Top Tips on Environmental Mold for those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
Mold toxicity was the #1 root cause of my Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance.
I also see it affecting over 80% of people with Mast Cell Activation.
I first developed mold toxicity when my family moved into an old farmhouse in the country. That farmhouse was full of toxic mold. Of course, we didn’t know it at the time. But there was mold growing in the walls and also under the crawlspace.
Mold can be a problem, even in new homes. And usually homes with mold problems don’t have visible mold.
At a young age, I started developing issues with blood sugar and really severe allergies. My eyes would itch all the time and I would often have rashes and hives.
In my sleep, I would scratch my skin until it bled because I was so itchy. I also developed asthma. I had anxiety, sleep issues, and pretty significant chronic fatigue.
Have you had any symptoms like these?
I also had exposure in places that I lived during college and workplaces.
So, all combined, I had over 20 years of mold exposure.
Not everyone in my family became ill. In fact, I was the only one that got as sick as I did.
This is common in mold toxicity.
Often, there will be one or two family members who are more sick than others. This can be because of genetic differences, diet, and other toxic loads in the body.
This blog post is about environmental mold — how to find it in your environment and also how to remediate it. It comes from an interview I did with Jeff Bookout.
Jeff Bookout is an excellent environmental mold specialist. In fact, many view Jeff as one of the top environmental mold specialists in the United States.
Jeff became certified as a mold inspector in 2004. He is also certified in forward-looking infrared radar. This is critical for mold detection.
Jeff has spoken at many mold seminars. He’s been interviewed on numerous doctor-hosted mold podcasts.
He has developed a reputation for being the preferred inspector and indoor environmental specialist for doctors around the country. He certainly is in my practice.
Since 2004, Jeff has traveled from state to state, inspecting and treating the homes of doctors and patients. His travel is now limited to the Western part of the U.S. Here’s the good news. He conducts remote consults as well.
In fact, I recently reached out to Jeff myself when my house started developing mold in the basement. This seemed strange. Because when we bought the house in January, there was definitely no mold.
But it was very dry in January where I live. But in March and April, we had record rains. The heavy rain caused high humidity — unfortunately, perfect for mold to grow.
I had noticed I was getting flare ups. When we tested the house for mold, I figured out why. We had both Aspergillus and Penicillium growing.
Jeff set up a remote consult. He gave us his recommendations of what to do. Before long, the mold was remediated. And my flares calmed back down.
It was so nice to be able to rest easy, knowing my house was mold-free again. Let me introduce Jeff a little more.
Jeff is the owner of Oklahoma EnviroServ Specialists. And he’s the president of BioBalance Solutions, a mold treatment products company.
The BioBalance mold treatment products are safe and natural. Which is really important for those of us with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.
Most mold remediation products are quite toxic. This can set off the mast cells, leading to inflammation and debilitating symptoms for some people. With Jeff’s products, you can feel confident that the process of eliminating the mold isn’t more toxic than the mold itself.
My clients who have used Jeff’s services have rid their homes of mold. And they still maintained or improved their health. I have nothing but good to say about Jeff’s work.
The information below is from an interview I did with Jeff Bookout. You can find the video below and the transcript towards the end of this article.
Interview with Jeff Bookout on Environmental Mold when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Why Environmental Mold has become such a problem for those with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance
Environmental mold is much more of a problem now than it used to be.
A turning point was in 1973. With the oil embargo that year, many countries started working toward building more energy efficient homes.
Homes became more tightly built.
Now, anything that happens in our house stays in our house. Whether that’s mold, radon, Lysol, hairspray, bleach, or ammonia.
Chemicals, naturally-occurring toxins, and moisture are more likely to build up in the home. And because humidity levels are higher, mold is more likely to grow.
All those toxins build up inside this building envelope. Then people start getting sick from the exposure.
That includes mold toxins.
When grandma’s house had a dirt floor in the basement, there was mold growing all over the jam and jelly jars. But nobody ever got sick. You had so much air exchange in that kind of house that toxins didn’t build up to create problems.
But if you look at the stats since 1973 (asthma, for example), they have just skyrocketed. If you look at that correlation, it’s all about our indoor environment. It’s the way that we’ve made our houses and the food sources for mold that we put in our houses.
Now, all of a sudden these toxins are building up.
Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are another new exposure that we’ve never had in the past.
If you look at how mold specifically works, it’s like a dandelion out in the yard. As soon as you kick it, blow it, disturb it, or it thinks it’s going to die, it throws out mold spores or mycotoxins to either fight for itself or regenerate somewhere else.
Let’s say you have mold inside your house or even inside your body. Now, these EMFs are coming in. The mold knows that the electromagnetic fields around it are not natural. — They’re not from nature. As a result, the mold is constantly triggered.
EMFs trigger the mold and cause it to constantly produce mycotoxins, because the mold feels that it’s in a constant fight situation.
So, EMFs play a tremendous role in mold toxicity. They just amplify everything.
Mold is probably part of why EMFs make people sick.
Why Environmental Mold can affect people with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Histamine Intolerance more than others
It’s clear that environmental mold doesn’t affect everyone the same way. Part of that is due to genetics.
Say you have the certain genetic variants… plus, you have mast cell issues, Lyme, autoimmune issues, et cetera. These make it difficult to excrete toxins from your body.
As a result, you’re more likely to get sick with mold exposure. That’s why some people get sick and some don’t.
Within the family environment, the husband may not realize or believe that the wife is sick. It’s understandable, because he doesn’t feel those symptoms.
Or, it could be the other way around.
This can even happen with mold inspectors.
Many people, including clients that I’ve worked with, have had mold inspectors come in. They were told that there was no mold, even though there was.
I had this in particular with a couple clients I worked with.
I had a strong hunch that environmental mold was the problem. I actually went to their homes. Because I’m so sensitive, I could smell it right away.
I had to stop after the second one. I actually could smell it, and it made me feel so ill. Even though most people probably couldn’t detect it.
I could walk in and I could smell that musty smell immediately. The mold inspectors were paid one or two thousand dollars. Yet, they weren’t finding anything.
That’s why getting good testing is important.
How to Test for Environmental Mold Issues when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Every way of testing for mold that’s available right now has its flaws.
There’s no one perfect tool out there that says, “Hey, there’s mold behind this wall! Here’s exactly what it is. Here’s exactly what needs to be done.”
Unfortunately, those tools don’t exist. The solution is a lot of tools and a lot of data put together.
A lot of people are doing traditional air testing. Examples include Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI), indoor to outdoor air comparison, and petri dishes.
Keep in mind that every way of air testing has its flaws.
If you look at how mold works, it’s the dandelion effect. Mold works like a dandelion out in the yard. As soon as you kick it or disturb it, it thinks it’s going to die. So, it throws its mold spores out to regenerate somewhere else. That’s the basis of these air tests.
Air tests are looking for one of three things:
- Sporulation (the formation of spores)
- The presence of old, dead mold spores
- Live mold spores
All these tests are looking for spores.
Here’s the issue with looking for spores. If you have a mold problem behind your master shower, picture this:
The mold is sitting back there, fat, happy, and content, not throwing a lot of mold spores into the air.
But — the mycotoxins and the microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) are being released into the air. That’s what you’re smelling. That’s what’s making you sick.
So, if you’re thinking of air testing alone, I wouldn’t recommend it.
The air testing can easily miss the mold. It may be back there, but it’s fat, happy, and content. It’s not putting out a lot of mold spores into the air.
If you open the cavity, your mold spores will suddenly be released in huge numbers. So, air testing needs to be in combination with another type of testing.
Infrared cameras are great for helping you to look behind wall cavities.They’ll help you find out whether there’s currently moisture back there. Moisture meters (hygrometers) are also a great tool.
VOC meters measure volatile organic compounds. They are great for detecting the microbial VOC levels in the air. You can use ultra fine particle counts as well.
Combining these testing methods creates a more accurate determination of what is going on inside the house.
If you look at all the testing tools, they all have standards with them.
ERMI testing and SDA agar plates have a health scale attached to them, which makes them a little bit more sensitive. They take into account people who actually have Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS).
They also keep in mind the gene variants of HLA or MTHFR.
Again, these are some of the other issues that make some people sick and other people not sick.
Everybody has a different scale or threshold of where they get sick from mold.
Most of the people I deal with in my practice are super sensitive. And their house is passing the air tests. The results are showing up as okay. But in reality, that house is still making them sick.
In order to find out what’s really going on, you’re going to need to combine good tools with someone who understands the medical aspects.
It’s important to realize that maybe the mold doesn’t cover a 12 foot area on a wall. Yet, it can still be a problem for somebody that has certain genetic susceptibilities or underlying health issues.
So, how do you find a mold inspector that’s going to do a variety of testing?
I actually stopped recommending some mold inspectors. I just couldn’t find the right ones for people. Then we did the ERMI testing and it was missing mold.
