Did You Do This To Get Rid of Mould?

When your indoors look like shadows in places where there is no sunlight – or worse, like the Jungle has moved in – no one wants to live in it. Not only is it uninviting, it could be breeding dangerous bacteria or mycotoxins or damaging your building materials, air circulation system and furnishings like my mum’s curtains here.

The white window curtain had a nice collection of surface dust and mould spores as a result of the air gaps between the door and frame, all whilst hidden out of sight behind the orange curtain.

To avoid expensive damage and potentially serious health issues, you need to figure out the cause of your mouldy surfaces indoors before you can fix it. Solutions will vary depending on how the material items became mouldy in the first place.

Beautiful One Day, Mouldy Today. What Happened?

Usually, it takes some time for your indoors to turn mouldy. You may think you notice a bit of mouldiness at first, but it’s easy to wipe off. Once it’s undeniably mouldy, you may have a lot of work ahead of you to fix it. Some damp problems can cause noticeable mouldiness to occur on surfaces seemingly overnight. So, what the heck happened to make your furnishings look like dusty, shadowy forms of their former glory?

Invasion of the Fresh Air Freeloaders

When natural debris like leaves, pollen, dust, moisture and odours end up in your indoors, your fresh air gets right to work attacking it. But fresh air isn’t meant to dissolve large amounts of solids and moisture – that’s what your ventilation system is for. If the solids on surfaces and moisture aren’t physically removed from surfaces or the air by you, whilst cleaning and dusting or your air filter, they can invade your fresh air and load it up.

You also introduce particulates and warmth to the building’s indoor air. Breathing, sweat, beauty and personal care products, cleaning care products, walked in on your shoes and pets, and even new furnishings sponge your free fresh air. It’s one of the reasons you add fresh air to your indoors in the first place, but it’s also the reason you have to keep adding to it.

Blocking out the natural sun light is another fresh air smuggler. The sun’s powerful ultraviolet rays dry and sanitize dampness and contaminants in materials containing dust mites. Humid environments created when you add sweat, saliva and skin flaking into your bedding or breathing in your space, increases their number, maximising your exposure to their contaminants. This means less natural light and fresh air and more pollutants in your indoor air, in your space.

One more fresh air hanger-on is mould. As long as you have a mould problem, your room will require a copious amount of fresh air, sunlight and a good clean. Not to mention, you won’t want to sleep in it. Gross!

The biggest parasite on all fresh air in my opinion is fragranced fresheners. Their sense of ‘we are clean’ and ‘kill germs and bacteria’ in air to cover up smells, or cleaning to cover over smells or simply to cover yourselves, all in the luxury of beauty to smell nice, causes them to overwhelm fresh indoor air.

This means as long as you have a moisture problem or smelly smell, your space will need copious amounts of fresh air and a good clean OR a fragranced freshener is unleashed in the space and this means less fresh air and more pollutants known as volatile organic compounds in your air.

When you have contaminants leeching your fresh air, not only will you need to add more fresh air, your fancy fragrances and cleaners won’t work as well. So while the cleaners are busy attacking a pile of dust and pollutants on the floor or behind furnishings in your home, they’re less effective at quickly fixing hazardous pathogens and bacteria sources, making your polluted indoor air both ugly and dangerous.

PRODUCT:

Building Biologist

I believe you should spend less time figuring out what to do (that is my job) and more time breathing easier, living easier. I cut out all the fluff and confusion to indoor air quality maintenance and strip it down as a Building Biologist. Adverse health effects and effective strategies reduce occupants’ exposure by eliminating and controlling as many sources of pollutants as possible.

 

Your Indoor Air’s Circulatory System

Problems with your indoor air’s circulation system are a leading cause of contaminated, hazardous indoor air. It’s mostly preventable by keeping the air circulation system healthy.

When everything is working correctly, and you’re cleaning up debris and running your filtration system at least eight hours per day, you should see minimal particulates in your air. All sorts of contaminants will be removed from your room by your filter and fresh air working together.

Your indoor air circulation system can fail you as the building gets older … or it can be inadequate, bombarded by ambiguous fragrances, off-gassing and toxicant levels whether introduced or not … and through neglect, the simplicity of not knowing. When your filter can’t remove contaminants as well as it should, you’ve got contaminated room air, and probably a handful of other cryptic indoor air problems.

When Will I Ever Need to Know This After Leaving the Family Nest?

