Question: are you one of the 93% of people experiencing chronic sinus infections that have been attributed to mold? Or, are you part of the 25% of the population that has a genetic predisposition that makes you more susceptible to mold illness? Maybe your asthma attacks are being triggered by mold or other allergens like 40% of people. In any case, mold in your home is a serious issue and can be deadly. Sometimes you can see mold, and sometimes you can’t. Even mold that isn’t visible can remain hidden behind walls, in the ceiling, and under the carpet for years.
Our guest, Mark Levy, founder and president of The Mold Guy, Inc. is here to shed light on this dark, damp subject. Before you reach for a bottle of bleach, listen to this full episode to learn the proper way to handle mold. Mark is dedicated to performing mold inspections specifically for hypersensitive individuals with complex health issues like CIRS, Lyme, Autoimmune Issues, and more. Mark answers questions like, will mold make me sick?” and “do I need to leave my home right now?” Mark explains how the stress and uncertainty that comes along with a mold problem are very real and as big of an issue as the mold itself. He and his team of Certified Mold Inspectors and Certified Microbial investigators have performed over 7000 mold inspections and are passionate about helping clients have happy homes so they can breathe easier.
- The importance of testing for bacteria
- The need for environmental testing to complement medical labs
- The 3 sample types that are critical to evaluating the health of your home
- The truth about fogging
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How would you like to improve your health and keep your family safe? You're listening to the Healthy Home Hacks podcast where we firmly believe in joining optimal health shouldn't be a luxury. Healthy Home authorities and husband and wife team Ron and Lisa will help you create a home environment that will level up your health. It's time to hear from the experts. listen in on honest conversations and gain the best tips and advice. If you're ready to dive in and improve your well-being and increase your energy, you're in the right place. All right, here are your hosts, building biologists, authors, media darlings, vicarious vegans and avocado aficionados, Ron and Lisa Beres.
Lisa Beres 00:52
This episode of healthy home Hacks is brought to you by Aires Tech. Are you worried about electromagnetic fields in your environment? Do you want to rest easier knowing that you're protecting yourself and your family from dangerous radiation emitted from wireless devices in and around your home and office? Try life tune products made by Aires Tech, peer reviewed and backed by science Aires Tech patented EMF modulation technology keeps you connected without the negative biological effects. Equip your phone, laptop home and even your pet with their easy to use solutions coexist with technology and visit Aires Tech. That's AIRESTECH.com. To learn more, and use code RL30OFF. That's RL30. Off to save 30% of your entire purchase.
Ron Beres 01:48
Hey, friends, and welcome to today's show. Quick question. Do you have or suspect mold in your home or office? Maybe you're one of the 93% of people experiencing chronic sinus infections that have been attributed to mold. Or perhaps your part of the 25% of the population that has a genetic predisposition that makes you more susceptible to mold illness. Or maybe just maybe your asthma attacks are being triggered by mold, or other allergens, like 40% of the people. Even if you don't see or suspect mold in your home or workplace, there may come a day when you do today, we're diving deep into the topic of mold and answering your burning questions from one of the top mold experts in the country. So, stay tuned. Today's show could literally save your life.
Lisa Beres 02:45
That's right, Ron, and as they say what you can't see can hurt you. In fact, sometimes you can see mold and sometimes you can't. Even mold that isn't visible can remain hidden. You had walls in the ceiling and under carpet for years, and it can have a deadly impact on your health. Here are some things you may or may not know about mold. At least 45 million buildings in the US have unhealthy levels of mold. About 4.6 million cases of asthma are attributed to dampness and mold exposure in the home. Babies who are exposed to mold in their living environments have nearly a three times greater risk of becoming asthmatic than those who didn't have extensive mold exposure in their first year of life. And guys, 7 million deaths per year are linked to indoor and outdoor pollution.
Ron Beres 03:38
But before you reach for a bottle of bleach, you're going to want to stay till the end. Someone who understands the do's and don'ts of mold is our guest today, Mark Levy, founder of the Mold Guy many years ago, Mark made a simple observation. Dealing with mold contamination is overwhelming and scary. He was faced with questions from nervous homeowners like will mold make me sick? And do I need to leave my home right now. The stress and uncertainty that comes along with mold problems is very real and as big of an issue as the mold itself.
