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Dangers Of Modern Cleaning Products

Dangers Of Modern Cleaning Products

Over the past century our cleaning strategies have become more modern and increasingly more sterile. This means we have adopted the idea that in order for our homes to be clean, they must be void of all microbes. Not only is this idea false, it’s also very harmful to our home environment, the external environment, and our health.

In the past decade, we’re learning that the health of our overall microbiome is an important piece to our personal and environmental health. A microbiome refers to all the microbial life that we live with every day. In order for a microbiome to be healthy, there has to be a diverse and abundant microbial life. In other words, we don’t want to harm all the bacteria and other microbes that we live with. The biggest reason why microbes die out is due to our cleaning practices. Let’s explore this in more depth so that we can learn how to foster our microbiome better.

happy family - homebiotic

Which Modern Cleaning Products Are Harmful?

Modern cleaning products that contain ammonia, bleach, antibacterial, and other harsh compounds can be harmful to our skin, gut, environmental, and home microbiome. Yes, these products will definitely kill harmful bacteria and viruses, but they also kill all the healthy and helpful microbes as well. There are times when we need to kill harmful microbes for sure, but we likely don’t need to do this all the time. Unfortunately, we’ve become so averse to any microbes at all that we often slather our homes in these products.

Modern cleaning products that contain ammonia, bleach, antibacterial, and other harsh compounds can be harmful to our skin, gut, environmental, and home microbiome. Yes, these products will definitely kill harmful bacteria and viruses,… Click To Tweet

heron fishing in swamp - HomebioticWhy Are Some Cleaning Products Harmful To The Environment?

We may intend to just clean our homes, but every time we use harsh cleaning products, they get washed down the drain and end up in our oceans, drinking water, and freshwater lakes. These products will also cause destruction in the healthy microbes in our natural environments. These environments rely on a balance of microbes to survive and function well. Many bacteria that can be found in soil, water, and plants are needed in order to continue the life cycle properly. What we may not realize is that this healthy microbiome is essential for the health of our entire world. Without them, nature would die and so would we. Although the use of harsh cleaners is just beginning to be understood, people are still manufacturing and using them daily in their homes, offices, and public buildings.

How Modern Cleaning Products Affect The Home Microbiome?

In our homes, modern cleaning products can decimate an entire population of microbes in one sweep. We are beginning to understand that this is not a good thing but we don’t exactly know why. Our home has a microbiome made up of human microbes, home microbes, and possibly pet microbes. All of these eventually settle into a balance if they are allowed to flourish.

The key thing that people need to understand is that this microbiome helps us considerably. A diverse set of microbes actually helps decrease harmful microbes like mold, fungus, salmonella, e.coli, and others. However, this can only happen if the microbiome is healthy and balanced. Without a balance, other microbes take over and grow out of control. Mold is a perfect example of this. Often, mold can be found in places where the microbiome is unstable and unbalanced. The same can be said for mildew and bacteria like e.coli. If we kill off the microbiome, then these harmful microbes can take over and then we will have to clean excessively in order to stave them off. Anyone who’s ever had a mold problem can tell you how difficult it is to get rid of the problem once it starts. But few people realize that they can do this by ensuring that good microbes have a place in their homes.

Several studies show that homes void of diverse microbes has an overgrowth of human and fungal microbes which are not helpful to the home environment. Even pests like spiders, beetles, and camel crickets are essential to a healthy home microbiome. However, these tiny creatures are also negatively affected by over-cleaning using harsh modern cleaning products.

Several studies show that homes void of diverse microbes has an overgrowth of human and fungal microbes which are not helpful to the home environment. Click To Tweet

wetlands - homebioticHow Modern Cleaning Products Affect The Environment?

Modern cleaning products actually kill bacteria and other microbes as they have toxic compounds that don’t support life. They don’t simply remove and wash away bacteria, instead they actually kill them along with all the good microbes too. This is a big difference compared to more natural cleaning products that simply wash microbes away without killing them.

Furthermore, these toxic compounds leave our homes through the drain pipes and end up in our external environment. This is why our lakes and oceans are struggling. Marine and terrestrial life can not be supported properly with so many toxic chemicals in their living space.

How Do Some Cleaning Products Affect Our Bodily Microbiome?

Our gut and skin microbiome are highly important for our health and wellbeing. Harsh cleaning products also affect these environments as well. Studies show that many human diseases and allergies began rising right after the invention of modern cleaning products. This is because, without a healthy skin and gut biome, our immune system doesn’t work the way it was intended. This leads to the development of allergies, autoimmune disease, and other immune-related conditions.

When we clean our homes with harsh cleaners, we are decimating the biome on our hands which affects other areas of our skin and gut microbiome. The more we erode our skin and gut microbiome, the less our immune system can work properly. This means we may get sick easier or develop conditions that never used to be around many years ago (i.e. autoimmune diseases). The serious rise in allergies is proof that our immune systems are becoming more eroded as our cleaning and living practices are infused with harsh and toxic chemicals.

The more we erode our skin and gut microbiome, the less our immune system can work properly. Click To Tweet

castile soap - homebiotic

Which Cleaning Products Would Work Better?

Ideally, natural cleaning products or those that use just plain soap compounds are much better. Essential oils can take care of most bad bacteria without killing off the good ones. However, we have to be careful with essential oils as well as too much of them can also harm the microbiome. Essential oils are things like concentrated lemon, eucalyptus, or tea tree oil. These oils are quite good at cleaning and refreshing the home.

Vinegar and water can also act much like essential oils do. Vinegar also neutralized odors so it makes for a good cleaning product. Again, don’t use too much as it can destroy the good microbes over time.

Soap-based cleaners are good as well. Soap molecules attach to dirt and microbes pulling them off the surface; these particles wash down the drain once the soap is rinsed off with water. This is why the rinsing process is also very important when cleaning with soap.

Woman reading book near plant - Homebiotic - ways to nourish your home biomeWhy Is It Important To Not Over-Clean Our Homes?

No matter what we choose to clean our homes with, it’s important not to over-clean. This means that we should clean lightly once a week using natural products that don’t instantly kill all microbes.

When we over-clean our homes using harsh cleaners, we are killing the beneficial microbiome in the home. As biological beings, we live in harmony with our environments so if we decimate the microbiome in our home, chances are we are also affecting the microbiome in our gut and on our skin. As we’ve discussed, this has a negative effect on our entire health and well-being. So it’s important for us to re-consider our cleaning practices in this respect.

Genty wiping surfaces once a week with natural soap or essential oils will be enough to keep our home environment clean. The only time we should use bleach or other harsh cleaners is if there is an infectious disease in the house or an area is soiled with a large number of harmful microbes like e.coli or salmonella. For example, using a small amount of bleach after cutting up raw chicken on the kitchen counter will be fine. Or if we have someone with a virus in the home, we may need to use antimicrobial cleaner around their living areas. But if all is well and there are no harmful bacteria or viruses present, then we really don’t need to use harsh cleaners to get the job done.

In Summary

The rise of modern cleaning practices is in direct correlation to many diseases and environmental problems. Harsh cleaners are not good for the overall microbiome and as biological beings, we rely on the natural environment to stay healthy. We can do our part by not using harsh cleaners like bleach, ammonia, antibacterial cleansers, etc. The only time these products are necessary is if someone is sick or there is an exposure of harmful microbes like raw chicken on a countertop. Otherwise, natural products like essential oils, vinegar, and natural soap are better choices to make for cleaning products. The more we learn about the danger of modern cleaning products, the more we can make better decisions for our home and wellbeing.

