Mold Requires Special Vigilance This Time of Year!
By Cesar Collado
The holiday season is meant for celebrations with family and friends with frequent visiting and, of course, decorating. It also begins with Thanksgiving and really doesn’t end until the New Year. During this time, there is also the significant weather change from fall into winter that brings with it additional threats to air quality that can negatively impact sinus sufferers. To that end, some added vigilance, when it comes to mold, can make the difference between “suffering” vs. enjoying the holidays for those susceptible to mold and environmental illness.
Here are 8 things to consider during the holidays that could make all of the difference between spending your time sick, or enjoying friends, family, and festivities. If you are experiencing mold symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, sinus issues, or others, you can pay attention to these holiday possibilities and perhaps avoid unnecessary suffering during December.
- Christmas Decorations
It is safe to say that any place where Christmas decorations are stored that is not air conditioned is prone to be exposed to moisture, dust, and yes, mold. When decorating, you should ask yourself a few questions:
- Does the storage space have adequate ventilation and humidity control?
- Do your decorations smell “musty?” Can you see mold on your storage containers or decorations?
- Is your storage area dusty? Dust carries mold spores and mycotoxins.
- Do you store items cardboard boxes? (ideal food for mold with humidity)
- Do you feel different or are you experiencing any mold-related symptoms since decorating?
What you can do:
- Set a staging area on a patio, or outside, weather permitting.
- It is best to unbox decorations in an area that is not part of your air-conditioned space.
- For mold-sensitive people, wearing an N95 Dust Mask and latex gloves is highly recommended when removing decorations from boxes or containers. Bringing cardboard inside from an unfinished area has too many risks of bringing in a significant source of mold. Dampness or humidity in storage combined with the paper and glue of the cardboard boxes can lead to significant mold colonization. Unboxing the decorations can disrupt these colonies and release countless mold spores into the air. Doing so outside prevents these disruptions from spreading mold throughout the home.
- If you can, assemble large items outside and in the staging area.
- Treat your decorations with EC3 Mold Solution Spray or EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate.
- Simply spraying or misting artificial Christmas trees and decorationswith EC3 Mold Solution will drastically decrease the mold counts prior to bringing the decorations inside. Fogging the items is even better as the fine mist will get to all of the surface areas and crevices. The EC3 SANI+TIZER fogger with EC3 Mold Solution Concentrates is especially effective.
- Wash any washable items with EC3 Laundry Additive to remove mold
spores. If the item is not washable, spraying with EC3 Mold Solution will be more than adequate to reduce mold counts entering your home.
- Natural Christmas Trees
Many families have a tradition of celebrating Christmas with a living Christmas tree. It is strongly advised to avoid bringing real Christmas trees inside for mold sufferers. The mold count can increase significantly over time. While outdoor mold counts are lower in the winter, mold spores can simply become dormant. Bringing the tree inside the warmth of the home allows mold spores to reproduce. Physicians see mold allergies peak during the fall (due to dampness and leaves) and a second peak around the holidays. They speculate that natural Christmas trees and mold from decorations is the cause for this unusual spike in activity. For those of you who remain tied to tradition, it is recommended to have a natural Christmas tree inside for no more than 4-7 days. Mold counts can significantly increase from day 4 to a peak around 14 days. The longer the tree is inside, the higher the likelihood of increased mold counts.
“Epidemic peaks of respiratory illnesses in all age groups are observed around December 25, specifically 1 week before and 1 week after for school-aged children and adults, respectively, often raising suspicion that a live, indoor, coniferous Christmas tree may be playing a role”.1.
- Fall Leaves
This year we are having a late fall. This creates conditions that are textbook recipes for mold, when moisture meets organic matter. Since mold is part of the natural decaying process, leaves will decompose. Any wet weather and temperature changes creates MASSIVE amounts of mold colonies.
What you can do:
- Have your leaves raked up regularly and disposed of.
- Do not keep the leaves or mulch them to make compost for gardens. Mold counts TNTC should not be in your general vicinity.
- If you have to rake them yourself, wear a HEPA mask during the chore.You can then carefully remove your outer garments, gloves, and shoes either outside or just inside your door, so they can dry before entering your home. This prevents tracking he mold to all areas of your home and furniture.
- Avoid mowing over leaves to collect them. While convenient, the excessive disruption of the leaves in their entirety can spread alarming amounts of the microscopic mold spores into the air.
- Treat your clothes and shoes by misting them with EC3 Mold Spray or Solution that works on contact.
But what about guests and domestic family members who must go outside for walks or biological reasons. Their coats will attract mold spores and your pets can track alarming amounts of mold into the house. A physician may have told you to get rid of your pet; but, that is not negotiable as they are part of our families.
- You can spray EC3 Mold Solution Spray onto a towel and wipe down your pet’s coat, especially their legs and underbelly.
- Humidity Changes (no humidifiers)
When cold weather sets in, a sudden drop in humidity or dryness in the air sometimes affects our sinuses. This can lead to bloody noses for many people with or without sinus problems. It is important for mold sufferers to avoid the humidifier trap. Humidifiers harbor excess humidity in the home.
While this may solve the dryness problem, there are so many variables that are simply not managed that can lead to mold. In fact, the humidifiers themselves often become moldy due to the natural dust in every home. It is better to avoid this and use saline moisturizers or nose sprays to provide moisture and lotion on skin.
- Scented anything
Patients who are sensitive to mold are often sensitive to many chemicals as well. Scented candles, fragrances, and other odor-masking chemicals can create toxic side effects in mold patients. It is best to avoid all of these to maintain a household with fewest toxic chemicals possible.
- Seasonal Viruses
There is no means of totally escaping the seasonal cold or flu. Vaccines vary in effectiveness from year to year. What is critical to understand is that anything the family does discussed above can increase mold counts in the air. When someone has a virus, the immune system is reacting, creating mucous that is food mold. From year to year, the flu can be fatal for immune compromised patients, children, and the elderly. A fungal infection adds to a viral infection and compounds the danger to any patient’s health. If someone is sick, it may be advisable to take down decorations or be diligent in treating them with EC3 mold solution. You should also consider fogging regularly (weekly) with EC3 Mold Solution Concentrate. The ingredients contain antibacterial and antiviral properties that can help prevent contagious germs from spreading.
Holidays bring many treats our way from at work, to special events, or shopping, etc. Sugar is fuel for mold and makes managing mold sensitivity near impossible. Mold has a sugar receptor on it and morphs into the hyphae form when sugar attaches. Mold overgrowth directly from sugar can disrupt gut health, damage tissues in the gut and brain, and lead to many symptoms. Watching sugar and carbohydrate intake is an important element to managing symptoms during the holidays.In addition, alcohol is both a sugar and mycotoxin and should be consumed in moderation.
- Other Safety Precautions
It is advisable to keep an air purifier in the room where your Christmas tree and decorations are out. This, in theory, will filter the mold spores within that space. Burning EC3 Air Purification Candles will also mitigate risks to family and friends by removing mold spores and mycotoxins from the immediate air where you celebrate.
Simple awareness of the challenges of storing items in unfinished space can be very beneficial to keeping your family’s home free of unnecessary mold contamination. Keeping EC3 Mold solution products, candles, N95 mask and latex gloves will come in handy year-round when moving seasonal items into and out of storage.
- Lawrence E. Kurlandsky, MD. ” Identification of mold on seasonal indoor coniferous trees” Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. June 2011 . Volume 106, Issue 6, Pages 543–544