Lisa Beres 04:17
Mark has way too many certifications to list on this show. But here are just a few. Mark is certified by the American Council for accredited certifications the ACAC and is board certified as a microbial consultant, an indoor environmental consultant and in mold remediation.
Ron Beres 04:36
Every inspection by the mold guy is personally supervised and conducted by a team member who is a trained certified mold inspector and certified microbial investigator. Their inspection process and testing are to a higher standard than what's offered by the typical Mold Inspection Company. Mark and his team have performed over 7000 mold inspections approximately 95% on the mold Clients are individuals with hypersensitivities, chronic conditions or other types of complex health issues. The Mold Guy team are on a mission to help clients have happy homes so they can breathe easier. We're so thrilled to have mark on the show today.
Lisa Beres 05:16
Welcome. Welcome, Mark!
Mark Levy 05:19
Thank you so much. It's really a pleasure to be able to sit here with you guys today, and really share some important information about what could be lurking in people's homes.
Lisa Beres 05:28
Oh, yeah, that's a loaded comment, there's, there's a lot lurking, and we're going to get into some of that. But Mark, we're so glad we met you years ago. And it's so nice to connect with you again, we met you at a conference in Washington, DC. And we're so impressed with you and your brother, who was also a mold inspector on the East Coast, and you're on the west coast. So, you guys really impressed us with your presentation that you did on mold. But we have a lot of ground to cover today. So, I want to dive right in. Mark, can you tell us what makes your company the Mold Guy disruptors, as you say in the mold industry?
Mark Levy 06:01
Well, it really begins with our approach, our approach is really far different from what you would see out there by typical mold inspection companies, we're a very boutique operation, primarily what we do is that we're dedicated to helping people that have hypersensitivity issues underlying health issues, many of these people can have what we call CIRS, which is chronic inflammatory response syndrome, certain people having Lyme, even auto immune responses. So that's our typical profile in terms of clients that we deal with. And that is a market that is very much underserved. These are people that are not only underserved, but they're understood. And so, what we do is that we come in, and we do a very comprehensive assessment, if you can pair us to the various types of companies that are out there, their typical mold inspection companies, they're very cursory in terms of their approach. They're utilizing maybe 10,15,20-year types of practices or sampling methodologies that in essence, give people a false sense of security, many of them come in, they do a very simple look around at the home, they'll just go ahead and put up air pumps that they have. And then they'll compare it to the outdoors and make interpretations in terms of what they think the home actually happens to be. What we do is we really want to understand what's going on within the person's home by beginning with the history. Understanding the history of a home is incredibly important history meaning what types of various types of water issues that they'd been dealing with over the years, or if there have been any types of other issues that might have created certain areas have problems that they're not aware of, right. But at the end of the day, what we're going to do is that we're going to come in, we're going to bring in high tech instrumentation, infrared cameras, moisture meters. And what we do is that we look at four we call footprints staining, paint, peeling, buckling, separation, and building materials. These are all different things whereby we know that when you have certain types of what we call footprints or water damage, that there's going to be the likelihood that mold is going to be harboring behind these particular substrates. And it's interesting, because mold is really very evasive, most of the time, you don't see it, it's behind walls and cabinets and certain carpets, it's in your ventilation system. So, our approach is really trying to identify where these key sources happen to be, and then validate that they're there. And we do that by utilizing what we call a very comprehensive sampling methodology that not only tells you where the mold is, what kind of mold that you're dealing with terms of species, if there's been mycotoxin production, as well as any other microbial elements, such as bacteria that's there that could be actually creating immune response.
Ron Beres 08:56
You bring us the good points, Mark. So, when it comes to mold testing, you know, most consumers are really confused. Can you explain to our listeners the importance of testing for bacteria?
Mark Levy 09:06
Yeah so bacteria, when you think about a water event, the true primary colonizer and a water event, it's not mold, it's actually bacteria. It's based upon the type of category of water loss that's there. So, these contaminants are already in the water itself. So, when you deal with a mold problem, it's typically water that has occurred, and it could take upwards of 24 to 48 hours for certain molds to grow, that bacteria can actually grow within hours. And what happens is, is that there's different subsets of bacteria that can develop one being, for example, gram negative bacteria, which actually produces what we call an endotoxin. And what happens is, is that when this organism dies off, it releases this endotoxin and the endotoxin can wreak havoc on your upper respiratory system, as well as your GI tract. Then you have other types of back to areas such as what we call actinomycetes, which is characteristically very similar to mold, it can sporulate, it could put off musty odors. And it can actually create certain biotoxins, where the immune response very similar to that, and mold exposure. So, we're looking at when we come into somebody's home, really a footprint of all different types of microbial issues, as well as mold issues, so they can see exactly what they're being exposed to. So, we're really creating an entire picture of what's going on within their environment.