References

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1471490615000022

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/336/6080/489

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935115000304

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139

https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/44/Suppl_58/P1187

https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(13)01564-9/fulltext

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/478930

https://journals.lww.com/pidj/fulltext/2000/10001/consumer_and_market_use_of_antibacterials_at_home.6.aspx

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/mdr.2009.0120

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2631814/

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-019-0593-4.epdf?referrer_access_token=dbirv_c_z112blDos3pXLNRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0NvGy2dylkGSz3KfaHrHWvz91WrdbO-hC1L5cRkm8uaNT_206dn91YHLRkkEthiaLvebtJej4odp6x8_o6PN9C4sBMg3aSzRXRoO2YCabzZXpWFXr0v027tEfwr0cTKZlPatZKGOACqFfaEnoF1P92hlljaBbcfjElLCR0Tzp6xVovmC84tkYdJawRACVDgwlT2BCyitwETaNo8a3b7DX_pnzgOL61ZX3_w1lLh07CGR3vnLkR14D6RSH0WRjo9A3WMhTeh8H34VG37MCopLsbAuS5lM85zEgO8dIVUIeQlbA%3D%3D&tracking_referrer=www.npr.org

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com/

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Wetlands: The Secret To Climate Change

Wetlands: The Secret To Climate Change | Blog

Climate change is an important topic of discussion for the past couple of decades. There has been lots of talk about ways to prevent climate change from progressing, from turning off appliances or biking to work, but what are other factors that significantly affect the amount of carbon in the earths atmosphere? Well, world wetlands are the secret to climate change. More specifically by trapping something called blue carbon. But what are wetlands & why do we need them?

horse grazing in wetlands - Homebiotic

WHAT DEFINES A WETLAND?

Wetlands are commonly referred to as marshes or swamps, and can be found all over the world. Their main characteristic is that their habitat and composure is ever changing depending on water levels. Wetlands are made by floods or some are permanent fixtures of the landscape.

Wetlands are often also referred to as marshes or swamps and can be found all over the world. Their main characteristic is that their habitat and composure is ever changing depending on water levels. Some wetlands are permanent while… Click To Tweet

There are wetlands all over the world. Some of the most well known wetlands are The Pantanal (runs through Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay), The Queen Maude Gulf (located in Canada) and Grands Affluents (in Chad). All of these wetlands have their own irreplaceable biodiverse populations. For example, The Grands Affluents is home to endangered species of hippopotamus, elephant and gorilla.

Some wetlands are man made! They are created in areas that need wastewater management and in urban areas where water scarcity is an ongoing issue. They are also often created in an effort to restore land areas lost to mining or development that have since suffered from wetland loss.

heron fishing in swamp - HomebioticWHY ARE WETLANDS IMPORTANT?

They are busy! Wetlands perform a number of important functions. Not only do they support a large number of animal and plant species (they are regarded as the most biologically diverse of all ecosystems), they also aid in shoreline stabilization, water filtration and purification, storage of water supplies and carbon processing. They also are able to store 10x the amount of carbon as an equivalent sized land forest.

Have you heard of blue carbon?

Marine ecosystems capture carbon. This carbon is blue carbon. Carbon is processed through photosynthesis and turned into plant material. Through this process carbon then becomes plant material aiding in water filtration and supporting this diverse ecosystem. Wetlands store 44.6 million tonnes of carbon material each year.

Greenhouse gases create a ‘green house’ like effect on the world. According to NASA:

The greenhouse effect is the way in which heat is trapped close to the surface of the Earth by “greenhouse gases.” These heat-trapping gases can be thought of as a blanket wrapped around the Earth, which keeps it toastier than it would be without them. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides.

This heat trapping effect is also why we know climate change as global warming. Even the slight warming of the earth can have catastrophic effects of all of it’s inhabitants and our necessary resources. This is why it’s incredibly important to minimize and balance out our carbon producing activities.

wetlands - homebioticHOW CAN WE HELP OUR WORLD WETLANDS?

The loss of wetlands, not surprisingly, comes at the hands of humans. Wetlands are often contaminated by toxins and chemicals flowing through the water within them, hindering their ability to provide proper water purification and safe ecosystems for their diverse organism population.

Developers fill in wetlands for agriculture and livestock fields, mining, urban housing or industrial factory developments.

So what do we see when we destroy wetlands? Typically we see water scarcity, endangered species, shoreline instability and breeding/nesting areas disturbed. As bleak as this all sounds, we have great news: there are things that you can do to help preserve our world wetlands!

DO NOT USE HARSH CHEMICAL CLEANERS – chose natural cleaners to stop the flow of detrimental chemicals that get washed into our waterways each day. This can significantly reduce the amount of work our wetlands have to do. This will also help protect any species in our wetlands from being harmed by these chemicals. Using natural cleaning product alternatives, such as hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, then follow with an environmental probiotic, like Homebiotic, to rebalance and protect your home.

SOURCE SUSTAINABLE AQUACULTURE & AGRICULTURE PRODUCTS – do a bit of research when shopping to make sure you’re not purchasing from a producer that has created their product at the expense of our wetlands. Developers destroy wetlands to create aquaculture infrastructure like shrimp farms. So make sure you ask questions about where your food comes from and look for sustainable labeling.

HELP CONSERVE WETLANDS IN YOUR COMMUNITY – keep your eyes and ears out for developments in your community that may negatively impact your local wetlands. Contact local politicians and advocate for these extremely important ecosystems to prevent them from becoming developments. Cities use the ‘protected’ designation for important ecosystems to prevent urban development.

sand piper in swamp - Homebiotic

Nature preservation as a whole is of the utmost important not only for the continuation of many different species of flora and fauna, but also to keep the earth in good health. World wetlands are the secret to climate change. They filter our water, keep our shorelines intact, reduce the carbon in the atmosphere & are a necessity to many organisms. We love world wetlands!


RESOURCES

https://www.conservation.org/blog/5-things-you-should-know-about-wetlands?gclid=Cj0KCQiA0rSABhDlARIsAJtjfCfmGOxgFJtjEhlwB_JG1euU9TA1ufXi850za1At3qkG0_Q5tKP2EsYaAp9mEALw_wcB

https://www.conservation.org/blog/what-on-earth-is-blue-carbon

https://www.thebluecarboninitiative.org/

https://ontarionature.org/programs/nature-reserves/

https://smartwatermagazine.com/blogs/agueda-garcia-de-durango/10-largest-wetlands-world

https://climate.nasa.gov/faq/19/what-is-the-greenhouse-effect/

https://scied.ucar.edu/learning-zone/how-climate-works/greenhouse-effect

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Are We Over-Cleaning Our Skin?

Are We Over-Cleaning Our Skin? | Soapy hands over a bathroom sink

In these current times, the topic of under and over-cleaning our skin and home environment is discussed more than ever. There have always been debates about how often we should clean and which soaps or cleansers to choose. But with the pandemic, everyone is more concerned and possibly more confused as well.

Undoubtedly, in the past several months, there’s been a steady stream of antibacterial and alcohol-based soaps being marketed to the general public. And while these have great success in killing and washing viruses from our hands, we need to consider how often and where to use them.

Should we be using antibacterial soaps for whole body cleansing? How often should we shower versus washing our hands? What’s the best way to avoid skin allergies, acne, or dry skin when choosing a cleansing routine? How clean is too clean? This article will address all of these questions and more.

