Posted on

Can Mold Give You Depression?

depression

Many people are aware that mold has an adverse effect on our health and wellbeing. In the last few decades, statistics for allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions have increased at an alarming rate. But one of the reasons for that increase is that our modern living spaces promote a sterile and closed-off environment (1).

Also, we are cleaning with more harsh chemicals and increasing the amount of moisture and dampness in our homes. In the last two years in particular, since the start of the pandemic, more people are staying at home. This means we are showering, cleaning, and spending more time in our homes thus increasing the amount of moisture in our living space.

Most of us are aware of the danger that mycotoxins from mold can have on our health. Of course, not everyone gets sick from mold. Some people have a genetic sensitivity that predisposes them to mold illness (2). But as of yet, research hasn’t been able to clearly identify who those people are and exactly why they’re so sensitive. Nonetheless, research shows that mold illness has increased exponentially over the last several decades (3).

depression

DOES MOLD CAUSE DEPRESSION?

However, a relatively new phenomenon is that mold exposure may actually contribute to the rise of depression as well. In a study conducted by Edward Shenassa and colleagues, they noticed an increase in depressive symptoms for people living in moldy or damp environments (4). This increase is still relevant even after the researchers controlled for aspects like overcrowding, economic factors, and perceived lack of control over the study participant’s environment.

The study showed that the overall risk for depression for those living in moldy and damp environments was between 34-44% (4). This is a significant number and one that we ought to pay attention to given that depression has sky-rocketed in the last several decades. Although there are many factors that lead to the development of depression, few experts have discussed the connection between mold and depression.

the overall risk for depression for those living in moldy and damp environments was between 34-44% Click To Tweet

HOW DOES MOLD IMPACT DEPRESSION?

Although this may be surprising, it makes sense considering the effect that mold can have on the nervous system and immune system (5,6). Several studies have shown that the mycotoxins produced by mold can cause clinical features similar to several neurologic disorders including pain syndromes, movement disorders, delirium, and dementia. Mold also has an effect on the immune system which has neurological consequences as well (5,7).

Several studies have shown that the mycotoxins produced by mold can cause clinical features similar to several neurologic disorders including pain syndromes, movement disorders, delirium, and dementia Click To Tweet

Any substance or pollutant that affects that neurological system will also have an effect on the neuropsychiatry of the individual, thus creating symptoms as seen in depression and anxiety. This is a startling new finding that may help unravel the common and devastating effects of both depression and increasing mold issues in modern environments.

The problem is, there are many factors involved in why a person develops depression as well as why people react to mold exposure. Interestingly, those with more sensitive immune and neurological systems are more likely to get both conditions. But what exactly denotes that sensitivity is still up for debate. More research is needed to control for several factors and thus pinpoint more causative factors.

 

WHAT OTHER FACTORS EFFECT MOLD RELATED DEPRESSION?

For instance, those that have more income are more able to clean up mold in their homes. This means they are less likely to be exposed to mold, but also, have more locus of control in creating a better home environment (4). For those without these resources, they are more likely to be exposed to mold. But also, the feeling of lacking control could be a factor in developing depression as well (4).

However, in one study, even mild or moderate mold exposure was still statistically significant even after controlling for the perception of control, other health issues, and the ability to remove mold. The study shows that mold-exposed people are still 28-34% more likely to develop depression. Nonetheless, the researchers feel that income levels need more attention as a variable in the depression and mold exposure link (8).

mold-exposed people are still 28-34% more likely to develop depression Click To Tweet

Another study looked at a comparison between mold-exposed individuals and a control group of unexposed people for factors like central or peripheral nervous system symptoms, fatigue, brain fog, arrhythmias, and multiple chemical sensitivities. The results were highly statistically significant for the study group versus the control group (9).

 

HOW DOES MOLD IMPACT YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM?

In terms of central and peripheral nervous system issues, the study group showed that 80% of mold-exposed individuals had symptoms compared to only 11% of the control group. For fatigue and brain fog, the results were 77% and 62% for the study group versus 24% and 11% respectively (9). Since many of these symptoms are present in depression, it makes sense that depression is observed as well.

As of now, researchers can’t say that there is a definite causative link between mold exposure and depression, but the results of these studies show a strong possibility that should be explored with deeper more rigorous research.

References

https://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1994167/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4840461/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15143854/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19854819/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2072855/

https://www.ncbi.nl

m.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7303478/

Posted on

Will A Dehumidifier Help With Mold?

Contaminated Potting Soil | Humidity on Window

In this article, we will look at dehumidifiers and how they can help fix and prevent a mold issue. We will talk about types of dehumidifiers, how they work, where they go, and why they are useful. We will also learn about how mold grows and spreads as well and what you can do to ensure your dehumidifier unit doesn’t make things worse. Most importantly we will ask: will a dehumidifier help with mold?

Mold issues and illnesses are on the rise in the modern age. It’s worth looking at how to prevent mold from growing in your home as mold can cause many health problems like a disease of the respiratory system, allergies, asthma, skin rashes, headaches, and can even be deadly for those with compromised immune systems. Mold grows when excess humidity (ex. water leak) is present along with enough food for mold to eat and space void of other microbial competitors.

Mold issues and illnesses are on the rise in the modern age. It’s worth looking at how to prevent mold from growing in your home as mold can cause many health problems like a disease of the respiratory system, allergies, asthma, skin… Click To Tweet

Although a dehumidifier can’t solve all mold problems, it certainly is a great prevention strategy and works well to control mold in combination with mold remediation or prevention techniques.

dehumidifier - homebiotic

Does A Humidifier Prevent Mold?

A humidifier is a device that adds more moisture to the room air inside household spaces. People use humidifiers for the specific purpose of adding more humidity and moisture inside a home.

Mold requires the following conditions in order to grow – moisture, food, and space void of other competitors. A humidifier helps reduce the dryness in the air but adds more humidity to a room. So, unfortunately, no humidifier does not prevent mold and in fact, may only increase the moisture level in household areas. There’s no point in adding another moisture source to your home if you’re trying to prevent or remove mold.

Do Humidifiers Get Rid Of Mold?

Unfortunately, humidifiers will not get rid of mold. Instead, they may add to a current mold problem or can even cause one. Also, since mold needs moisture to grow, you can even find mold growing inside humidifier units. If you’re trying to prevent or kill mold then you need to remove the moisture from the air rather than adding to it. Humidifiers are only necessary when the air inside a room is so dry that it’s causing significant health problems. However, health problems will only get worse if a humidifier activates more mold growth in the home. If you’re trying to get rid of mold or prevent mold growth, a humidifier may not be the best solution to the problem.

black mold on drywall - homebiotic - types of moldWill A Dehumidifier Kill Mold?