Lisa Beres 10:32
So, going back to these illnesses that you commonly see with people that have had mold, would you say, Lyme is one of the top ones? And what percentage would you say, is attributed to Lyme disease, what percentage of mold is attributed to that?
Mark Levy 10:45
Well, first off line, it's an infection that's caused by really different other types of methods, whether it be a tick bite, or things of that nature. But what happens with mold and Lyme is that it can exacerbate the feelings that people have in terms of their reaction. So, it makes it even more heightened in terms of being able to deal with their infection. So, when you have a mold problem, the first thing that you need to do when you have Lyme, is you have to correct the mold. And you have to make sure that you're eliminating the mold from the environment, because it's going to heighten the reaction that you have with life.
Lisa Beres 11:21
Right. So, talking about HVAC, your heating and cooling system, guys, a lot of people ignore them. I mean, Ron, and I preach change or furnace filter every three months and take care of your HVAC system. But a lot of people wait until it's too late. Why is it important to test the HVAC system?
Mark Levy 11:39
Well, the HVAC system is actually the lungs of the home. So, when you're actually utilizing that HVAC system, what happens is that it is a vacuum, it's a pool per system. So, it's pulling from whatever's coming in to that particular unit from the environment that's there. So, if you have a mold problem, the mold is actually circulating through spores and fragmentation. And these toxins are writing that as well. And it's getting into the system. And then when you're dealing with your system, it's typically a conditioned system. So, if it's air conditioning, you're going to condition it, which is going to create the moisture that's going to be in the system as well. So, you now have the particles of the spores, and you have the fragmentation that's going through there, it starts to collect. So, you have the food source from that perspective. And then you have the moisture, it's there, we're now your system becomes not a secondary source, but a primary source. As it starts to perpetually redistributed the contaminants throughout the home.
Ron Beres 12:43
That's a good point.
Lisa Beres 12:44
Again, what does mold need to survive? It needs moisture, right?
Mark Levy 12:48
It's going to need proper food source, proper moisture and the conditions, right. And so, you're going to have all those conditions that are there. What's interesting is when you're dealing with mold, mold, there's two sources of contamination, you have the physical growth of the mold itself. Sometimes you see it most of the time you don't, right, it's behind the walls, cabinets, in the ventilation system, and so forth. And then you have the secondary byproduct, which is the spores, the fragmentation and these toxins that become airborne traverse through the air, and then they settle throughout. So that's really what people are being exposed to. So, it's the dust, that's the enemy. So, the dust in the system becomes the food source and the conditions in the motion, it's there. Is it the ability to be able to grow? And then the utilization of that keeps it perpetual in terms of the distribution throughout.
Lisa Beres 13:40
Yeah, okay. In most cases, would you say homeowners are like, hey, there's mold, let's clean it up. And then they kind of go on their merry way, thinking that they actually fix like when they don't work with a professional company like yours in, they're trying to just self you know, not Medicaid itself, whatever the word I'm trying to think. Fix it, they're trying to fix it on their own and save money. A lot of people try to save money and just grab their model of bleach. Like what percentage of people do you see that are doing that?
Mark Levy 14:06
Well, we 95% of our client base are going to be people that have really, hypersensitivity are underlying health issues. And so, the standard of care and the approach is going to be much different. As I mentioned to you before, it's not just looking at one area of a home, it's really looking at your home from a holistic perspective. So, when you have a mold problem because of its ability to disperse things into the air, the whole house becomes an issue right and you have a home that is a living breathing system. So, through the air movement and so forth. It's carrying these things throughout the entire home and is utilizing air movement, pressurization from HVAC system, all these things combined, really create a condition that's not just isolated to one area. So, if you see one area and you think that you can just wipe it away with bleach, it's not really good. really do anything for you. What you want to do is that you want to be able to isolate where the source series are, and you want to remove it. It's all about source removal, and remove it in the proper way.
