This entry is made on Easter of 2022. The Bible (both the Old and New Testaments) has a lot of things that are wisdom about what is good for us as individuals that applies even if you are not a Christian or Jew. Leviticus 14 is the first recorded information on mold and mold remediation that we know of. It is good advice based on what was known then.
We are blessed with an intellect and the desire to try to advance as individuals and as a society. We have learned to recognize thongs that make is well and thongs that make us sick . We have to create tools and products to achieve better health. We have done this and communicated to others the benefits of the discoveries we have made. The science fiction of my youth is the reality of today.
With all of that said, with all that we know..........in the words of Leviticus ..........here is what we can learn about mold.
Today's New International Version (TNIV) of the Bible
Cleansing From Defiling Molds
33 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 34 “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your possession, and I put a spreading mold in a house in that land, 35 the owner of the house must go and tell the priest, ‘I have seen something that looks like a defiling mold in my house.’ 36 The priest is to order the house to be emptied before he goes in to examine the mold, so that nothing in the house will be pronounced unclean. After this the priest is to go in and inspect the house. 37 He is to examine the mold on the walls, and if it has greenish or reddish depressions that appear to be deeper than the surface of the wall, 38 the priest shall go out the doorway of the house and close it up for seven days. 39 On the seventh day the priest shall return to inspect the house. If the mold has spread on the walls, 40 he is to order that the contaminated stones be torn out and thrown into an unclean place outside the town. 41 He must have all the inside walls of the house scraped and the material that is scraped off dumped into an unclean place outside the town. 42 Then they are to take other stones to replace these and take new clay and plaster the house.
43 “If the defiling mold reappears in the house after the stones have been torn out and the house scraped and plastered, 44 the priest is to go and examine it and, if the mold has spread in the house, it is a persistent defiling mold; the house is unclean. 45 It must be torn down—its stones, timbers and all the plaster—and taken out of the town to an unclean place.
46 “Anyone who goes into the house while it is closed up will be unclean till evening. 47 Anyone who sleeps or eats in the house must wash their clothes.
48 “But if the priest comes to examine it and the mold has not spread after the house has been plastered, he shall pronounce the house clean, because the defiling mold is gone.
Depending upon the level, location, use and extent of remediation required, the remediation needs to be done with appropriate levels of protection. Persons handling materials, contents and debris from a mold remediation are exposed to elevated mold levels. Mold can spread just as when you blew on the dandelion that turned white and saw the tiny seeds go everywhere. PPE or “Personal Protective Equipment” needs 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.
If an area of remediation has disturbed materials, the area being cleaned needs 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 to prevent mold contaminated materials from harming others.
In areas of significant disturbed mold contaminated materials, the area of work may need protected with an airlock. This is usually simple, overlapping plastic doors that appear like the scene you may remember from the movie "ET the Extraterrestrial. This is called containment.
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 negative air pressure. That means the air is drawn from that area and sent to the exterior.
Forced air heating systems are another place that needs professionally considered to avoid moving mold through the rest of the building. Ductwork may need sealed within work areas to avoid the furnace or AC blower pushing mold through the building while the unit is operating.
Another aspect of the professional mold remediation job is air scrubbing. Mold spores go into the air. That process is accelerated when mold is disturbed during work. As that mold is floating in the work area can be collected onto a filter in the piece of equipment called an air scrubber. This is a highly efficient air filter designed to capture the small particles such as mold.
Post Remediation Verification Testing at the End of Remediation At the end of the work, you should have proof that the work was effective in removing the mold. This is done by conducting a "clearance test" also known as a PRV, short for "Post-Remediation Verification" Accepted procedure is that clearance testing should not be conducted by the remediator.to avoid the “fox counting the chickens in the chicken coup.”
Selecting the right professional for your project can be a scary challenge. It is a very important task with the health of occupants of the mold contaminated building depending upon the work of possibly unknown strangers.
For links and additional information about finding help for mold remediation, go to: www.Envirospect.com/FailedRemmediation
The sad truth is that many mold remediation jobs fail and leave the customer with an empty wallet and a home that is still unhealthy. Mold has often grown back within weeks or months of a treatment. The mold remediators that do not do a good job count on several factors.
It is shocking to find that after thousands of dollars of treatment many homes still have mold visible in areas such as behind baseboards, behind walls, in ductwork and on contents that were not treated. Those remediators are counting on the customer not recognizing the remaining mold.
