Category Archives: Air Quality

Mold Remediation Steps

We moved out of our house on April 16th, 2011. Spore counts of mold (especially stachybotrys) were very high and our Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) was 20.3. [This translates to a 32 on the HERTSMI-2 scorecard] We also had aspergillus, cladosporium and wallemia sebi. It took a long time to get our house to where we could live in it without getting sick. We moved back in on February 10th, 2012.Here are our remediation steps:

Step 1. – empty the house of all belongings. The only things we left were appliances and built in cabinets. Even those we moved, cleaned inside and out, and decided whether they could be kept.

Step 2. Rip out any building materials that have a hint of mold on them. Growing or standing. We rented a dumpster that would be taken out of town and burned.

Step 3. Clean everything. We used many cleaners in our process. Some had no effect and I would call them useless. It took 10 months to get it to the point where I was not getting sick in the house anymore. This is by far the most time consuming step.

It helps if you have become sensitive to mold. You can become the tester. That was what I did. “Nope. Still can’t live here… clean some more.” My poor husband. Those of you who know Mike, know he worked hard on making our house livable for me and the kids. He probably could have lived there through the entire process, but we couldn’t. My son and I had gotten very sick in that house and from now on we have to be very careful we are not living in sick buildings.

We did decide that a mixture of 50/50 ammonia to water was the best cleaning solution. Giving the best results after cleaning. I still use ammonia and water for cleaning… luckily for me, I don’t react to ammonia. Some do. Some become very sensitive after mold exposure or other environmental toxic exposures. They develop sever Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and react to everything. Since the mold exposure, I have problems with lotions, hairspray, perfume, make-up, candles, deodorants and probably more… but I am fine with most plastics, cleaning products and most fabrics.

The most helpful tools were the MaxBlaster ozone blaster, a RIGID shop HEPA vacuum, then later the Miele canister HEPA vacuum and a garden sprayer that we kept filled with our ammonia mixture. The ozone blaster has to be on a timer so it shuts off automatically. When no one is going to be in the house for a day or so… run ozone for 12 hours and let it sit for 4 or more hours after to let the O3 turn back to O2. It kills mold, bacteria and viruses… and believe me if you have mold, you probably have bacteria and viruses too! When they say ‘sick building’, that’s what you have.

Ozone blast, clean everything with ammonia, HEPA vacuum, repeat. When the house starts to get cleaner… I was able to pinpoint trouble spots in the home. Concentrate on cleaning that area until you no longer react to it. Sometimes I would get sick from cleaning and I had to take time off… or wait until my husband did it. When we were close to done with the house, I was still reacting to the refrigerator, the stove, the microwave, the dishwasher… some we cleaned, some we got rid of… some we replaced. We had to decide based on how easy they were to get into and clean.

Step 4. Put it back together using the most environmentally friendly products we could afford. Vermont Naturals Polyurethane is my best friend. If something wood that I LOVE is still making me sick… I have been putting Vermont Naturals on it… and it seems to be working for me. Some things are just too emotional to get rid of… like my hope chest, and my grandfather’s cedar bedroom furniture… Not all wood needs a coat of poly… but some does. This is how I am dealing, not sure it is ‘approved’ for mold encapsulation on wood, but it works for me.

Only bring one item into the house at a time so that you can tell what (if anything) is making you sick. I bought three new mattresses and had to take one donated mattress. I had to cover that with mattress covers but we can live with it until we can afford to buy a new one. Thankfully, I am not reacting to plastics or fabrics and I have been able to buy new bedding and couches without being overly careful.

When we went furniture shopping, I was super in tune to whether the place we were shopping for furniture made me react. We spent 4 hours in Huck Finn’s Warehouse in Albany, NY… and I felt sure that they didn’t have any mold. We bought a floor model… and I sniffed it. INHALE BIG. I have to live with this furniture! CAN I?

We started moving things into the house on February 1st. We didn’t move in (sleep there) until February 10th, 2012. It’s March 2nd and I am still feeling fine in the house. Everything in the house is new. We have 2 storage units full of stuff that I cannot go near, nor will I allow it in my house.

Some notes:
My husband wore full hazmat suit when he was ripping out moldy building materials. The mask he used was a Moldex 9000 and we got the hazmat suits from the same company.

We used plastic to close off rooms once they were cleaned and we worked our way through the house, cleaning methodically.

If there were an isolated room with mold, that room should be plastic-ed off from the rest of the house so as not to cross contaminate.