So, I finally just went to doing the mold plates through ImmunoLytics.
and got really serious about it. Over six months, we looked at over 50 houses. If you do find someone who is thorough, how can you evaluate your home without spending $1,000 or $2,000 on an inspection? There are a couple of things you can do.
Obviously, the best thing to do would be to have a mold inspector doing comprehensive testing. That’s definitely the expensive way to go, but it is the gold standard.
However, if you can’t afford the gold standard, there are still options.
- You can start by getting some do-it-yourself petri dishes from immunolytics.com. They do a great job and it’s a simple, cheap, easy test. It’s the best bang for the buck that’s out there when it comes to mold testing.
ImmunoLytics specializes in two different things:
- One is testing for mold — identifying what molds are there with their expert analysis. They put it to a health scale and then give you that information.
- The other half is providing expert consultation on the testing results for you. Although your results may not show high levels, there are some red flags to watch out for.Because they are also mold inspectors by trade, ImmunoLytics is able to point out some of those red flags and give you the right information to be able to mitigate the mold yourself.
Plus, the expert consultation is included with the analysis for free!
So, the next best thing is to get some agar plates from ImmunoLytics. I think testing is probably around $33 per sample taking, so it’s extremely cheap and easy to do. That’s probably the best bang for the buck if you can’t afford a mold inspector.
2. The next thing would be to do a virtual inspection. Of course, the best is having someone in person, physically going through your house. But, if you’re not confident with somebody in your area doing that, Jeff is happy to do a virtual inspection:
- He charges $295 for a virtual inspection.
- He sends over a questionnaire and goes over that information.
- Then you send a bunch of pictures.
- Finally, he spends about an hour on FaceTime or Zoom, as you walk him through your property. He finds where the problems are actually coming from.
A virtual inspection wouldn’t allow for the infrared work to see if there was mold behind the shower wall. However, you could definitely start to narrow it down. Visually looking at something, you’re able to see things that just aren’t ordinary.
That being some discoloration on the wall or some grout that’s missing. Whatever the case, you can find a lot of things in a virtual inspection.
It’s not as good as having somebody there. But, it’s an affordable option for people to have.
Testing Carpets, Mattresses, and Pets for Environmental Mold Issues when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
There are a lot of hidden sources of mold in our homes — some that you’d never even think of.
Pets are a huge mold contributor. To test pets, you can do a “tap test.” Order a petri dish from immunolytics.com. On their website, they show you how to do a tap test.
You’re basically going to take that agar plate, tap it four times on your pet, wrap it up, and send it to the lab. Then they’re going to analyze what molds, if any, are growing on that pet. It’s amazing how much mold can grow in a pet’s fur.
I have two dogs that like to roll in the grass. Through testing, we found Aspergillus in their fur.
It’s the same thing with your bed, your pillows, and your couch.
Mattresses are one of the worst places. If your mattress is more than eight years old, it’s time to get rid of it. And if there was a major mold intrusion in your house, it’s a good idea to start over with a new mattress.
It’s also a good idea to start over with pillows every two years. It is amazing how much you sweat and drool into those.
Live plants are another issue. Inherently, there’s mold growth in the soil.
Fish tanks are a source of standing water around the house, which can contribute to dampness and mold growth.
It can be a lot of these little things adding up that contribute to a constant toxic exposure. Even fairly healthy people may not be as healthy as they could be. Just because there are these little problem areas throughout the house.
This can make the difference between someone remaining sick and someone making a full recovery.
We’ll talk about some ways that you can address your pets. You don’t need to get rid of them to be healthy.
Remediating Environmental Mold when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
If you find that you are indeed dealing with environmental mold, these are the basic remediation steps:
- Find water/moisture intrusion and stop it
- Identify and remove any mold damaged materials
- Treat the air to get excessive mold spores and mycotoxins under control
Let’s look at each of these in detail.
- Find water/moisture intrusion and stop it.
If you suspect you have a high level of moisture in a given space, you can measure it with a hygrometer. Here’s a link to a highly rated, inexpensive hygrometer 4-pack so that you can test a few places at once.
If you’ve discovered you do have a lot of moisture in an area of your house, you’ll want to set up a dehumidifier. That will help to bring moisture levels down.
2. Identify and remove any mold damaged materials
When we’re talking about making proper corrections, the big thing is to remove the damaged materials. You don’t have to replace them with new materials right away, but the damaged materials must be gone. Mold can grow 2 feet into the wall, so be sure to remove materials for 2 feet past where you can see water damage.
3. Treat the air to get excessive mold spores and mycotoxins under control
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Make sure you have a good furnace filter — the MERV 11 furnace filters are highly recommended and are available on Amazon.
Invest in a good air purification system like AirDoctor or HypoAir that filters out mold spores and viruses. (Using the AirDoctor link will get you a $300 discount). Another good one is Austin Air (we have discounts through our office).
Also, make sure your home has a good air exchange, like HRV or ERV.
Mold maintenance doesn’t have to be expensive. Jeff does mold maintenance for his house for about $30/month.
Finding a Mold-free Home when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Finding a mold free or low mold home is very difficult. We were home shopping for two years,
And out of 50, only one of them did not have mold. And that was in January when it was really dry. The one that did not have mold is the house we live in now.
I hear this all the time; people are really challenged to find someplace that doesn’t have mold. There are two things to absolutely avoid when looking for a mold-free home:
- A crawl space
- A swamp cooler
A swamp cooler is either going to be on the top of the house or on an outside wall. It’s basically an AC unit that you can hook up a water hose to. It takes air through an air handler and takes that moist, cool air right into the house.
You actually have standing water in the bottom of the unit. They call it a swamp cooler because it smells like a swamp due to all the mold.
So, what if you’re a renter, and don’t own the house? What rights do you have as a renter? Are there any ways to get the landlords to test for mold?
Laws are different in every state. But no, there’s not a whole lot you can do. However, in general, once someone knows there’s a problem, then they’re liable for that problem.
A landlord is probably not going to just test for mold. However, if you’ve done it, show that information to them. If they don’t fix the problem, that could be a legal situation.
What to do if your Home has Environmental Mold when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Many people ask – do I have to move out if I find mold?
Is it possible to heal without moving out and relocating to a drier area? I live in a very humid area, but I’ve had huge recoveries from mold toxicity and mold illness.
The biggest thing is to remediate your home if there is mold. And then do maintenance and avoid mold exposure on a regular basis.
For the most part, it’s not necessary to move out if you find mold.
However, maybe 5% of people will need to find a different location because they are so sick.
Those people should try to find places that are drier. Austin, Texas, is extremely hot and humid. Louisville, Kentucky, also extremely hot and humid. But a lot of times people can’t move. That’s okay.
The biggest thing is controlling the environment inside your house.
Usually, if you take care of that, everything else takes care of itself. Not always, but the majority of the time.
So, let’s say you did have to move out of a moldy house. How can you best make sure you’re not bringing mold into the new place?
Well, number one would be to make sure the items you bring with you are free of visible mold. They should also be free of visible water damage and be free of odor. Of course, the caveat to that is you’re also not reacting to those items.
Sometimes, it’s best to have a staging area before taking stuff into the new home.
So, you dry fog items. You treat stuff with the HavenMist as well. You wash your clothes with the Mold Removing Laundry Solution. These can really help.
Other items, take to the garage to remediate.
That way, you can open things up and look at the items, first. Then you have a barrier before taking anything into the new house. You’re triple checking before things go into the new home.
How to clean your HVAC system when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Another important mitigation strategy is to clean your HVAC system. We did that here in my house and that helped.
A good place to start is to dry fog the HVAC system. That’s sending the dry fog through the HVAC. Find the return air, turn on the thermostat — the fan to the on position. Run the fog through the ducts. You’ll see it coming out all your registers.
If you have a lot of excess dust, dirt, and debris, it would be a good idea to clean the vents afterwards. Treat first, then clean, second.
It’s also important to make sure that the coils in the HVAC are good. They should look good, with no growth on the coils, the motor, or the plenum box. That’s usually wrapped in insulation directly above those coils.
As long as there’s not a problem there and there’s not excessive dust, dirt, debris, you can just fog.
But if there is a lot of excessive dust, dirt, and debris, then cleaning your vents is important.
Jeff’s website, BioBalancenow.com, is also a great resource. Go to the FAQ section. He’s got step-by-step directions on how to fog your HVAC system.
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How to get mold out of your clothes when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Did you know your clothes could harbor mold? We had this issue because we had a front loader. That was before I knew that front loaders could have a mold problem.
Mold developed in that front loader. And a lot of our clothes smelled like mold. I could just always tell.
There was a great laundry detergent that really helped. It’s called EC3 Laundry Additive, from Micro Balance Health Products. It got the mold out after the first wash. It was totally gone.
