• Tatiana Kostiak

Who to Call for Mold Removal

For sick homes, we have a perfect treatment and a very imperfect way of testing. A guest blog from Mike Adams.

When an air quality test is taken in a water-damaged home or building, the test is measuring one thing- the number of spores that are floating around in the small space where we placed the air quality sampling pump. It’s literally measuring just 1.5 liters of air. This is a very very, very small space. In fact, in a 3000 square foot home, you are likely testing less than one/hundredth of one percent of the home’s air. Couple with that the fact that mold is always in one of three states or conditions: growing, sporing, or dormant. We are testing 1/3 of the available “states” of mold. So not only are we only testing 1 of 3 “states” of mold, we are testing 1 one hundredth of one percent of that sample. This is, by all assessments, statistically insignificant. Remember why and for whom the testing was developed. Traditional mold remediators want to test a small confined area after they have run air scrubbers for days. This is another subject for another day, but rest assured they are not even very good at passing those tests. These before tests are, at best, a yes or no test. Yes, you have mold or no, you don't have mold. It is precisely why a court ruling in California recently has stopped property owners from hiding behind an air quality test in mold-infested rentals. The judge has essentially said, air quality testing is a crapshoot. Too many people showed the judge pictures of mold in the rental, and then the property owner showed the same judge a clean air quality report. The ruling essentially says, if you see mold you have mold. If you smell mold, you have mold. No longer can a property owner take a test measuring less than one one-hundredth of one percent of 1/3 of the potential mold and declare the home is safe. As an example, let’s assume a before the test came in at 300 cubic spores per meter. Is that indicative of anything remotely close to what is happening in the home? Of course not. There are other areas of the home where the “growing non-sporing” mold exists. The sporing potential of these areas is in the millions or more. Keep in mind that a pinhead can hold a million spores, (and the lab is pretending that there is a significant difference between an 800 and 1800) or even an 18,000 for that matter. The only result you can definitively count on in an air test is if you are lucky enough to catch the mold in a “bloom”, or a state of sporing. That will give you significantly higher counts. Again, does it mean anything other than “yes you have mold” No! Also, if any of the Stachy or Chaetomium is sporing, those, in any amount, are enough information to recommend remediation. If you have hyphal fragments in the air, that is enough to indicate you need treatment. But the overall count on a before treatment air test is nothing but a guess. What you can be sure of is if you have hard water problems in the home, it is almost unavoidable. You Have Mold!

Now, let’s assume before the test is 40,000. Do you have mold? Yes. Is the 40,000 indicative of your mold level? Probably not. The actual mold “load” of a house would be exponentially higher than this. Now, the question is- since we have established that the mold level in the home cannot be quantifiable with air testing, how do we determine how bad the mold is? The answer is simple, we don't know. This is why the US government has attempted to establish guidelines of minimum mold spore counts, and every time has come up with zero guidelines. Every home or building is different and every person is different. The mold load could be really bad and make someone in your home really sick, or it could be really bad and nobody in your home gets sick. It could also be small amounts in the home and makes someone in the home really sick. Some have the genetic makeup to get very sick from the toxins. Others get sinus infections from just a few spores. It’s literally impossible to establish a minimum safe mold level. So it becomes a personal decision that each customer needs to make based on smell, visual assessment, health, history of the home, and advice from their health care practitioner. Now that we have established that testing a non-treated home or building is non-sensical, let’s examine exactly what happens to a home before treatment and while it is receiving our patented dry fog treatment. The state of a mold-ridden home is as follows. Mold levels continue to climb, day after day, and year after year. Here is a comparison, a Meth home is safer tomorrow than it is today. The Meth will eventually off-gas (this is, of course, if the meth users have moved out). Fresh air is introduced, the epicenter or user of meth has moved, so fresh air will eventually get a stronghold. So again, dealing with meth or any VOCs (volative organic compounds), like new carpet or a memory foam mattress, tomorrow is safer than today, next year is way safer than this year. A mold-ridden home, however, is the opposite. The mold “load” is more dangerous a week from now than it is today. And it will continue to be more dangerous as time goes by. Mold isn't going to die on its own. It grows, its spores, it goes dormant, then happens upon moisture, and repeats the whole process. The EPA has recently said that the only way to control the mold is to control the moisture in the home. They are right, but good luck on a home that already has high levels of mold load and mold spores. Every home has it's own little, what we call, “Mold Factories”. Think of the mold factories as “pent up” energy waiting to explode. These areas are mostly healthy growing mold.They don't spore often. These areas include but are not limited to bathrooms in general, caulking in tubs and toilets, bathroom ceilings, toilet seals, drains in sinks and tubs, dried out P-traps, window tracks (particularly on the north sides of homes), front-loading washing machines, food, clothing, shoes, etc. Throw in the inevitable homeowner disaster, in which a basement floods, or a small pipe leaks between walls, or a water heater bursts. Everyone has a story. Add in building flaws limiting airflow from outside to in and inside to out, an occasional bathroom without a vent, carpet in a bathroom, and humidifiers malfunctioning in an HVAC. Now consider the fact that our walls are made of paper, we use porous particle board, etc. All of these factors cause the mold “load” in the home to climb. A great example of this that everyone is familiar with is the “grandma and grandpa smell” in older homes. That’s not grandma and grandpa, well, not usually. That’s years and years of the mold “load” in the home getting higher and higher. And remember the pent up energy of all the mold factories in the grandma and grandpa home. The pent up energy is largely the growing happy and content mold. As you can see, it's almost impossible to truly and accurately measure the mold “load” of a home. Certainly not by air quality testing.

