11 Steps You Can Take to Keep Mycotoxins at Bay

by Dr. Susan Tanner, MD

The importance of living in a clean air environment cannot be overstated.  While being repetitious can be tiresome, in the case of mold-related illness it must be revisited time and again, as regaining health depends on it.

Previous articles have discussed what to look for in finding and maintaining a healthy home when it comes to mold prevention and mitigation but looking into what can and should be done for ongoing maintenance is equally important.  A point to remember is that once made ill by mold and mycotoxins, even when largely recovered, one can be set back significantly by re-exposures.

Before I begin my list of mold cleaning and maintenance measures, I want to make one very important statement: None of us can or should live in a bubble. I do not think or believe that living in a bubble or living in a state of hypervigilance and fear of mold is beneficial to anyone’s physical or mental health. However, addressing some of the common areas of recontamination and the sources from which a mold problem can arise helps to keep the inflammatory response minimized.

11 Steps for Basic Mold Maintenance

Mold maintenance and prevention start with the little things. You must address sources in a home where mold spores enter and employ cleaning techniques to eradicate spores and mycotoxins without bringing in toxic chemicals or things that could additional compromise your living space or immune system. Here is my mold maintenance/cleaning list:

1. Indoor pets – Pets who are allowed to go outdoors and then come indoors can accumulate mold spores on their paws and fur.  In a properly humidity-controlled home, these spores don’t necessarily propagate but they can accumulate on furniture, carpets, and in owners’ beds, if pets are allowed inside.  A quick wiping down of pets’ coats and paws with EC3 solution or spray can reduce these spore levels and help to avert potential problems.

2. Periodic fogging – Fogging of home interiors with EC3, especially in the high humidity months of summer and early fall, will reduce the indoor circulation of mold spores and mycotoxins entering the home when doors or windows are opened. Again, in a properly humidity-controlled indoor environment, these spores do not necessarily reproduce but their very presence, even in small amounts, in recirculated, conditioned air can trigger the most sensitive of patients to react.  Just like most people clean the kitchen counters to prevent bacteria and germs from accumulating, you should also address mold spores levels in your home.

3. Humidity control – Speaking of humidity, keeping it under control and no higher than 47% indoors really prevents mold growth. This may require the use of central or stand-alone dehumidifiers, especially during the summer months when the outside air is warm and the air conditioner is on inside a home.

4. Air filtration – Air filtration/purification systems are very helpful. These can either be located on the central HVAC or as portable units, particularly in bedrooms. Additional filtration and purification reduce dust particles which are like little magic carpets upon which mold spores can travel.  Dander from indoor pets can also be reduced by additional means of air filtration. I spray my filtration units with EC3 spray to further reduce the spores on surfaces and in the machines.

5. Regular HVAC system maintenance – Checking the coils, plenum, and pan for water or moisture (and subsequent mold) can avert a crisis!  Schedule routine maintenance with an HVAC professional at the start of the air conditioning and heating seasons every year!

6. Check under sinks – Keep an eye on the pipes and areas that are hidden beneath cabinets to catch leaks and assure nothing is wet or damp. The same goes for the water line for refrigerator ice makers and for your dishwasher. Make time to look behind and around appliances that are connected to water lines.

7. Avoid keeping produce too long –  Fresh produce is wonderful but can mold quickly. Buy only what you are going to eat or freeze. If food does happen to mold in your home, then wipe down counter or refrigerator areas in which they were stored with EC3 Solution.

8. Check toilet seals – Leaky toilets are all too common and the amount of mold that can form there is astounding and often with a high bacterial load as well!

9. Check your roof and attic after a storm – Heavy rainstorms and falling trees can damage roofs, allowing water to enter the attic. A quick look after a storm, especially if you have had falling trees or limbs can help identify a problem before it becomes worse.

10. Keep an eye on basements and crawl spaces – Make sure below-grade spaces are dehumidified, sealed, and ventilated properly. Additionally, faulty or clogged exterior drain systems can allow water intrusion into these areas can cause the onset of a mold problem.  Don’t be paranoid but do be vigilant!

11. Laundry systems – There is more to laundry than washing clothes! In general, we advise against front loader washers and dryers.  Front loader washing machines particularly have a propensity to build up mold in the front seals; dryers with a steam feature may do the same.  This occurs so much with these machines that some of the manufacturers equipped them with a pin to hold the door open when not in use.  However, almost every brand of front loader machine will get mold over time and at the very least, the seals should be replaced if this happens.  If given a choice, get a top-loading machine!  Even some of these, over time, can accumulate mold in the seals, so keep an eye on that.  I like to use the EC3 Laundry Additive in every load. It is hugely beneficial on two levels: 1.) It rids the spores from clothing that may have become contaminated, and 2.) it washes through the machine, killing mold there as well.  It is still recommended to keep the lid of the machine up when not in use, though. Additionally, set timers when you are doing laundry so that you do not forget and leave wet clothing in a closed washing machine for too long.

Even though the above list is not exhaustive, it is an excellent place to start. Those 11 steps can help keep your house safer and you healthier as a result!  None of the items on the list are necessarily time-consuming or expensive but can go a long way toward keeping you safe from mycotoxin-induced inflammation. And, as most of you know, a body that is not inflamed is much less susceptible to ALL illness and disease.

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