Imagine struggling with an unexplained illness that robs you of normal life. You go from traditional doctor to traditional doctor and still no answers other than it must be your imagination. This isn’t science fiction. It is real people, real life and may even be you or your loved one.
For too long, people have unknowingly eaten, inhaled, drank and absorbed toxins that are often hidden in everyday products and the vary air and water we need to live.
Big business and government have told us not to worry, they will keep us safe. We are told that we can trust the food, water and air. They tell us the multitude of energy waves they beam through our bodies won’t hurt us. They did the same with asbestos, lead paint, radon and the drinking water in Flint Michigan.
There is new hope and healing for the millions of people affected with environmentally created health problems. CIRS, MCS, chemical toxicity, autoimmune disease and sensitivity to electro-magnetic forces are some of the illnesses. For many individuals, the health problems are the result of compromised health due to chemotherapy, organ transplants, and other illnesses that attack the bodies’ ability to heal.
Modern chemistry has brought us tens of thousands of untested new chemicals mixed in combinations to create hundreds of thousands of new exposures. If the product doesn’t have a toxin as a key ingredient, manufacturers often add toxic chemicals to create a pleasant odor.
What we have been doing is not enough to protect our health and the health of our children It is not OK to keep dosing environmentally ill individuals and ignore the source and causes. It is unacceptable to dismiss environmental illness as imagined or unimportant.
People are the sum of their genetics, health history and exposures. We accept that some children can find a peanut deadly, but have a difficult time understanding that other exposures can be deadly.
It is time for qualified Functional Professionals to work together to identify the causes of environmental health, find ways to avoid the toxins and help the people affected by environmental hazards to heal.
Functional Health Professionals
It is not enough to give people pills to treat the symptoms of environmental illness instead of the illness itself. Functional Health Professionals identify the cause and source of illness. They prescribe testing that can confirm what is the cause of illness. The source of illness can range from the food we eat to the air we breathe.
When food is the source of illness, they prescribe diets to improve health. When environmental factors are the issue, they refer patients to Functional Environmental Professionals to test and evaluate the source of toxins. Mold is the most common source of environmental illness.
The Functional Health Professional’s next steps are to provide advice to avoid the risk and medical care detoxifying and healing patients.
Functional Environmental Professionals
Functional Environmental Professionals (FEPs) explore the wide range of sources of environmental health risks. Mold is the most common problem. Toxic exposures can be found in drinking water, building materials, construction defects, HVAC systems, or from the activities of every-day living. Health risks can be from daily or occupational activities, frequented buildings or even outdoor sources. Testing is done to confirm the source of an exposure and then it is important for the FEP to identify and report on the changes needed to remediate the risk and avoid its return. Educating the client in avoiding future exposures is important to recovery. All buildings and their exposures are a science experiment. We all know that if we do not change the conditions of the experiment, the results will be the same. Identifying the changes that are required to keep a building healthy is a critical part of the assessment that requires a qualified Functional Environmental Professional.
It is not enough to spray a chemical in a building and declare that everything is better. Functional Remediation Professionals (FRPs) understand that there is not a single magic spray or pixie dust that remediates every building. When you clean your kitchen counter, you wipe the food and debris that is the food of bacterial and viruses off the counter. Just picture if you sprayed Lysol on the kitchen counter without cleaning up the food debris for the next couple of weeks. Yep, Lysol has a 99.8% kill germ claim, but that is not enough to spray a house without cleaning up the bad stuff where the contaminants are living. It is critical to test a patient’s reaction to treatment products before they are applied. This is especially true in one that is occupied by chemically sensitive or environmentally ill individuals. Functional Remediators follow the protocols of Functional Environmental Professionals that include containment, negative air and air scrubbing. Just as the dandelion will spread its white seeds when blown on, contaminants can be spread through a building during remediation. Improper remediation can make an unhealthy building even more toxic.
The Healthy Infusion Program Brings Functional Professionals Together
It is not enough to treat symptoms of illness. We should have healing.
It is not enough to test for an environmental risk. We should strive to correct the cause or reduce the exposure and its return.