A dehumidifier is a device that removes excess humidity and moisture from the air. People use dehumidifiers for the express purpose of removing water, condensation, humidity, and moisture from the home environment.

Many people ask – does a dehumidifier kill mold? The answer is no, dehumidifiers don’t have the capacity to kill mold. Mold grows by reproducing spores into the air. Those spores land on surfaces and if there’s moisture, food, and space, the mold spores will grow. Dehumidifiers can remove moisture but they can’t actually kill mold spores or active mold growing on surfaces. These units also can’t do anything about mildew in kitchens and bathrooms. However, when included with other interventions, it can absolutely help prevent mold in the home.

How Do Refrigerant And Desiccant Dehumidifiers Work?

A refrigerant dehumidifier works like condensation on a window. It features a refrigeration system that creates a cold area that is colder than room air. As air is drawn into the unit, it draws moisture out of the air and condenses it into a separate compartment.

Desiccant dehumidifiers use a silica-like gel to draw and trap moisture out of the air. Air is drawn into the unit and passed over the silica where moisture is drawn into the material. These units are typically used when the air needs to be very dry.

Are Refrigerant Dehumidifiers Better, Or Should I Choose A Desiccant Dehumidifier?

Both units are effective for removing excess moisture and humidity from the air. Refrigerant units work well for buildings that have plaster and concrete that needs to be kept dry. Desiccant units are best suited for environments where moisture absolutely must be kept to a minimum such as pharmaceutical buildings. Desiccant units are also good for places where access is limited like storage tanks.

 

The best dehumidifier would have a mix of refrigerant and desiccant properties. They balance each other out and effectively remove large amounts of moisture and humidity from the air inside the home.

air purifier turned on - homebioticWhat Type Of Dehumidifier Is Best To Get Rid Of Mold?

In terms of getting rid of mold and mildew, no dehumidifier is going to help with that. Although dehumidifiers can effectively prevent mold, they can’t kill mold spores or an already established mold problem inside the home. It’s important to consult a professional when determining how to get rid of an established mold issue. You will likely need professional mold remediation. In the case of mildew, you can use hydrogen peroxide and wipe those surfaces.

How Do You Stop Mold From Growing?

As we discussed above, mold needs three conditions in order to grow – moisture, food, and space to grow without competitors. In order to stop mold from growing, we need to prevent all three conditions from happening. Limiting food is difficult as mold can eat many things readily available in our home. These are things like drywall, paper, furniture, cloth, dead skin cells, other microbes, etc. However, we can do a lot to prevent moisture build-up and ensure there are competitors to limit space for mold growth.

mold needs three conditions in order to grow - moisture, food, and space to grow without competitors. In order to stop mold from growing, we need to prevent all three conditions from happening. Limiting food is difficult as mold can eat… Click To Tweet

The following are ways to reduce moisture:

  • Ensure there is proper airflow through the home
  • Use fans and keep some windows open
  • Use dehumidifiers and air purifiers
  • Fix any water leaks or damage around water sources in the basement, kitchen and bathrooms
  • Reduce condensation around windows and doors
  • Use a hygrometer to test the humidity level in the air and ensure it’s at an optimal level

Lastly, to increase the number of competitors for mold we can do the following:

  • Nurture your home microbiome
  • Use home probiotics like Homebiotic Environmental Probiotic Spray
  • Don’t use harsh cleaners so that more competitive species can grow
  • Limit the frequency of cleaning
  • Don’t be afraid of a little outside dirt, it brings in soil-based microbial competitors

steamy showerWhich Type Of Humidity Grows Mold?

Actually, any humidity or moisture can be used by mold spores to propagate and grow. Humid air contains microscopic water particles and if there’s too much of it in your home, mold can use it to grow. Likewise, water sources such as condensation, water leaks, and water damage can all cause mold to grow. It can also cause mildew to build up at well. Humidity can be found in all areas of the house including the basements, kitchen, bathrooms, water tank, and attic.

Which Kinds Of Mold Grows From Excess Humidity?

All kinds of mold species can and will grow if conditions are right, including high humidity levels. There are thousands of mold species but the most common ones are aspergillus, cladosporium, fusarium, and stachybotrys. All mold species have the potential to add allergens to household spaces and cause health issues like allergy symptoms, asthma, skin rashes, and other allergy triggers. However, stachybotrys, or black mold as it’s commonly called, is a very toxic mold and should be removed by a professional mold removal company.

All kinds of mold species can and will grow if conditions are right, including high humidity levels. There are thousands of mold species but the most common ones are aspergillus, cladosporium, fusarium, and stachybotrys. All mold… Click To Tweet

Do Dehumidifiers Spread Mold?

Yes, dehumidifiers can be a source of mold and can spread mold in other parts of the house. In the case of refrigerant dehumidifiers that hold water in the unit, this moisture source can be a breeding ground for mold if it’s not removed or cared for properly. Even though these dehumidifiers can help decrease humidity in the house, they need to be cared for properly. Be sure to check all the operating and cleaning instructions upon purchasing a dehumidifier. Adhering to those instructions will ensure that the dehumidifier will not hold and propagate mold spores.

Mold growth - Homebiotic - get rid of moldWill Mold Die If Moisture Is Removed?

The goal of dehumidifiers is to reduce the relative humidity in a home. This will help prevent or reduce a mold problem but it will not kill mold once it has taken hold inside the house. The problem is that mold spores have a survival tactic whereby they go dormant when they don’t have enough food or humidity to help them propagate. In this way, they’re able to survive for long periods of time; waiting it out unless the arrival of more food and humidity. However, if a home is void of any mold, a dehumidifier can reduce the humidity level in a home which is an effective strategy to keep mold growth at bay.

Other strategies to reduce humidity levels are to ensure there is enough ventilation in the home without causing too much condensation in the cooler weather. If the weather outside is cold, there will be more humidity around the windows and doors, especially if the home is very warm inside. It’s best to keep a warm room temperature in the home, but not too warm. In this case, a dehumidifier works well to decrease relative humidity inside the house.

Signs You Need A Dehumidifier

Ideally, a dehumidifier would be purchased before any signs of mold are present. In the case of mold control, it’s best to stop mold before it starts. However, if mold is present or a musty mildew smell is detected in the house, a dehumidifier can help reduce the problem in combination with other interventions. In areas of the house that tend to have a lot of water and higher humidity levels such as a basement, attic, AC units, kitchen, water tank, and bathrooms, or anywhere that has excess moisture, a dehumidifier can really help. Also if there has been a water leak anywhere inside the house, be sure to fix that problem first and then use a dehumidifier to prevent any problems from happening. Mildew often grows in kitchens and bathrooms due to a lot of water content, so you’ll want to pay attention to those areas as well. The good thing is that mildew doesn’t cause as much damage like mold. Once mold damage takes place, a dehumidifier won’t help much. At that point, a mold remediation company should be called in to help remove the mold and fix the damage.

