I have had quite a few questions from readers lately about mold avoidance, since I have used the term in some of my posts. Today, I want to take the time to address those questions and to expand upon why I have adopted this new way of living for myself and my family.
How I define mold avoidance:
Actively employing techniques, strategies and targeted products to limit or avoid mold exposure is the essence of the mold avoidance that I practice. It is not being scared or worried about mold all of the time. Rather, it is taking the daily initiative to avoid environments and situations where mold exposure can occur in an effort to better one’s health. I also safely use mold prevention and air purifying products and devices to remove mold from my indoor environments.
(I will offer the disclaimer that the type of mold avoidance that I practice is much less rigid than that of some of the well-known mold avoidance pioneers, like Erik Johnson. If you are interested in going deeper on this topic and/or looking into extreme mold avoidance, Erik’s site http://paradigmchange.me is incredibly informative and helpful. Some people who are dealing with great toxic burden find Erik’s techniques to be the only way to recover.)
My Top 4 Reasons for Deciding to Practice Mold Avoidance:
- My personal sanity requires it. I was tired of being sick. Once well, I was tired of feeling panicked and scared, not knowing if I was going to face a re-exposure that would make me sick again. I am sure many of you can relate, but after going through so much illness, it is not uncommon to have PTSD when it comes to mold. (In other words, when my senses detect mold or even a musty odor, my amagdala tells my body to panic before I can think through the situation and calm down.) Thus, employing actual strategies and best practices to be aware of and to avoid mold makes me feel a lot more in control of my situation and my environment. That kind of empowerment is also very positive for healing. It has been scientifically proven that just thinking that you CAN heal, helps you to get well.
- Re-exposures to mold are easier to pinpoint and to measure. When you are in control of your environment, it is much easier to recognize when something is not right, or you are being exposed to mold again. This is so valuable, because now, the minute something moldy enters our home, or I enter a “sick” environment, I know right away by my reaction. Then, you can handle the situation accordingly, without panicking.
- I want my home to be a safe sanctuary. When I am actively using products that I know reduce mold counts, cleaning my laundry with mold-spore eliminating rinses, using HEPA air filtration and purifiers, fogging on a regular schedule, testing regularly for mold with EC3 plates, and reducing humidity levels indoors, it gives me piece of mind. I KNOW that my home is safe. The extra effort doing these things takes is nothing to me when I know that my home is mold safe.
- It takes mold off of the table when I do get sick. If you are actively avoiding mold, when you do get sick, you can easily find out what is causing the problem, treat it and get better again.
Is mold avoidance only for people who have environmental illness or who are sensitive to mold?
No. I believe that mold avoidance is for everyone. Like I said in my post on toxic burden, mold is an environmental toxin that, whenever possible, should be avoided. Being in an indoor environment where you are exposed to mold adds to your total toxic burden and weakens your immunity to other invaders. It is a scientific fact that an environment conducive to mold growth is also fostering bacteria, microbes and viruses. This is not healthy, no matter who you are. Whether you have an allergy to mold or not, it only improves your health to be vigilant about mold and air quality.
What mold avoidance strategies do I employ and recommend?
(Note: I have briefly listed each strategy I use below. Some, I have written longer, detailed posts on. The links to those posts are also included, should you wish to read more.)
- I avoid damp places such as heavily wooded areas after lots of rain, barns, poorly ventilated basements, and saunas. These are places that are most notorious for high levels of mold.
- I am not afraid to speak up and to say, “no” to entering a home or a building where I perceive mold. This is a strategy for me, because it saves my health and my family’s health. I used to fear what people would think, but now, I just stop, explain that something is setting off my allergies, and quickly exit. Remember, no one would ever insist that someone who is allergic to peanuts eat a peanut butter sandwich, so it shouldn’t be any different about mold. It may even start a conversation that could help someone else.
- When staying in hotels, I look for an advertised “allergy-friendly” chain or room, like a PURE room. You can also ask for a room on the highest-available floor, away from any indoor swimming pools or saunas, and one that, if pet friendly, has been pet free for at least 30 days. Bring your EC3 Mold Spray and treat the entire room. Burn an EC3 Candle and use your own pillow and pillowcase.
- If I can’t avoid entering a moldy place, I wear a tight-fitting face mask. I keep medical masks in my car for this purpose. It will act as a physical barrier for your nose and mouth, where mold spores would enter. Once I leave, I employ the next 2 bullet points to lessen the effects of the exposure.