Washing Our Hands in The Time of Coronavirus

We know that handwashing is the best prevention for the coronavirus. However, before the pandemic, many people weren’t educated about proper handwashing to prevent disease spread.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have always recommended regular handwashing for infection prevention. They provide researched education about how and when to wash our hands. The recommendations back in 2001 lightly supported the use of antibacterial soap. They cautioned that it may increase the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and negatively alter the skin flora (1,2).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have always recommended regular handwashing for infection prevention. They provide researched education about how and when to wash our hands. The recommendations back in 2001 lightly… Click To Tweet

In 2020, the CDC now supports the use of soap and water as the gold standard for infection prevention and control. A search of CDC handwashing guidelines shows that they recommend only alcohol-based hand washing when soap and water aren’t possible (1,2).

As for antimicrobial soaps, the CDC no longer discusses using them at all. The reason is simple, antimicrobial soaps may do more harm than good.

What’s The Deal With Antimicrobial Soaps?

In recent years, several studies show that antimicrobial soaps may cause cracks and irritation to the skin. This creates more susceptibility to bacterial colonization. And as we know, the use of antimicrobial soaps may have a hand in creating superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics (2,3,4).

But unfortunately, antimicrobial soaps mess with our skin microbiome. Each area of the body has its own microbial balance, which maintains our health and prevents infection and disease. This balance can be disturbed by many factors which we are learning more about in modern times (3,5).

For example, in the book “The Whole Body Microbiome,” Dr. Brett Finlay and contributing scientists discuss microbiome balance issues in all areas of the body. With regard to the skin, they talk about how a simple problem like acne could be related to microbial imbalance on the surface of the skin (5).

For instance, a bacteria called Cutibacterium Acnes actually helps break down our oily skin secretions. This process creates an acidic environment that prevents the growth of Staphylococcus Aureus known for causing acne and other infections (5).

Who would have thought that one bacteria can prevent another worse bacteria from growing? But this is the case in almost all of our body microbiomes. Bacteria often compete and edge each other out, which keeps infections low and improves our well being. They also create enzymes and other by-products that contribute to the healthy function of our body (5,6,7).

For all these reasons, we don’t want to use antimicrobial soaps that kill off all the beneficial bacteria that are actually helping us.

Why Should We Avoid Over-Cleaning Our Skin?

In the Whole Body Microbiome, the authors discuss research and studies showing one glaring truth. When it comes to the skin, less clean is better. Areas of the body such as hands, feet, genitals, and armpits should be washed daily with regular soap and water. But as for other areas like the face and rest of the body, it’s not necessary to scrub them daily (5).

Over-cleaning and using overly hot water can also damage our skin microbiome and cause more problems for our health. Many people don’t know that our skin and body microbiome plays a role in developing illnesses like asthma, eczema, autoimmune disease, and allergic reactions (5,7).

For instance, some studies show that eczema is related to higher levels of Staphylococcus Aureus. Without a balanced skin microbiome, these harmful bacteria are allowed to grow, causing the classic inflammatory skin lesions found in eczema (5,7).

Other studies show that exposure to beneficial skin microbes helps develop our immune system, thus preventing skin and systemic illnesses from developing later in life (5,6,8),.

Lastly, over-cleaning may cause cracks and open sores, which can increase infection risk. One study shows that damaged skin from over-cleaning is more likely to be colonized with several harmful microbes. Not only does this increase skin inflammation, but it may also perpetuate the spread of contagious infections (3,5).

So while it may be hard not to over-clean our hands during the pandemic, we can find a better balance for the rest of our body. Daily washing of feet, groin, hands, and armpits is good enough. But other parts of the body really don’t need to be over-cleaned.

For areas like the face, arms, legs, and hair, it seems the best skincare routine is to wash less frequently with plain soap and lukewarm water. This routine will also help prevent things like acne, wrinkles, dry skin, and other infections. Lastly, using a mild natural moisturizer can keep the skin supple without destroying the microbiome (1,2,5).

Conclusion

There’s never been a better time for more discussion and education around cleaning. Until now, most of us weren’t always sure how often we should wash our hands and clean our skin. With the push towards more frequent handwashing and the use of alcohol and antimicrobial soaps, it’s essential to learn what works and what doesn’t.

Frequent handwashing is critical in these trying times. And yes, we need to wash our dirtiest parts like feet, groin, and armpits. But surprisingly, we don’t need to over-clean other areas of our skin. And we should definitely stop the use of antimicrobial soaps. Pure soap and water is the best way to clean our hands and bodies.

Moreover, people may not understand how important our skin microbiome is for our health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, by over-cleaning and using hot water and antimicrobial soaps, we may be damaging our skin microbiome’s delicate balance. This has confirmed repercussions in the development of infections, allergies, and autoimmune diseases.

We also recommend learning about over-cleaning your home.


References

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/7/2/70-0225_article

https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/index.html

https://www.ajicjournal.org/article/S0196-6553(98)70025-2/fulltext

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/478930

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/336/6080/489

https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(13)01564-9/fulltext

https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1508749

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Mold Growth Can Be Caused by Over-Cleaning: Here’s Why.

Mold Growth Can Be Caused by Over-Cleaning: Here's Why. | Cleaning off a tile countertop

Mold growth can be caused by a variety of things, including over-cleaning. A recent University of Oklahoma study reveals that instead of the intended effect, over-cleaning a home actually leads to increased mold growth due to a lack of natural competition. For many years, those who live in urban homes have believed that keeping our homes squeaky clean will protect us from harmful pathogens such as bacteria and fungus.

A recent University of Oklahoma study reveals that instead of the intended effect, over-cleaning a home actually leads to increased mold growth due to a lack of natural competition. For many years, those who live in urban homes have… Click To Tweet

Indeed, we’ve developed chemicals that kill off harmful bacteria such as salmonella, e-coli, and staphylococcus aureus. But we know now that these chemicals are causing resistant bacteria as well as killing off good bacteria too. However, in the past decade, more discussion has taken place around microbial resistance and destruction of the helpful human and environmental biomes due to our cleaning practices.

Some of us are unsure about how seriously we should take this issue. With the rise of dangerous and resistant bacteria, many of us are feeling confused. Do we want to decrease our cleaning frequency? Should we switch to other products that create microbial balance rather than killing them off?

The findings from a new study by Laura-Isobel McCall, a biochemist from the University of Oklahoma, may help us make some decisions 1. These study results not only back up existing knowledge around the role bacteria and fungus in the home biome, but they give us some new information to consider.

Study Results: Over-cleaning Causes Increased Mold Growth

The study compared fungal diversity between urban and rural settings in the Amazonia region of Peru and Brazil. Fungal diversity refers to the number of different species of fungus found in a specific area. The urban settings studied were apartments and homes in city environments, whereas the rural settings were in remote villages where people lived amongst nature. The study also looked at the fungal diversity for both the feet and guts of inhabitants in both locations.

The results showed an increase of fungus in urban settings compared to rural ones. Urban environments have much higher quantities of harmful fungal microbes, such as aspergillus and candida. Whereas, they have much lower amounts of helpful fungal microbes.

The results showed an increase of fungus in urban settings compared to rural ones. Urban environments have much higher quantities of harmful fungal microbes... Click To Tweet

Conversely, helpful bacteria are found in much lower numbers in urban homes compared to rural settings. And while there are more harmful bacteria found in rural settings, they live in better balance and harmony with other diverse bacteria and fungus. The researchers also found that the human feet and guts of those who lived in these urban settings showed the same distribution of harmful versus helpful fungal quantities.

