When Mold Strikes
Having a chronic health condition or an autoimmune condition is frustrating. Finding out that the environment you are living in could be contributing to how you feel is infuriating, especially considering what you are going to go through next.
4 years ago, Natasha and I were exposed to black mold while living in Laguna Beach, CA. This triggered Epstein Barr Virus to turn on in Natasha, which caused Hashimoto’s Disease to develop.
Fast forward to the summer of 2019…
Colorado had an incredibly warm summer (we live in Boulder). During this time, Natasha and I thought we were having allergies. Unfortunately, the allergies didn’t improve, and Natasha’s health took a nosedive.
Natasha travels a lot for work. When she was away from the home, she felt great. When she came back home, immediately the next day she would feel crummy.
This was very reminisce of what happened while living in CA.
We decided to test the home with a mold test called the ERMI (read more here: https://www.survivingmold.com/diagnosis/ermi-testing)
Side note: Prior to moving in we had a company come and test, twice, using ambient air testing (I do not recommend this form of testing due to the variables at play). We were “told” that everything was ok, and the mold spore counts were not high.
The ERMI scores came back very, very high. The ERMI’s HERTSMI score was 24, anything above 15 you are advised to NOT re-enter the property until full remediation has been performed for those with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS).
What Do You Do Once You Have Mold?
Natasha and I did a ton of research, combined with the knowledge we already have from 4-years ago, and decided to remediate our personal items ourselves. Keep in mind, Natasha are very skeptical regarding mold remediation, and VERY OCD about our health.
Luckily, Natasha and I don’t own the home we were living in. We decided not to buy when we moved to CO, because we didn’t know where we wanted to live yet. If this was our personal home that we own back in Texas, we would certainly hire a company to remediate the home.
The steps I am about to explain have been very time consuming and frustrating. I would not wish this on anyone. With that being said, what did we do?
After we found mold in the home, Natasha and I moved out. Hotel life is fun for a couple days. Not a couple of weeks. This was our first step…getting out of the environment that was making us sick.
Personal items…what to keep and what to throw away???
This is difficult. Natasha and I try and live a simple life, and we dont have too many personal items that we don’t use. But we have lots of toys/equipment (bikes, snowboards, backcountry gear, rock climbing gear, camping gear, etc.).
When we learned about the mold, the couch and rugs were tossed, along with our mattresses. Companies will say they can remediate them, but we didn’t want to take the chance. This was tough because Natasha loved her West Elm couch, and I loved our mattress. But this is our health.
We began (with masks on), going through all of our personal belongings, deciding what we would keep, and what we would donate.
Clothes that we could wash, we kept. Dry cleaning clothes were tossed. Why did we throw away clothing instead of donating? We didn’t feel right about donating clothes that could potentially make someone else sick. Dry cleaning does not kill the mold spores/toxins, from the research we did. There are Hepa filters mold remediation companies use to vacuum your items…again, we didn’t want to risk it. We have read too many horror stories.
One thing we learned with this mold exposure is you need Rubbermaid containers for putting your personal belongings in. U-haul boxes are porous, and spores can pass through the cardboard. After several trips to Target, we have close to 60ish Rubbermaid bins (the big ones).
We purchased EC3 laundry additive products from Micro Balance, along with a ton of Borax. All the clothing went into the Rubbermaid containers and we have spent hours at our local laundry mat, washing and drying our items.
We purchased EC3 spray to use on hard items, as well. The containers were sprayed down after the contaminated clothing was washed. Don’t put clean clothes into containers that were exposed to mold/toxins.
Drying your clothes in the sun (UV light) and high temperature dryers helps kill any spores/toxins, as well.
This process has taken days to finish.
All food was thrown away, even food in containers in the pantry (it gets exposed).
Anything with a motor (blenders, convection ovens, etc.) was fogged and ozinated (more about this in a moment).
Glasses, plates and bowls and cutlery were sprayed with the EC3 product and dipped in a solution of borax and vinegar and stored in the containers.
This includes our bikes, camping gear, rock climbing gear, pelican cases, luggage…anything we felt we could remediate, we kept.
Mico Balance EC3 Sanitizer Cold Fogger: we bought this machine to fog our items (most mold remediation companies will do the same thing). Even though the price tag was a bit steep ($349), we plan on fogging our next home periodically to keep any environmental spore counts low.
All items were fogged and left to dry in the sunlight.
MaxBlaster Ozone Generator: we bought his machine because we wanted extra peace of mind knowing we did everything in our power to remediate the issue. This machine was pricey (retails for $795). After items were fogged, we sealed them in a garage and ran the ozone generator as the “back-up”.
The ozone generator is also used for vehicles to kill any spores/toxins.
Since I use ozone therapy in my office for patients exposed to mold, I thought we would do the same with our personal items, cars and next home.
EC3 spray was purchased to wipe down any items that are non-porous as well.
We could have hired a company to do this for us, and many may want to. We could have saved time, lots of it. Financially, we may have saved a little as well. However, we weighed the pros/cons and decided to tackle it ourselves.
Plus, we have some technology that we can use over and over again.
This is not an exhaustive list of what we have done, just an overview to show you that mold is serious. You can’t skimp on remediating items, or not throwing them away. This is your health and you can’t heal if you are still breathing in mold toxins.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out!