- I bag and treat any clothes in EC3 Laundry Additive that were worn in a moldy environment before I return them to our drawers or closets. I just keep some plastic garbage bags in the garage and in the car with a change of clothing. That way, I can change out of the exposed clothing—preferably BEFORE getting into the car, bag it, and treat it with the EC3 Laundry Additive.
- I spray my nose with CitriDrops Nasal Spray immediately after leaving a moldy environment or being exposed to mold. I do this even if I wore a mask in the environment. You can also do a saline rinse with CitriDrops Dietary Supplement added. The nose spray is just much more portable and can be used instantly.
- I shower EVERY evening BEFORE getting into bed. This strategy is a must for me. The hot water and non-toxic soap we use rinses away any mold spores on my body and hair that might otherwise be brought into the bed. You don’t have to wash your hair twice a day, just rinse it thoroughly with the hot water. My children also bathe at night, rather than in the morning before school for the same reason. If you decide to start doing this, you will also notice a decrease in overall sickness in your home.
- I have my children wash their hands and faces and change out of their school clothes immediately upon getting home. This has become our routine, so no one has an issue with it. My kids walk in the door and then we all go upstairs and do hands and faces, and I help them change into comfortable play clothes. They have even started laying out their “fun clothes” the night before. The practice has also helped my kids to be better independent hand washers, which I consider a win.
- We never wear clothing we have worn outside of home to bed. This helps to keep the bed free of mold and other contaminates.
- When bringing new clothing or furniture into our home, I have a staging area in our garage, where I expose myself to those things to see if I react to them. If there is a reaction, I TAP test the item with EC3 Mold Screening Test Plates to see if I am dealing with mold. Then I can decide whether to discard, return, or treat the item accordingly BEFORE bringing it into our home. I used to test everything, but I have relaxed on that as I have begun to trust my body again. You will see as you learn more about mold and how you react to it, that your body is the greatest barometer. You can even learn to muscle test I plan to write a post about muscle testing in the near future.
- If someone or something enters our home with mold, I spray or fog with EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate all areas where they were as soon as possible. If it is an item, I remove it right away. I also burn EC3 Candles for at least 3 hours in those areas as well. This is a difficult situation to handle, if the mold is on a visitor’s clothing, but, if it is a nice day, I suggest that we sit outside. Sometimes, I even light an EC3 Candle in the room as “ambiance” to lessen the exposure.
- My kids and I wear Wein Personal Air Purifying Neck Units on airplanes and in movie theaters. These 2 locations are very difficult, simply because many people with everything that they have on or inside of them are all around us. The neck unit is silent and non-obtrusive, and protects anything—mold, allergens, bacteria, and viruses—from entering your personal breathing space. (HERE is my post on the Wein purifiers.)
- I use EC3 Laundry Additive in every load of laundry, whether it has been exposed to mold or not. This decreases our daily exposure and prevents mold from getting in our home and on our things.
- Whenever possible, I remove stuff mold tends to grow on from our home: old books and magazines, cardboard boxes. I just don’t allow these things to pile up. I read and give away, donate or discard as soon as I am finished with them.
- I spray or fog rooms and furnishings with all natural, non-toxic mold sprays, like EC3 Mold Solution once a month.
- We removed all carpet from our home. Carpet, no matter where it is harbors mold and bacteria. We choose hard surfaces and rugs instead.
- We remove our shoes and have your guests remove their shoes before entering our home.
- We place our compost piles and trash bins outside of the garage and away from any entrances to our home. Both have tight-fitting lids, and stay sealed.
- We ventilated our home well. Modern tightly insulated houses prevent the escape of moisture and increase mold growth. Most homes need additional ventilation installed to insure that the air is properly circulating.
- We filter and dehumidify our household air: We added electronic filters to forced central air heating and cooling systems to trap mold spores; We use room-size air conditioning with high efficiency particulate air filters to help eliminate mold spores, increase air circulation, and reduce humidity; and, we installed whole-house dehumidification to control indoor moisture levels.
- We reduce the number of mold spores that may enter the home by cutting back trees and brush that overhang the house.
- We regularly inspect our home for mold or mildew. This allows us to catch any infestation before it becomes large.
- My husband doesn’t have issues with this, but I avoid gardening, cutting grass, and raking leaves, all of which kick up mold allergens. If I do these tasks, I wear a face mask and gloves.
I know the list seems extensive and a little overwhelming, but once you start using these strategies, you will recognize which ones work best for you and your health. Then, you can adjust accordingly and take or leave the ones that work for you. Mold avoidance is not about adding to your to-do list. It is about establishing firm practices and a “new” way of living that gives you FREEDOM and renewed health.
Do you practice mold avoidance? Do you have tips and strategies that work for you? I would love for you to share them with us.