The guidelines we used for mold remediation were the ones that were written for asbestos clean up. Although mold is not regulated like asbestos is… it is quite dangerous and should be treated as the bio-hazard that it is.


latest updatesIn July/August of 2014, I started to get sick in my home again. No new leaks, just not feeling well and not getting any better so I did HERTSMI and it came out to be very high.

I found and purchased a machine that eradicates mold and mycotoxins and I am feeling good in my home again – here is a blog I wrote with the before and after test results.
Hi Tech Air Reactor – Before and After Testing with Mycometrics – HERTSMI – ERMI

Hi Tech Video Testimonies

If you decide to purchase a Hi Tech Air Reactor, there is a 30 Day money back guarantee. The reason the company can offer this guarantee is because it works!  

If you have any questions, or you need help with your own toxic home or building, email me through this contact page  or through the “Free 1 on 1 Consultation” tab in the lower right corner of this website.   If what we went through can help you in any way, I want to make your journey through mold easier.

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Accentuate the Positive

Even when I am not feeling my best, I try to stay positive.

As someone who is sensitive to the environment… it’s not always easy.

sick buildingsWe are sensitive to toxins in the air.

We get sick in places others might not realize are sick buildings. The toxins hit hard and we have symptoms flare. For me, it is swelling tongue and throat… runny nose, headache, brain fog, diarrhea, and more…

If I test a building I got sick in, it will be toxic. If I go back to that building again without someone doing something to improve the air and reduce the toxins people breathe inside that building, I will get sick every time I go to that building.

I am the canary in the coalmine. I get sick first. Others are getting sick. They just don’t feel it the same way I do. Have you ever gone home from a place and had an “unexplainable” headache? Or have you “caught” the flu.

Toxins in the air.

There are places I want to go… but they are toxic to me.

An outing to the wrong building can turn into a week of recovery. I’m working on my health and recovery.

Detox.

Focus on the good. Stay positive.

Strive for clean air everywhere.

I am grateful that I have a home with clean air where I can recover
I am grateful that many people are learning that indoor air quality matters.

I help people get clean air. For real. Not filtered air.  Clean air.

There is always so much good to focus on. 🙂

There is always hope.

Accentuate the positive.

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Millions are Sick from Poor Indoor Air Quality and Sick Buildings

Mold illness is common and often misdiagnosed. Millions are suffering and many don’t know that their indoor air, food, water, and toxins they are unknowingly exposed to every day are making them sick.

Donate to help start a non-profit for mold sick people

My son deteriorated from an active, smart 11 year old boy to a bed & wheelchair-bound sickly child with daily seizures and vomiting and excruciating pain. He would forget what you told him a minute after you said something — it was like he had Alzheimer’s. It was common for him to collapse in a heap and convulse and/or stare off in a catatonic state.

I had to quit my job to take care of him and I found myself getting sick. When I went to the doctor’s for my memory problems and digestive problems, I was told it was stress and nothing more. I wound up hospitalized several times for vomiting. Surgeries, medication, nothing helped. We went into debt to pay for medical bills, testing, supplements and travel to various specialists.

We found out that toxic mold behind the walls of our home was the cause of the sickness. By the time we figured it out my husband had chest pains, my dog was having seizures, my daughter had asthma, MRSA and behavior problems. We were a sick family.

We took on more debt to fix our home and make it safe for us to live in. We were homeless for over ten months while we fixed our home. This all takes money… money we did not have.

My son is healthy now and about to turn 18 years old. If he gets exposed to toxic mold, he will crash physically and mentally. It’s something he will always have to deal with because he is genetically susceptible to mold.

Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker says that 24% of the population are genetically susceptible to mold and consequently can’t detox well… so we get sick from toxic mold and sick buildings. Dr. Shoemaker also writes about a phenomenon called “sicker quicker” in his book “Surviving Mold” – when someone has been severely poisoned, they can get well and then when re-exposed to a toxin… it makes us very sick, very quick.

If 24% of 325 million US population can’t detox – that’s approximately 81 million sick people.

We have to take precautions to keep our indoor air extremely healthy, we have to be careful where we go, who we visit and where we work.

Getting well from toxic overload takes money and many in the chronically ill community can’t work regular jobs because a large number of buildings are sick buildings. We need clean, toxin free homes and buildings. Many people don’t get well because they can’t afford treatment and supplements or they can’t think clearly enough to follow through with a daily plan… or worse, they can’t get out of bed. They need help. People need different levels of help.

We have millions of sick people because we have millions of sick buildings, contaminated water, pesticides in food, antibiotics in meat, mercury and radiation in fish and arsenic in chicken. The list goes on and on. Once you get poisoned, people need a lot of things other people would not think of.