We also replaced the front loader. There was just no way to keep it mold free.
Mold Removing Laundry Detergent is the preferred method for getting mold out of clothes.
This goes not just for clothes but all belongings. If treating with those products doesn’t get rid of the visible mold, visible water damage, or the bad odor, it’s time to get rid of them. Same thing if you’re still reacting to them.
How to address Mold from a Crawl Space when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
So, what do you do if you have mold in the crawl space?
Rule number one is stopping any moisture intrusion into it. Generally, it’s the soil that becomes contaminated. So, you need to cover that soil with a minimum of a 20 Mil vapor barrier.
It’s true that a 6 Mil is up to code, However, if somebody underneath that crawl space puts a rip, hole, puncture, or tear into that plastic, you’re going to have a problem.
Then all those mycotoxins, MVOCs, and mold spores will be coming out from underneath that plastic.
For that reason, you want to have a thick plastic that is a minimum of 20 mil completely encapsulate the soil. Then, there’s no way for the air underneath that plastic communicate with the air above it.
Rule number two is to remove any exposed insulation. My definition of exposed insulation is the pink stuff, the yellow stuff. Mycotoxins and mold spores just stay trapped and embedded in the fiberglass. There’s no way to get them out.
Remove it. Replace it with either foam board or plastic backed insulation.
Next, if you can, lie on your back and look at the sub floor. Make sure you don’t have water damage or mold damage on the sub floor itself.
If you do, you’ll need to treat it with 12% hydrogen peroxide.
Then you’ll add a sealant such as AFM Safecoat. This sealant goes over that wood after it’s been treated, and doesn’t produce VOCs. There are a couple other good products out there as well.
But look for something that doesn’t do a lot of outgassing.
Next, try to seal off that crawl space from the rest of the home. Try to make it its own separate home. So, no matter what happens in the crawl space, it doesn’t affect your breathable air above.
How do you do that?
Seal off all pipes, holes, and crevices under the tub cavity with foam sealant. That way, the air in that crawl space isn’t able to come up through the rest of the house.
Last, but not least: If possible, vent that crawl space to the outside of the house. That will create some type of negative air pressure and get it flushed out. Again, try to make that crawl space its own separate home.
The 12% hydrogen peroxide is what we used for an area in our home. We just put it in a weed sprayer. Be sure that you wear gloves — It can burn skin.
If you want to use those products, and if you get an analysis with ImmunoLytics, they often will recommend Jeff’s products.
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Recap on Addressing Environmental Mold when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Here’s a quick recap on addressing environmental mold when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance.
Two key points:
#1 If you have environmental mold, three things need to happen:
- Stop the moisture
- Remove the damaged materials or make proper corrections
- Treat the environment
#2 Maintain the house going forward by:
- Treating the house with BioBalance™ Haven Dry Fog 1x/year (Coupon code for 10% off: mastcell360)
- Using the BioBalance™ Haven Mist 1x/month around the house (Coupon code for 10% off: mastcell360)
- Getting the MERV 11 furnace filters
- Good air purification system like AirDoctor (Get $300 off AirDoctor here)
- Getting a good air exchange in the house (HRV or ERV system)
If you stick with those things, you’re going to get a lot of benefits. You’ll have an easier time restoring your health.
And, if you need help with working on Mold Toxicity, you can find information here:
Transcript of Interview with Jeff Bookout on Environmental Mold when you have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or Histamine Intolerance
Beth O’Hara (00:00:02):
Hi, everyone, and welcome back. Today we are talking about environmental mold. We’ve spent quite a few weeks talking about mold, detoxification and what to do if you have mold illness. But one of the most essential steps if you’ve been exposed to mold, and you’ve had problems with mold toxicity is to make sure that your home and other environments that you spend time in, like your workplace, your car, perhaps church places and schools, if you have children, that these are free of mold as well. We’ve been having a lot of great questions about environmental mold.
Beth O’Hara (00:00:39):
I’ve brought on today Jeff Bookout, and Jeff is one of the, in my opinion, top environmental mold specialists in the country. Let me tell you a little bit about his background here. Jeff is a certified mold inspector. He became certified in 2004. He’s also certified with what’s called forward-looking infrared radar. This is really critical for mold inspection. After attending numerous mold seminars and asking to speak and teach at mold seminars, he also interviewed for numerous doctors for their mold podcasts. Then Jeff has also developed a reputation for being the preferred inspector and indoor environmental specialist for doctors around the country, and he certainly is in my practice. Jeff now travels the country, and for quite a while he was traveling around the U.S. inspecting and treating homes for doctors and patients since 2004.
Beth O’Hara (00:01:39):
Now, I know he’s mostly doing that in the western side of the U.S., and he uses the latest technology for mold inspections and also safe, natural products. This is really critical because, a lot of mold remediation products are quite toxic, and so if you have Mast Cell Activation, we’re going to make sure that this is done in a way, the remediation is done in a way that’s not going to make you feel even worse during the remediation. Jeff is the owner of Oklahoma EnviroServ Specialists, and he’s the president of BioBalance Solutions. We’re going to go through, talk with Jeff.
Beth O’Hara (00:02:14):
I reached out to Jeff. He’s helped a number of my clients in my practice, and then we ended up … Some of you may know, I moved into the house that I’m in, in January. I’ve thoroughly tested this house for mold before we moved in. It was absolutely clean and really exciting, I felt great in the house. Then we had so much rain here around March and April, very, very damp, and all of a sudden, we had mold in the basement. As you can imagine, I freaked out and I called Jeff and Jeff was just wonderful. He set up a remote consult with us. We walked him through. It was invaluable to have his support and his help, and we’ve been able to get the mold remediated and handled with all of his steps, things I would have never thought about.
Beth O’Hara (00:03:00):
That’s why I wanted to bring him along as a specialist, to work with you guys and talk with you guys today about what you can do, and also he’ll let you know about his products. Now, Jeff is on vacation right now. I want us to really thank him for joining us from his vacation at the beach. He may have a little choppy reception, so if that happens I might pull myself out of the stream and let Jeff talk, so you can have clear reception. But thanks Jeff so much for being here with us today.
Jeff Bookout (00:03:32):
You bet. Happy to be able to help. Like you said, I am on the beach doing a little bit of work, but I spent a little bit of time to enjoy some of this beautiful weather that’s here as well.
Beth O’Hara (00:03:42):
Good. Well, I hope you have a great time out there. I know you work hard and you deserve a break. Why don’t we start with, a lot of people ask me and I know they ask you, why has environmental mold become such a problem particularly when our parents or grandparents didn’t talk about dealing with this?
Jeff Bookout (00:04:02):
You bet. I think one of the first things that we looked at is especially 1973, the Arab oil embargo, that’s when we got energy efficient in our homes. Now, anything that happens in our house stays in our house, whether that’s mold, radon, Lysol, hairspray, bleach, ammonia, all those toxins build up inside this building envelope, and then people start getting sick from that exposure. Now, grandma’s house dirt floor basement, mold growing all over the jam and jelly jars, but nobody ever got sick. You had so much air exchange in that house probably too much, but those toxins didn’t build up inside an environment.
Jeff Bookout (00:04:44):
But if you look at stats, asthma stats for one example, since 1973, they have just skyrocketed. If you look at that correlation, it’s our indoor environment. It’s our building envelope the way we’ve made our houses and the sources, the food sources for mold that we put in our houses. Now, all of a sudden these toxins are building up. We talked a little bit about, this has been a problem for a long time. I’ve done this 17 years and I think in at least the last five years, a lot of the gap is being filled by functional medicine doctors, chiropractors, not your traditional medicine.
Jeff Bookout (00:05:23):
Because a lot of times, a lot of times mold gets overlooked. A lot of people haven’t been trained in that, then all of a sudden, when you can’t find a diagnosis for what is going on inside someone’s body, then all of a sudden, we’re looking at mold. Finally, within the last five years especially, a lot more tools have been available to doctors, the mycotoxin urine analysis, some testing, easy do it yourself testing has been brought to life. Now all of a sudden you’re able to see this. Studies over the years have also looked at this, why do some people get sick some don’t?
Jeff Bookout (00:06:04):
Which is a huge part of what I do, because I’m in mold properties 24/7. I live and breathe mold, right? I could not tell you the last time that I’ve been sick. But if you have the right genetics, HLA gene, MTHFR, mast cell, you have Lyme, you have all these other issues, autoimmune issues that allow toxins to stay trapped inside your body, you get sick with mold exposure, then all of a sudden you do not excrete those toxins out of the body. That’s why some people get sick and some don’t. It’s being able to look at that, understand that and realize that, finally we’re discovering why my youngest daughter gets sick when she gets around mold, but I don’t.