What the Bad Mold Remediators Want you to Believe
We all pretty much trust the claims on the label of Lysol Disinfectant Spray. In bold letters is says that it has a 99.9% kill rate for germs, bacteria and mold. Heck, they wouldn’t make a false claim, would they?
Picture that we go into a dirty, dusty room and spray everything with a mist of Lysol. Fast forward two weeks. The dust, dirt and other debris is still there. Maybe we even add a little food debris on the kitchen counter and table.
Do you for one minute believe that any home will be germ free three weeks after being sprayed? Simply spraying or fogging with a mold product is not enough to make a home or any other building an acceptable level of mold for more than a few days or weeks.
It’s the Preparation That Makes the Difference
The most economical and healthy approach to mold remediation in a building is to complete remediation of all mold contaminated areas and sources of contamination in the initial project. An independent expert in the building science of mold should do an assessment for two reasons. One reason is the added expertise in finding mold and creating the plan to keep it from coming back. The other is that it will provide a customer the information to know which mold remediators proposal is right for the property. You want enough work done to make sure the property stays mold free and mot more work or expense than is necessary.
Selecting a Remediator and Treatment System
Identifying and removing materials and contents that can’t be cleaned is the first step. Deep cleaning of organic debris and dust is critical to success. HEPA cleaning, wiping and disinfection of surfaces is required for most remediations to be successful and lasting. Do not settle for spraying or fogging without preparation.
There are numerous mold treatment systems available that encompass a wide range of chemicals of varying toxicity. Some chemicals that have superb effectiveness are very dangerous to health and safety. The goal is selecting a treatment system that can fully kill mold and yet be safe for residents and mold technicians. The additional important criteria are that the residual chemical should have a degree of continued effectiveness and yet be safe for occupant and pet exposure.
Make sure that product label instructions are followed. The use of an enzyme-based treatment system is often a great choice. In any instance, the chosen treatment system should be applied according to directions by technicians utilizing proper procedures and personal protective equipment. All systems of mold treatment include application of chemical products that should be done by trained professionals to assure both safety and effectiveness.
Indoor air humidity and to be less than 40% to 50 %, and all cavities and surfaces free of wetness. All water leaks and events need corrected. The conditions that allow mold growth must be avoided.
The first visitor to a building after a complete disinfection can contaminate the building as if it was never cleaned. Maintaining a safe and healthy environment is a shared responsibility for occupant and visitor alike. Communication is key to achieving that goal.
Set the expectations at the front door. Post signage indicating that infection control measures must be followed at entrances.
Locally, the effort of Giant Eagle Supermarkets to install clear plexiglass screens between the customers and checkout staff is an excellent example of setting the tone for protecting all people who enter the store. That effort communicates that they want and expect all of us to keep each other safe while in their buildings.
Signage can begin with a notice at the front door as follows:
This is a building where infection control is necessary for the health of the staff and visitors
Educate all staff to basic practices as to the ways you can reduce or slow the spread of infections:
Understand and Combat Common Disease Transfer Methods
Airborne - coughs or sneezes release airborne pathogens, which are then inhaled by others. We now know that the minimum safe space is about 6 feet.
Contaminated objects or food – We now know that the virus can live on most surfaces. That includes all touch points and items that include bags, papers, doorknobs, light switches and anything else you may touch.
Skin-to-skin contact - the transfer of virus can occur through touch, or by sharing personal items, clothing or objects. The data tells us to ban handshakes.
Photo by Brian Marra of Un-Flood-It Performing Disinfection It seems like a bad science fiction movie. You know the story. We are living the story. Our nation, our world is upside down. We have already had and controlled Ebola, HIV/AIDS, MRSA, SARS and other real-life stories. Now we face Coronavirus and await a happy Hollywood type happy ending as we are huddled watching the news in our homes.
The truth is that this is not the first or last time that we are fighting newly evolved viruses and bacteria. We live longer and survive with diseases and conditions that would have killed the last generation only to leave patients with weakened immune systems vulnerable to new diseases. We need to protect these individuals when they return to a contaminated home or workplace.
The People Most Likely to get Ill from a Biological Exposure
It’s All About the Data
Dr Fauci and Dr. Birx are the medical leaders and public face of the amazing array of talented and dedicated professionals pulling us through the pandemic.