How Does A Dehumidifier Prevent Mold?

A dehumidifier prevents mold by decreasing relative humidity and moisture levels in the home. You don’t necessarily need one in every room, however, you may need multiple units if there are many areas of the house that have high humidity levels. By placing a dehumidifier ahead of time, meaning before any mold growth or moisture damage takes place, it can significantly help prevent mold problems from taking hold. Consider a dehumidifier one of a few strategies to keep mold growth from becoming a problem in the home. You can check if your dehumidifier is working by placing a hygrometer in the room or area where you want to reduce the humidity level.

What Size Dehumidifier Do I Need And How Do I Choose One?

For large rooms (ex. basement) that may have water damage or leaks, you will want to choose the largest units with a few features like an air filter or purification system, energy star certified (to reduce energy consumption), a defrost feature, a fan (with a good amount of fan speed) auto shutoff, humidistat, and other benefits. These units will provide the best function and service for what you need in large damp rooms. It may be good also to get a unit that has a combined refrigerant and desiccant system.

happy family - homebioticIs A Dehumidifier Enough For Dealing With Mold?

No, a dehumidifier alone is not enough to deal with mold. It’s a fantastic preventative, but it won’t kill mold or stop a mold problem on its own. A dehumidifier can help prevent mold in rooms that have high humidity but don’t have mold growth yet. A dehumidifier, along with other interventions can help reduce a mold problem, but it can never be relied upon as the only intervention.

So, will a dehumidifier solve my mold problem?

A dehumidifier can help solve a mold issue in combination with other interventions such as mold remediation, air ventilation, fixing or preventing water leaks, enhancing the home microbiome, and decreasing clutter around moist areas. However, relying on a dehumidifier alone can be very faulty thinking and likely won’t work.

In conclusion, a dehumidifier is a fantastic way to help prevent and fix a mold issue. It’s one of the best courses of action for mold prevention and control, but it will not kill mold or its spores. This is important to know as many people often buy dehumidifiers hoping to kill mold in their home and it doesn’t quite work that way. But it can help reduce it and prevent it.

 

References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16268830/

https://www.pnas.org/content/110/46/18360?etoc=

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

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

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

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19201053/

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

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/5105267/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6472009/

 

 

Posted on

Do Not Clean Mold With Bleach: Here’s Why

Do Not Clean With Bleach: Here's Why | Blog

A fairly common experience for homeowners is to find a small patch of mold and immediately reach for some sort of antibacterial cleaner, namely bleach, to deal with the issue. But did you know, you shouldn’t clean mold with bleach? We know, this raises a whole host of questions about modern cleaning practices:

  • But what if you’re cleaning your house all wrong?
  • What if you’re making it easier for the spots of mold to take over?
  • What if there is such a thing as too clean or too sterile?

Sadly, mold removal is never as simple as it looks on TV. But the good news is that it’s straightforward and safe to tackle small outbreaks of the mold without having to call in a professional – and without dealing with bleach fumes.

cleaning sponge - homebioticUsing Bleach To Clean Mold

We’ve all done it. Noticed a spot of mold in the shower, sprayed bleach then scrubbed away the discolored patch on the wall or grouting. That’s that.

Bleach works fantastically on tiling, and other hard surfaces, where moisture and humidity provide a friendly environment for mold. But bleach-based cleaners are not suitable for dealing with mold in the home, and, despite the convincing commercials, powerful antibacterial sprays that target black mold simply aren’t worth the money.

The truth: bleach is an excellent disinfectant, and fantastic at making everything look sparkling clean. A whitening appearance means that all the dirt and nasty stuff has gone, right? But appearances can be deceiving.

A common misconception is that mold behaves similarly to bacteria. While both live in colonies and are classified separately from plants or animals – mold is part of the fungal family, and bacteria are single-celled microorganisms1. Mold plays an important role in aiding the decomposition of dead matter in the wild and can be found in humid wet places2. Meanwhile, bacteria can be found all over our planet, in soil and water, inside plants and animals.

A common misconception is that mold behaves similarly to bacteria. While both live in colonies and are classified separately from plants or animals – mold is part of the fungal family, and bacteria are single-celled microorganisms Click To Tweet

Their behaviors are distinctive – mold reproduces by releasing spores into the air, while bacteria generally only release spores when there is no alternative: they usually reproduce asexually. In the same way that mold and its function is not inherently bad, different bacteria strains have different purposes in the soil, in water, and in your gut microbiome – and these are just a few examples. Both bacteria and mold are important to the ecosystem, and so cannot be dismissed out of hand as bad. But they are not the same thing, so it seems odd that we attempt to clean them up with the same cleaning products.

Mold growth - Homebiotic - get rid of moldWhy Is Bleach Bad For Cleaning Mold?

Bleach is an antibacterial product, often used for sterilization, normally with a chlorine base. Sodium hypochlorite is used in the production of liquid bleach. There are a handful of reasons that bleach is not the answer for cleaning mold:

Spores – Bleach is unable to kill off mold spores, which is their way of reproducing. Mold releases spores in order to create new colonies. Bleach can’t neutralize mold spores and mycotoxins, meaning they remain stuck to surfaces that are otherwise “sparkling clean”.

Porous Materials – Bleach is adequate for removing mold on non-porous materials such as work surfaces, sinks, hard plastic floors, tiles, and glass. However, on porous materials, bleach struggles to make an impact: killing the visible mold on surfaces such as wood, fabric, and drywall, but unable to reach the mold which remains underneath the surface ready to grow again3.

Available Mold Resources – Cellulose, the organic matter that feeds mold, can stop the bleach from fully sterilizing the area. Organic matter turns bleach inactive4.

Lack of Beneficial Bacteria – Bleach is an excellent antibacterial agent, but it works too well as a biocide, rendering places where it’s used completely sterile5. Not all bacteria are bad: some types of bacteria can do a lot of good, including the microbiome in your gut. Some bacteria in your home and in the wider world have the purpose of feasting on mold colonies. But if you kill off these friendly bacteria, you leave a vacuum where mold can flourish.

Not all bacteria are bad: some types of bacteria can do a lot of good, including the microbiome in your gut. Some bacteria in your home and in the wider world have the purpose of feasting on mold colonies. But if you kill off these… Click To Tweet

You may find it difficult to wrap your head around this information, after years of mopping, scrubbing, and spraying mold with bleach. Bleach may still have a purpose – though here at Homebiotic, we’d argue that a sterile home should be very low on your list of priorities. There are many more health benefits to encouraging friendly bacteria in your home.

soapy sponge - homebioticWhat Kills Mold Spores?