Ron Beres 15:11
Yeah, that's excellent. It was evident from the first time we met you that you and your brother really care about people, and particularly those who are vulnerable and sensitive to mold and other things to in their home. Do you recommend environmental testing to kind of complement medical labs?
Mark Levy 15:25
Yes. So what we find is, and this is really interesting is that the population and what we're, in terms of our particular client base, are people that are either working with certain types of functional medicine doctors, or they're doing their own self education, and they're realizing that there's certain ways that they can go ahead and do certain clinicals to see what's going on inside their system. What I really talked to them about is the type of sampling that we do whether we use ERMI, which is a DNA formatting, it gives you not only the mode, but the species, and those species are able to tell you certain capabilities where they can produce mycotoxins and things of that sort, right? So you can use that particular type of lab to help you understand that you also have the ability to look at the mycotoxins and we could see that there's been production in these mycotoxins so you can link if there's mycotoxins in their system, whether it's in the home, there's a certain type of leak that's there.
Lisa Beres 16:22
Yeah. Because you can test your blood for mold, right?
Mark Levy 16:26
Yeah, you can test your blood for mold. You can do a urine analysis, there's just different companies that are out there. Great Plains is one of them, you have real time labs, there's many different ones that you can use to do some clinical type of testing. But what we do is that we focus our attention on the home, we're not here to diagnose the individual, we're here to help them understand what's going on within their home. So, in essence, we're really diagnosing the home, giving them the detailed information of what's going on in their home. And so that those labs, those are the tools that they can use with their doctor to be able to see if there's any type of link in terms of the way that they're feeling.
Ron Beres 17:06
Now, it's important to mention that all molds will have mycotoxins but they certainly can affect different individuals because they can be an allergen, right Mark?
Mark Levy 17:13
Absolutely. molds and themselves. You're all known allergens, right? And so, you have people that are there that could have asthmatic issues and things of that sort. So, any kind of mold that you have in the home that's actually proliferating, and creating an indoor air quality issue is not good mold, right? There are certain people that would tell you that was that a good mold or a bad mold? Anytime you have something thrown in your home, it's not going to be good. It's always going to be something that could form into an allergy.
Lisa Beres 17:41
Yeah, well, okay, speaking of the army test has just mentioned it, is that the number one test the recommend, and can you tell us how to read that what's the right way to read an ERMI test?
Mark Levy 17:51
Well, first off ERMI, environmental relative moldiness index the PCR type of testing methodology, simply meaning that it's DNA, so we use it because it's the most sensitive form for detection and identification of different types of modes and species and modes that are there, it has a very good solid panel of telling you certain types of water damage modes and other indicator modes that are out there. But what I tell people is this, many people look at the ERMI report, and they look at the score. And really the score is not what's important. It's the individual organisms are the molds and species that are there that you want to see because when you're dealing with molds, as we talked about earlier, molds could be allergenic. They could be pathogenic and they could be toxigenic. They can produce what we call mycotoxins. So, what you want to look at is the different molds and species and molds and what their capabilities are. And if there's certain molds that are there that have the ability to produce mycotoxins and you have certain mycotoxins in your system, then you can do some correlation to see if there's some type of link that's there. Yeah,
Ron Beres 18:56
Not all homes are the same, right? So how do HVAC and crawlspaces impact the living space?
Mark Levy 19:02
Well, the home is a living breathing system through air movement pressurization. So, what happens is, is that when you have certain conditions underneath the home, we have what we call normal air convection, or the stack effect where that air makes its way up into your living space through cracks, crevices and gaps in the home. So, whatever you have in the crawlspace, will make its way into your living space and eventually make its way up into your attic area as well. And because a home is a living, breathing system, through the pressure movements that we talked about, you're going to have a constant flow of these air movements that are carrying contaminants into your home and upwards into the attic and back into your home again. So, what I tell people is really critically important to make sure that you understand what's going on underneath the home from the standpoint of moisture issues, and anything that could be actually growing that can impact your indoor air quality. And the same thing with your attic because most of the time people put their air handling units in their attic area. And so now you have the means of your air handling unit, your HVAC system is pulling from that area. And these systems are not 100% sealed. So, what's ever going on in that environment can actually get pulled into the system and actually be spread in your living space?