These results also show that the environmental microbiome has a significant influence on the microbiome of our bodies.

While we strive to decrease harmful pathogens in our home environments, we may be doing more harm than good by wiping out the balance between the microbes. And this appears to have a direct effect on our physical health and well-being. The researchers also isolated several chemical compounds in high diversity in urban homes. So not only do our homes contain more fungal diversity and less helpful bacteria, but they also have more harmful chemicals than ever before 1.

Why Do Fungal Microbes (Mold) Thrive in Urban Environments?

The researchers noted several reasons why fungus grows more abundant in urban environments, to begin with. Our homes are more closed off, which increases internal temperature and limits natural light and air. These are all issues known to worsen fungal growth. Also, urban homes contain more CO2 and more surfaces that aid the growth of fungal microbes 1,2.

However, the study also looked at cleaning compounds which are used in higher amounts in urban settings. The study results showed that these fungal organisms are likely resistant to the cleaning products. Also, once bacteria were killed off, fungal microbes are allowed to grow in more significant numbers 1.

What we do know is that fungal microbes have stronger cell walls than bacteria, so they are more apt to become resistant. Also, bacteria and fungal microbes are known to live in balance (or competition, depending on how you look at it!) together, keeping each population in check 3.

Some bacteria have special enzymes, such as chitinase, that can break through the sturdy cell walls of fungus, lowering their numbers and creating a balance between bacteria and fungus 3. But what happens when those bacteria aren’t present in the local environment anymore?

Does Killing Bacteria Create More Opportunities for Fungal Growth?

Indeed, the study results obtained by Dr. McCall shows that once we kill off all the bacteria, it provides more opportunities for fungal microbes to grow. And since urban homes already have optimal conditions, this helps explain why fungal organisms are found in greater diversity there 1,2.

These results leave us with some challenges for sure, but they’re also promising and give us more food for thought as we work to create a more balanced microbiome in our homes. In turn, this will also help improve the microbiome in our bodies.

Interestingly, while we’ve managed to largely eliminate the threat of harmful bacteria that cause various infections and gastrointestinal illness, fungal-related diseases such as allergies, asthma, chronic fatigue, and autoimmune issues are on the rise. So, it appears we may have swapped one group of illnesses for another 4,5,6.

...once we kill off all the bacteria, it provides more opportunities for fungal microbes to grow. And since urban homes already have optimal conditions, this helps explain why fungal organisms are found in greater diversity there. Click To Tweet

Reconsidering How We Clean

For those of us in urban settings, these new facts present some challenges and opportunities. Most importantly, we need to consider our cleaning practices. Because even though there’s not much that can be easily done to change the structure of our homes, we can do something about our cleaning practices.

  1. DECREASING THE USE OF CHEMICAL CLEANERS: an important place to start. We can ease up on how often we clean and choose less chemical-based cleaners. Natural cleaners like vinegar and essential oils would make better choices. But we also need to reconsider our ideas and biases around living with microbes in our homes. We now understand that disrupting the balance of microbes has adverse effects on overall microbial diversity in our homes 1,6. The next issue is how we can create new practices that help us have more balance and harmony with microbes. By increasing beneficial bacteria in our homes, we not only decrease harmful bacteria, but we also keep fungal microbes to a minimum 2,6,7.
  2. REINTRODUCE BENEFICIAL BACTERIA BACK INTO YOUR HOME: That’s the easy part! Homebiotic naturally and efficiently re-introduces helpful bacteria back in our homes in a convenient spray. It is applied after cleaning any surface to restore a healthy bacterial layer. Just as we improve our gut health through oral probiotics, Homebiotic is a probiotic for our home.

Homebiotic spray - the probiotic for your home

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Mold Exposure and Lyme Disease: The Hidden Link

Mold Growth Can Be Caused by Over-Cleaning: Here's Why | Wood tick on a thumbnail

There is a clear connection between mold exposure and Lyme disease. Disruptions to your immune system resulting from exposure to mold can make you more likely to both contract Lyme disease and have medical complications with it. Beyond the typical precautions against tick bites, you can also help avoid it with simple household actions: Prevent mold exposure and Lyme disease risks are reduced.

Mold Exposure Can Make You More Susceptible to Lyme Disease

May is National Lyme Disease month, which means that many clinicians, advocates, and researchers will be sharing facts to help increase awareness. Lyme disease affects approximately 30,000 Americans each year. Although it’s a highly treatable disease, it has a high potential to become chronic for many people 1. Also, Lyme disease often occurs in combination with other immune compromising conditions such as autoimmune disorders, allergies, celiac disease, Epstein Barr virus, and other infections 2.

However, did you know that mold toxicity is also an important issue for people with Lyme disease? Unfortunately, the immune-compromising effects of mold toxicity can make you more susceptible to contracting Lyme disease. Also, once infected with the Lyme bacteria, mold illness can make you more likely to have chronic issues with Lyme disease.

Mold growthHow Mold Affects the Immune System

The most common household mold species are Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Cladosporium. But there are thousands of other different kinds of mold species. Although many of them are not harmful in most situations, some can cause serious illness 3. The problem with certain mold species is that they produce substances called mycotoxins which are harmful to human health.

The symptoms of mold illness range from mild to severe depending on the health status, immune system, and genetic factors of different people.

At the very least, the effects of mycotoxins on human tissues can cause mild allergic symptoms. But sometimes it can lead to more severe respiratory or other systemic problems that can cause chronic illness and even death 3,4,5. The main problem with mold and human health is that it causes severe disruptions in the immune system resulting in either an over-reaction or under-reaction 6.

The main problem with mold and human health is that it causes severe disruptions in the immune system resulting in either an over-reaction or under-reaction Click To Tweet

What this means is that mold may be a factor in the development of autoimmune issues as well as immune-deficiency problems. Either of these conditions can make it difficult for a human body to deal with other infections, such as Lyme disease 4,5,6.

Several studies have shown that people living in damp and moldy environments are more prone to inflammatory illnesses or infections that result from immune deficiency. This is especially true if their living environments lack surrounding biodiversity that is void of other helpful microbes 5,6,7,8,9. This is the reason why people with mysterious inflammatory issues and other chronic health problems often test with high levels of mycotoxins.

Further tests often reveal other infections such as Lyme disease. This is no coincidence. Instead, it reveals immune systems that are unable to cope, and mold toxicity may be a massive piece of the puzzle.

How Lyme Disease Affects the Human Body

Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete bacteria that is transmitted through tick bites. A tick needs to be attached to the human body for at least 24 hours to transmit the disease. This is why most health education is aimed at early prevention by instructing people how to quickly and adequately remove a tick 1,2. The problem is that many people are under the impression that they can prevent Lyme disease since a tick is easy to find. Tick bites are relatively irritating to the skin. Also, the tick swells, which may make it easy to detect. Therefore, people feel that they can remove it before 24 hours are up.

Unfortunately, most people don’t remove ticks properly. Instead, they pull it out and leave the mouthparts behind. The problem is that those mouthparts stay embedded in the skin where they can continue to transmit the Lyme spirochete 1,2.

Lyme disease initially causes fever, skin rash, joint pain, muscle pain, and headaches. If treated rapidly, a person can make a full recovery. However, Lyme disease has been known to turn chronic, especially if early treatment wasn’t initiated. And even with early treatment, many people still go on to develop chronic Lyme disease symptoms 1,2,10.