Since using bleach is highly not recommended, what is a suitable alternative to not only kill mold spores but ensure your family remains protected from harmful chemicals? The good news is that mold only releases spores when it’s thriving, so your plan of action is simple:

  • Cut the mold off from its creature comforts: Reduce the moisture and condensation in your home, and get your leaky roof and rickety plumbing sorted out once and for all6.
  • Control the humidity in your home: Dehumidifier machines are great for this, but depending on the climate of where you live, simply cracking open the window can help.
  • Use a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner: Frequently suck up any dust and mold spores that may be hiding in the carpets and upholstery. Mold spores can lie dormant for years7.
  • For killing mold on porous surfaces, use borax (sodium borate): Wipe clean the surfaces using borax. Borax is not an antibacterial substance: instead, it changes the pH of the area you’re cleaning, making it inhospitable for mold.
  • Additionally, you can use hydrogen peroxide or vinegar: Both options are effective, natural options for killing mold spores. When using hydrogen peroxide on fabrics be sure to use it on light fabrics ONLY at the risk of discoloration. Always allow the area to dry completely.
  • Replenish your beneficial bacteria population: Stop using antibacterial products, and spray Homebiotic Environmental Spray once a week to reinstate friendly bacteria – to consume mold, and to protect the natural microbiome of your home.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK8120/
https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm
https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/articles/6969z1338?locale=en
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK214356/
https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-10/documents/moldguide12.pdf
https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-10/documents/moldguide12.pdf
https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/2901/2901-7019/2901-7019_pdf.pdf

 

Posted on

Do Air Purifiers Help With Mold Growth?

Do Air Purifiers Help with Mold Growth? | Blog

Household mold is a costly and sometimes serious health hazard. Besides the uncomfortable musty smell, mold can cause a variety of health problems if left untreated. The best way to get rid of mold is to hire a professional mold remediation company as the process can be challenging and also a bit dangerous. Some species of mold can’t simply be wiped away and require more expertise to remove. This is especially important in the case of black mold, which is a very toxic and dangerous type of mold. But, what about mold and air purifiers?

The best way to get rid of mold is to hire a professional mold remediation company as the process can be challenging and also a bit dangerous. Some species of mold can’t simply be wiped away and require more expertise to remove. This is… Click To Tweet

Fortunately, an air purifier can help with a mold problem as well. Although they can’t fix mold that is settled and growing on household spaces, they can remove spores and with the right unit, they can actually kill the spores. This makes air purifiers for mold a great help. But even more so, they are fantastic for preventing any future mold problems. In this article, we’ll answer some popular questions regarding air purifiers and how they can help with mold growth.

illustration of woman sitting under air purifier - homebioticDo Air Purifiers Work?

Air purifiers help freshen the air in the room by removing toxic particles, allergens, and pollutants. Sometimes they are combined with dehumidifiers to keep the moisture levels lower in the home. An air purifier can remove mold spores, dust, and other pollutants to enhance the cleanliness of the air and reduce allergies and other health problems. There are many types of air purifiers and some work better than others for microbes such as mold.

Are air filters the same as air purifiers?

Air filters only clean the larger particles in the air such as dust and dander. However, air purifiers will sanitize the air using ozone, heat, negative ions, or UV and UV-c light. Most air purifiers also have a filter to remove those large particles. However, some air filters don’t have a purifying mechanism and thus just filter the air of large particles like dust.

Are there any mold-removing air purifiers?

No air filter or purifier can remove mold that has settled into household items like walls, kitchens, bathrooms or furniture. This means that an air purifier doesn’t work on its own to fix a mold issue. However, once mold has been cleaned and removed from the house, an air purifier can prevent mold from returning. Air purifiers can help remove spores and some models can actually burn up the spores completely.

black mold on drywall - Do Air Purifiers Help With Mold Growth?How Can An Air Purifier Help With Mold?

An air purifier equipped with a proper HEPA filter or carbon filters can keep mold spores from circulating in the air. This is one step to help reduce mold problems. Also, some air purifiers can help reduce the moisture in a home which is also helpful. However, it’s important that an air purifier has a good filtration system, which we will talk more about below. People with health effects from mold exposure can benefit from the use of air purifiers for mold.

Can an air purifier kill black mold?

Air purifiers don’t actually kill mold of any kind, but they do trap small invisible mold spores that are buoyant in the air. This means it can prevent those spores from settling in other spots and growing more colonies. Air purifiers with a HEPA filter or activated carbon filter can remove spores from room air.

Air purifiers don’t actually kill mold of any kind, but they do trap small invisible mold spores that are buoyant in the air. This means it can prevent those spores from settling in other spots and growing more colonies. Click To Tweet

The only way to kill black mold is to consult with a professional that provides mold remediation. A black mold problem can be very serious and cause many symptoms such as asthma, skin irritation, and other serious health effects. It’s best to have help in removing black mold from your home. But an air purifier can definitely help reduce black mold spores to prevent any further contamination of the home.

What Kills Mold Spores In The Air?

There are no instruments or products that can kill mold spores while they’re circulating in the air. However, air purifiers that have UV light or UV-c light can suck up mold spores from the air and into the purifier unit where they are killed by the UV light.

Do Air Purifiers Remove Mold Spores?

Yes, most air purifiers can remove mold spores and trap them in the filter. It’s best to use a true HEPA filter with a UV-c light as it is the best air purifier on the market. Filters with UV light can make a big difference in reducing mold spores.

changing air filter - Do Air Purifiers Help With Mold Growth?Do Mold Spores Grow Inside Air Purifiers?

Unfortunately, yes, mold spores can begin to erode the filter. This can happen even with the best true HEPA filters. This is why it’s recommended to find one with a UV light or UV-c light. HEPA filters don’t actually kill mold spores so they can build up and start growing right in the filter. This can be a serious issue because many people don’t realize that mold can grow inside air filters and purifiers as well. Once mold takes hold in the filter of any one of these units, the unit will begin to circulate mold spores in the room which defeats the purpose of the purifier. Always check and clean air purifiers well and consider getting one with UV light if you have or have had a mold issue.

Are Air Purifiers For Mold Covered By Insurance?

If an air purifier has been deemed medically necessary by a medical professional then many insurance companies will cover it. However, you should check with your individual plan to be sure that an air purifier has the capacity to be covered with that plan. Doctors will often deem an air purifier necessary if there have been serious health effects from mold or other household toxins and pollutants. People with health problems like allergies, asthma symptoms, pulmonary fibrosis, or mold sensitivities may require a medically necessary air purifier.