Too many people are living in moldy, toxic homes and they are wondering why they are sick all the time. These are some of the things we need:

1. Clean Air, Water, Food and Skin Care
2. Detox Centers – motels and buildings turned into safe places to stay. Storage units for contaminated belongings. Outside showers, outside cleaning bays with good drainage.
3. Education on how to live healthy lives, how to grow your own food or source from an organic farmer, Wi-Fi is dangerous, make-up can be toxic, amalgam fillings add to toxic load, mold causes allergies and mycotoxins can kill you.
4. Access to clean, natural supplements, ground herbs, natural products
5. Stay away from pharmaceuticals except in emergencies. Always look for the cause.
6. Re-educate doctors to educate patients on the 4 categories that could be making them sick: Air, Water, Food and Skin Care
7. Testing air and water for mold, viruses, bacteria, pesticides, petroleum, VOC’s, formaldehyde
8. Air and water purifiers for homes
9. Mandatory testing for all public buildings and public housing by a qualified air & water quality inspector. Yearly or more often if they fail.
10. Money to pay for all this

As you read this, there are people who are living in their cars or in tents because they get sick indoors. There are people living in moldy buildings because they have nowhere to go.

I pray we can all work together and help people!

Thank you for your time,

Heather Plude
Heather Plude

Please share this with anyone who wants to help.

Comment with ideas on how to organize and help more people.

Donate if you can. The donation will go to “Freedom Out of the Box, LLC” which is owned by Heather Plude (me) — I have someone who will help me set up a non-profit and we need to pay her for that service.

Once a non-profit organization is started we can raise money to start detox centers and help individuals with medical needs, housing needs, education and more.

Our first goal is $5,000 to get the non-profit organization started.

First detox center. A motel is available and the location is nontoxic and remote. This would be an ideal place for people to stay and set up one of the rooms with a sauna, supplements, a shower, fitness area and a hub for the detox center. The other rooms can be remodeled to be toxin free and the basement would need encapsulation. There is room for tents and new cabins on the grounds. Also, an outside shower, organic gardening and possibly storage units for people to store their things in while the relocate. $100,000 to $250,000 plus operating costs

Mobile detox center. An Airstream or some other non-toxic mobile home complete with sauna and outdoor shower. People who have been dealing with toxicity and cross contamination would understand the need for this. We know many sick people, who are forced to live in tents, cars and homeless shelters and they continue to be sick from toxins. $50,000 to $100,000 plus operating costs

Many detox centers across the U.S. and in other countries… where ever there is homeless because of toxicity, there should be a non-toxic home and help finding a more permanent living situation. Homes, motels, apartment buildings… we need to fix existing buildings or build new. Whichever is more reasonable and working for super sensitive individuals.

I know some people who are so sensitive they are living on an island away from all civilization. We can never get a place so clean that everyone will do well there. We can get it so 99% of the people who were homeless from toxins have a place to go. That is my goal.

I would love to have other people comment here or contact me about moving forward with this project. We are going to need smart people who understand mold illness and smart business people to make this work. I want to work with a team of people who all want to help the people who are struggling. I know you are out there. Contact me. Let’s form an alliance.

I am flexible on all these plans as long as the general theme is to help people who are sick from mold and other environmental toxins to get into a clean space, get their health back and help to find or make them new, non-toxic homes.

In the past, I have sent emails and filled out contact forms on websites for politicians, heads of departments, non-profits, news channels, talk show hosts, and I have not gotten any responses YET.

I was discouraged and I made a post on Facebook about reaching out and feeling like I was getting nowhere and I was encouraged to keep on trying.

Someone, who knew I had been wanting to start a non-profit for at least a couple of years asked me if I had started that non-profit yet.
Now is the time.

I am helping people every day by phone, email and chat… and frustrated because we don’t have the money to REALLY help people!
Let’s do it already!

I will go back to a lot of those politicians, heads of departments, non-profits, news channels, talk show hosts and share this page. I’m not going to dwell on the ones that have not yet answered me. I will reach out to more until I do get answers.

I am going to pray we make the needle on this fundraiser rise.

Please comment with your own mold story so that those who are able to donate see the stories of those who are suffering. That is my request of you, my fellow mold warriors. Comment and share. Contact me if you are able to contribute anything from time to ideas. We need your voice, your prayers and your emotional support.

Financial support will come from people who can afford to give.

I pledge to give 10% of my income to this cause.