Lyme disease initially causes fever, skin rash, joint pain, muscle pain, and headaches. If treated rapidly, a person can make a full recovery. However, Lyme disease has been known to turn chronic, especially if early treatment wasn't… Click To Tweet

What’s interesting is that chronic Lyme disease symptoms are very similar to the signs of mold toxicity. Also, chronic Lyme symptoms are similar to many diseases of the immune system. When this occurs, the clinical picture can become confusing to both the patient and doctors 4,10,11. Symptoms of chronic Lyme disease range from digestive issues, neurological problems, heart damage, and severe musculoskeletal pain 1,2.

Indeed, many people who present with multiple and chronic health issues are often investigated for co-morbid and related conditions such as mold illness and Lyme disease.

The Connection Between Mold & Lyme Disease

As discussed above, the main problem with mold is that it renders our immune system less capable of coping with other infections. Indeed, many people exposed to tick bites don’t actually get sick. And if they do, the illness is short-lived and doesn’t turn chronic.

However, the problem lies when a person gets bit by a Lyme infected tick, and their immune system is already preoccupied with fighting off mold toxicity. Unfortunately, they may be unable to fight off this new infection 11,12,13,14.

Also, even with antibiotic treatment, an immunocompromised host may still go on to develop chronic Lyme-related health issues.

Many people with co-occurring Lyme and mold issues develop something called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). This syndrome is difficult to treat and can wreak havoc on the health, finances, and quality of life of those affected. Furthermore, people with Lyme disease are less likely to clear toxins from their bodies. Likewise, mold toxicity makes Lyme disease treatment less likely to work. Thus it becomes a vicious cycle causing crippling symptoms that are difficult to treat 11,12,13,14.

Many people with co-occurring Lyme and mold issues develop something called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS). This syndrome is difficult to treat and can wreak havoc on the health, finances, and quality of life of those… Click To Tweet

Conclusion

Since these two conditions create a perfect storm for inflammatory illness, the obvious solution is to work on both prevention and proper diagnosis for both. Preventing mold illness by properly cleaning and treating moldy environments is paramount. By doing so, the people living in those environments will maintain a healthy immune system. And as we know, a healthy and balanced immune system can fight off other infections like Lyme disease.

Preventing mold illness by properly cleaning and treating moldy environments is paramount. By doing so, the people living in those environments will maintain a healthy immune system. And as we know, a healthy and balanced immune system… Click To Tweet

However, many people don’t even know they have mold illness until they become sick with Lyme disease, which then becomes chronic. Often, it takes a long time with much frustration before a person learns that they’re actually dealing with two chronic illnesses that are exacerbating each other. Since we know that mold illness increases susceptibility to other infections, it makes sense to raise awareness so that people can take action to prevent mold now.

By taking steps to decrease mold problems, people will have a more robust immune system, which will prevent chronic Lyme disease from taking hold. More so, a stronger immune system means fewer chances of developing Lyme disease in the first place.


REFERENCES

1. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/datasurveillance/index.html
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3542482/
3. https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm
4. https://www.prohealth.com/library/overview-lyme-disease-mold-illness-91639
5. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5377931/
7. http://robdunnlab.com/science-portfolio/never-home-alone/
8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5108756/
9. https://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?journal=Arch+Environ+Health&title=Mixed+mold+mycotoxicosis:+immunological+changes+in+humans+following+exposure+in+water-damaged+buildings&author=MR+Gray&author=JD+Thrasher&author=R+Crago&author=RA+Madison&author=L+Arnold&volume=58&publication_year=2003&pages=410-20&pmid=15143854&
10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986024/
11. http://www.gordonmedical.com/unravelling-complex-chronic-illness/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Townsend-Letter-Mold-Article-1.pdf
12. https://www.betterhealthguy.com/topics/mold
13. https://drjaydavidson.com/toxic-mold-lyme/
14. http://www.lymecompass.net/mold-intolerence.html

 

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Gut Biome & Home Biome: How Are They Related?

Gut Biome & Home Biome: How Are They Related? | Female holding her stomach

In the past decade, the importance of a healthy gut biome has been discussed between scientists, medical professionals, and health consumers. By now, most people know that bacteria reside in our guts and that they’re essential to our health. These bacteria are, together, what create the biome. However, many people still don’t understand why having diverse bacteria is important. More importantly, most people don’t understand the similarities and relationship between our home biome and the gut biome. We need the biome in our guts and our homes to be healthy and diverse at the same time.

Why Does Biome Balance Matter?

As living organisms, we’re connected to our living environments, so if one biome is unbalanced, chances are the other is too. Also, by understanding the similarities between the gut and home biome, we can make better decisions for how to improve and maintain them. However, many of us may not understand that the home biome is similar to the one in our gut. Therefore, people may not realize how to create balance in our home biome.

First let’s define both the gut and home biomes and look at their similarities. Then we can discuss the importance of both biomes for the health of our bodies and living environments.

What is The Gut Biome?

The evidence is clear that having healthy and diverse microbes in the gut is essential for the development, functioning, and maintenance of our overall physical health. Gut microbes impact the digestive system, our immune system, our neurochemicals, and many other systems in our body 1,2,3.

For example, gut microbes are needed to help digest and absorb nutrients from the food we eat. This helps sustain the immune system, which is also connected to the nerves, brain, blood vessels, and other vital organs 1,2,3,4. Research shows that a gut biome that lacks diverse and healthy bacteria may be a root cause of health problems like diabetes, obesity, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and autoimmune issues 3,4,5,6.

We’re all born with a sterile gut that becomes populated by essential microbes in infancy. The particular distribution of microbes is unique to each individual even though we share many microbial species between humans 1-6. Many issues can cause us to lose the diversity of our gut microbes. Things like illness, antibiotics, chemicals, food additives, and stress can all cause a shift in the balance of bacteria in our guts. This imbalance is called dysbiosis 5,6. Dysbiosis refers to both the loss of our gut microbes as well as an overgrowth of harmful microbes.

Why Are Healthy Gut Microbes Important?

A gut without enough microbes means that we may not have the ability to digest enough nutrients. Also, if one microbe is allowed to grow too much, this can lead to other health issues as well. An example of an overgrowth of harmful microbes is in a common condition known as candidiasis. This is an overgrowth of Candida yeast in the gut known to cause bloating, headaches, brain fog, and other health problems. Yet another example is a bacteria known as c. difficile, which is known to cause severe diarrhea 3-6.

In recent years, many health professionals are advocating for the use of pre and probiotics to help control dysbiosis. There’s also been much discussion of the overuse of antibiotics as they are known to kill healthy gut microbes. Lastly, we know that things like maintaining a healthy diet or decreasing stress can also help retain the microbe balance in our guts 1-6.

In recent years, many health professionals are advocating for the use of pre and probiotics to help control dysbiosis. There's also been much discussion of the overuse of antibiotics as they are known to kill healthy gut microbes.… Click To Tweet

The goal is to create an environment in our guts where diverse microbes can grow in healthy amounts. This healthy diversity not only contributes to the proper functioning of our bodies, but it prevents unhealthy microbes from growing in large numbers.

When it comes to the health of our guts, we need lots of healthy and diverse microbes that live well together and in balance.

What is The Home Biome?