Lisa Beres 20:26
Hmm, wow. Yeah, I don't know. We don't have a lot of attics and crawl spaces in Southern California. Do we? Do you see a lot of that? Oh, yeah. You saw you do not have sand? Yeah
Mark Levy 20:36
Attics and crawlspaces. Absolutely. Homes? Absolutely. Okay.
Lisa Beres 20:42
Yes, East Coast, this is definitely a biggie for them when they have both. Usually, both.
Ron Beres 20:48
Double duty. Your brother has a hard job there on the northeast there, right? Yeah.
Lisa Beres 20:51
He has a hard job. But he does it well. Okay, so a lot of people will kind of, you know, go out on their own and try to do their own testing. And we'll do air samples, does that provide a false sense of security for consumers?
Mark Levy 21:06
Yeah, well, that's one of the things you got to be really careful with, because what happens is that people will bring in what I call the typical Mold Inspection Company, the look around, they may use certain types of devices to see if there's certain existence and moisture there. But if they don't find any moisture, they're going to go ahead, they'll do some air samples, and then they'll make a comparison to the outdoors. What you have to understand is, is that these air samples are really only a snapshot in time, it's either a five minute or typically 10-minute type of collection time, and then they compare it with the outdoor air. Now, their point will be is, is that mold is ubiquitous. And that's why we do test the indoor versus the outdoor. But their interpretation now is really going to be what's going to be telling you as far as how your home is either having an issue or not having an issue, right. And because airflow is so dynamic, what you take at that point in time could be different from an hour later. So, it's really important to really take a really mixture of different types of sampling methods. And that's what really differentiates us from other companies that are out there is that not only are we looking to really focus our attention on where the mold is, but we're using other samples to help us really look at the full impact of what's settled throughout the home. And the type of contaminants and toxins that are there.
Lisa Beres 22:34
Okay, that's really good. They're not going to tell you the whole story, right? And some molds might not show up in the air sample, too, right? Heavier, denser molds might not even show up.
Mark Levy 22:44
Yeah, I mean, there's certain types of molds like Stachybotrys, you may be familiar with Stachybotrys, which is considered a black toxic mold. It's not a typical mold that you would see to be airborne unless the conditions are such that there's been a lot of disturbance and so forth. And if you see it in the air, that really is an indication that
Lisa Beres 23:08
Yeah, what percentage of Stachybotrys do you see? Would you say?
Mark Levy 23:13
That's hard to say? Because, you know, it's really all about the conditions of the home and the type of water that has actually impacted the areas. Stachybotrys is a high-water content mold. But what's interesting is, is that there's other indicator modes that can grow as you can see with the absence of not seeing Stachybotrys. So, I'll give you an example. Alternaria which is another high level, water content mode, actually, is what I consider to be a sister mode to Stachybotrys. Evil sister. Right? So, when you see it there, there is a likelihood, high likelihood that Stachybotrys is there. And what's interesting is that we'll do many pre investigations, and we'll find Chaetomium there. And then when they do the post verification, and we're coming back in to make sure that it's been properly cleaned. What happens is that you'll see Stachy in the environment. And they're saying well, why is it there now it wasn't there to begin with. It's because many times it can be behind certain substrates. It's not becoming aerosolized. But what's interesting is that the mycotoxin from the which is called Trichothecin, as seen from the Stachybotrys, even though we don't see Stachy we're seeing the production of the which is from Stachybotrys in that environment. So that's another indication that there's a problem there Trichothecin.
Lisa Beres 24:47
And that's what's really causing all the health issues right. The mycotoxin.
Mark Levy 24:50
Yeah, the mycotoxins are really what's getting into people's systems and wreaking havoc for health.
Ron Beres 24:56
And you're typically probably getting that from surface samples versus their samples?
Mark Levy 25:01
Well there's different things that we do exactly right. So, the way that we go about doing what we call casting a wide net of sampling methods is to really find where the source areas could be through those footprints that we talked about. So, we'll either do wall cavity checks, or if we see certain types of what I call unusable substance, that's mold, like we're going to sample that. And then we're going to test the dust because the dust really is harboring all the contaminants throughout the home. And that's what people being exposed to. So, we really want to understand what the composition of that dust represents. And that's where we're able to tell you, your mold, your toxic load and your microbial load throughout the house.