Doctors will often deem an air purifier necessary if there have been serious health effects from mold or other household toxins and pollutants. People with health problems like allergies, asthma symptoms, pulmonary fibrosis, or mold… Click To Tweet

My home doesn’t have mold, do I need an air purifier?

Mold is a very common household issue causing many health effects. Mold can grow in any home at any time if the conditions are right. If you don’t have mold growing in your home then that is good news. Air purifiers do more than reduce mold, they freshen up a home, remove toxins and other pollutants.

How do I know if I need an air purifier?

Air purifiers are often a matter of personal preference. However, if you or your family suffers from health problems related to air quality in the home then an air purifier would be highly recommended. Health problems that often prompt the need for an air purifier are allergies, asthma, breathing issues, headaches, or autoimmune diseases that are triggered by allergens. Also, if your home has a musty smell or has had issues with mold in the past, it’s highly recommended that an air purifier be kept in areas where problems have been noted.

if you or your family suffers from health problems related to air quality in the home then an air purifier would be highly recommended. Health problems that often prompt the need for an air purifier are allergies, asthma, breathing… Click To Tweet

Do you need an air purifier in every room?

It’s not necessary to place an air filter or purifier in every room. Instead, choose the best place where you feel the air quality needs more help. It’s also possible to move air purifiers from room to room if you wish to freshen the air in all rooms. Of course, if you own a large home, you may need two air purifiers to capture the problem areas in a large space.

Deciding which room to place an air purifier comes down to choosing the most problematic area. Be sure not to place too close to walls, furniture, or other electrical units. Sometimes people are tempted to place an air purifier right next to a problem area, but the unit will need space to pull in air and do its job.

air purifier turned on - homebioticDo I Need A HEPA Filter For Mold?

A HEPA filter is an efficient filtration system that can help reduce mold spores circulating in the air. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate arresting or high-efficiency particulate air. A true HEPA filter is considered the best air purifier on the market. It is also a good air purifier for mold. However, it won’t kill mold so you may need an air purifier that also contains a strong UV light or UV-c light. A UV light takes things one step further and can literally fry mold spores.

What is a true HEPA filter?

There are HEPA-type filters and then true HEPA filters. The main difference is in the efficiency of the filtration system. A true HEPA filter works almost 100% and can grab extremely small particles that a HEPA-type filter can’t grab.

What is the best air purifier for mold and mildew?

The best air purifier for mold in your house is a true HEPA filter with a UV-c light. Not only can this filter trap spores and remove them from the air, but it can also kill off spores so they don’t lodge in air purifier filters. Unfortunately, mold can damage filters if too many spores build up inside the HEPA filter system. Having a HEPA filter with UV-c light is the best solution as it will reduce mold spores and kill them.

Mildew is generally less harmful than mold even though it is a type of fungi as well. It usually grows on wet surfaces like kitchen and bathroom tiles and in moist corners where water builds up and remains. In this case, an air purifier can help with circulating spores but can’t actually remove mildew. Removing mildew is easy and requires a simple wipe using hydrogen peroxide or just vinegar and water.

Mildew is generally less harmful than mold even though it is a type of fungi as well. It usually grows on wet surfaces like kitchen and bathroom tiles and in moist corners where water builds up and remains Click To Tweet

dehumidifier - homebioticWhat’s Better For Mold, An Air Purifier, Or A Dehumidifier?

Air purifiers and dehumidifiers are two very different pieces of equipment. Often you can find units that have both an air purifier and a dehumidifier built-in. But they are also sold separately. An air purifier cleans the air whereas a dehumidifier removes excess moisture from the air. Both mechanisms are important in treating and preventing mold.

Mold needs the following circumstances in order to grow: food, moisture, and free space without competition. Mold grows by emitting spores into the air that settle on surfaces and multiply. Air purifiers can help grab mold spores out of the air before they settle anywhere. As we said above, it’s not the only way to prevent mold, but it certainly helps when the problem is simple or in a preventative manner. Dehumidifiers help reduce mold by taking excess water out of the air and surrounding items. This robs mold spores of the moisture that they need in order to grow. So as you can see, a combination of both an air purifier and dehumidifier can really help reduce and prevent mold.

How Important are air purifiers in reducing or preventing mold growth?

Air purifiers, especially those with a UV light or UV-c light, can be invaluable in reducing or preventing mold. However, one should never rely solely on air purifier units. Instead, adopt a more broad approach by preventing all the conditions necessary for mold to grow. Remember that mold needs space, food, and moisture so anything that can be done to prevent those conditions will help reduce and prevent mold and mold spores. Some ways to do this are: use fans, open windows, keep air circulating in the home, fix water leaks, prevent water build up, and remove food sources around moist areas. All of these measures plus the addition of an air purifier will help reduce and prevent mold spores and mold growth.

happy family - Do Air Purifiers Help With Mold Growth?Conclusion

Air purifiers can be a very beneficial investment when you want to reduce or prevent mold issues in your home. Although they can’t fix an established mold problem, they can certainly help with removing and reducing mold spores and improving air quality. Be sure to find air purifier products that have a UV or UV-c light as this is the best way to actually kill mold spores not just trap them in the filter. Remember that filters can get overrun with mold too which is why UV light is more effective.

In short, air purifiers can be a really helpful part in preventing mold growth and mold spores. If you’ve ever had a mold issue or you have family members with mold-related allergies or illnesses, it would be very beneficial to do some market research and get the right air purifier for your home.

References

https://www.epa.gov/mold/what-difference-between-mold-and-mildew#:~:text=Mildew%20refers%20to%20certain%20kinds,of%20multicellular%20filaments%2C%20called%20hyphae.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25007943/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4206797/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165134/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3631655/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7277583/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4587002/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16268830/

Posted on

We Want To Know: Can You Eat Moldy Foods?

We Want to Know Can You Eat Moldy Foods? | Moldy Bread on a Plate

Nothing in the food world is more polarizing than blue cheese. Some people eat it straight from the block or excitedly devour it as a dip to hot wings. To others, the smell alone could ruin a meal, let alone seeing that mold marbling its way through the cracks. Preferences aside, can you eat moldy foods? Are there any negative health impacts to eating food created with mold? The answer is a little complex!

What Kind Of Mold Grows On Food?

This question can be broken down into two categories: food created with mold AND food that has gone moldy. It’s important to distinguish the two because of the types of mold in each category.

blue cheeseFood Created With Mold

We owe a lot of delicious foods to mold! Most notably, as previously mentioned, blue cheese. This is the perfect example of how certain strains of mold can be utilized in specific, controlled ways to create delicious food making it so you can eat moldy foods.