Now that we understand the gut biome, let’s look at the home biome. Our homes also have a biome that is unique and essential in maintaining the health of our living environment. Just like our guts, our homes get colonized with a variety of diverse microbes, some of which are required to maintain balance and health. If our home biome is lacking in microbes, such as often happens when we overclean and create a sterile environment, then problems can arise 7,8.

Also, if we clear out a few key species of microbes that help maintain balance, we may see an overgrowth of other more harmful species. For example, microbes like mold, yeast, and salmonella can grow unchecked in a home environment that lacks sufficient diverse, healthy microbes 7,8.

So, we also need to consider ways to enhance the growth of healthy bacteria, the same as we would do for our guts. Just as we take probiotics for our gut health, we can also use probiotics for our home. Products like Homebiotic contain healthy soil-based microbes that help maintain the home biome. Also, just as we work to prevent a sterile gut, we want to avoid a sterile home environment. This means we don’t over-clean our homes with harsh chemical cleaners too frequently 7,8.

Just as we take probiotics for our gut health, we can also use probiotics for our home. Products like Homebiotic contain healthy soil-based microbes that help maintain the home biome. Click To Tweet

How Are The Gut & Home Biome Related?

Since we are biodiverse beings that are dependent on our environments, it makes sense that our gut and home biome co-exist. Of course, the microbial population in our guts and our homes will be somewhat different. But, studies show that homes are colonized by bacteria found in humans and pets that live in the house 8.

Interestingly, some microbes that are unique to the home and the immediate outdoor environment also live in our bodies. We know that this relationship creates a diverse biome, and this diversity is fundamental to our well-being as a whole. So obviously, if there is dysbiosis in the home, then there may be dysbiosis in the human biome as well 7,8,9,10.

Interestingly, some microbes that are unique to the home and the immediate outdoor environment also live in our bodies. We know that this relationship creates a diverse biome, and this diversity is fundamental to our well-being as a… Click To Tweet

Indeed, in recent years, research shows how the use of chemicals to clean our bodies and living environments can also affect the human biome 7. Also, we know that homes surrounded by diverse soil-based microbes such as farms or homes with a lot of green space are known to create healthier immune systems in children. This suggests that a direct connection to our environment is what actually creates robust body systems 9,10,11,12.

Lastly, a home that is lacking in diverse microbes is likely to have an overgrowth of harmful microbes like mold. In recent decades, mold illness in the form of allergies, asthma, and other related health issues are on the rise. So we know that our home biome has an effect on our health and well-being 11,12.

Why is This Important To Know?

The more we understand the connection between our gut and home biome, the more we know how to maintain health in both areas. As living beings, we are symbiotically connected to our environments. People are becoming more educated about the importance of healthy and diverse gut microbes. Still, they have yet to see the connection between their gut and their home biome.

The more we understand the importance of having diverse microbes in our guts and in our homes, the more we will take care not to create a dysbiosis in either. As we try to enhance our physical health to ensure the diversity of microbes in our gut, we can also do the same thing for our homes. It just makes sense to look after both so we can improve our overall health.


REFERENCES:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3667473/
2. https://letthemeatdirt.com
3. https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2013/01/03/healthy-gut-healthy-you/
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425030/
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3448089/
6. https://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/354902
7. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133
8. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139
9. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/all.13002
10. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2607/7/9/287
11. https://www.pnas.org/content/110/46/18360?etoc=
12. https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1508749

 

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How Mold Impacts the Environment

How Mold Impacts the Environment | Hands holding a bonsai tree

You may be familiar already with some of the health effects associated with mold exposure, but have you considered how mold impacts the environment? The environmental impacts can go much further than the initial mold issue. Specifically, the impacts of traditional mold killing remedies can have far-reaching environmental effects.

Many people tend to reach for a bottle of bleach (or other bleach-based products) when tackling household mold issues, but as we’ve discussed before, bleach is not a good choice for dealing with mold. Beyond the health impacts of exposure to bleach, its use can lead to significant environmental impacts within your home and the areas around your home.

Negative Impact: Air Quality

According to the EPA, Americans spend roughly 90% of the time inside,1 where the concentrations of some pollutants are 2 to 5 times higher than concentrations typically found outdoors2. This situation is made worse when we consider that the people who are most vulnerable to poor air quality (eg. infants and children, the elderly, and anyone suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease) tend to spend more time indoors than others3.

In recent decades, as buildings have become more and more airtight for energy efficiency (itself not a bad thing, of course), indoor pollution levels have risen sharply. This is primarily due to a lack of sufficient mechanical ventilation in sealed buildings to allow adequate air exchange, as well as the rise in popularity of industrial-strength cleaning products now marketed for home use4.

In recent decades, as buildings have become more and more airtight for energy efficiency (itself not a bad thing, of course), indoor pollution levels have risen sharply. This is primarily due to a lack of sufficient mechanical… Click To Tweet

Usually, because these products tend to be extremely irritating to your eyes and mucous membranes (nose, throat, lungs), it’s suggested that they are only used in a “well-ventilated” area3. While this certainly can remove the pollutants from the immediate vicinity of the person using them, it does still result in noxious fumes being released to the outside air. In past decades, the phrase “Dilution is the solution to pollution!” was often repeated, but despite the catchy rhyme, it’s definitely not a solution. It’s also not just for air. This applies to what goes down your drain as well.

Negative Impact: Water Quality

If you live in a rural area or are on a septic system, you’ll no doubt already be aware that flushing bleach down your drain is a big no-no. But did you know that it’s also bad even if you are on a city sewer system? Nearly every wastewater treatment system uses bacteria to break down sewage, and exposure to antiseptic products within the wastewater can disrupt the beneficial bacteria. This can result in a reduced or incomplete breakdown of the biological material. In addition, many wastewater treatment systems are not designed to break down chemicals and so often they pass right through the system and are discharged into a lake, river, or other nearby body of water – sometimes the same body of water where drinking water is sourced from!

many wastewater treatment systems are not designed to break down chemicals and so often they pass right through the system and are discharged into a lake, river, or other nearby body of water - sometimes the same body of water where… Click To Tweet

It gets worse.

Common household bleach, also known as sodium hypochlorite, contains a reactive chlorine atom which readily reacts with both organic and inorganic material in water to form a group of substances called trihalomethanes. The 4 trihalomethanes are chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform5. These are all byproducts of the reaction of disinfection products with non-purified water, such as is found in household wastewater. Each of these is a Cancer Group B carcinogen (substances shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals). 

Trichloromethane (chloroform) is by far the most common in most water systems. Dibromochloromethane is the most serious cancer risk, (0.6 ug/l to cause a 10-6 cancer risk increase) followed in order by Bromoform (4 ug/l), and Chloroform (6 ug/l). EPA regulations strictly limit these chemicals at a maximum allowable annual average level of 80 parts per billion (80ppb) when used in drinking water purification systems, but there are no such controls for household wastewater6. With either a compromised city wastewater system or a rural septic system that could potentially contaminate a well or nearby body of water, these pose significant health and environmental hazards.7

Is There A Better Choice For Cleaning Mold?

Rather than using toxic cleaning products that create harmful fumes (Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs) that must be vented to the outside environment or using products that create disinfectant byproducts that are known to be carcinogenic, consider a more eco-friendly alternative.