Lisa Beres 25:43
And for listeners who people really freak out, as you know, you do this every day, we hear you know, it's the first thing that Ron and I always hear when they ask what do you do? Oh, we help people eliminate toxins from their home, they immediately go mold. No, I mean, that's just one thing. And we touch upon that. But that's not our everyday we're really more about the chemical toxins, you know, from your products and that but people think anything black is a toxic mold. And can you explain that's not always the case? You can have black molds that aren't toxic, cracked? And like, kind of explain that a little bit? Because I mean, really?
Mark Levy 26:18
Yeah, first off, mold is very vase. And as I mentioned to you before, right, but when you see something, I mean, all molds characteristically can be set up in a way where they're different in color, right? So, you could have certain molds that are black, they could be brown, they could be green, they could be yellow, it could be many different types of molds. And that's why it's really important to test what you're seeing there, right. So the key thing is to really understand what you're dealing with, and really what its surrounding in terms of the type of water event that's there, right, if you have a leak that's been going on for quite some time, or there's been certain types of water intrusion issues that have been going on, that's really been really not paid attention to, then those are going to be issues where you could have serious molds that could be growing that are there. But like I said earlier, any type of mold growth is there shouldn't be dealt with.
Lisa Beres 27:11
Yeah, pronto. Give us typical symptoms, that someone's got a major mold problem in their home, they don't see them all, but they're experiencing these health effects, sinus type symptoms. What else would they
Mark Levy 27:22
Yeah, I mean, everybody reacts differently, when it comes to certain types of mold exposure, the way I would react could be different from the way you or anybody else could react, right. But you know, typical signs could be headaches, watery eyes, sinus issues, many people that we've run across have sinusitis issues. So, they're having chronic issues with that. They're having issues in terms of being very lethargic, there's issues where they have maybe aches and pains throughout the body, there's issues where their mental thought process is not really clear. So, they have a like, a brain fog of some type. But again, these are things that I would tell you that you really want to discuss with your doctor, right? Yeah, I give you those information pieces and sources, because these are things that I see that are common to some of the people that we're dealing with that are out there. But the most critical thing that a person can do if they think that they have an issue in their home, when it comes to mold, making them sick, is to really have a good doctor that they can rely on to really talk to Right, yeah, and to be able to understand that the doctors that we're working with have a really good indication of what these environmental triggers mean, and what they can do to impact your particular body. And really to have a company that's out there that understands on how to look at your home, from a holistic perspective, as opposed to looking at it more cursory in scope.
Lisa Beres 28:49
Yeah. And like a good functional MD, a good environmental MD, a good integrative MD, these types of doctors tend to do that. They tend to look at you as a holistic, so your environment and your body as a cohesive system, because it really is at the end of the day.
Mark Levy 29:05
Exactly. Right. Yeah, absolutely. And that's what you want. And that's really our approach. I mean, our approach is really a holistic approach with the home. And it's one where we're looking at it in a way where we're doing a very deep dive. And that's the way it should be done. Right. Yeah. So, when we go into homes, we're going to be there for hours. And we're going to put together very comprehensive sampling methods to really take a puzzle pieces of puzzle to create the picture of what's going on with your environment.
Ron Beres 29:34
Yeah. And part of that puzzle, too, is some people in the home could not show symptoms, right. But they're still necessarily affected. But some people like the canary in the coal mine, right? There might be one or two people in the family that are affected by initially, this mold, as with allergies, more than others, so everyone's different. They're different environmental factors that trigger them, right.
Mark Levy 29:53
That is such a great point that you bring up around because what happens is�
Ron Beres 29:57
I listened to your presentation Mark. So that's why. Ron took notes.
Mark Levy 30:02
You know, it's a great point, because what happens is, is that you know, Ron, you and I are, we're men. But genetically, we're different, right? We're built differently. Genetically, we've had different types of historical things that we could have gone through, we have different health positions, and so forth. And that's the variables that you have to take a look at. And what's really interesting is that the client base that we actually work with, it's really difficult for them because they may be reacted and other people within their home may not be seeing any kind of reaction whatsoever, or not feeling it to the point that they are. So, they may be coming across maybe being psychosomatic, or it's just a mental thing or what have you. But I will tell you that our experiences is that couldn't be any further from the truth, it makes it really, really difficult for these individuals, because people think that it is mental, and that it's not something that's actually triggering there, their system. And so, I will tell you that it's a very common thing that we find that there could be one person in the home that's actually being reactive, and other people are not having any issues at all. And it makes it very difficult, not just you're the person that is really being reactive, but even for the family members, because they can't understand why they're in the home and they're not feeling the way that they're feeling.