During the cheese-making process, small channels are added to the cheese block to allow air exposure. This is where the mold Penicillium Roqueforti comes in to work its magic creating those blue channels everyone uses to easily identify the type of cheese. This strain of penicillium is completely safe to consume and has been utilized in this process for possibly hundreds of years, and was formally identified in 1906.

moldy foodFood That Has Gone Moldy

Commonly seen in households via bread and fruit, this stage of expiry is when mold spores have begun to cause rot and decay, feeding themselves and spreading.

Although there are 100,000+ types of mold species, the mold on bread and spoiled fruit are most often identified as Rhizopus Stolonifer. In addition to the possibility of consuming this mold, it can also easily be inhaled, making it extremely difficult to avoid completely.

Individuals with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to mold-related infections which, although not currently fully understood, have proven to be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. The mold spores infect mucus tissues, spreading and growing rapidly making it hard to treat, often resulting in necrosis of tissues.

Individuals with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to mold-related infections which, although not currently fully understood, have proven to be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. The mold spores infect mucus… Click To Tweet

When thinking on a small scale, like accidentally ingesting a moldy slice of bread, it’s important not to worry. The human stomach is a very acidic environment that can easily eliminate small amounts of harmful mold if eaten.

However, if larger amounts of mold are consumed they can trigger allergic reactions or even chemical toxicity symptoms, these reactions can be amplified if the person has a compromised digestive or immune system. The CDC recommends if you find mold on food items to err on the side of caution by throwing them away.

Is It Safe To Eat?

Moldy foods are not, but foods created with mold are…in moderation. It’s important to remember any type of mold could potentially trigger an allergic reaction, especially if ingested in large amounts. Common symptoms can include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough and postnasal drip
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Dry, scaly skin

If you experience food-related mold allergies, it’s important to consider that you may find yourself triggered by other fungi related foods (yeast or mushrooms), such as:

  • Vinegar and foods containing vinegar
  • Sour cream
  • Meat or fish
  • Bread
  • Jarred jams
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickled and smoked meats

cheese plate with pickles

Like anything, when thinking if you can eat moldy foods, they should be consumed in moderation. While studies do not show any direct health benefit of consuming the types of mold utilized to make foods, it’s important to consider the other natural health benefits that food may provide. Blue cheese, for example, is an excellent source of calcium and rich in protein while being low in carbohydrates, making it a great addition to your diet.

Foods that are created vinegar and mushrooms also have their own respective health benefits. Mushrooms activate gut microbes meaning it is a prebiotic, a necessary component to proper gut function. Although vinegar itself is not a probiotic, it is used in many food fermentation techniques which produces substantial amounts of probiotics. Adding both mushrooms and vinegar into your diet is the perfect way to optimize your gut health.

Delicious Moldy Foods Recipes

Looking for some inspiration to incorporate “moldy” foods into your diet? We’ve found some fantastic recipes sure you please:

gnocchi blue cheese platings and pairings

Gnocchi with Blue Cheese and Frizzled Prosciutto from Platings & Pairings

Mushroom Risotto from Spend With Pennies

Buffalo Blue Cheese Deviled Eggs from Cupcakes and Kale Chips

References

https://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/Mold.htm

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhizopus_stolonifer

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zygomycosis

http://foodsafety.merieuxnutrisciences.com/2018/02/20/3-foods-exist-because-yeast-mold/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penicillium_roqueforti

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mold-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20351519

https://www.webmd.com/allergies/mold-allergy-basics

Posted on

Biome Basics: Home Biome

Biome Basics: Home Biome | Bright Living Room

We talk a lot about home biomes, but what exactly is a home biome? A biome, more specifically a microbiome, is the community of living organisms concentrated in the same habitat. Almost everything has its own microbiome: your skin, your gut, your garden, and even your home. Biomes function optimally when the microbes within them are balanced – enough good bacteria to keep the bad bacteria in check. When home biomes become unbalanced they can manifest physically noticeable symptoms such as mold. Considering how much time we spend indoors, especially during the pandemic, something that should be considered is the health of our home biome. To make you a home biome expert we need to discuss what makes your home biome unhealthy, how to tell if your home biome is unbalanced and how to fix it.

bright kitchen - homebiotic - home biomeWHAT MAKES YOUR HOME BIOME UNHEALTHY?

Modern cleaning standards and antibacterial cleaners make quick work of disrupting the home biome. Current socially dictated standards of cleanliness glorify the complete sanitization of the home, eliminating any and all present bacteria with chemical cleaners or bleach…or at least 99.99% of it. But what about that remaining .01%? 

Unfortunately, the bacteria that survived were able to withstand all of the chemicals and are now resistant bacteria. Surrounded by the other dead bacterium, with no good bacteria to keep it in check, this particularly strong bacteria has the two things it needs to thrive: space and food (yes, it’s going to consume its fallen, brothers). This then becomes a regular part of the cleaning cycle, continually creating chemical-resistant strains of bacteria within your home biome.

This cycle can be seen when treating mold. Instinctively people will reach for the strongest chemicals they have on hand – bleach, ammonia, etc. Sadly, this typically exacerbates mold problems by creating chemical-resistant mold strains.

black mold under wall paper - Homebiotic - how to get rid of moldWHAT DO IMBALANCES LOOK LIKE IN THE HOME ENVIRONMENT?

Keeping your eyes peeled for the symptoms of an unbalanced home biome can be the key to keeping your home biome healthy & your family safe. Visually obvious mold is an indication that your home biome has a serious imbalance. It shows that your home biome is lacking the good bacteria it needs to prevent bad bacteria overgrowths.

Prior to being able to see the physical manifestation of mold you might smell musty odors. These odors are stale, often wet smelling, commonly experienced in enclosed spaces such as cabinets or closets. These smells are often noticeable even if we are not able to actually see mold, but they are an excellent indicator that mold is forming. Bathrooms and kitchens are extremely susceptible to musty odors.

Prior to being able to see the physical manifestation of mold you might smell musty odors. These odors are stale, often wet smelling, commonly experienced in enclosed spaces such as cabinets or closets. These smells are often noticeable… Click To Tweet

Grime and black staining, commonly experienced in areas of excess moisture like window sills and showers, are also a symptom of an unbalanced home biome. While it can be next to impossible to prevent excess water in these areas, allowing water to accumulate and sit can create serious bacterial imbalances. So what can you do?

woman mopping floor in bright kitchen - homebiotic - home biome

HOW CAN YOU FIX AN UNBALANCED HOME BIOME?

BE PROACTIVE – create a biome-friendly cleaning routine to keep the population of healthy bacteria in your home biome thriving. Creating air flow through your home whenever possible is a great way to bring the microbial benefits of the outdoors inside, giving your home biome the beneficial boost it needs!