It is not enough to spray a “one size fits all” chemical and declare a building free of toxins. We must treat with sensitivity to the occupants and using methods to contain exposures during treatment. We must change the conditions that cause a toxic environment.
Functional Professionals are a team that is focused on identifying the underlying conditions and improving the causes and conditions that can be improved.
Simply put, the Healthy Infusion Program is designed to bring the functional professionals together to address the source of environmental hazards and the path toward good health.
Where do we go From Here?
We know that our modern world has created many environmental risks that can affect each person differently. We need to understand the complexities of the life today and not dismiss the concerns of those that are affected by elements of our changing, complex and often toxic environment. We need to work together to provide the best outcomes for environmentally ill individuals.
What would be worse than finding a mold infestation or mold problem? That’s easy. Finding both!
The door in the picture is the entry door of a building having a mold
assessment. SURPRISE! Termites inside the metal door. Yes, the door has
metal on the outside, but these doors have wood between the metal faces
to allow for installation of hinges and locks using carpenter tools for
Termites and other wood destroying insects occupy the same place in
the eco-system or “universal plan” as does mold. They recycle dead wood
and turn it into top soil so that new plants and trees can grow.
It’s not that one causes the other. Think of it as they have the same
needs to survive and thrive. As an example, we find both desert plants
and animals in the same place.
In a damp location with wood fiber, we can find both mold and
termites. Now I am not trying to be “Little Miss Mary Sunshine”
here……..there is a point to this observation.
When you have had a termite or other wood destroying insect
infestation that requires damp wood, you should have the building also
checked for mold. That advice goes the other way too. If you have mold,
be on the look-out for wood destroying insects. The earlier you find
either a mold or wood destroying insect infestation the less damage and
expense will occur.
By the way, the door in the picture is hanging and swinging on only
the top hinge. When I opened the door, the termites were scurrying to
get out of the exposed air and light.
This was an Interesting observation of nature at work and as a
science experiment, This was not as delightful as a science experiment
for the building owner.
There are several testing methods used for diagnosing mold issues. As in all things in the world, there are advantages and disadvantage to each type of testing. That means that each type of testing is useful in its own way….and often not appropriate for other applications.
ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) is one test that is not often used or understood. ERMI is the product of the modern miracle of DNA technology. The EPA owns the patent on the process and limits its use to approved labs. The EPA also states that their approval of the technology is only “experimental.”
However, there are many studies and anecdotal evidence of the benefit of the test results for patients with CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Respiratory Disease) There are also some very interesting, but limited studies that high ERMI scores correlate with high lactate in the brain. High lactate correlates with cognitive problems. It may be that identifying high ERMI score conditions may be useful in treating some diseases. These are still very preliminary studies and require more research.
Let’s do the Pros and Cons before we talk about how this technology works.
ERMI can give very targeted specific specialization for target molds that can have an influence on health
ERMI can give evidence of the historic (new or old mold contaminations) mold conditions in a building.
Historic evidence of long term exposure vs short term exposure can be useful for medical practitioners
ERMI does not quantify mold, it only identifies the 36 species of targeted molds
ERMI Originally specified old carpet that was not regularly cleaned to provide the source of dust to give that historic record. Now any dust from the home is acceptable. The age of dust is hard to know.
ERMI is still an evolving science in terms of correlation of ERMI results and health implications
ERMI does not help to isolate the source of the mold contamination to aid in any required remediation
Overview of the process
A sample of dust is taken using a specialized dirt trap. The dirt/dust/debris is to be collected by using a vacuum cleaner hooked up to a specialized air filter. An alternative system is a smaller cassette and a standard air sampling pump. The sample is supposed to be drawn from a roughly 2 square yard carpet area in either a living room or bedroom.
The sample is sent to an EPA licensed lab. The lab takes the dust from the dirt trap and puts it through a filter to isolate the small, mold size particles. (Think spaghetti in a strainer, only microscopic in size)
Those particles are put into a tube with a known amount of Geotrichum candidum
and the DNA is beat out of the mold spores with microscopic beads called “bead pellets.” That mush is then filtered and the sifted genetic stuff is mixed with a buffer solution. It is then dumped into a solution called “Master Mix” and put through a series of temperature controlled reactions.