Science. Maybe you’re lucky and naturally gifted when it comes to science. Maybe you’re like a lot of people and even basic indoor air science is confusing to you. If you don’t have a good grasp on how to keep your indoor air balanced, it’s just a matter of time before you’ll wake up to an air polluted space.

Polluted indoor air may even be one of the less concerning problems that imbalanced air can cause. More serious issues resulting in leached fresh air include water damage of building materials and surface mould and rot.

No matter your level of comfort with ventilation and drying and cleaning, take just a week or two off from balancing your building science and your air could become a contaminated mess.

Alternatively, stagnant spaces, loads of clutter, no air flow, no air exchange, and even an inefficient mechanical systems can cause contaminated air. Adding cleaning and vacuuming to an otherwise perfectly clean and balanced indoor air space can even cause temporary contamination.

HOW TO

How to test indoor air accurately

It’s important to learn how to test indoor air quality and do it at least once a week to make sure the air you breathe is pleasant, and to keep your health level in check.

Sydney Tower Eye skyline night

 

Contaminated Indoor Air Smells Funky, But So What?

You know the possible reasons why your indoor air is musty, but is it really a big deal?

Well, yeah … musty is really just one symptom of bigger problems in your indoor air.

High Adverse Exposure Levels

Fresh air serves a vital role in keeping your room air clear and healthy. The dangerous aspects of a lack of ventilation and air exchange, whatever the cause, increase temperature and humidity, making homes “sick” with condensation, moisture and mould damaging the walls and fabric of buildings and increased stress on your purifier filter.

But, more importantly, it can make the occupants notice unpleasant or musty odours, or may feel that the building is hot and stuffy, or complain about symptoms in that space.

HOW TO

Is clutter slowly choking your health and environment

Closed up rooms without good ventilation are breeding grounds for health problems. Yet there is one step worse than that, namely closed up rooms without good ventilation AND heaps of clutter, the opposite of minimalism!

When ventilation levels are low, contaminants survive in the air for longer periods. Occupants may be exposed to dangerous contaminants, such as dust mites and mould.

PRODUCT:

Zeolite- Bag of Rocks

Eliminates moisture, damp and musty smells safely and naturally from any wardrobe or room. Reduce mould, mildew, dampness, condensation, odours. 

Zeolite Rocks

 

Low Filtration Efficiency

A clogged filter, dying motor, or simply not running your filtration system for at least eight hours a day can cause musty room air. If all of your air isn’t being run through a fully functioning, clean filter, it can retain particulates and leaving you with contaminated room air.

Your filters will get used up more quickly. Your unit may have to work extra hard and whatever air does make it through to your filter may not be well distributed by the pressure side of your circulation system.

All of this results in gross smelling air, and contribute to bacteria and mycotoxin problems that can endanger the health of everyone who occupies your home.

Moulding, Rotting, and Clogging

You’ll face a myriad problems if your air science is out of whack. High temperature and humidity means your air is less comfortable than it should be. The moisture laden air tends to form stagnant, dampness that you can’t see on room surfaces and inside enclosed wardrobes and on soft furnishings while making it more difficult for your fresh air ventilation to work. If your mechanical system is not up to the job, this can cause filtration problems, bacteria and mould growth, and contaminated air.

Pooling of water on materials from rain or water leaks may also provide a healthy environment for mould if not sorted out within 48 hours, plus it won’t help stabilize your humidity the way it should. Both high humidity and any water pooling can lead to rotting in building materials and break down of soft materials, despite being dry surfaces. Too much moisture indoors creates surface moisture, condensation, moulding your building and soft materials, contaminating your space further and clogging your filters.

Finally, high levels of water damaged materials can cause lung and skin irritation, especially if you have asthma or other breathing difficulties. If ventilation and air flow are weak, you can also end up with a lot of contaminants, the by-product of lack of air exchange, which can be irritating and even more symptomatic.

PRODUCT:

Dampp Chaser

Eliminates mould, mildew, stagnant air in wardrobes and cupboards, pantries, linen closets, RV’s, boats, rental storage, basements. 

Dangerous Health Conditions

Contaminated room air is just the tip of the iceberg if you’ve got a water damage mould growth. While the types of mould found in your building aren’t particularly hazardous to some people, it can be dangerous to other occupants, in fact 24% of the population are affected according to Dr Ritchie Shoemaker (nd).

With mould, your home’s air can become so full of suspended debris and spores, it’s impossible to tell if it is there or not sometimes. That degree of contamination is a health hazard because you won’t be able to tell if someone has fallen ill or if an occupant is struggling to breathe when you don’t ask the right questions.