ELIMINATE EXCESS MOISTURE – especially in the winter months, homes are extremely susceptible to moisture and standing water. This is a breeding ground for bad bacteria. Immediately wipe up any standing water that might accumulate on windowsills, shower stall frames, around potted plants, etc. Removing the moisture promptly reduces the risk of it causing a bacterial imbalance.

CHOOSE NATURAL CLEANERS – kiss the bleach and ammonia goodbye (not literally…please)! It’s time to break out the hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, or your favorite toxin-free cleaner – if you need a hand picking a cleaner, check our article on ‘Carcinogens Found in Cleaning Products’ to know what to watch out for on ingredient lists. Using 3% hydrogen peroxide on mold is just as effective as bleach; however, it does not produce chemical-resistant bacteria due to its oxidation properties and does not harm you or the environment.

REBALANCE – once any sort of cleaning is completed it’s important to re-establish the population of good bacteria. Replenishing this population takes away one of the things bad bacteria need to survive: real estate. With all the space taken up by the probiotics, bad bacteria will fail to thrive – defending your home with the science of microbial competition. Of course, we recommend using our Homebiotic spray. Each spray contains millions of probiotic bacteria making it easy to protect and rebalance your home biome.

homebiotic spray - homebiotic

Posted on

3 Ways To Nurture Your Home Biome

3 Ways To Nurture Your Home Biome| Bright living space

Do you know how to nurture your home biome like we nurture our gut biome? The last decade, we’ve heard more evidence about how the gut microbiome is key to our health and well being. If we’ve learned anything about environmental science, we know that a microbiome is an environment as well. In fact, our gut environment works together with all microbes to protect and maintain the gut’s health (1). Subsequently, this helps preserve and protect our health.

Woman reading book near plant - Homebiotic - ways to nourish your home biome

But did you know that our home is also a microbiome? Just like the gut, the home has a host of microbes that need each other to keep the house clean and healthy. More and more, we’re learning that to nurture environments means to create balance and future stability, whether that environment is internal or external (2).

Since all living things exist in a symbiotic relationship with other living things, it seems straightforward that our bodies and homes co-exist (3). We’re doing better at nurturing our gut biome, but what about our home biome?

The truth is, most people don’t know how to maintain and nurture their home microbiome. However, it’s surprisingly easy, and once you understand how, you’ll be able to nurture your home microbiome as easily as you would your gut biome. Here are 3 easy ways you can nurture your home biome:

Avoid Over-Cleaning During the Pandemic QuarantineChoosing The Right Cleaning Supplies Will Decrease The Death of Healthy Microbes

Let’s compare a home microbiome to the gut microbiome. There’s one thing we know that decimates healthy microbes – antibacterial substances. We know that taking antibiotics (even though it may be necessary for an infection) will kill off beneficial gut microbes. The same happens in our homes (3,4).

In circumstances like infections or outbreaks of dangerous microbes, we would definitely need to use antibiotics and bacteria-killing substances. However, we need to proceed with caution and not go overboard.

If we use copious amounts of harsh antibacterial chemicals to clean our homes, we will lose all our friendly microbes (3,4). Instead, we can choose less harsh cleaners that will keep our homes fresh, reduce harmful microbes, but will spare the healthy ones. Using things like vinegar, essential oils, or environmentally friendly cleaners will help.

If we use copious amounts of harsh antibacterial chemicals to clean our homes, we will lose all our friendly microbes Click To Tweet

Less Cleaning Will Enhance The Growth & Health of Your Home Microbiome

However, even if you use less harsh cleaners, you can still kill off too many good guys if you clean too frequently (4,5). A good rule of thumb is to clean once a week with the cleaners mentioned above. If your home feels too dusty, you can always just wipe surfaces with water rather than using cleansers.

Again, if you’ve had an outbreak of salmonella or dangerous mold growth, of course, you will need to take care of it. But in the absence of those issues, there’s no need to over-clean.

If you think about it, we never “clean” our guts. At times we may need antibiotics to “clean” out microbes that could be making us sick, but other than that, we don’t think about cleaning our guts. Our home environments do get cluttered, dusty, and full of grime. But really, it’s only the grime that may need cleansers. Everything else just needs tidying up and wiping with a damp cloth.

Our home environments do get cluttered, dusty, and full of grime. But really, it's only the grime that may need cleansers. Everything else just needs tidying up and wiping with a damp cloth. Click To Tweet

bathroomAdding More Soil-Based Microbes Acts Like a Probiotic

Most people don’t know this, but a little dirt is actually good for you, and it’s also good for your home. Dr. Josh Axe writes about the benefits of soil-based microbes in his book “Eat Dirt.” He says that we can re-establish the symbiotic relationship that we’ve always had with them by increasing our exposure to diverse microbes (6). This relationship keeps us healthy and shapes our immune system. Certain microbes not only keep harmful microbes at bay, but they also strengthen our immune systems (6).

For a while, we only focused on enhancing our guts’ microbial diversity, but this is also essential in our home environments. In the book “Never Home Alone,” biologist Rob Dunn looks at the variety of microbial, insect, and animal life alive in most homes. He noticed that many illnesses in modern society increased simultaneously as the microbial life inside of modern homes decreased (5).

It seems that the more we nurture our relationship with soil-based microbes, the more we create balance and health in our homes, which, in turn, enhances our health. Perhaps a new version of “clean” in our homes is one where we allow a bit of outside dirt to come in. Playing in nature with pets and other humans will naturally bring outside soil-microbes into the home (4). We can also explore the use of home probiotics that foster our microbial relationship (7). Our Homebiotic spray is the perfect way to add soil based probiotics to your home, keeping it balanced & fresh!

It seems that the more we nurture our relationship with soil-based microbes, the more we create balance and health in our homes, which, in turn, enhances our health. Click To Tweet

Conclusion

These are the top three ways to nurture our home microbiome. It’s time we think of our home health in a similar way as our gut health. Instead of creating an overly clean and sterile environment, we can strive for a more balanced approach.

Of course, no one wants a dirty home that smells bad. But maybe the definition of a clean house is one that includes a more natural and symbiotic relationship with the world we live in. Perhaps a clean home is one that allows some microscopic dirt to accumulate without the use of harsh cleaners.

By nurturing our home microbiome, we create a healthy environment that goes back to the basics before the advent of bleach and antibacterial cleansers. As humans, we depend on our home environments’ symbiotic relationship, just as our gut microbes rely on us for their home environments. In this way, a healthy home microbiome is a part of promoting our personal wellness too.