Jeff Bookout (00:06:51):
Until somebody can look at that and understand that, a lot of times, especially the family group, the family environment, the husband doesn’t realize that the wife is sick because he doesn’t feel those symptoms, or vice versa. Sometimes a young child inside the house isn’t old enough to understand why they’re getting sick. Finally, we’re looking at data that especially in the last five years that we’ve never looked at before, and that’s made a huge difference in people’s health.
Beth O’Hara (00:07:20):
It’s a combo of changing how buildings are built, so they’re much more tightly wrapped, so we’re getting everything held in chemicals, we’re getting radon, we’re getting moisture held and humidity levels are higher. Combination of finally detecting these things that we just didn’t know about, so we’re catching it. Also, I’m wondering about electromagnetic fields, and also that maybe our immune systems are weakened more than they happen in the past because of all the toxic exposures. What do you think about that, Jeff?
Jeff Bookout (00:07:56):
It is. It’s a combination of a lot of things. You have those environmental exposures, EMFs that we’ve never looked at in the past. We’ve never been exposed to all the things that we’re being exposed to now, which does create an impact. I’ve looked at EMFs greatly and a lot of the data is finally starting to come out. But if you look at how mold specifically works, mold works like a dandelion out in the yard. As soon as you kick it, blow it, disturb it, it thinks it’s going to die, throws out it’s either mold spores or mycotoxins to either fight for itself or regenerate somewhere else. If you have mold inside the house or even inside the body, and now I have this EMF coming in, it does not …
Jeff Bookout (00:08:42):
It knows that … The mold itself knows that that’s not natural, it’s not nature. It is constantly triggered. When EMFs are, especially 5G that’s come out, EMFs are triggering this mold and it’s constantly producing mycotoxins, because it’s in a constant fight situation. EMFs play a tremendous role in mold toxicity. It just amplifies everything. There’s a lot of specialists in that field and finally some of this data is coming out, and the more that that data comes out, the more that that’s going to be available, but that’s just what I call the old school version of why EMFs make people sick.
Jeff Bookout (00:09:21):
Well, if we look at mold specifically, it’s constantly putting into a fight situation, so we can throw off mycotoxins and make that environment worse.
Beth O’Hara (00:09:31):
Makes sense. There’s so many reasons because we’re living in different environments than we did 50, 60 years ago. Even when I was growing up, Jeff, we didn’t have Wi-Fi routers, and we didn’t have cell phones. But I did grow up in a house that was an old farmhouse. It had a dirt crawl space underneath, so I had a lot of mold exposure there. But I even had mold exposure in some workplaces, and many people have, especially clients that I’ve worked with they’ve had mold inspectors come in and told them that there was no mold. I had this in particular two[inaudible 00:10:07] clients I had. I had a strong hunch that environmental mold was the problem.
Beth O’Hara (00:10:14):
Because I’m so sensitive, I smelled it right away. I actually went to their homes, and I had to stop after the second one, because I could smell it and it made me feel so ill, even though most people probably couldn’t detect that. Can you talk to us about how to get good mold Inspection, and particularly what was the problem was people were spending 1,000, 1,500, $2,000 on mold inspectors to come in, they weren’t finding anything. But I could walk in and I could smell that musty smell immediately. What should people do to find out if there’s mold in their house, where the issue is, and what kinds of mold that they’re dealing with?
Jeff Bookout (00:10:58):
Oh, that’s a great, great question. It’s full of a lot of answers. Anytime you have a musty odor, that’s MVOCs, mold, volatile organic compounds. Mold is feeding at the time, and it’s producing that into the air. Yes, that can make people sick. Every way of testing for mold right now has its flaws. There’s no one perfect tool out there that says, “Jeff, there’s mold behind this wall and here’s what exactly it is and this is what exactly needs to be done.” Unfortunately, those tools don’t exist. It’s a combination of a lot of tools and a lot of data put together.
Jeff Bookout (00:11:37):
If we look at your traditional air testing, which a lot of people are doing, whether that’s ERMI, whether that is indoor to outdoor air comparison, which I do a lot of, petri dishes, great, I love them, but every way of air testing has its flaws. If you look at how mold works, the dandelion effect again, mold works like a dandelion out in the yard. As soon as you kick it or disturb it, it thinks it’s going to die, throws its mold spores out to regenerate somewhere else. All these tests are looking for sporulation or old, dead mold spores, live mold spores, all these tests are looking for spores.
Jeff Bookout (00:12:13):
If you have a mold problem behind your master shower, it is setting back there fat, happy and content, not throwing a lot of mold spores into the air. But the mycotoxins and the MVOCs are being released into the air. That’s what you’re smelling. That’s what’s making you sick. If you’re looking at just air testing alone, sometimes air testing will miss it, because it’s back there. It’s fat, happy and content not putting out a lot of mold spores into the air. Now you open that cavity and all of a sudden your mold spores are going to be huge numbers. It’s a combination of air testing.
Jeff Bookout (00:12:47):
We talked about infrared cameras, being able to look behind wall cavities to see if there’s moisture content currently back there. Moisture meters, a great tool. VOC meters, volatile organic compounds, so it’s measuring VOC levels into the air. We use ultra fine particle counts as well. It’s a combination of all that put together, that creates an accurate determination of what is going on inside of the house. Because if you look at always attesting to, they all have standards with them. Now, ERMI testing and SDA agar plates, they have a health scale attached to them, which makes them a little bit more sensitive, because they’re taking into account people who actually have sears or HLA, MTHFR, some of these other issues that make them sick and other people not sick.
Jeff Bookout (00:13:41):
Everybody has a different scale or threshold of where they get sick from mold. Some people are way up here, and some people are way down here. Most of the people that you’re dealing with are super sensitive, so they’re passing air tests and things are showing up okay on that test. But in reality, that house is still making them sick. It’s a combination of good tools being used, and then somebody who understands the medical aspects, realizing that just because it’s not a huge 12 foot area on a wall, it is still going to be a problem for somebody that has these certain genetic issues.
Jeff Bookout (00:14:21):
It’s encompassing all of that to find that inspector to be able to come in and look at those issues.
Beth O’Hara (00:14:26):
How do you find a mold inspector that’s going to be able to do these kinds of things you’re talking about? That’s what I really struggled with. I even, I stopped recommending some of the mold inspectors because I just couldn’t find the right ones for people. Then we did the ERMI testing and it was missing mold, so I finally just went to doing the mold plates through ImmunoLytics. What would you recommend? We’ve got a lot of people on here who are asking questions about, how can they check their homes, and sometimes they don’t have a lot of funds to spend 1,000 or 2,000 on inspection.
Jeff Bookout (00:15:07):
Beth O’Hara (00:15:08):
What can they do?
Jeff Bookout (00:15:10):
A couple things. Obviously the prime thing to do would be to have a mold inspector doing all this testing. Yes, that’s expensive. But that’s the gold standard, right? Jeff, I can’t afford the gold standard. I understand that. Let’s get some do it yourself petri dishes from immunolytics.com. They do a great job and it is a simple, cheap, easy test, the best bang for the buck that’s out there. ImmunoLytics specializes in two different things. One is testing for mold, so identifying what molds are there, putting it to a health scale and then giving you that information.
Jeff Bookout (00:15:46):
That’s half of what they do. The other half is being able to get on a phone call and have a consult with somebody who knows what’s going on in the mold field and going over those results with you. Even though it may not be showing high, there are some red flags in those mold results that came back, and being a mold inspector by trade, they’re able to look at some of those and give you the right information to be able to do it yourself. That would be the next best thing is get some agar plates. I think testing is probably around $35 per sample taking, so it’s extremely cheap and easy to do.
Jeff Bookout (00:16:25):
That’s probably the best bang for the buck if you can’t afford a mold inspector. The next thing is what I would say is virtual inspections. When people talk to me and they say, “Jeff, will you do a virtual inspection on my house?” I will, but the first thing I’m going to tell you, the best thing I would like to have is somebody in your house, boots on the ground physically going through your house. If you’re not confident with somebody in your area doing that, I will be happy to do a virtual inspection. We charge 295 for those virtual inspections. I send over a questionnaire, we go over that information. You send me a bunch of pictures then we spend about an hour on FaceTime or Zoom, going through your property and finding where problems are actually coming from.
Jeff Bookout (00:17:07):
It’s not as good as having somebody there. But yeah, it’s a next affordable option for people to have.
Beth O’Hara (00:17:15):
It wouldn’t capture, it wouldn’t be able to do that infrared work to see if there was mold behind the shower wall, but you could definitely start to narrow it down. I know …
Jeff Bookout (00:17:26):
That’s correct, and it’s funny. I have a guy that travels with me, his name’s Brandon. I’ve been training him for not quite a year now personally. The guy is just phenomenal. One of his early on comments to me was, “Jeff, it’s amazing how you’re able to find things before this $40,000 worth of gear tells you it’s there.” That’s true, because visually looking at something or using your nose and obviously in a virtual inspection, I don’t have my nose, but you’re able to see things that just aren’t ordinary. The way my mind processes things, if I see something that’s not ordinary, I’m going to trace it back, whether that’s just some discoloration on the wall, some grout that’s missing, whatever the case, you’re able to find a lot of things in a virtual inspection, that you’d be surprised how well it works.
