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The Issue of Cross-Contamination

For those who find themselves in a mold-infested environment and must leave it, it is adviseable to proceed with the utmost caution when it comes to belongings. It is often best to start fresh and make decisions about possessions later. Once you're settled and established in a fresh environment, the desire to bring things with you often lessens. If stachybotrys is not involved, items may be successfully cleaned. Often professional cleaning is optimal. Other times, white vinegar and/or hydrogen peroxide can be used. Remember, you can’t lose if you proceed with caution.

Toxicologist Dr. Jack Thrasher addresses the issue of cross-contamination this way:

The toxins produced by mold are basically free radicals, i.e. they have reactive oxygen radicals that bind to fabrics and can be released with time. Also, not only Stachybotrys, but other dangerous molds release fine particles as well as larger particles, e.g. spores. The fine particles (less than 1 micron) permeate fabrics and are not readily removed. In addition, the mold spores bind to fabrics and can lead to cross-contamination of the new environment.

Also, do not forget the presence of potentially pathogenic bacteria. They can be aerosolized and also contaminate furnishings and clothing.

Dr. Thrasher mentions the smaller particles. Smaller than mold spores. Let's first consider the size of mold spores. According to Minnesota State University Moorhead's Environmental Health & Safety: Mold webpage:

Most fungal spores range from 1 to 100 microns in size with many types between 2 and 20 microns. People with good vision may see 80-100 micron particles unaided, but below that range, magnification is generally necessary.

To put things in perspective, you could place over 20 million five-micron spores on a postage stamp.

As for the smaller particles, a study conducted in 2005 and published in the journal Atmospheric Environment demonstrates that "fungal fragments" may be deeply inhaled and cause significant problems. The study focuses on fragments and spores of three different fungal species (Aspergillus versicolor, Penicillium melinii, and Stachybotrys chartarum). All three were aerosolized by the fungal spore source strength tester. The conclusion:

Fungal fragments released from contaminated surfaces outnumber spores.

Furthermore,

S. chartarum fragments demonstrated 230–250 fold higher respiratory deposition than spores, while the number of deposited fragments and spores of A. versicolor were comparable.

The conclusion of a second study published in the January 2009 edition of the journal Science of the Total Environment:

The present study indicates that long-term mold damage in buildings may increase the contribution of submicrometer-sized fungal fragments to the overall mold exposure. The health impact of these particles may be even greater than that of spores, considering the strong association between numbers of fine particles and adverse health effects reported in other studies (Gold et al., 2000; Magari et al., 2001, 2002; Pekkanen et al., 2002).

These studies clearly suggest that there is more than meets the eye when toxic mold is involved.

Quotes

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"...at age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

Dedication