References

https://www.wholebodymicrobiome.com

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

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

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

http://robdunnlab.com/science-portfolio/never-home-alone/

https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/dr-josh-axe/eat-dirt/9781509820955

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19201053/

Posted on

7 Ways To Keep Your Home Mold Free

7 Ways To Keep Your Home Mold Free | Mold growing on a ceiling above a window

You’re stuck in that cycle. You clean for HOURS then a couple days later those pesky musty odors are back! So we bet you’re wondering: How do I keep my home mold free? How do I keep those stale smells away?

Mold in the home is no joke: it can make you ill, and constantly fighting it can make you feel like you’re living in a dirty home, however hard you scrub. Your home stops feeling like a haven, and starts feeling like a trap.

Mold in the home is no joke: it can make you ill, and constantly fighting it can make you feel like you’re living in a dirty home, however hard you scrub. Your home stops feeling like a haven, and starts feeling like a trap. Click To Tweet

But maybe you need to readjust your relationship with mold. After all, mold is a natural organism that’s been on planet Earth for far longer than humans! Mold is going nowhere. Do you know what isn’t natural? An over-clean, sterile home!

While wiping down with bleach and spraying antibacterial cleaner around may seem to beat back the mold, these cleaners can actually do your environment further harm. And though it seems unbelievable, mold isn’t a problem in itself. Unsafe levels of mold is a problem – for both your health and quality of life. Controlling mold in your home is as easy at this 7 step check-list:

1. CONTROL MOISTURE & CONDENSATION

Mold adores a moist, warm atmosphere, and the right conditions are key to how it reproduces, spreads, and forms new colonies. By taking control of the moisture that enters and circulates your home, you can gain the upper hand, and keep your home – and the air you breathe – healthy. That said, if you are living in a property that has previously been flooded, it may be wiser in the long run to move.

Now is the time to consider:

  • PROPERLY REPAIRING HOLES IN YOUR ROOF OR GAPS IN YOUR WALLS1 – mold spores can come through the gaps in external walls, while a leaky roof can be all too encouraging for mold.
  • FIXING PLUMBING – while dealing with that slow drip under the faucet might not be top of your chore list, not dealing with it is a way to foster mold.
  • REMOVE WET CARPET OR OLD CARPET THAT HAS BEEN PREVIOUSLY WATER DAMAGED – it’s very difficult to remove mold from carpets.
  • REDUCE MOISTURE AROUND WINDOWSILLS – using moisture eliminating products like absorbers or traps on your windowsill if you have condensation, as otherwise mold may eat at wooden frames, or collect on PVC window seals.

2. CONTROL HUMIDITY

Mold loves humidity, and in your home it’s not enough to simply remove the sources of moisture. When you breathe out, you’re exhaling moisture, and many aspects of daily life, like cooking, and using a clothes dryer, produce more humidity.

The most straightforward thing you can do is invest in one or more dehumidifiers to help control the humidity inside your home, making it far more difficult for mold to multiply. Keeping the humidity in your house at 50% is best – it’s the sweet spot where mold growth is inhibited but not so low that it encourages the growth of harmful bacteria. Also, use an exhaust fan or open a window while you cook.

Do not install a Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) purely for dealing with humidity – it’s a common misconception that ERVs work as a dehumidifier – they do not. Instead, they allow the exchange of heat or coolness between the air indoors and the air coming in from the outside, which can be helpful depending on the climate in which you live, but a ERV is no alternative to a dehumidifier.

3. CLEAN YOUR AIR CONDITIONING UNIT

You rely on your air conditioning unit to cool your home, and often heat it as well, and it’s easy to take it for granted. When tackling mold, it’s crucial to thoroughly clean and maintain your air con on a regular basis. Unfortunately, mold colonies can live in air conditioning ducts, meaning that the spores and toxins they emit can spread throughout your home.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend hiring a professional to clean your air conditioner if you suspect a mold infestation2. Above all, DO NOT run your air conditioner if you suspect it contains mold – it spreads the problem to other places in your home, and potentially re-contaminate areas of your home you may have already cleaned.

4. INSPECT INDOOR PLANTS

Houseplants can harbor mold, as the moisture and warmth of the soil is very beneficial to growing mold. Although houseplants are often an easy way to improve air quality in your home, if their pots of soil have mold, the health drawbacks can often outweigh the positives.

If you have this issue, consider keeping plants outside or in a dedicated greenhouse and avoid keeping the plants indoors where possible.

5. TACKLE YOUR CARPETS

As stated above, if they have been affected by flooding, you must throw the carpet away, as no amount of cleaning can eradicate the particular water-based molds that can attach to the fibers3.

But if you have carpet in your home that you suspect has been compromised by mold, it’s crucial to clean your carpet more thoroughly, removing any mold spores. With a true HEPA vacuum cleaner, you’re able to eradicate mold spores with the powerful motor and high quality filter.

Remember:

  • To empty your HEPA vacuum cleaner outside, to avoid spreading a cloud of spores back into the air.
  • It takes time to remove all mold spores from your carpet – it’s not an overnight solution to your problem, and the vacuuming needs to be done in combination with the other items on this list before you see or feel any improvement.
  • To try to vacuum from several different angles in order to suck up as many mold spores as you can.
  • Professional steam cleaning can help keep a carpet free of irritants including mold

6. USE BORAX ON FABRIC, SURFACES AND WALLS

Borax is the best substance to use on fabric because it’s a lot gentler than bleach, but it’s also amazing on porous surfaces such as wooden furniture, worktop and table surfaces, and walls4.

Though bleach can work wonders on sinks and floors, it’s simply not suitable for combating mold. Bleach can not:

  • Kill mold on porous surfaces such as wood or drywall
  • Remove mold toxins and spores
  • Sanitize organic surfaces that mold prefers to feed on5

Unfortunately, bleach also removes the friendly bacteria that normally consume mold, potentially making your mold issue worse!

By choosing borax (sodium borate), you’re using a natural mineral to change the natural pH of the surface or fabric. The alkaline of borax disrupts the environment for the mold, making it unwelcoming. Use a combination of disposable wipes, microfiber cloths and diluted borax to clean porous surfaces. Soak fabric for half an hour in a mix of one cup of borax to one gallon of water before putting in the washer to clean. Always wash your hands after using borax.

7. USE HOMEBIOTIC TO BALANCE YOUR HOME

Mold is a symptom of an unbalanced home biome. Once any visible mold has been appropriately remediated you need to make sure you make appropriate efforts to rebalance your home, keeping away musty odors & grime. Homebiotic spray rebalances your home biome using non-toxic, chemical free probiotics. Our proprietary formula used soil-based probiotics that are safe for your family, including the furry ones!

Homebiotic Spray - Environmental Probiotics

Posted on

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