Lisa Beres 31:23
Yeah, what's wrong with that person? Are they always sick? Why are they not feeling good? You know, what's wrong with you, and then the person is probably going out, medicating, or masking the symptoms, instead of saying, hey, maybe it's my environment. Absolutely. So, Mark, I want to talk about dust. One of my favorite topics. We talk a lot about dust on Ron and Lisa. Because it's not just unsightly, it's downright dangerous. And I'm sure you're aware of the study that found dust in a conventional home is laced with about 45 incredibly dangerous chemicals, including one known for causing cancer. In fact, scientists at George Washington University, Harvard University, and the University of California San Francisco found 45 toxins and household dust, including flame retardants, plasticizers, solvents, and preservatives. These researchers discovered that an average household dust sample will likely contain one or more of 10 harmful substances with health risks associated to cancer and reproductive damage. Oh, so Mark, can you elaborate on why clutter and dust are enemy? And you know, I know the ERMI test kind of addresses the dust.
Mark Levy 32:33
Yes. So talking about clutter, clutter really is something that you really have to pay close attention to it restricts air circulation, it helps accumulate dust throughout the house, it actually, you know, a cluttered home becomes a cluttered mind if you think about it, right. So that's one of the things that you want to really try to do is to avoid the clutter. The other thing is, is that the dust, I mean, you just read off a very good example in terms of some of the research that you've basically explained us, but it's the dust, it's the enemy, the dust harbors it off and the spores from the fragmentation to these toxins. That's the reason why we tell people that we want to look at what the settlement is. And so, when you have that dust accumulation throughout the home, that basically is an indication of what really, you're being exposed to, because as you move around the house, you create disruption, and these particles become re aerosolized. It gets into your breathing zone, so you become exposed. So, the best way for you to reduce what I call fungal, toxic and microbial load is to reduce a remove the dust from the house, right? So, a good solid dust cleaning regimen is extremely important. And the more that you do that, the more that you're extracting and removing the dust, the more that you're reducing your fungal, toxic and microbial load.
Lisa Beres 33:58
Yeah, and I will give a little shout out to listeners. Wet, mop and damn dust. Don't just recirculate dust around your house with a duster, or a bad vacuum cleaner. Fear vacuum isn't like an airtight HEPA, you're recirculating 70% of those contaminants back up into the air. And like Mark said, a lot of these chemicals are semi volatile, and that's why they get into dust especially flame retardants and these plasticizers these really toxic chemicals that were wondering how did that get in our dust? Well, if you're not dusting and cleaning appropriately, or using an air purifier or a portable air purifier or opening windows, things like that, you can actually just be moving your dirt from one place to another and you see that a lot.
Ron Beres 34:42
That's a great point. Great point. Hey Mark, can you give our listeners three sample types that are critical to evaluate the health of your home?
Mark Levy 34:52
Absolutely. Well, the first thing that they want to do is its validation of where these particular sources happen to be. So, when we do to air samples, we're extremely targeted in the way that we do it. So, when we see water damage on a wall, or in certain types of cabinets, we're going to do some air sampling from a specific targeted perspective. So that's one way that we do it. Another way would be to sample what we see, it's very important to sample and understand the different types of molds that are there. And then we look at the dispersion, where the spores and these fragments, and these toxins happen to be really becoming airborne and then settling in the dust. It's the dust collection that we talked about really trying to identify through the ERMI that we mentioned, through testing for mycotoxins, as well as testing for the bacteria, that could give us a really good understanding what's going on. The third component, which really is the more progressive ones is where we really talk about bacteria, as well as the VOCs, because you talked about how important it is from chemicals, where they can actually get into your dust harbor there, and then really become another form of exposure for these individuals. Because when you're dealing in a moldy environment, or water damage environment, you have many different contaminants that you're dealing with. It's not just mold itself, or the toxins from the mold, or the bacteria, it could be for many other elements, just like you indicated when it comes to chemicals as well.
Lisa Beres 36:22
That's so interesting about the bacteria from the water, and you never really thought about that. So, if it was a leak from a reverse osmosis, would we not have that? Oh, well, is it literally because the water the tap water, or wherever the water is coming from is pretty contaminated? And so, we're getting whatever's in that water that's now proliferating, or is it creating the bacteria?