Figuring out how to solve the worldwide Coronavirus crisis is why the data is needed by the medical professionals working to save as many lives as possible. Who is sick? How it is transmitted? Who gets well? and What treatments work? are the critical questions where data being shared across the globe.
Disinfection of Buildings is Not “One and Done” It is a Process and a Battle
The first visitor to a building after a complete disinfection can contaminate the building as if it was never cleaned. Maintaining a safe and healthy environment is a shared responsibility for occupant and visitor alike. Communication is key to achieving that goal.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Methods
The first and most critical step in a disinfection program is a general disinfection cleaning of touchpoints. This is referred to as “Deep Cleaning.” Simply spraying a treatment is not enough to kill viruses. Contaminates live withing biofilm and other dirt and debris that coats every object in a building. Wipe down and clean equipment, supplies, carpeting and other exposed surfaces and contents prior to treatment. Dust, skin oil, and stacked objects reduce the effectiveness of any treatment.
ULV (Ultra Low Volume) Fogging is a method of applying droplets of disinfectant to the surfaces in a room. This is best described as a humidifier like you would use in a room for a child with a respiratory problem on steroids. It is far more effective than spraying with a pump spray. This distribution is mostly straight line in the direction the equipment is pointed.
Electrostatic Sprayers were the next generation of disinfection equipment. These units create much smaller droplets that have a static electric charge that not only dissipates the disinfection product, but makes it better wrap around and cling to surfaces
“Touchless Disinfection” is the new a “hospital grade” answer to fighting serious disease contagions. Products, equipment and system for this method include Halosil and Steramist. These particles are even finer than created by Electrostatic Sprayers. The disadvantage is that the applicator can’t be in the area being treated. The equipment is set in each room and the room must be completely sealed. Entry to the room can only be made after the treatment is complete and the product has dissipated. This make this effective treatment difficult to accomplish in large facilities.
UPMC and its linen supplier, Paris Cleaners Inc., have finalized a settlement agreement with six plaintiffs in a yearslong lawsuit in connection with a fatal mold crisis in 2014 and 2015 that prompted a federal investigation.
Documents filed with the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas on Tuesday indicate that the plaintiffs — who represent the estates of deceased UPMC patients Che DuVall, Daniel L. Krieg, John R. Haines, Katherine E. Landman, Lyle C. Dearth and Marita Madsen — reached a settlement with UPMC and Paris Cleaners. Documents containing details of the settlement were filed under seal and are not available to the public.
Suggestions for Stopping the Spread of Illness in the Home
It is really, really hard to pay attention to details and healthy practices when we are sick with a nasty bug. The only way this works in most households is to put these habits into practice before there is a sick person in the home. If you don’t have disposable plates and cups in the cupboard before illness, you are not going to the store to buy them after you are tending the sick.
Suggestions for Stopping the Spread of Illness in the Workplace
The best solution is to have a plan in place before dealing with the illness and human resource challenges that a sick workforce can bring to a professional organization. There are consultants that can set programs in place that can work for just about any facility. It is a matter of their establishing a system of communicating responsibility and direction for the workforce.
Identifying and cleaning touchpoints is the best practice to control the spread of germs in homes, schools, and businesses. Touchpoints are the places where germs can sit and wait to infect the next person.
The “handshake” is the ultimate touchpoint where we transfer communicable diseases to each other in the name of greeting each other. We do this ritual everywhere from the workplace, and grocery store to our houses of worship. In times of communicable diseases, the elbow bump makes a lot more sense than the handshake.
Other common touchpoints are light switches, doorknobs, the back of chairs, restaurant menus, faucet and refrigerator handles. Less obvious touchpoints are the food storage container, the juice bottle, the top of a chair you pull out or the kitchen counter. Use the office microwave or use a grocery store cart? Well, you get the picture.
In the cases where someone in a home has a serious illness such as C-Diff or MRSA, every linen, TV remote or candy dish they touched can be the source of reinfection. The more serious the illness and worse the immune system of occupants, the more critical disinfection of a property becomes to stop the spread of an illness.
The good news is that there are some excellent disinfection systems and programs that were originally designed for medical facilities that are now available for use in any type of property. Once we identify a risk, we can implement effective solutions for just about every cause of Sick Building Syndrome.