If you are wondering the technical name for the magic chemistry we are doing, it is MSQPCR
Mold Specific Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction
Now remember that known quantity of Geotrichum candidum that was in the mix? That is the reference basis that can be used to compare the assays (checking process) for each of the target molds (molds that they are looking for). The checking process is done with a “Sequence Detector” (which is identifying DNA sequences)
Once the 36 target molds are identified, the 26 in the WDB (Water Damage Building) group are measured and are compared to the common or outdoor group of 10 molds.
The reason for the look at the ratio of the two is that the exact quantity of each mold is not determined by this test. That is the result of several factors. Our size of sample could be small or big, based upon the amount of dirt we swept up. We can’t figure out by counting pieces of DNA if there is a little or a lot of mold in the building. You get the point. We do not know how much mold is in the building from an ERMI test.
What we do know is that if most of the mold DNA is the outdoor molds, then there is less mold growing in the house. If there is a whole bunch more of the indoor mold than the exterior, oops, there is a lot more mold growing IN the house than coming in from the OUTSIDE.
Scoring is done on a scale of -10 to 20. The higher the number, the more mold that is from growing inside the house in the tested building area. That ERMI Score number is a “sort of number,” not an exact measure. It is based on a limited number of tests from a limited geographic area. Hence reference to it as a “Relative Score.”
Let's imagine that you are the child with a deadly reaction to peanuts, but don’t realize it. One solution is to provide you with an EpiPen to inject you every time your turn blue and can’t breathe. Another solution is to figure out that it is the peanuts that almost kill you and then stop eating them. It’s pretty easy to understand that avoiding the peanuts is a better plan. The challenge we face is that we first need to know that you're allergic to the peanuts. This is the start of our pathway to environmental health.
The fundamental problem in exploring causes of environmental illnesses is that those reactions occur in time delay. Our minds are trained to understand that it hurts if we hit our thumb with a hammer, and we should stop doing it. Environmental exposures are cumulative and in” time delay” often complicated in combinations of exposures and locations.
The first step to wellness is to identify the cause of the illness. Functional medicine practitioners have the approach of looking for the cause of the environmental reaction. Modern medicine has developed blood, and urine tests that can identify the source of the illness. Underlying diseases such as Lyme disease, childhood diseases and occupational exposures also need explored as they can combine with environmental triggers to intensify an illness or delay recovery.
The next step is identifying the exposure that is making the client ill. Common environmental exposures include mold, household chemicals, pesticides, chemicals used in hobbies, illegal drugs, HVAC defects, sewer backups, tainted water, air pollutants, off gassing construction materials and allergens. Many of these exposures can only be identified through testing. Identifying possible sources and the proper testing methods is where the environmental inspector comes in handy.
This investigative process involves developing a list of potential exposures and then looking at how these exposures match with testing by the Functional Medical practitioner.
Once they are identified, the sources of the illness need to be avoided. Removing the sources of environmental triggers is another difficult part of the puzzle. The environmental consultant should, wherever possible, provide a plan or options to avoid the exposure that is making people ill.
Modern medical science is developed treatments to remove toxins from the environmentally ill patient. The challenge is that each of us is a unique individual. We are complex organic machines. Treatments that work with some of us will not work with others. Removing toxins from the miraculous and complex human body usually takes time and sometimes multiple approaches. The good news is that if we avoid toxic environmental exposures, the body tries to help heal itself.
Modern man has developed an endless stream of new products and chemicals in the name of making life better, easier or more convenient. It doesn't always work that way. There are defects in manufacture and in some instances reckless behaviors that expose innocent people to toxic health risks. When this happens, it is devastating to the lives that are touched. Sadly, the people who are environmentally ill are often accused of psychological problems or not helped in a way that can restore their health, their health and the lives of their friends and family. For a full article as published Click here for a PDF copy of the full article
If you are like many of us, the addition of another term in the medical
field can just be babble and one more thing in a confusing, but major part of
our lives. Over 20% of the US economy is dedicated to health care.
