly shown this slide, but as we’ve already mentioned, the house is the key. If you’ve had major water in your building and you really have to deal with it properly. So as we say, dealing with contents, dealing with contaminated building materials, dealing with humidity are all very key. Make sure you get an insurance claim started early.

If you’ve got an insurance broker talking to them about the wording is also very important as we mentioned, in which way you should actually lodge the claim, because if you don’t get it right to start off with, you may have a claim denied while if you do get it right, you may have one, you may be able to claim in a way that you didn’t realize. Now, another thing that’s also important by the way, is that if you have a particular area of the house that’s been damaged, you may be able to partition that off, if you’re not able to deal with it straight away by taping it up or using plastic. Now that would be, that’s something that can be done in certain instances. So for instance, it’s not sufficient to just close the door in a room because you’re still getting airflow. But if you totally tape it up, you may be able to prevent airflow until that room is able to be dealt with.

Nicole Bijlsma

And in the other parts, like if it’s a bathroom, you want to tape off the exhaust fan, you want to put plastic over the exhaust fan. If you’ve got duct floor beds, you need to tape them up, that’s important. But as you said, taping in the worst-case scenario, if you’re in a rental and you’ve got two bathrooms in the house and one’s contaminated, as Sandeep mentioned, taping up around the doors, et cetera, is a good idea, a temporary fix. Of course, probably one of the best bandaid approaches for health is an air purifier. Having the air purifier follow you around the house when you’re working, when you’re in your bedroom, just to reduce the fungal particulate that you’re exposed to in the air is a very useful and very effective way to reduce your fungal particulate. If you can’t get out of the house, if it’s going through the landlord, all that stuff, that can be a good bandaid approach.

Dr. Gupta

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. The Winix 5 Pro is one unit that’s quite inexpensive and has a combination of technologies HEPA and a PCO-like filter as well.

Binders

Then jumping onto actual treatments for the body: binder supplements or medications are supplements that basically sit in the gut and bind onto mycotoxins and other toxic compounds. The most well known are cholestyramine, and what’s known as Welchol in America, which is colesevelam hydrochloride, but also natural substances, such as charcoal, bentonite clay, zeolite clay, chitosan, et cetera. All of these have adsorptive qualities. A normal dose might be one teaspoon daily if you’re dealing with a powder or six capsules daily if you are using capsules. You may have to start low and test your tolerability because sometimes you can start getting major detoxification of mold toxins [and an inflammatory reaction].

Antifungals / Diet / Supportive Suppplements

Then adding in things like antifungal supplements or herbs or antifungal medications, if you do actually have a fungal infection, working with a holistic practitioner who can use things like colloidal, silver, and or EDTA nasals, and helping you with a low carbohydrate diet, a low sugar diet, probiotics, and also supplements that assist with detoxification, such as the calcium d-glucarate, glutathione, et cetera, and then also using medications and supplements to reduce inflammation, which includes things like fish oil, curcumin, anti-inflammatory, diet, resveratrol, and then there’s something called limbic or vagus support, especially for people who have had a lot of trauma through the development of mold illness, especially if you’ve gone through flooding, that can be invaluable.

And then using things like VIP or synapsins nasal sprays. Vitamin D is very important. Lithium, lions mane, there is really a whole host of tools. I think even if you got started on some of the basics, such as the binders, that’s a really good start while you’re then looking for a practitioner to work with.

Nicole Bijlsma

Can I just add just make sure it’s a clean, pharmaceutical grade, source.

1:08:20 – Using Glen 20 or clove oil on mold

Dr. Gupta

True. That’s a good one. Any comments on the efficacy of clove oil vinegar and Glen 20 for visible mold on clothes in a wardrobe and furniture?

Nicole Bijlsma

Yep. Glen 20, fragrances are often loaded with hormone-disrupting chemicals. They’re one of the first things apart from pesticides that I recommend no one, nor any of my graduates use it. So you definitely not. A healthy home is one that has great biodiversity bacteria. I think when we start using all these antibacterials in the house, we’re creating a very, very sick home based on the microflora hypothesis. So we know children that have grown up in Western-style countries, where they’ve very sanitized homes and bleach and all that stuff that they have high rates of atopic constitutions i.e. asthma and allergies, you need diverse bacteria in the household dust. We know we need diverse bacteria in our microbiome, especially in the gut, the more diversity, the healthier you are. It’s the same with the house. If children are crawling through dust houses and floors where there’s not a lot of bacteria diversity, they have higher rates of asthma and allergies.

Anything that kills off bacteria in sprays, et cetera, is a massive red flag for me. That’s the opposite of what actually a healthy home is. So very, very bad. Definitely do not do that. As for clove, clove oil is incredibly toxic. The therapeutic dose is close to the toxic dose. That’s why it’s used to numb nerves in dentistry because it kills off the nerve ending temporarily. There is no place for cloves apart from maybe a toothache. Cloves of course, apart from their standing on gyprock, it’s not practical. The reality is the focus of mold remediation should not be killing the mold. It should be reducing the fungal particulate on the surface. That’s the key. And of course, getting rid of the moisture that’s causing the dampness in the first place. So I don’t think clove should be used for remediation at all because 75% of mold spores are already dead.

It’s really, the focus has to be, to get to the cause of the mold, which is moisture. It’s not the mold itself. People have to get out of this mindset that mold is the problem. No, it’s not, remember up to 500 spores per square inch, is normal in a healthy home. It’s from the Arctic to Antarctica. It’s everywhere. It’s meant to be there. It’s nature’s greatest decomposer.

1:11:05 – Lower level flooded, is upstairs okay?

Dr. Gupta

Last question here. We’ve had a lot of questions and it’s been very interesting. Our lower level has flooded and we’ve had to move upstairs in our home to live, beds and clothing included. Will we be experiencing mold coming upstairs from downstairs?

Nicole Bijlsma

Absolutely. Yes. You must try and seal that off because you’re going to have high levels of spores coming into the upper floor and I would be having air filters on in every room temporarily and then try and out of that house as fast as possible because you’ve got microbial growth coming through. Definitely. So I’d have dehumidifiers upstairs to pull the moisture out because as the relative humidity is above 70%, you’re going to have microbial growth. All that water’s going to be evaporating straight up and it’s going to cause secondary damage upstairs and it’s going to cause microbial growth upstairs. So I’d say, try and get out as fast as possible, but in the interim have a dehumidifier and air filters on upstairs.

Dr. Gupta

Great. Okay. Well, I hope everyone’s found this webinar on preventing mold after floods to be useful and enriching. We will have a transcript come out and also a replay and hopefully an info sheet for those who, for instance, are struggling to access the internet. Big thank you to Nicole Bijlsma for joining us today and also Caleb Rudd for technical support. Thanks, everyone. And have a great rest of the day.