This is especially true because mould symptom related victims rarely find satisfaction while they struggle to stay above wellness—a phenomenon called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. This makes a mouldy space especially dangerous for small children and immune compromised occupants.

Until you’ve cleared up and remediated your space and air, don’t allow anyone to live in it. Make sure small children and immune compromised individuals can’t find their way into these affected spaces either, an important consideration at all times, not just when the air’s contaminated with mould till after being fully remediated.

 

Make Your Building Space Fresh

Ready to get your indoor air back to its former fresh, clean glory and normal fungal ecology condition? It’ll take a little hard work, but you’ve got this, and we’ve got you!

Fix It, Fix It, Fix It, Did We Mention, FIX IT!

Before you do anything else, start by addressing and rectifying the source of moisture. Building materials that are wet for more than 48 hours are likely to be contaminated with mould (US EPA 2012; CDC 2017).

The microbial situation should be assessed in accordance with the IICRC S500 and IICRCS520 (2015) to map out the appropriate protocols.

If you think you’ve got a mould problem smaller than one metre square, or the size of a standard door, affecting your belongings address and rectify the source of moisture first. Soft materials that are wet or damp for more than 48 hours, like soft furnishings and building materials, are likely to be contaminated with mould.

If you think you have a bigger problem, that is, mould extends beyond 1 metre square, or larger than a standard door size, an accredited mould remediation professional should be engaged to ensure the building is restored as closely as possible to pre-damaged condition and or Condition 1 (IICRC S520) normal fungal ecology levels employing methods in accordance with ‘Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mould Remediation’ IICRC s520 (2008), 2nd Ed. Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, Vancouver, Washington 98661 USA.

Shock It

To start drying out your indoor air and stop all the gross and dangerous gunk in your contaminated indoor air, shock your rooms.

PRODUCT:

Hire a Dehumidifier

Round the clock protection when you need it most! Reduce mould, mildew, dampness, condensation, odours. Relieve hayfever, sinus headache, influenza, sneezing, itchy eyes, stuffy nose, coughing, allergic rhinitis, asthma symptoms any time of year!

Dehumidifier 20 Litre

 

Filter Forever

Okay, you don’t actually need to filter your space air indefinitely. Eight hours per day is enough for most indoor air purifiers to turn over the average home, moving it room to room, bedroom and lounge rooms, where you spend most of your time. But you’ll definitely want to deep clean or replace your filters before running it.

Do this after you shock the space to be sure the cleaner air is flushed through your circulation system and filter, and clean air is distributed.

Note: I got an email from Dr Kath, who knew all too well that there was something wrong when she moved her air purifier into her new office space. Kath was perplexed as she experienced symptoms, like, 12 months ago, why? This was a new office space after all, no smell or sight of water damage or mould.

“Ah”, I said, “when did you change your HEPA and charcoal filters?” “Not for a while” Dr Kath replied, “actually don’t know when”. In no time at all, Mitey Fresh’s Principal Consultant Tony had brand new filters in Kath’s air purifier and you guessed it, Kath is back on the healthy breathing track within 24 hours. “Duh!” she said

HOW TO

Mitey Fresh Appliance Record

Easily keep track of when your household appliances were serviced and by whom.

 

Use Your Vacuum Power Heads

The main cleaning is happening at the surface of your hard-surfaced belongings. It can’t get to the debris at the bottom of carpets. Even some good vacuums can’t get quite all the sediment away. If you turn on the power head on your vacuum, you’ll be agitating the carpet and sucking that debris and dust straight to your bag.

Do you have a vacuum that doesn’t have a power head? Use this trick for rugs: Take them outside, away from the house and any open windows and doors, give them a good clobber, like grandma used to do. Hang up your rug on the clothes line. Then clobber it again. Your efforts will dislodge particles from the bottom of your rug, then release them into the air away from the building. The ultraviolet sunlight assists with hygiene.

For carpets, I’d recommend get a vacuum with a power head or engage a professional to clean your carpets for you so as you can get on top of the debris load.

Service:

Dust Mite Consultant Service

It’s a good idea to book in your Dust Mite Consultant to save you money,  reduce dust mites immediately, experience at discussing and assessing dust mites leading to the most optimum health results. Remember, open doors and windows and ventilate, ventilate, ventilate!

 

Balance Your Science

Once you’re sure your air is as clean as it can be, test indoor air or take a sample, by a professional Building Biologist, to an accredited lab.

Information:

What is Building Biology?