So what happens when we fog? The home is filled with a vapor (fog) of PAA i.e. InstaPURE, the very same PAA that has been tested over and over in labs all over the world. It is the exact same fog that kills viruses and bacteria. It is the top tier of sterilants in both the aqueous and the vapor form. And I'm not just us saying this. It is absolutely common knowledge in the disinfection world. It’s going to sterilize the home. While fogging the InstaPURE, we are stirring up the mold and the air dramatically. We are dumping in 10-15 Cubic feet per minute of air at 90 psi. Along with this we are driving the humidity up to 80-90 percent and driving the parts per million of InstaPURE to 40 or 50 ppm. The spores in the air are obviously getting hit with the vapor, and the growing mold is in a state of stress since it is getting hit with fog. When growing mold is in a state of stress, its spores. Dramatically. Tests that we have conducted show that a before the test of 300 could, when tested during the first few minutes of fog, climb to 30,000 or more. This simply demonstrates the potential “pent up” energy in a moldy home. We are attacking all of the mold factories, spores, the entire mold load of the home.

After the 45 minutes minimum of dwell time, the fog has exhausted all factories. They have no life, literally, and no sporing potential. The home is sterile, with nothing but junk floating around in the air. The junk, by all testing that we have performed, often gets misinterpreted as a mold spore. Most commonly as pen/asp. This is akin to a war zone after the battle. The overall mold “load” is now at zero. The home or facility is safe. Now we perform the EverPURE process. The purpose of the EverPURE treatment is to make the home or building “inhospitable” to mold and mold spores. On a non-treated home, mold has the luxury of floating inside from outdoors and potentially bouncing around many times searching for moisture. Now, I don't for a minute think that a mold spore has a brain, but this is essentially what is happening since it will hit a dry surface and not stick, get blown off of that surface, and become airborne to the next surface. This will continue until it hits moisture. Once it lands on moisture, it begins to grow. It needs food, but even dust will suffice. Again, as we have stated in the past, a moldy bathroom does not mean you have something wrong with the bathroom. It means your overall mold level along with spores is elevated and it is manifesting itself wherever there is moisture. Remember that the key to EverPURE is that the Nitrogen molecule has an incredibly strong positive charge to it. Mold has a negative charge to it. Consider this for a minute, if the “junk” floating in the air still had life, the live spores would still have a negative charge. It stands to reason that when we fog EverPURE, the two would attract and fall to the floor together. This doesn't happen. Why? Because the junk in the air is lifeless. It has no charge. Viability tests conducted as part of a side by side comparison with non-viable testing has confirmed this. At Fort McNair, we showed “junk” in the air as part of the non-viable testing, but the viability testing that was performed side by side showed absolutely nothing was alive.

So there you have it. Before testing is mostly inconclusive. “After” non-viability testing is better, but still shows junk in really badly infested structures. Viability testing is much more accurate since we have disturbed the mold to the point that it is exhausted. More importantly, what has the treatment accomplished? A number of things. All really good, and all things that no other mold remediation company can replicate.

  1. Killed i.e. denatured all mold spores and mold cells, and bacteria, and virus.

  2. Exhausted all of the little mold factories, which if not addressed, will put the home right back into the moldy situation.

  3. Addressed the health of the entire home. Not just where someone can see that there has been moisture.

  4. We have made the home very inhospitable for mold to ever get a stronghold again.

Our dry fog system is the finest mold remediation available in the world. Compare our process to the industry substandard “tear out, and hepa scrub the air” approach of traditional remediation companies. The overall mold “load” of the home or facility has not been changed much if any. And it is going to climb again. Tomorrow is worse than today, next week will be worse than this week. Again, there is a reason they will not tear down the containment before testing. A note about ERMI tests: We do believe that the ERMI test, which stands for Environmental Relative Moldiness Index is accurate BEFORE the test. ERMI uses dust sampling off of the carpet or hard surfaces, so it’s a fairly good history of mold that has been around the home for a while. And with the ERMI test, you are not so much a victim of sporing or airflow as you are with an air quality test. The ERMI also uses DNA to perform a PCR which stands for polymerase chain reaction testing and defines the very genus of the mold. An example would be- it’s Aspergillus, but what kind of Aspergillus is it? For us, it doesn't matter, but for some it does. Some people like to know so they can tailor the treatment to the patient. ERMI is good before test. ERMI is terrible after the test since it is using DNA. DNA remains after we kill/denature mold. I REPEAT, ERMI is NOT a good AFTER the test. We need to make sure that the doctor and patient understand this concept. Most are fine with it as long as we explain. In fact, I have yet to talk to a doctor about this subject and then have them object to the treatment.

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