Beth O’Hara (00:18:14):
I was really impressed. We just got so many steps that I never would have thought of. But I know you’ve worked with a lot of my clients also, remotely and they’ve been extremely happy, and has been very helpful. Let’s talk about some other places to test. People always think about testing their home, but I’ve had people where their homes came back clean, and then when we started looking at well what’s happening in their workplace or especially with children, schools are such a common place and also churches, and a lot of kids do some kind of Bible study or some kind of group in the church basement.
Beth O’Hara (00:18:51):
Can you talk about some other areas that people should be looking at. Jeff we had a bunch of people join so I just want to let people know who are joining. Jeff’s at the beach, his bandwidth is not as good, so that’s why I’m coming out to help with the bandwidth. But if you can hang in there, we’ve got some amazing information. That’s why this is a little different than usual. But can you talk to us about these other places to test?
Jeff Bookout (00:19:16):
Yeah. The first thing I look at is, where do you spend the most time and obviously for school aged children, a lot of that time is school, and school is one of those places that we shut up for three months out of the year. Especially where I live in Oklahoma, extremely hot, extremely humid, then once humidity gets above 50%, mold starts thriving off the high humidity in the air. When we close up our schools, mold starts to flourish. Churches are the same way. Everybody’s there on Sunday and then Monday through Saturday, just the office area is open, so again, we shut up those areas, turn off the HVAC system, and humidity gets out of control.
Jeff Bookout (00:20:00):
If we have a moisture problem or had one to start with, and we already have a mold source, now, when we shut everything down and the humidity rises, then all of a sudden it’s exacerbating that or making that problem dramatically worse. Looking at the other places that we spend the most time is always helpful. Sometimes these are easy questions. You think they’re simple, but do you feel better in the summertime? Do you feel better when you go on vacation for a week and then stay out of the house? Or, obviously if you’re away from school, so a lot of times you’re able to …
Jeff Bookout (00:20:37):
The clients able to give you that information, if you’re able to retrieve it from them. “Oh, yeah. You know what, every time I do leave, I feel great. Or you know, summertime when I’m a teacher at school, and during the summer times, I feel great. But as soon as I walk back into my classroom, I’m horrible.” I have this happen last week to me. It’s a really great guy. He works on a Air Force Base, and every time he’s going to work he gets sick and literally, he’s been working remotely from home for a while. I met him outside the base. We were talking, go to the office, do the inspection. A couple hours go by then he’s taking me back off the base, and he sounded all clogged up immediately.
Jeff Bookout (00:21:20):
His upper and lower respiratory, you could tell was an inflammatory issue or inflammatory response, and you could tell he was getting sick just from that two hours that we’re spending in that office area.
Beth O’Hara (00:21:34):
Then also, we tested my dogs. I have two dogs and they’re big dogs and they like to go roll in the grass and we found Aspergillus in their fur. Can you talk to people about how you would test things like dogs and cats and even things like couches or carpets that could have mold in them?
Jeff Bookout (00:21:57):
Yes, so I always say, there’s a lot of hidden sources in people’s houses that they just don’t realize. Pets are huge. Do a tap test. Grab a petri dish from immunolytics.com, they show you how to do a tap test. You’re basically taking that agar plate, tapping it four times on that pet, wrap it up, send it to the lab, and they’re going to analyze what molds if any, were growing in that pet. It’s amazing how much molds grow in that pet. Same thing with your bed, your pillows, your couch. Mattresses are one of the worst places and if your mattress is more than eight years old, it’s time to get rid of it. If there was a major mold intrusion in your house, it’s a good idea to start over with a new mattress.
Jeff Bookout (00:22:40):
It’s a good idea to start over with pillows every two years. It is amazing how much you sweat, drool into those. Live plants are another issue. Inherently there’s mold growth into the soil. Fish tanks, those are standing water around the house. It’s a lot of these little things that contribute to some of this toxic load constantly that allows someone to either still remain sick or not get as healthy as what they normally could have, because we still have these little problem areas running around in the house.
Beth O’Hara (00:23:11):
We’ll talk about some ways that you can address your pets and I don’t recommend anybody have to get rid of their pets. It’s like getting rid of [inaudible 00:23:19].
Jeff Bookout (00:23:19):
No, I have mine.
Beth O’Hara (00:23:21):
I have my dogs. I would be sick instead of get rid of them. But we were able to handle that and address them with a special shampoo that we’ll talk about. I don’t have a mold plate here, but I do have a little glass container. I’d like to show everybody that when you tap test the dogs or any pets, you have to wrap your fingertips around, so you touch your fingertips when you tap testing instead of hitting the plate against them.
Jeff Bookout (00:23:47):
Yes. It’s hard to do it wrong because if somebody messes it up, usually the guy who’s doing the consult is able to see that you touched the plate. There’s Candida growing all over it and a perfect hand print or a fingerprint. It’s difficult to mess it up. But yeah, you’re exactly right. Get that little quarter inch gap there and just tap onto that area. But the instructions are pretty good in their testing kits too.
Beth O’Hara (00:24:15):
We’ve talked a lot about inspection. Let’s start talking about what are the first steps if you know you have mold in your house, how do you start to remediate? Everybody that has questions we are going to get to the Q&A but let’s … we’re going to step through this info part first. What are the first steps if somebody, their mold plate comes back positive or the mold inspector says yes, there’s mold here?
Jeff Bookout (00:24:40):
Three things need to happen. Anytime we have a mold intrusion of any kind inside of a house, three things need to happen. Number one, I have to find moisture intrusion and stop it. Whether that’s an ongoing leak, high humidity, moisture has to stop. If not, mold will just come back. Number two, identify any mold damaged materials, make sure that they are removed and replaced properly. Sometimes it’s making proper corrections. Crawl space is a perfect example. I can’t remove and replace that crawl space but I can make proper corrections to it to make it safe again.
Jeff Bookout (00:25:20):
Then number three, is I treat the air to get those excessive mold spores and mycotoxins back under control. That’s the do it yourself fog kits at BioBalancenow.com. We’ll talk about that in just a little bit as well. But it’s a three step process for me. One is stopping moisture. Two is finding mold damage materials and making sure they’re removed or proper corrections made. Then number three treating the air. You miss one of those three steps, you have missed a big part of the equation and that’s any part of it, the humidity, the removing the damaged materials, or treating.
Jeff Bookout (00:25:55):
All three must go hand in hand. If you do not remove and replace those damaged materials or make proper corrections mold will come back.
Beth O’Hara (00:26:06):
That’s great, Jeff. One of the biggest issues we had here was humidity. This is a 20 year old house, but it’s wrapped so tightly we couldn’t keep the humidity levels managed. One of the things that was really helpful was, I got these little humidity gauges called … they’re called hygrometers for our people watching, and just got them on Amazon. My team member Sue is on and she’s going to drop in some links and some info for you guys, and she’ll put in the link for those hygrometers. I actually have one right here. This is what it looks like. It tells you the temperature-
Jeff Bookout (00:26:41):
Beth O’Hara (00:26:41):
… and then the humidity. This is a very accurate one. A lot of them aren’t really accurate, but they’re $14 for four of them. I got eight and I put them all over my house so we can keep an eye on it. We started with some dehumidifier units. Sue will put a link down to those as well. That worked well when I had a smaller house and we had two on each side, we used these little gauges to tell if we had the dehumidifiers running enough, but we ended up in this house having to put in a whole house dehumidifier and that worked very well, but it’s expensive and not a lot of people can do that.
Beth O’Hara (00:27:23):
We’ve talked about controlling humidity. That’s step one, removing any water damaged materials and you’ve talked Jeff about, you’ve really got to go, at least is it one foot, three feet out from where you see water damage?
Jeff Bookout (00:27:38):
I like a minimum of two foot. If you look how mold works, mold hyphae can actually grow up to six inches in length, without you seeing it with the naked eye. Your standard general rule of thumb is, “I’m going to find any mold or water damage materials, go at least two foot past it.”
Beth O’Hara (00:27:57):
Okay, so two feet past and we’re just talking about the hyphaes. Mold puts out what are almost like little roots. If you think about something that has very thin, fine roots, hyphae are similar to that and they’ll spread out through that material, so you’ve got to get rid of that hyphae as well. That’s why when you see one mushroom in your yard, and then another mushroom in your yard, it’s usually the same organism. It could be 20 feet away, so we’ve got to get all of that taken out. Then getting rid of the mold spores and the mycotoxins in the air. You’ve got some products that do that very well. I’ve used them a lot in my home.