The place to start the discussion is to answer the question: Why does
Functional Medicine matter? The answer lies with the fact that chronic disease
(diseases that linger in our lives) has become more and more prevalent.
Auto-immune disease, Asthma, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, COPD are some
examples of chronic disease.
The traditional treatment of patients is geared for treating problems such
as infections, heart attacks, broken bones, and other afflictions that can be
corrected with a heroic swoop down and medical intervention (often a medical
miracle) to correct the specific problem.
Functional Medicine Practitioners address the whole person using systems to
work in partnership with the patient for the best long term health outcome.
If you are like me, your first reaction to that sentence would be of course,
isn’t that what everybody does? That is because it makes sense when we hear
that said. The traditional model is disease centered. In other words, if you
get sick, the isolated set of symptoms are treated as a single point of
The Functional Medicine Practitioners spend time with patients, consider
their histories and look at possible interactions and the influence of genetic,
lifestyle and environmental factors that affect the long-term health of the
patient. This is a much more personalized or holistic approach to medicine and
When the general health of a person is managed, the chronic conditions are
better managed and acute episodes are reduced and quality of life is improved.
Additionally, proactive and predictive management of health improves overall
quality of life. It gives patients the personal power to improve their own
We are fans of Functional Medicine for good reason. This type of practice
usually improves the health and well-being of patients. We have seen this
happen as we work on the environmental with many of these practitioners.
When the Functional Medicine Practitioner is concerned about the
environmental conditions affecting a patient’s health, we test and report the
finding to the practitioner. We are experienced at providing the proper testing
and results for the evaluation of the medical provider.
The role we play in the Functional Medicine puzzle is identifying and
solving the environmental issues that affect both long term and short term
Though not part of the approved school curriculum, mold that is found in the school is really a science experiment. Anywhere on earth that there is food and water, something will grow. It can be the deepest ocean or highest mountain. It can be the north pole or south pole or anywhere in between. That scientific fact is that books, paper, wood floors, drywall, dust, or any other material or any other substrate that can grow mold will grow mold within 48 hours of leaks or high moisture occurring.
The most common sources of mold problems in a school are:
The first step in preventing recurrence of mold is determining the conditions that were mold conducive. If mold grew in a school over the summer because the air conditioning was not run, or there are roof leaks, or any other reason, it will return if the cause of mold is not corrected.
Failure to correct the underlying cause of environmental hazards as well as the hazard itself, is a waste of money, and serves to mislead parents, administration and faculty into believing that the school mold environment is safe. In school we learned to consider both cause and effect. The same applies in the process of creating healthy indoor air quality.
Schools Can Get Help to Keep our Children Safe from Mold
The EPA provides great online tools available to learn the issues and solutions to mold problems. These are great general guidelines, but can’t address individual conditions. Mold problems are often complicated by being the result of several underlying conditions that require expertise in multiple construction fields.
Unfortunately, learning to use and to then implement these tools is often much tougher than obtaining them. Professional assistance is a good option to get an environmental awareness and mold prevention program up and running properly. Once established, existing staff can usually keep the program running.
Usually an indoor air quality (IAQ) program process starts with an initial site assessment, or information gathering session. The environmental risks are evaluated and appropriate tests then conducted. These could include mold and allergen testing. If there was flooding or sewage backups, testing for a number of common infectious diseases should be added.
An educational staff can’t be expected to have the full knowledge to implement a program, but often, once in place, the good health of school occupants can be maintained through the corrections and adjustments made in the facility. There are several companies that have assessment and monitoring programs that include a yearly Indoor Air Quality Certificate for posting after the assessment and completion of any appropriate testing and corrections.
In thousands of homes and on social media posts across the land, you saw the annual notice heralding the end of summer vacation: “Summer is over and the kids are back in school”. Some will cry, some will cheer, some will only shrug their shoulders. No matter what we do or say, every school year, the emotion, and the back to school sales come to an end and attention shifts to the students actually being in school.
That is “all as it should be” with each new school year. The sad news is that the “welcome back student” message has been accompanied with too many news stories about mold being found in our nation’s schools. It is not an accident that “National Mold Awareness Month” is September.