Mark Levy 36:44
Well, there's three categories of water that you're looking at category one would be clean water, right, which would be an example of what you just stated, right? However, I would argue that once it hits the substrate, it becomes dirty, right? So, whatever the surrounding area of what's going on there, it's going to make it a category two, which is grey water. And then the longer those conditions are could be what we call it category three, which could be from a sewage loss, or could be severe rain storm coming into your home. All of these are carrying certain contaminants, it could be the health consequence.
Lisa Beres 37:17
Yeah. Great point. So, what is fogging explained to our listeners. And is this the magical solution?
Mark Levy 37:25
Well, a lot of people will actually work with companies that are making claims that they'll come in, and they'll have a chemical fog, that they basically go ahead and they apply throughout the home. And so, their claim is, is that we're going to come in, we're going to actually kill the mold, and we're going to solve your problem. The issue is, what we find is that it's not about just killing the mold, it's actually about removing it, because even if you kill something, it's still there, right? And it doesn't really take away the toxins that are there, right. So, it doesn't neutralize these toxins. So, what we find is, is that when people.
Lisa Beres 38:02
Like decomposing, it's like a decomposing kind of substance that's still there is that what you would say?
Mark Levy 38:07
Yeah it' going to create when you introduce a chemical that starts to maybe decompose or break things down? The decomposing the things that are broken down, they're not leaving, they're still there, right. And so those components become actually contaminants, that can be an issue as well, the toxins don't go away, they're still there as well, because it's being dormant in the dust. And he's residual fragmentation that's created from it. But what people may find is that they may see themselves feeling better after a fog. But what happens maybe several months down the road, could be four or five months, they start to become more symptomatic, right. And you're seeing you're seeing more reactions. So, our point is, is that, really, you want to remove what's there, it's all about source removal, it's all about making sure that it's taken out. Because this way, you're going to be able to get on a track where now you can maintain your home in a way where you don't have to worry about certain things. And when you fog, something, it's not going to go through the home and hit all the far-reaching areas of the home. Right, the mole can be actually hidden. So, in our perspective, and as well as what we have found from our experience, that it's a short-term fix. Yeah, that's really it.
Lisa Beres 39:26
It sounds like a toxic concoction whatever's in the fogging, right? It's a chemical concoction.
Mark Levy 39:32
It could be it could be something that they use to just kind of bring the particles out of the air and do some kind of wipe down but it's not really, you know, some of these guys use certain types of what they would consider to be like a probiotic, right, they could actually eat away at the mold itself and they make the claims that all this is going to improve your environment. We haven't seen that to be the case. We've seen it like I said, maybe short-term improvement. But in the long run, it's still going to be something that you're going to have to be dealing with.
Lisa Beres 40:04
Yeah, it reminds me of the termite tenting that you see it a lot here in Southern California. They'll tell the homeowners, okay, pick up all your stuff and leave for a day or two days, or however long it is, and come back and everything's fine. Well, they've just doused your house with toxic chemicals that are designed to kill living organisms, and like kills the termites. And then supposedly, it's safe for you to come back in. But well, if it was, then it wouldn't be working with it. I mean, it wouldn't be working on the termites. So, you're now getting a dose of toxic pesticides to your body. So, you've kind of solved one thing and created a whole other problem. So, I am for those companies, those eco companies that use t dt, and they use these essential oils and all of that great stuff. So, there's always a nontoxic solution. I tell people always like that. Well, Mark, this was so incredible. I could talk all day about this. Thank you so much for being with us today.
Mark Levy 40:58
Oh, thank you for having me. I really appreciate it. Really good to see you guys again, and so glad to be able to share our knowledge to help other people to help your listeners. And I'd love to do it again sometime.
Lisa Beres 41:11
Oh, yeah. Well, this was long overdue. You're so knowledgeable and passionate, and we thank you for your continued work to help people find and eliminate mold at the source so they can feel confident, safe and calm in their own homes.
Ron Beres 41:24
Friends, if you'd like to learn more about Mark's mold inspection business, the mold guy, head to themoldguyinc.com to book an appointment and learn more. They have tons of valuable resources they can handle your needs in all of California. They've got you covered with peace of mind and professionalism.
Lisa Beres 41:44
Yes, stay tuned next week friends and get ready to up level your health. So, you then! Bye everyone!
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