Beth O’Hara (00:28:36):
Many of my clients have. I have never felt poorly with those products. They’re non toxic. I feel really good when I use them. Can you tell us more about those BioBalance products and the different options?
Jeff Bookout (00:28:52):
You bet. Well start off first is why we use it. Most of my mold sensitive patients will also be chemically sensitive as well, and we don’t want to make the problem worse. GSE base, grapefruit seed extract, lemon, lime and tangerine extracts. There’s two different products there. One’s dry fog, that’s what we used to treat. If you want to treat mold, it’s called The HavenFog. That is what we use for treatment. It goes out in a true dry fog form. Literally when you go in and treat a property, you’re not able to see three foot in front of your face. You’re getting extremely thick in there, it stays in the air, captures those excess of mold, dust, dirt, debris, viruses, Candida, yeast and dropping them back out of the air and we do that safely.
Jeff Bookout (00:29:43):
You look at a lot of the other products, which is our second product which is what we use for maintenance is the HavenMist. When we look at that HavenMist, there’s some three different options there that the regular HavenMist kit is what I like the most. It’s simple, it’s easy to use and it is water-based. It goes up in the air but falls out of the air relatively quickly, unlike the dry fog, but it works extremely well. The travel kit is what I … I’m in a lot of hotels, so every time I’m in a hotel room or travel a lot, that’s what I take with me to temporarily treat that air that’s in that hotel room, or wherever I’m at to at least make that air night and day better than what it was before I walked in there.
Jeff Bookout (00:30:33):
Again, both products completely safe. HavenFog used for treatment, HavenMist used for maintenance. When we talk a little bit about going forward, when we look at a house, what does Jeff do to his own house? We all have mold problems inside of a house. I do this for a living and I had three major water intrusions in my own home last year. It happens to all of us. But if I stopped that moisture intrusion, remove the damaged materials then treat and I treat my own house once a year no matter what with the dry fog, that’s the HavenFog. Then once a month I use the HavenMist. As you’ll see, the Haven mist is dramatically cheaper to use as well.
Jeff Bookout (00:31:15):
That’s why I’m able to maintain my house for roughly $30 a month. You get a lot of compliance when you’re able to do that, but it helps keep things under control. Some of the other things I do yearly, there’s five things that I like to do inside of a house, so dry fog once a year, that’s number one. Number two is using the HavenMist once a month. Number three is using MERV rating 11 filters in my HVAC system. Number four is strategically using Austin Air air purifiers throughout the house. I’m not trying to cover my whole square footage, but I want to have them in the main areas that we’re spending the most time. Then I would say number five is good air change in the house.
Jeff Bookout (00:31:56):
Depending on where you live, that would be an HRV or an ERV system, something to give you proper air exchange because as we talked about the first, since 1973, the Arab oil embargo, we’ve energy efficiented everything. Well, dilution is the solution. If we can get good air exchange inside of our house, we’re going to help dilute those toxins. Those are the five things that I like to do to be able to safely maintain the property.
Beth O’Hara (00:32:25):
Let me step back through those. You went through it quickly, so I want to recap for people and I’m going to type them out for everybody as well. We have a lot of brain fog people on here, so that’s why I just keep recapping.
Jeff Bookout (00:32:39):
Sure, that’s good.
Beth O’Hara (00:32:40):
Talked about dry fogging with the HavenFog kit once a year, and then the HavenMist, how often did you say you do that?
Jeff Bookout (00:32:51):
I do that once a month.
Beth O’Hara (00:32:54):
Once a month. Okay. Then, we talked about the MERV 11 filters. Then you talk about Austin Air purifiers. We love those as well. If people are interested, we offer a discount on those. We also have a link for discount on AirDoctor. I really like both of those air purifiers. We’ve got the option, something that has enough filtering capacity to capture mold spores and mycotoxins.
Jeff Bookout (00:33:25):
I agree. When I look at air purifiers, the thing I’m looking for is something that doesn’t create a chemical change, because there are some good ones out there that create a chemical change. If a chemical change takes place, again, some of my most sensitive patients will have a reaction to that. That’s why I like to stick with just like you said, Austin Air is probably my number one. IQ Air is probably my number two. Number three would be AirDoctor, so we’re right on course with the same things. I just want a good MERV rating of 16 air purification in my filter for those units, and something that also uses charcoal filtration to remove VOCs, and all three of those units that we talked about do that.
Beth O’Hara (00:34:08):
Excellent. Can you talk a little bit more about good air exchange in the house? When you and I met that was a new concept to me in terms of these HRV or ERV systems, and we did end up getting one installed. It was not cheap either, but we did that with the dehumidifier and it has really helped. Can you just explain that more for people?
Jeff Bookout (00:34:30):
You bet. I love the analogy, Scooby Doo Green Gas. I grew up around, my kids are just now finally getting out of the Scooby Doo stage. They’re old enough now, but everyone can equate to the green gas that’s in the air in all these Scooby Doo movies. You see all those toxins and that’s what I’m equating to that green gas, it’s mycotoxins and MVOCs, so you can’t see it before but now all of a sudden, if you imagine it as Scooby Doo green gas, you can see it. You have all these toxins that build up in the house. If we’re opening our windows or getting an HRV or an ERV system and bringing fresh air in and taking old air out, it takes all that green gas and toxins out of my building envelope. It helps keep everything diluted, so things don’t build up inside the house. Does that answer that?
Beth O’Hara (00:35:23):
Yes, that is great. I’ve noticed that just the air in our house smells so much better now too.
Jeff Bookout (00:35:30):
Yeah, and I’m lucky in Colorado, I’m in Colorado quite a bit and they open their windows and doors a lot, which is great. I love it, but a lot of times and there’s a lot of basements there though, and a lot of times they don’t open the basement windows and that’s usually where the problem resides is actually in the basement. The cheap easy way to do that yourself without having to buy an HRV or an ERV, open your windows and doors, but do that throughout the house. That way we get as much fresh air each exchanges we can without having to spend any money to do it. Just simply opening my doors and windows.
Beth O’Hara (00:36:05):
Which is great when you’re in a place with clean air. In my area, we’re in the top most polluted areas in the country, so there’s so much smog and then lots of allergens and pollen. This really helped a lot, because you can often smell the air pollution when you open those windows. But some people do live in cleaner areas, and so they might be able to just do that and open those windows and doors. Yeah. Okay, so we’ve covered a lot, but a couple other quick questions for you that people were asking and then let’s go to the Q&A section.
Jeff Bookout (00:36:42):
Beth O’Hara (00:36:43):
People were asking, one, how do you find a mold free or low mold home, which I can attest to is very difficult. We were home shopping for two years, and got really serious about it. Over six months, we looked at over 50 houses, and out of 50, one of them did not have mold and that was this one, and it was January when it was really dry. I hear this all the time; people are really challenged to find someplace that doesn’t have mold. What would you say for people that are shopping for someplace?
Jeff Bookout (00:37:19):
There’s two nos for me. I do a lot of inspections where I’m coming in and as a prior patient and Jeff, I just want to yes or no, would you buy this house? Yes or no? There’s two things I always tell everyone, do not have me come and look that property if it has a crawl space. If it has a crawl space my answer will be no. Number two would be a swamp cooler. If the house has a swamp cooler, the answer is no. Outside of that …
Beth O’Hara (00:37:48):
[crosstalk 00:37:48]. Not everybody knows what swamp cooler is. Can you tell them what that is?
Jeff Bookout (00:37:53):
I’m sorry, say that one more time. I missed that.
Beth O’Hara (00:37:56):
Not everybody knows what a swamp cooler is, so can you explain what that is?
Jeff Bookout (00:38:00):
You bet. Generally, they’re either on the top of the house or on an outside wall. It’s basically an AC unit that they hook up a water hose to, so there’s constantly standing water inside of that unit, and they have big old mesh filters on the side. Then it takes air through an air handler and throws that moist air into the house. I wish I had … I have some on my, some pictures on … I think, actually on the website and some questions and answers if they actually want to look at what those units are. But by definition, why it’s called a swamp cooler, is they call it a swamp cooler because it smells like a swamp because of all the mold growth that actually grows into that. If you have a swamp cooler, or if you’re not so sure if it’s a swamp cooler, just Google search a swamp cooler and hit images and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Jeff Bookout (00:38:57):
But it’s not one of those window units that’s on the side of the window. I’ve seen them be used as window units, but they’re a lot bigger than your traditional window unit. You’re actually putting a water hose to it, and having standing water in the bottom of that unit and taking that moist air, moist cold air and throwing it into the house.
Beth O’Hara (00:39:19):
Okay, so if there’s a swamp cooler which is also called an evaporative cooler, is that correct?