Building Biology is an interdisciplinary life science integrating the holistic synergies and their interactions between all living things and their natural and built environments. It connects the study between buildings and the environment they are built in and their impact upon the health and well-being of those who occupy them.

 

Purify your Space

If you’re in a hurry and your mouldiness isn’t too bad, that is an area less than the size of a dining room table nd you can clean in a jiffy, you can try using an air purifier to clean the air. Once the air purifier does its job, all the suspended debris in your air will be captured in the filters. Vacuum hard surfaces, soft furnishings and balance your air, and you’re all set to use your space.

PRODUCT:

Air Purifier Hire

Hire an Air Purifier to reduce particulate pollutants, pollens, moulds and environmental chemical overload and enjoy welcome relief from your symptoms.

 

Use Essential Oils

You can make this air additive a part of your weekly air care routine as a preventive measure. Essential oils won’t address any of the more serious problems that may cause musty indoor air, but it will help keep your otherwise well-maintained space and air smelling and feeling great by cleaning particulate debris from surfaces and making it easier for your filter to catch.

PRODUCT:

Essential Oils

Our pure essential oils are revolutionizing the way families manage their health. We harness nature’s most powerful elements and share these gifts through our global community of Wellness Advocates. Contact my friend and Yoga colleague, Kendall, at dōTERRA for more information.

 

Stop Contaminated Indoor Air Before It Starts

Cleaning up your indoors isn’t a massive undertaking, but depending on the problem it can cost you a bit in solutions and elbow grease. One of the best pieces of advice we can give you to protect your building from air quality problems is to create and stick to an indoor air care maintenance schedule.

Make sure the only aromas you smell are the flora in the bush. Weekly testing and balancing, dusting and vacuuming, basic filter maintenance, and regular purifying will keep your indoors healthy and quality all year long.

Towards healthier living, Carol Parr ♥

Our passion comes from pure necessity that we can all live natural and healthy lives, we can all contribute to human wellbeing and preservation and determine the future health of our children and their environment tomorrow.

As a result of working with us, women and their families thrive, work places and their personnel prosper, mouldy / chemical / electrical sensitive occupants heal. They’re healthier, they’re alert, they’re happier, more relaxed, more productive, and enjoying life.

Together we bring about healthy indoor environments and create rooms that provide calmness, healthy sleep, relaxation and restored energy for you and your family, create workplaces that provide ideal personnel attendance and elevated productivity.

By returning indoor spaces to more natural conditions, we strengthen you and your family and your personnel’s mind, body and spirit. It’s nice that it also sustains our planet’s ecology, you’d agree.

PS: Check out our latest enterprises here:

www.facebook.com/MiteyFresh/ and here: http://www.linkedin.com/in/carolparr

References

CDC. 2017. Facts about Mold and Dampness (Online). Available: https://www.cdc.gov/mold/dampness_facts.htm [April 10, 2018]

Mold Survivor, 2001. Human health effects of indoor mycotoxin exposure in fungi – contaminated indoor environments. (Online). Available: http://www.mold-survivor.com/mycotoxinsfungi.html [November 10, 2015]

Shoemaker, R.2010, Surviving Mold. Otter Bay Books. USA

Shoemaker, R. (n.d.). Lab Tests for Mold Illness – Secrets of Surviving Mold. [online] Survivingmold.com. Available at: https://www.survivingmold.com/diagnosis/lab-tests [Accessed 16 Sep. 2019].

US EPA. 2012. A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home (Online). Available: https://www.epa.gov/mold/brief-guide-mold-moisture-and-your-home [September 10, 2015]

You can find a list of IICRC Certified Mould remediators by following the link below. Look for a remediator with the following Certifications:

Author

  • Carol Parr

    We’re glad you’re here. We’re Carol and Tony, founders of one of the longest running Healthy Home Blogs in the world, Mitey Fresh Australia. We’ve been on this journey for the last 25 years and are passionate about helping families sift through health hazards and triggers like allergens, mould, water damage, chemicals and EMFs, to get clarity about what’s toxic and what’s not so they can create a healthy and happy home for their family they love. Each month, people visit this blog seeking focus on the health and wellbeing of their loved ones, sustainable and effective practice tips and guides, to help create and manage healthier indoor spaces, improve the built environment that is pleasing to the senses and support healthy living and nature, every day. Starting this blog was to help change people’s lives, one family at a time, and we can’t wait to share how its allowed us to stand next to you and show you how interpreting these synergies between buildings and the environment they are built in will impact upon the health and well-being of those who occupy them. Find out more about Healthy Homes and what this blog can do for you!

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