The bottom line on this is that parents DO NOT want their child sick because they go to school. Our schools that have mold are like the “Jaws” movies. Just when you think it is safe to return, we find out that it is “not so safe.”
When we experience any school environmental issue such as mold, it can be front page headlines, TV, talk show fodder and Facebook news feed material.
Environmental issues in schools are not “just another student health issue”. These problems are a public relations nightmare, a staff human relations mine field, a facility management challenge, a budget buster, a political fiasco and a liability time bomb.
Signs of Mold in School
If a school is flooded or has leaks that are not quickly cleaned up, there will be mold. Whether it is a roof leak, plumbing leak or any other area of wet surfaces, you can count on mold growing.
Parents should take a look around their child’s school. Water stains are the target to look for. Fuzzy or splotchy areas are the bullseye in the search for suspected mold. These can be in almost any area of a building anywhere from the highest ceiling to the lowest floor.
In addition to the visual indicators of mold presence, odor can be indicator. When the odor of mold is in the school or on a child’s clothes, books, papers or possessions, mold should be investigated as a source of the offensive smell.
Sewage backups, leaks and all floods also have a host of water borne diseases and contaminants. When these occur, a professionally conducted disinfection must be conducted even when mold is not visible. Even a little dust left in an obscure corner after the flood is gone can enter through a cut in a student’s hand or their lungs long after the water is gone if the areas has not been disinfected.
Purpose: The purpose of Limited Mold Sampling is to detect the presence of mold in Client chosen areas of the Subject Property.
Scope of Limited Mold Sampling. Limited Mold Sampling consists of a visual assessment for mold problems in area(s) designated by the client to test and the collection/analysis of sample(s) in these designated area(s). Further, the objective of Limited Mold Sampling is to determine whether mold problems exist in the designated area(s) sampled at the time the Limited Mold Sampling is performed. As such, the results of Limited Mold Sampling are not a guarantee that mold does or does not exist in the Subject Property. The results are indicative only of the presence or absence of mold in the areas sampled at the time of the Limited Mold Sampling is performed. Limited Mold Sampling is narrower in scope than other mold inspections and testing strategies that area available. Mold inspections will be conducted only in these Client-defined areas and is NOT a complete assessment of the Subject Property.
Purpose: The purpose of the Mold Screen is to test areas of suspect mold contamination base upon a visual inspection. This is done to detect the presence of a microbial problem in the inspected areas of the Subject Property and is not a comprehensive testing of all areas.
Scope of Mold Screen: Mold Screen consists of a visual inspection in readily accessible area for mold and/or conditions that may indicate the presence of mold. For example, musty odor and/or evidence of water penetration.
Announcing Tick Hunting Season
This particular “Tick Hunting Season” announcement is probably not going to go the way you first thought. The reality is that ticks are doing the hunting for humans and their pets to burrow into the nice, warm victim bodies. We don’t hunt them, they hunt us.
The CDC estimates there are more than 300,000 cases of Lyme infection in the U.S. each year – which is roughly 10 times as many as what is reported. That group of undiagnosed Lyme Disease victims can suffer for years with the disease. You or someone you care about could be one of those victims
There have been countless news stories explaining that the weather this year has been great for the tick population. It’s no wonder that readers and viewers care about ticks. A human taking a pleasant walk in the woods or petting of a dog is all that a bloodsucking tick needs to spread disease and misery.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Early signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease include chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, fever and swollen lymph nodes. The sneaky part is that these symptoms can be mistaken as flu symptoms.
When Lyme Disease goes undiagnosed and untreated, the symptoms can progress. They can be debilitating. Each of the symptoms can also be indicative of other diseases and health problems. This is another reason that Lyme Disease can be misdiagnosed for years.
Some of Chronic Lyme Disease symptoms are:
Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)
CIRS happens in response to repeated exposure to toxins. This causes the immune system to go haywire. CIRS can be triggered by the combination of mycotoxins, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other inflammatory toxins found in water-damaged environments. Lyme Disease is often one of the exposures that underlies CIRS
The Role of Mold and Other Toxins in Lyme Disease and CIRS
Only some individuals are at risk for reacting to Lyme Disease or any mold and biotoxin related diseases.