Jeff Bookout (00:39:27):
Beth O’Hara (00:39:27):
Okay, so if you have one of those which is more common out west. I’ve never seen one of those in the eastern part of the country. Or if there’s a crawl space and those are good indicators, this might not be a good home. Now, outside of that, what should people be looking at if they’re home shopping, apartment shopping? I’ve got a lot of teenage clients who are getting ready to go to dorms for college in the fall.
Jeff Bookout (00:39:54):
Yeah, my youngest that gets sick from mold exposure, next week I actually helped move her in. I’m fixing go through that as well. But probably one of the one of the biggest things I always look for is your nose. Does something smell funky in this house? If you’re not sure what it is, that’s okay. The answer is it’s not a good idea, whether that is excessive pet urine that’s in the carpet or whether that’s that musty odor. Now, mold has three distinct odors to me. One of them is a urine smell. One of them’s the old musty basement smell and the third is the old antique smell. Now, my nose is going to be different than a lot of people I get that, but the answer is if that house has a funky odor, it’s probably best to stay away from it.
Jeff Bookout (00:40:37):
Outside of that is, I want to take a good look at all my water sources. The HVAC unit, does water set against the foundation, underneath the sinks, vanities? Anywhere that you have water lines, that’s a good place to take a good look at, open those cabinets, open those doors. Underneath the tub if you have access to it. The areas that you’re actually kind of your own little mold inspector, go through that house and look for something abnormal. If it’s a big enough of an abnormality, then it’s probably a good idea to stay away from that property.
Beth O’Hara (00:41:14):
That’s how I could tell, and I completely agree with you and those three smells. I had never thought to categorize it that way. But that’s exactly how I detect it as well. That’s how I knew on these houses, I would walk in and usually within a few seconds, I would know, I could smell some mold. Now it’s going to be worse in more humid areas than drier areas of the country. But keeping an eye on that, I think you could apply the same tips for apartments as well, looking for apartments. Some people are also asking, how can you know if you should remediate or you need to move?
Beth O’Hara (00:41:50):
I know there are a lot of groups online that say, “If you have a lot of toxicity, you absolutely must move,” but I don’t agree with that. I think that one can be way more stress for people if it’s possible to remediate, and it’s so expensive to get rid of all of your possessions and move and a lot of people can’t do that. What do you say to that Jeff?
Jeff Bookout (00:42:16):
I think the first comment I have would be in a perfect world, yeah, if you’re living in a toxic environment, and you can get out and you can afford to get out, get out. For my patients and the people that I get to see, that’s probably less than 1%, 2% that can actually do that. The answer is, “Okay, how can I help you until either you can make that educated decision or solve the problem, find the problem and solve the problem?” Just by trading the air with the dry fog, you can immediately make the environment night and day better than what it was, buy you some time until those proper corrections have been made.
Jeff Bookout (00:42:55):
Or you can get out or you can afford to make the proper correction. Remember when we’re talking about affording to make proper corrections, the big thing is to remove the damaged materials. If I have mold all over a wall, I can take out the wall. I don’t have to replace it yet, but the damaged materials must be gone. A lot of times a lot of expense is going back with new materials, so a lot of times you have time to make the choice on the new materials, but at least get rid of the damaged materials. Personally, I do this for a living. My youngest daughter gets sick from mold exposure.
Jeff Bookout (00:43:34):
Like I said, I’ve had three major water intrusions all produced heavy amounts of mold growth, two of which dramatically affected my daughter’s room. One was behind her shower where there’s two foot of Stachybotrys growing behind the wall, and two foot of Aspergillus going directly above it behind her shower. The other one was underneath her wood floor was solid Aspergillus penicillin, because the water was sitting. All of them affected her room. Was any thought process to get out of that house? No, I got her out of that environment to get her away from that, put her in a different room contained and sealed that room, then made the proper correction so she could get back in.
Jeff Bookout (00:44:14):
But I like staying in my house because I know my house. I know where those problems are. I know that I’ve got them safely or can safely correct them. If I can stay, I’m going to stay. But at the end of the day, staying out maybe until you could get those problems found and addressed wouldn’t be a bad idea. But if I can treat the air and make it night and day better than what it was, I’m going to do that as well. There’s some options there. Because anytime you tell someone to leave the house, it’s a huge statement. We don’t take it lightly when that has to happen. It comes out of my mouth probably maybe three times a year and I do this every day.
Jeff Bookout (00:44:57):
I tell somebody that they should leave because the problems so bad. But the answer is, it’s all about balance of health. If I can get you out of that environment, great. If I can’t get you out of that the environment, okay. Here’s some practical tools and tips with fogging until we can get the problem corrected, to help make things manageable until proper corrections can be done.
Beth O’Hara (00:45:21):
That’s great Jeff, and we have so many questions. I’m going to get to as many as I can here. I want to be respectful of your time today.
Jeff Bookout (00:45:29):
Beth O’Hara (00:45:30):
I think what you just said helps Marilyn here, who is wanting to know how to do some cheap temporary mold remediation until she sells her house. I know you did this with one of my clients too. They had a lot of mold. They decided they had to sell, and so you had them fogging. I think every, I can’t remember exactly was it two weeks, six weeks until they were able to move?
Jeff Bookout (00:45:53):
Yeah, it all depends on the situation. But the most you’ll ever get out of a dry fog is six months if the source isn’t corrected. A lot of times it’s at least once a month, and sometimes depending on their symptoms, “Hey, once a month isn’t enough, Jeff.” “Okay, let’s do it every couple of weeks, do it every week. Do a combination of the dry fog and the mist.” There’s a lot of different options to help.
Beth O’Hara (00:46:14):
What would you recommend, Evelyn’s having trouble getting black strips of what she thinks is mold out of her sink? Any tips for that?
Jeff Bookout (00:46:25):
Yeah, usually that if it’s around the sink, it’s a seal issue, waters getting behind that seal, so it’s redoing the seal. It’s like in a bathroom, you’ll have this happen a lot in showers, mold grows around your shower. In a perfect world every time after you take a shower, use the sink, dry that area back up. That way, as long as it’s dried within 48 hours, mold it’s not going to grow. Now if I’m doing that in the shower or underneath the sink and I’ve replaced the caulking, and I’ve kept it dry and mold is still growing, then mold is either behind that sink cavity still seeping through and there’s a bigger problem underneath. Or same way in the shower, there’s water behind the shower tiles and it’s still seeping through and there’s a bigger problem behind the area.
Beth O’Hara (00:47:08):
Got you. Okay and then Jesse’s saying … Let’s talk about cleaning the HVAC. We did that here in my house and that helped. How much do you see that being helpful?
Jeff Bookout (00:47:20):
I always dry fog my HVAC system. That sitting the dry fog through the HVAC, find the return air, turn the temperature on the temperature thermostat, the fan to the on position, run that fog through my ducts and I’ll see it coming out all my registers. Now if I have a lot of excess dust, dirt, debris, I would suggest cleaning the vents afterwards. I treat first then clean second. The other thing to make sure in HVAC is that the coils are good, they look good, no growth on those coils, the motor or the plenum box which is usually wrapped in insulation directly above those coils. As long as there’s not a problem there and there’s not excessive dust, dirt, debris it’s just fogging. Then if there is a lot of excessive dust, dirt, debris, then it’s cleaning my events.
Beth O’Hara (00:48:08):
Jeff has got on his website over at BioBalancenow.com, if you go to the FAQ, he’s got steps there also on how to fog your HVAC system. Okay, Chloe’s got a great question, how do you get mold out of clothes? We had this issue because we had a front loader before I knew that front loaders were a mold problem. Mold developed in that front loader and a lot of the clothes smelled like mold. I could just always tell. There was a great shampoo, not shampoo but laundry detergent that is similar to what Jeff produces, and so Sue will put a link down for you for that laundry detergent. Got it out first wash, was totally gone. We also replaced the front loader, because there was just no way to keep it mold free.
Jeff Bookout (00:48:56):
Yeah, so assuming in clothing, it’s that citrisafe.com. C-I-T-R-I, Safe.com washing and mat. That’s my number one. My number two is just what she did. She went through that three step program with ammonia and Borax. This goes not just for clothes but all belongings. If we’ve tried to treat those and we still can’t get the visible mold, visible water damage or the bad odor out of them, or if we’re still reacting to them at that point, yes, it is time to get rid of those.
Beth O’Hara (00:49:27):
Jeff’s talking about CitriSafe and then we also use a similar product. I’m blanking on the name, it’s EC3.
Jeff Bookout (00:49:37):
It’s EC3. The reason why I know that so well is that’s the original formula that we had used. It’s just a lot more stronger now.
Beth O’Hara (00:49:48):
Yeah, so both of those products are really good. They’re laundry products. Okay, so how can we best make sure we’re not bringing mold to a new place after we move out of mold?