Hydrogen peroxide, h2o2, can be as effective as bleach in disinfecting a surface but lacks the numerous negative side effects. The reaction uses oxidation rather than a chlorine reaction and produces only water as a byproduct, and no harmful fumes. Hydrogen peroxide, at a concentration of 3%, is effective for killing minor mold growth and disinfecting affected surfaces. It may discolor some materials, so be sure to spot test in an inconspicuous area first. This concentration of hydrogen peroxide is easily found at most grocery stores, drug stores, and of course online. A higher concentration of 7% can be found at chemical supply shops, beauty supply shops, and from online retailers including Amazon, and is more effective, but should be used with caution.

Hydrogen peroxide, h2o2, can be as effective as bleach in disinfecting a surface but lacks the numerous negative side effects. The reaction uses oxidation rather than a chlorine reaction and produces only water as a byproduct, and no… Click To Tweet

How To Use Hydrogen Peroxide On Mold

A common spray mister cap can be attached straight to the hydrogen peroxide bottle and sprayed onto mold spots. This will most likely generate a fizzing reaction for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Carefully wipe the spots away after the fizzing has subsided and at least 10 minutes have passed, and let the surface dry. If there is still mold visible, or it has left stains, you can repeat the hydrogen peroxide application several more times as needed. It’s advised that personal protective equipment be used when cleaning even minor mold spots, including a proper mask, rubber gloves, and eye protection. While the use of reusable microfiber cloths is advisable in many situations, this is not one of them. The mold should be wiped away with a disposable cloth such as a paper towel, which should be discarded immediately. You will likely want to have a fan operating nearby to help remove any excess humidity, although it is not required for the removal of fumes as there will not be any produced.


REFERENCES

1. https://www.osti.gov/biblio/6958939-report-congress-indoor-air-quality-volume-assessment-control-indoor-air-pollution-final-report
2. https://www.osti.gov/biblio/5936245
3. https://rais.ornl.gov/documents/EFH_Final_1997_EPA600P95002Fa.pdf
4. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2013-08/documents/nas_report_for_web.pdf
5. https://water-research.net/index.php/trihalomethanes-disinfection
6. http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/stage1/
7. http://des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pip/factsheets/ard/documents/ard-ehp-13.pdf

 

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Musty Smells While Quarantining? Might Be Mold

Musty Smells While Quarantining? Might Be Mold | Woman wearing a mask leaning out a window

Most of us are doing our best to decrease the spread of the coronavirus. This means we’re staying home, avoiding group gatherings, and only going out for necessary groceries and medications. If everyone is home all the time, this means there’ll be more moisture from showering, cleaning, cooking, and just living our lives in the small space of our house. And as we know, mold loves lots of moisture 1. So it’s not an uncommon instance of musty smells while quarantining, but why are you experiencing the odors? Might be mold.

You should know though that musty odor doesn’t always mean there’s dangerous mold growing 2. It’s likely just surface level mold, which can be fixed. But it could also be a deeper issue, depending on the moisture build-up or potential water leaks before the quarantine.

In any case, here’s some education and tips if you’re at home more and smell a potential mold problem in the making.

Understand How and Why Mold Grows

As mentioned above, mold thrives on moisture, whether it comes from a water leak or condensation. But it also needs food to grow. Often, mold can be found wherever there are moisture and fibrous material like paper, drywall, and cardboard. But it also eats other organic material like bread, skin cells, bacteria, and other small carbon-containing matter 1.

Mold also needs space to grow without too many other microbes to compete with. You’d be interested to know that mold can disable some other microbes to enable their own growth 3. In this way, they can take over an area and thrive. But, if mold already has open space without other competitors, as is the case in spaces that are too clean, they may grow unchecked 4,5.

Mold also needs space to grow without too many other microbes to compete with. You'd be interested to know that mold can disable some other microbes to enable their own growth Click To Tweet

Tips For Removing & Coping With Mold

Once you know how and why mold grows, you can be better prepared for how to prevent mold in the first place. However, this knowledge can also help in knowing how to fix a mold problem once it begins.

 

  1. BE SURE TO HAVE A WELL VENTILATED HOME

Since mold needs moisture to grow, then having a well-ventilated home can often help fix a minor mold problem. Be sure to make use of kitchen and bathroom fans. If you don’t have them, then investing in portable fans can really help 1.

Also, try keeping some windows open. This can be challenging when everyone is home, and the weather outside may be cold. However, having some windows open can really ventilate and bring in some helpful natural air 1,5,6.

2. BRING DOWN MOISTURE LEVELS

As stated above, proper ventilation can significantly reduce your moisture levels, which will help prevent and treat a mold problem. Another way to reduce moisture is to use a dehumidifier. You can place it in critical areas that tend to build moisture the most 1,5.

Also, try to avoid moisture from condensing on windows, especially if the air is cooler outside than it is inside. With more people in the home, this will be a more significant challenge than usual. Try to keep the temperature of your home a bit cooler than usual. Also, when possible, open windows to decrease the build-up of condensation 1,5.

3. REMOVE SURFACE-LEVEL MOLD

Surface-level mold can be removed in a fairly simple way. Many people opt for bleach, and while this is a popular remedy, it is only effective on non-porous (tile etc) surfaces, and is also toxic for the lungs and skin. Instead, try using undiluted 3% hydrogen peroxide OR white vinegar 7,8, but do not mix them. Tea tree oil can be just as effective as hydrogen peroxide or vinegar 8.

Surface-level mold can be removed in a fairly simple way. Many people opt for bleach, and while this is a popular remedy, it is only effective on non-porous (tile etc) surfaces, and is also toxic for the lungs and skin. Instead, try… Click To Tweet

Wipe the surface-level mold with a disposable cloth and one of the solutions as mentioned above, and repeat as necessary. Regardless of which solution you choose, use only a small amount and don’t mix with any other cleaning agents as this could potentially produce toxic gases.

Also, mold doesn’t grow as much when other microbes are competing for space and food. Homebiotic’s probiotic spray was created to help bring in natural soil-based microbes that will compete with mold and inhibit their growth. Homebiotic won’t kill mold on contact, instead it works over time to inhibit and prevent their growth.

4. PREVENT ILLNESSES ASSOCIATED WITH MOLD

If that musty odor persists and you’ve taken steps to clean all surface-level mold, then you likely have mold growth in inaccessible areas of the home. This may require a mold test and more stringent removal measures.

In the meantime, you can use air filtration systems to help reduce the number of mold allergens in the air. HEPA filters with UV or ionization have proven to be effective at lowering mycotoxin allergens in the air. Just be sure to clean your HEPA filter properly as it can also be vulnerable to mold growth. However, UV and ionization may prevent mold growth in HEPA filter units 9,10.

bad-odor

Conclusion

During quarantine for the coronavirus, we are spending a lot more time at home. This increases the moisture levels in our home, which might aid in the growth of mold. If you start smelling that tell-tale musty odor, chances are mold has begun to spring up in your home.

The good news is that it’s likely surface-level mold. The above tips will help you make decisions about how to prevent and fix this problem. Once mold growth has begun, there are a few non-toxic ways to get rid of it quickly.

Lastly, proper ventilation and decreasing moisture levels are essential to prevent and treat mold issues. You can also use Homebiotic spray to bring in natural microbe competitors that will stop mold from growing in the first place.

Although mold growth may become an issue during quarantine, it doesn’t have to become another stressor. Once you understand how mold grows, then you’ll know more about how to prevent and remove it.