Genetic factors, individual health histories, weakened immune systems, viral, parasitic, bacterial, or other co-infections play a role in CIRS. Auto-immune diseases and exposure to mold and toxic VOCs can also be triggers to those diseases. This is complicated.
Imagine you are a professional mold remediator. You know that the goal you are pursuing is to correct the nasty mold levels. You should also make corrections so that the mold doesn’t return. The customer is paying you thousands of dollars to achieve those goals. Hanging in the balance is the health of the family living in the home.
Now that you have a vivid picture of the importance of a proper mold remediation in your mind, let me tell you about my experience as an environmental consultant earlier today. Today is the fourth time this professionally remediated home has failed clearance. Each previous time it failed, I have spoken with the remediator about ways that his company can properly remediate the home. Each time, he has ignored the advice. I truly want this job done correctly and the family living in the home o enjoy a healthy home forever more.
Mold Remediation 101
Choosing Remediation Systems and Reliable Professionals: There are many mold treatment systems available that encompass a wide range of chemicals of varying toxicity. Some of the chemicals that have superb effectiveness are very dangerous to health and safety. Others require precise attention to detail. The goal is to select best treatment system for a project that will fully remove or kill mold in a safe environment for workers and occupants of a building.
Treatment Systems for Chemically Sensitive Individuals: In the case of mold or chemically sensitive individuals, we highly recommend exposure to a sample of treatment products before a system or chemicals are used in their property. This can easily be accomplished by provision of a sample cloth treated with a product and given to the sensitive occupant prior to remediation treatment. They should also have “test” exposure to any building material or product brought into a building. Even reaction to a common product such as caulking can create problems for chemically sensitive individuals.
Preparation for Remediation: Remediation systems require proper preparation and conditions for the treatment system to be effective. One example is that the building should be less than 40% to 50 % relative humidity. Another example is that mold and biological debris should be removed before treatment. Moldy contents need addressed with treatment or removal from the site. All water leaks and events need corrected and promptly addressed and resolved. We need to avoid the types of surfaces and materials that may be a substrate for mold growth.
Protecting the Occupants and Workers: Depending upon the level, location, use and extent of remediation required, the remediation needs to be done with appropriate levels of protection for the premises, occupants and workers. Persons handling building materials, contents and debris contaminated by mold are exposed to elevated mold levels. This is because the disturbed mold spreads in the same way as when you blew on the dandelion that turned white. As kids, we were amazed as the tiny seeds went everywhere. If you are like me, you never gave a thought to the fact we were spreading dandelion seeds. We know better now. PPE or “Personal Protective Equipment” needs to be worn by those exposed to airborne mold during work.
At a minimum, workers need protected with masks. In higher mold conditions or closed areas, gloves and suits may also be crucial and necessary protective equipment.
Stopping the Spread of Mold During Remediation: If an area of remediation has disturbed materials, the area being cleaned needs first contained from spreading disturbed mold through other areas of the building envelope. Contaminated materials need to be wrapped and carried out of the building while enclosed or wrapped so as not to allow the mold contaminated materials to harm others.
In areas of significant disturbed mold contaminated materials, the area of work may need protected with an airlock, usually simple, overlapping plastic doors that appear like the scene you may remember from the movie "ET the Extraterrestrial. This is called containment.
Exhausting Mold Spores Outdoors: In situations where there is concern and risk that disturbed mold may be drawn from the disturbed area into the other areas of the building, the work area needs placed under a negative pressure. That means the air is drawn from that area and sent to the exterior. Furnace ductwork may need sealed within work areas to avoid the furnace or AC blower pushing mold through the building while the unit is operating. The process of establishment of a negative air flow away from the non-contaminated areas is called negative air.
Filtering the Mold Floating in the Air: Another aspect of the professional mold remediation job is air scrubbing. Disturbed mold spores go into the air. The mold floating in the work area can be collected onto a filter in the piece of equipment called and air scrubber. This is a highly efficient air filter designed to capture the small particles such as mold.
Drying out the Building: Dehumidification to a low moisture level is required for effective mold remediation. Portable commercial dehumidifiers are often used for that purpose.