Jeff Bookout (00:50:00):
Yeah, and it’s usually getting those … Number one no visible mold, no visible water, no bad odor into those items. Number four, the caveat to that is you’re not reacting to those items. Now sometimes it is best to get a staging area before we take that new stuff into the new home, so you dry fogged it, you treated stuff with the HavenMist as well, you’ve washed your clothes with the CitriSafe. Now I’m going to take it to the garage. Open it up, look at those items, have a barrier before I take those into the new house. They’re getting triple checked before things go into the new home.
Beth O’Hara (00:50:39):
Okay, good. I apologize, we’re not going to hit all of the questions here but I’m going to hit as many as I can and then if we miss some Jeff or we have questions after, Is it okay if I send those over to you if I’m not [crosstalk 00:50:50].
Jeff Bookout (00:50:50):
Beth O’Hara (00:50:51):
Jeff Bookout (00:50:52):
Beth O’Hara (00:50:53):
Chloe’s asking here, what rights do we have as renters and can, are there any ways to get the landlords to test for mold?
Jeff Bookout (00:51:03):
Laws are different in every state. But here’s, and I’m not a law expert. But no, there’s not a whole lot you can do. But generally from … and I’m not a law guy, but the answer is generally, once someone knows there’s a problem, then they’re liable for that problem. A landlord, just testing for mold is probably not going to happen. If you’ve done it, and now you’re showing that information to them, and they don’t fix the problem, that could be a legal situation. But as far as the law that’s out there that says that they have to do that, the answer is I do not believe so. But I’m not a law expert.
Beth O’Hara (00:51:40):
Many people have asked me, if they test their home for mold with an ERMI test or a mold plate test, could that affect their ability to sell the house? I don’t know state to state, but I have had people tell me that their real estate agent said for that type of testing, that it would not affect the house sale, but …
Jeff Bookout (00:52:00):
Again, every state’s questionnaire is different when you go to sell the house, but here’s would be my answer to that, and ERMI test and even SDA agar plates, those are health scalable. Those are designed for 25% of the population that gets sick from mold exposure. That is not a national standard test. My thought process would be is, I’m looking at this to sell the home. If I did something from a medical scale that’s not affecting 75% of the population, no, I don’t think the state is making you share that data. Now, if you did an air test, indoor and outdoor air comparison, which is the national standard, and it came up high, yes, you’re going to have to share those results.
Jeff Bookout (00:52:46):
Like I said, it’s going to be different in every state, but find out what those questions are for resale and making sure that you answer those correctly. I have a huge moral compass, so if it asked me that question, I’m going to answer it and answer it honestly.
Beth O’Hara (00:53:02):
Great tips there. Marilyn is saying, is it possible to heal without relocating to a drier area? I can say from my own practice, I’ve seen the biggest thing is now I don’t live in a dry area. I live in a very humid area, but I’ve had huge recoveries from mold toxicity and mold illness. The biggest thing is about remediating your home and not having exposure on a regular basis. Is that what you would say, Jeff?
Jeff Bookout (00:53:32):
I would agree with that, and there is a handful … I deal with some of the sickest people on the planet. I’m sure you do too. The answer is there’s a handful, my 5% is what I call them. Yeah, it’s best that they find a different location. Try to find things that are drier. Austin, Texas, is extremely hot and humid. Louisville, Kentucky, extremely hot and humid. But the answer is a lot of times that can’t happen. That’s okay. The biggest thing just like what you said, it’s controlling your environment that you have inside of your house. Usually if you take care of that, everything else takes care of itself. Not always, but the majority of the time.
Beth O’Hara (00:54:13):
Marilyn had another question. I was wondering this too earlier Jeff when we were talking about mattresses. What if you seal the mattress? She’s talking about plastic, or if you sell the mattress in one of the environmental allergen, that are very, very tiny micron mattress covers. Would that protect the mattress from mold?
Jeff Bookout (00:54:33):
It helps, yes. The answer is, if it’s in been in and especially an extremely molded environment where we’re dealing with Stachybotrys or Chaetomium, it is best to get rid of your mattress. Or again, as I said earlier, if your mattress is more than eight years old, get rid of it. My mattress at my own house, yes, we do have a hypoallergenic cover that goes over that to help keep that excess moisture, sweat, drool stuff like that out of my mattress. Yes, they help but they’re not the cure-all.
Beth O’Hara (00:55:05):
Gotcha. Thank you, Jeff. Let me just see if we have one last question here for you and then we’ll start to wrap up. There’s so many good questions. Let’s end with this one. What do you do to deal with the crawl space?
Jeff Bookout (00:55:25):
Great question. Rule number one is stopping any moisture intrusion into it, but generally it is the soil that becomes contaminated. It is covering that soil with a minimum of a 20 mil vapor barrier, and I’m going to make this as quick as possible. But most people say, “Jeff, a six mil is just fine. That’s code.” You’re right. But if you have somebody underneath that crawl space and they put a rip, hole, puncture, tear into that plastic, then all those mycotoxins, MVOCs, mold spores are coming out from underneath that plastic. I want to have it real thick plastic, a minimum of 20 mil that completely encapsulates that soil, so there’s no way for the air underneath that plastic to ever communicate with air above it again. That’s rule number one.
Jeff Bookout (00:56:11):
Rule number two is, remove any exposed insulation. My definition of exposed insulation is the pink stuff, the yellow stuff. If you see the fiberglass, mycotoxins and mold spores just stay trapped and embedded into it and there’s no way to get it out. Remove it. I would replace it with either foam board or plastic backed insulation. Next, if I’m laying on my back and looking at the sub floor, I want to make sure I have no water damage or mold damage on the sub floor itself. If I do, I’m going to treat it with 12% hydrogen peroxide, then put a sealant, such as AFM Safe Coat. It’s a sealant that goes over that wood after it’s been treated.
Jeff Bookout (00:56:52):
That’s a sealant that does not produce VOC’s. There’s a couple other products that are good out there as well. But then again, I’m looking for something that does not put out a lot of outgassing. Next, I would try to seal off that crawl space from the rest of the home, try to make it its own separate home, so no matter what happens in the crawl space, it doesn’t affect my breathable air above. How do I do that? All pipes, holes, crevices, under the tub cavity, seal all those off with foam sealant, so the air in that crawl space is not able to come up through the rest of the house.
Jeff Bookout (00:57:24):
Last but not least, I would vent that crawl space if possible to the outside of the house, creating some type of negative air pressure and getting it flushed out, there again trying to make that crawl space its own separate home.
Beth O’Hara (00:57:40):
These are great, Jeff. I just put a link in for you all on what he’s talking about with the 12% hydrogen peroxide. It’s what we used for an area in our home. We just put it in a weed sprayer. You can take a look at that there. Just as a reminder to everybody and I apologize, I didn’t say this at the beginning. But this is for information and educational purposes. We’re not here to treat, diagnose or prescribe for you, so make sure you talk about these things with your healthcare provider. We also … Jeff has a coupon code for all of our followers.
Beth O’Hara (00:58:18):
I popped just up earlier, but I want to put it up for you again. If you want to use those products, and if you get an analysis with ImmunoLytics, they often will recommend Jeff’s products, and you can use a coupon code for 10% off. That coupon code for you is mastcell360 that gets you 10% off any of those products. That is an affiliate coupon code. I always like to be full disclosure with everyone, so you don’t have to use that code. But it does help support us to do these Facebook Lives and continue to offer these to you guys for free.
Beth O’Hara (00:58:53):
Thank you so much, Jeff, for coming on, for taking time out of not only your busy schedule, but your vacation to talk with us about this, a huge amount of gratitude. A lot of people have posted their gratitude to you, and thanked you for coming on. Do you have any last words for us?
Jeff Bookout (00:59:15):
The biggest things or key points I can get from this time today is, if we have mold, three things need to happen, stop the moisture, remove the damaged materials or make proper corrections, then treat the environment. That’s number one. Number two is how to maintain the house going forward. Because if you’re already sick, more than likely you’re going to fall into that 25% of the population that needs to live in just a little bit better of a bubble than everybody else, my youngest daughter.
Jeff Bookout (00:59:44):
When we go forward, it’s treating the house once a year, using the HavenMist once a month around the house, the MERV rating 11 filters, the air exchange and the good air purification systems. I think if you stick with those two key things, a lot of people are going to get a lot of benefit.
Beth O’Hara (01:00:05):
This is great, Jeff and it’s such a huge issue. It’s over 80% of my practice is mold toxicity and it’s so challenging, so to have this kind of information from an expert like you to help guide people on how to remediate their homes is a game changer. For anybody that joined later, just a reminder that Jeff is available for remote consults, I can highly recommend them. Many of my clients have used them. It’s been invaluable. Thank you again, Jeff. I hope you have a wonderful vacation and some good downtime. If anybody has questions about those products, you can reach out to Jeff and we’ll also get back to the other questions here that we missed. Thanks so much for being with us, everyone, and we will see you all next Monday.
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