REFERENCES

1. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28299723
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mold
4. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-019-0593-4.epdf?referrer_access_token=dbirv_c_z112blDos3pXLNRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0NvGy2dylkGSz3KfaHrHWvz91WrdbO-hC1L5cRkm8uaNT_206dn91YHLRkkEthiaLvebtJej4odp6x8_o6PN9C4sBMg3aSzRXRoO2YCabzZXpWFXr0v027tEfwr0cTKZlPatZKGOACqFfaEnoF1P92hlljaBbcfjElLCR0Tzp6xVovmC84tkYdJawRACVDgwlT2BCyitwETaNo8a3b7DX_pnzgOL61ZX3_w1lLh07CGR3vnLkR14D6RSH0WRjo9A3WMhTeh8H34VG37MCopLsbAuS5lM85zEgO8dIVUIeQlbA%3D%3D&tracking_referrer=www.npr.org
5. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133
6. https://letthemeatdirt.com
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16400985
8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4483703/
9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4587002/
10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4206797/

 

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How To Avoid Over-Cleaning During The Pandemic

How To Avoid Over-Cleaning During The Pandemic | Hand Sanitizer and Masks sitting on a table

Did you know you can over-clean during the pandemic? We’re living at a time when antibacterial soaps, wipes, and cleaning products are rapidly being emptied off the shelves. With the coronavirus pandemic, people are frantically purchasing cleaning supplies to keep their homes safe.

Avoid Over-Cleaning During the Pandemic Quarantine

Indeed, if you have someone sick at home or you’re immunocompromised and can’t participate in self-quarantine, then keeping things extra clean will be a priority.

However, it’s not necessary to be over-cleaning your home if no one is sick, and everyone has healthy immune systems. This is especially true if everyone is observing proper social distance or quarantine measures. So let’s talk about how to clean properly during this pandemic quarantine. You might be surprised to learn that over-cleaning may do more harm than good.

Over-Cleaning Causes Increased Fungal Growth in Urban HomesWhat is Over-Cleaning?

If no one is sick or immunocompromised in your home, then there’s no need to clean more often than you usually do. You likely don’t need to be wiping and scrubbing surfaces several times a day. You also don’t need to douse your hands or bodies in antibacterial soap or be doing outrageous amounts of laundry either.

There may be an urge to use lots of bleach and water to clean the bathrooms and kitchens every day, but this is not necessary. Cleaning once a week with non-toxic cleaners and keeping a regular laundry schedule should be fine. This is especially true if everyone is staying in, observing social distancing, and not exposed to anyone else.

There may be an urge to use lots of bleach and water to clean the bathrooms and kitchens every day, but this is not necessary. Cleaning once a week with non-toxic cleaners and keeping a regular laundry schedule should be fine. This is… Click To Tweet

Of course, if someone is ill in your house or you’ve been exposed then your cleaning regimen likely needs to increase. You’ll also need to use sanitizing agents to kill and remove the virus. If these situations apply to you, then you can follow the CDC’s cleaning advice to prevent other family members from getting ill 1.

Why Might Over-Cleaning Be Harmful?

By now, most people know that a sterile gut causes many health issues 2. Well, the same can be said about our home environment. If you strip away all the healthy microbes in our homes, you’re setting up your environment for an onslaught of unhealthy microbes, like mold 3,4.

The more we clean away all the microbes, the more mold sees those empty spaces as free real-estate to grow and reproduce. This is because many microbial species compete with mold, which keeps their numbers low. But if there are no bacteria at all, then mold has a much better chance of taking up space 3,4,5.

This is especially problematic when there are more people at home using water to clean, shower, or cook. And in colder months, when we usually keep windows closed, moisture from breathing and living can really build-up.

Nowadays, everyone is home more due to quarantine and shelter-in-place laws in many countries. As a result we have more people inside, which means an increase in moisture in many areas of the house.

Why Are These Factors Important?

So between freeing up real estate to over-cleaning mixed with more moisture and less ventilation, this sets up the perfect storm for mold to grow. And since many people are now developing allergies and asthma from mold exposure, this can cause more health problems as we’re all quarantined at home 5,6.

So between freeing up real estate to over-cleaning mixed with more moisture and less ventilation, this sets up the perfect storm for mold to grow. And since many people are now developing allergies and asthma from mold exposure, this… Click To Tweet

The other problem with over-cleaning is that we may be contributing to the creation of bacteria that are resistant to these cleaners. Bacteria that survive after they’ve been bleached or doused in antibacterial solutions are on their way to becoming resistant, and therefore more dangerous to our health 7,8.

Lastly, over-using toxic cleaners can be dangerous to your health in general. They can cause respiratory or skin irritations when used in high quantities. This may not help when you’re already concerned about staying healthy under the threat of coronavirus 7,8.

So How Should I Clean Properly?

As mentioned above, if no one is sick or immunocompromised, then regular cleaning once a week with non-toxic solutions like vinegar or essential oils will suffice. You also don’t need to use a ton of water either, just enough to wipe away the dirt and soap suds.

It’s essential to make sure you have ventilation around the areas that you do clean. Also, wherever your family conducts regular hand washing should have ventilation too. So be sure to turn on bathroom and kitchen fans if you have them. You can even use portable fans to keep air circulating throughout the home as well. If you’re able to open windows, that would be helpful too 3.

You also don’t need to use toxic antibacterial soaps for hand washing and showering. Regular soap works by attaching to bacteria and viruses and pulling them off. Then when you rinse with water, everything gets washed down the drain 9.

How Do I Clean When We Need To Shop?

When someone needs to do grocery shopping or pick up medicine and bring items back in the house, this can present some anxiety and confusion around cleaning. In this case, the person coming back from outside definitely needs to wash their hands 1.

If their clothes have been exposed, then they can either be left in a bag for several days or washed 1. But if they haven’t been in direct contact or within six feet of anyone, then there’s no need to do extra laundry.

Experts are saying that people don’t need to be as worried about grocery items as they thought 10. Using regular safety measures for food handling will suffice. The same goes for food wrap and plastic bags, just practice proper hand washing and food safety as you would typically do 1,10.

It can be dangerous to use toxic wipes or cleaners near or around open food. These solutions are not meant to be consumed and therefore, shouldn’t be used to disinfect any food. The usual food handling, storage, and cooking practices will be good enough 7.

It can be dangerous to use toxic wipes or cleaners near or around open food. These solutions are not meant to be consumed and therefore, shouldn't be used to disinfect any food. The usual food handling, storage, and cooking practices… Click To Tweet

Conclusion

As it was stated above, if no one is sick or immunocompromised and everyone is observing social distancing and quarantine practices, then there’s no need to over-clean. You can follow your regular cleaning and laundry schedule. And when you do clean, you don’t need to use toxic cleaners or use too much water.

Make sure your home is well-ventilated around hand washing and cleaning areas. And when leaving home to pick up food or medicine, the tips above will help you make the right decisions about the cleaning and storage of those items.

This is a confusing and scary time and many of us are feeling unsure about how to clean our homes and protect our families. Hopefully, these facts and tips will help you make the best decisions.

Remember, hand washing and distance is the best measure for preventing the coronavirus, so going overboard in cleaning your home is really not necessary.


REFERENCES

1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/disinfecting-your-home.html
2. https://letthemeatdirt.com
3. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133
4. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139
5. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28608416
7. https://journals.lww.com/pidj/fulltext/2000/10001/consumer_and_market_use_of_antibacterials_at_home.6.aspx
8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK73515/
9. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html
10. https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/news/coronavirus-no-evidence-food-source-or-transmission-route