Updated: Apr 7, 2019
Over the last decade, the number of people diagnosed with long-term, chronic health conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME), lupus, depression and anxiety have seen huge increases. According to the British Lung Foundation, the number of people who have ever had a diagnosis of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) increased by 27% over the last decade alone.
What could be behind this sudden surge in chronic, debilitating health conditions?
It may surprise you, but one theory put forward by researchers as a potential cause of this massive increase, is the air we breathe in our homes. Most of us associate dirty air with busy roads or polluting factories and believe our homes to be sanctuaries of cleanliness and safety. But with the advent of double-glazed and triple-glazed windows designed to seal in warm air, and air conditioning units that circulate cold air, in our quest for comfort, we have unwittingly created the perfect environment for toxic mold to flourish, literally right under our noses.
Could mold in our homes also be responsible for anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions?
The Mirror reported that following several large studies, scientists found that as well as causing fatigue, anxiety and depression, black mold exposure could even be responsible for causing terrifying hallucinations of demons and ghosts. According to a recent YouGov survey, nearly a third of people in the UK believe they have experienced a ‘supernatural presence’. New research suggests that at least some of these sightings may be less to do with ‘evil spirits’ and more to do with the effect that exposure to toxic mold has on our brains and nervous system.
With black mold spores detected in over 85% of homes and businesses in the US, perhaps it is time we took the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual effects of toxic mold more seriously.
Around 25% of North Americans and British citizens carry a gene called HLA-DR (human leukocyte antigen) that makes it harder for their bodies to excrete toxic metabolites produced by a range of different molds, otherwise known as mycotoxins. These mycotoxins are absorbed through the airways, intestinal lining and skin. Those with genetic mutations (SNPs) may be predisposed to methylation and detoxification difficulties, or have an HLA gene that prevents their body from recognizing and eliminating the mycotoxins in their environment. This allows toxins to remain inside the body and trigger a chronic inflammatory response, termed ‘Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome’ or CIRS. Once inside the body they can trigger other severe inflammatory responses and oxidative stress, leading to chronic respiratory illnesses, infections, upper and lower respiratory disease, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety and most frighteningly, even cancer.
While research in this area shows a clear danger from mold in our homes, many doctors still do not recognize mold as a potential cause for many debilitating physical and mental health conditions. As a result, every year millions of patients are diagnosed with a host of chronic conditions and prescribed medications that tackle the symptoms but do not get to the root of the problem.
So how do we go about protecting ourselves and our families from the dangers of toxic mold exposure? The first step is to take a good look around your home.
Check for mold above showers and in bathrooms. Bathroom and kitchen fans that draw moist air often ventilate straight into the attic, providing an ideal environment for mold to thrive.
Check your washing machine around the rubber seals and the seals around your windows.
Repair areas where water can leak through walls, floors and ceilings.
Replace moldy silicon sealant in bathrooms and kitchens.
Remove carpet that has become moldy and replace with hard flooring if possible.
Use a an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove mold spores and mycotoxins from the air.
Use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air.
You can employ professional cleaning services to remove mold spores from your home, but if you’re attempting to remove it yourself, the most effective method is to use household bleach. Always remember to use rubber gloves, safety glasses and a face mask to avoid breathing in mold spores, as well as toxic fumes from the bleach. Open all the windows to allow fumes to escape easily. Allow the bleach to work for around 30 minutes and then wipe the surface over with a clean damp cloth. Once finished, dispose of the cloths.
Once you have removed the mold in your home, how do you prevent it from returning? The most important factor is to ensure your air remains clean and fresh. Excessive moisture in your home is the fastest way to guarantee the return of black mold and keeping your home adequately ventilated is one of the most important methods to maintaining a mold free environment. However, keeping your windows open isn’t always a practical solution, especially for allergy sufferers or when the weather outside is cold or wet.
The most efficient method for removing the excess moisture from the air responsible for causing the environment that encourages mold growth is to invest in a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers can remove vast amounts of moisture and make it far more difficult for mold to grow again, helping to protect you and your family from the effects of damp and mold exposure.
To continue to remove airborne mold spores, you will need an air purifier. Air purifiers with a HEPA filtration system not only remove mold spores, they also remove up to 99.97% of dust and allergens from the air, including bacteria, pet hair and pollen, while also neutralizing foul odors from your home, including cigarette smoke and animal smells. We should remember that even if we cannot see evidence of mold, it does not mean there is none. Mold spores are invisible to the naked eye and can grow inside walls and cavities. The only way to effectively reduce toxic mold exposure is with air purifiers and dehumidifiers.
So the next time you hear something go bump in the night, before you call Ghost Busters, first try cleaning away any traces of mold and invest in a reputable air purifier with a HEPA filter to clean the air and a dehumidifier to reduce moisture in your home. Not only could they help to reduce the chances of scary nighttime visitors, they can also reduce the risk of you or your family developing chronic, long-term health conditions .
Toxic mold has been around us for centuries, but thanks to modern living, our bodies have to cope with it in unprecedented amounts and for those with existing chronic health conditions, toxic mold can exacerbate symptoms. It may not be a cure, but making sure our homes are clear of mycotoxins can help to minimize the risk of developing chronic health conditions and may help to reduce your symptoms if you already have been diagnosed with one.
I have been looking an air purifier for myself to help reduce allergies and filter mold spores. Over the last year I have tried several makes and models, but none seemed to work for me. Effective dehumidifiers and air purifiers can be very expensive to buy and although cheaper models may look impressive, I found their performance to be no better than a weak fan.
I recently purchased a Pro Breeze air purifier and I must say that the results are very impressive. Take a look at these photos.
And here's a close up of the used filter.
I use this air purifier in my office and at nighttime in my bedroom. The first thing I noticed after using it for just one night, was my breathing in the morning was much easier and my nose wasn't blocked. An unexpected benefit was that I rarely need to dust! As the dreaded hay fever season draws closer, I'll be using my Pro Breeze air purifier to help reduce my allergies and get a better night's sleep.
I have been so impressed with the results that I got in touch with Pro Breeze to see if they can help and the team at Pro Breeze very kindly responded by giving followers of Steve Wentworth an exclusive 15% discount on all Pro Breeze products, including air purifiers, dehumidifiers and even heaters too.
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