“Happy New Year” is a message brought to you by dozens of “start your diet” ads in every modern form of media. TV, radio, print and social media advertisers will endlessly pitch ways to slim down and get healthy by buying their programs.
We are keenly aware of the health risks of a bad diet. On the other hand, we are often less aware that we have people with debilitating and often undiagnosed illnesses such as CIRS and MCS due to environmental illness. We are exposed to air borne contaminants that cause cancer, respiratory disease, asthma and countless other afflictions.
We look to the New Year for a fresh start and better times. Why not include our indoor air quality in that time of renewal?
Functional Medicine has evolved to help diagnose environmental illness, but we need to avoid those exposures in our homes. “Avoidance” is now considered an important medical treatment. The problem is that we need to know what to avoid in this world of more and more pollutants in everyday household items.
Indoor air health risks include dust, mold, bacteria, volatile compounds from fragrances and cleaners, formaldehyde, pet dander, dust mites, radon, carbon monoxide and a host of other exposures. Our energy saving technologies have reduced the fresh air in our homes while at the same time manufacturers have added toxins to thousands of consumer and construction products.
We often don’t realize that common house dust is home to mold, dust mites, bacteria, pollen and allergens. Accumulated dust just sneaks up on you day by day, year by year. It hides in carpet, cabinets, books and your furniture. When a person is ill, it’s more difficult to do regular cleaning which makes a bad dust and particle problem worse.
The process of professionally cleaning a home is referred to as “deep cleaning” and is an important tool in mold remediation and reducing many environmental toxics including lead. It should be done using containment, specialized exhaust equipment, air filtration and personal protection for the people performing that work.
Many mold remediation firms shortcut proper treatment and simply spray or fog using toxic chemicals without first cleaning mold and allergens from surfaces. Failing to clean and remove the existing contamination is a primary cause of continued environmental illness after failed remediations.
Secrets to Reducing Dust, Mold and Allergens
VOC’s and Other Indoor Air Toxins You Actually Buy and Bring Home
We live in a world of chemicals. Some are products to clean, some to make things smell, some to make things work better and others to make our homes look pretty. Many of these thousands of chemicals can make some of us very ill.
Synthetic fragrances are in almost every cleaning or laundry product, air fresheners or personal care product. They are often added to packaging to entice consumers to select a product. The organic chemicals are not tested for their effect on people or listed on the packages. Select any product that has an odor and look up the MSDS for that product. In almost all instances internet search will reveal a list of chemicals you will not be able to pronounce or know how they will affect your health.
Furniture, cabinets, flooring and plastic materials usually have chemicals that off-gas in the home. Everything from plastic children’s toys to artificial Christmas trees can be a source of lead dust. Many cosmetics and personal care products have been found to have asbestos and almost all have VOCs.
Secrets to Reducing VOC Contamination
Walk through your home and check for water leaks and mold. These can sneak up on any homeowner. A tiny leak can cause a big mold problem over time. The earlier leaks are found, the less damage they cause and the easier they are to correct.
The most susceptible areas for mold in the home include finished basements, crawl spaces, areas with dirt floors, interior french drains, attics, areas with any leaks and areas that are not heated in cold weather. Homes with foam insulation systems and energy star construction are also extremely likely to harbor hidden mold. Professional mold assessments are a good idea if you have any of these conditions and any family members with health issues.
Improve Your Home's Environment in the New Year
These suggestions will make you feel better in your home. It is your castle and should be the very best it can be. Take a couple of weekends and pick from the list of chores that can make your home healthier.
Merry Christmas and please
pass the antihistamine or inhaler---‘tis the season for asthma and allergies. Like
Aunt Helen’s twice re-gifted fruit cake, sneezing and congestion are simply not
welcome guests at the family holiday celebration. For those suffering with CIRS
or MCS, the joy can be interrupted with severe reactions and a tough choice between
the beauty of Christmas, and their health.
Smack in the middle of Christmas
debate is often the choice of a real or artificial Christmas trees, wreaths and
other decorations. Which is better “real” or “artificial” is one of those
questions that the answer is a resounding: “that depends, but let me explain.” The
bottom line is that you want the “beauty of Christmas” and not the allergens to
take your breath away.
you want a quick clue as to how complicated the issue is, you need to know more
about the first artificial tree. In the 1930’s, the Addis Brush Company created
the first artificial-brush trees using the same machinery as they used to make
toilet brushes. The Addis 'Silver Pine' tree was
actually patented in 1950. Now, does a toilet brush go into the healthy or
Why Allergies and Asthma
Spike During Holidays
Stored holiday items can
be a source of mold growth. Fiberglass and other insulation particles, dust and
mold from storage areas and other allergens can get into improperly stored holiday
heirlooms. Even tightly sealed boxes can attract mice and insects, each
contributing to the allergen and germ categories. Yuck !
There has been an increase
in the number of people affected with asthma and allergies spiking during the
holidays. Obviously, Christmas comes at a time of year when homes are most
likely to be closed up to protect from winter weather. Many homes are built
with wet crawl spaces and improper venting systems. With tighter construction, attic
and basement storage areas are often full of mold.
Fortunately, the suffering
from Christmas allergies can be avoided with a few tips on proper selection,
storage and care of holiday trees and decorations whether they are artificial
Storage and Allergen Prevention Tips
by selecting moisture and dirt, dust and insect free areas for holiday
stored items with a damp cloth before storage. Dirt supports the growth of
trees, decorations and other materials in plastic bins, or wrap in plastic bags,
not cardboard. Cardboard holds moisture and is a food source for mold.
humidity in storage areas. Dehumidify basement storage areas and install fans controlled
with humidistat in attics.
the stored items from last year are already covered with mold and dust, place
them in plastic bags or bins before carrying them through the house. Dragging
mold and other allergens through the house can spread mold and allergens.
out of storage, take the contaminated items outside of the home or into a
garage to unpack them.
cut trees or stored items can have dust blown off them using a leaf blower or
they be can be hosed down with a garden hose. If you use a leaf blower, wear a
mask. Both methods remove mold, dust, and some of the lead dust usually found
on artificial trees and decorations.
contaminated packing and bring the cleaned items into the home.
your holiday items were covered with mold and dust, change the conditions in
the storage area. Mold growing in the storage areas will affect the air quality
in the main home all year around.
not spray materials with pesticide no matter how grossed out you are by the
bugs. The poisons designed to kill bugs will damage people’s health. Plain soap
and water will safely and effectively remove insect and rodent
The Live Versus Artificial
Christmas Tree Debate
In this corner, we have live Christmas trees and decorations.
Live Christmas trees are
a crop. The National Christmas Tree Association states that the average
Christmas tree is 7 years old when harvested. That would mean that the tree was
producing oxygen to improve the environment for 7 years. Those trees require care,
thereby creating American jobs.
One disadvantage of live
Christmas trees is that they require replacement every year. That cost may be
greater than the cost of an artificial tree across its lifetime. There is also
the issue that Christmas trees need properly disposed of each year. The good
news is that they can be turned into mulch.
In the other corner are artificial Christmas trees and
Artificial trees are light
to carry and easy to assemble. It is the
only option for people who can’t handle the work of a live tree.
According to the US
Commerce Department, 80% of artificial trees are manufactured and shipped from
China. That would be Chinese jobs created.
Artificial Christmas trees,
tree lights and plastic decorations have been subject to warnings about lead.
Lead is added to PVC during manufacture to make the plastic more pliable when
hanging strings of light or adjusting tree limbs. That lead is a soft material
will easily fall from the products containing it when they are handled Lead is
a serious health hazard, particularly to children.
The process of
manufacturing the PVC creates the toxic chemical dioxin, which is also released
if the plastic is burned during disposal.
“Christmas Bonus” Healthy
Indoor Air Tips
a choice, it is better to place trees and decorations in areas of hard surface
floors such as wood as opposed to carpet. These floors are easier to clean and
hold fewer allergens.
use of a quality air cleaner such as a HEPA filter can provide immediate indoor
air improvement by removing the circulating allergens.
want our homes to smell like Christmas. Many of those “plug in” scents contain
synthetic esters and formaldehyde. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and
Immunology states that “we know
that asthmatics are clearly sensitive to odors and fumes; therefore it would
not be unexpected that air fresheners could trigger asthmatic episodes.” Bake a
pie or use potpourri as an alternative to the artificial scents.
No matter which type of
tree and decorations you select, have a happy, allergy and asthma free holiday.
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