Donate to help start a non-profit for mold sick people

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Don’t Obsess About Mold

no moldAfter we remediated our home, and before we found Hi Tech, I was so sensitive to mold that I felt mold on a lot of things and in a lot of places. My face would burn and I would get sick to my stomach. I would feel brain fog and have no energy.

I would obsess about stopping mold from cross-contaminating my home because I was afraid we would get sick again… and I was afraid of losing our home again.

Papers, people, clothes and books were easily contaminated from moldy buildings and my skin would burn from the toxins on these items when they would come into my home. Sometimes I would stay sick for days or weeks before I would figure out we had brought in something moldy and once we found it I would put it onto the porch and clean obsessively.

Our remediation was expensive and we were not able to live in our home when it was being done… that took over 10 months. I was afraid our house would make me sick again if it ever got cross-contaminated we’d wind up homeless again.

These are some of the extreme things I would do before I got Hi Tech:

  • Everything was cleaned with 50/50 spray ammonia, including walls, ceilings, floors & stuff.
  • All mail went directly in Ziploc bags and stayed there until I could look at it outside
  • No cardboard, paper or books were allowed in the house, unless it was enclosed in plastic: plastic bags, plastic tubs, plastic tubs in plastic bags, some things would be in multiple bags & tubs because I would feel the toxins through the plastic.
  • Clothing, sheets and blankets went in space bags
  • I did not want people to visit who lived in moldy places (this included good friends and family) If people did come over and I was reacting to them, I had to clean the whole house and often times I was sick for days or weeks.  I would meet people outside the door instead of inviting them in to avoid cross-contamination
  • School work, book bags, shoes and other things that were suspected to be moldy had to stay on the porch.  If they wound up in the house (because kids need to do homework) it meant a lot of cleaning later.
  • I would ozone the kids bedrooms, while they were at school, then clean every surface with ammonia.
  • Appliances and Electronics had to be opened and cleaned with ammonia, regularly. The inside of TV’s and computers would hold onto dust and I would react to them.
  • Cleaning made me sick, so sometimes, when I could afford it, I would hire cleaning people who would agree to clean with ammonia and follow my strict cleaning rules.
  • Clothes were washed in 1-2 cups of ammonia
  • I had to go out with the dog for 2-4 hours a week to ozone the house
  • I had 5 an IQ Air, 2 Austin Air Healthmates, a Purifan, a propolis diffuser and an essential oil diffuser.  The HEPA filters made me feel worse when they were on, so I kept them in the closet.  The propolis diffuser would work on one room… so I kept it in my bedroom.

Since I started using Hi Tech to clean my indoor air… I don’t have to go to extremes to stay mold-free. I have one Hi Tech 101 for my 1,344 square foot home and I don’t get sick from stuff that comes into our home. The Hi Tech cleans air and surfaces. I don’t obsess about mold anymore because my Hi Tech takes care of any possible cross-contamination.

  • My life has gone back to normal
  • I don’t use ozone anymore
  • We have friends and family over whenever we want
  • I clean with all-natural cleaners – no more ammonia
  • We have books again
  • Mail gets put in a shoe box until it is dealt with
  • Important papers are in a file cabinet – no more Ziploc bags
  • Hi Tech quietly cleans the air 24/7
  • I change the filter every 3 months and the reactor pads and bulbs once a year

I’m so happy and grateful my Hi Tech makes it so I don’t obsess about mold anymore!

Anyone who is concerned that mold may be making them sick… contact me for support and advice.

We got well by getting away from the exposure and with natural supplements.

If you are sick and you are not concerned about mold, you should be.

I have talked to many professionals over the years who believe that 100% of heart disease and cancer are mold related. Mold causes thick blood which can cause many other issues… and mold suppresses the immune system, making it possible for the body to catch anything that is in the air.

Clean your air. Look into the Hi Tech air reactors. It’s a whole house portable air cleaning system based on the square footage of a home or building. There are payment plans if you need them. It’s a major purchase. I would say it’s the best investment I have ever made.

I have finally found something that is working to keep the air clean.

Love to you if you have struggled with toxic mold. I hate to see sickness and struggles with health… and you may be missing an important part of the picture.

Indoor Air Quality… or lack of it can make people and pets very, very sick. May you live a long and healthy life.

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HERTSMI Testing for Mold (and ERMI)

Many Lyme and mold doctors recommend the HERTSMI-2 test from Mycometrics

It shows a direct connection between health and 5 toxic molds.  It’s a good gauge to see where your building stands in compared to other buildings and whether

The HERTSMI-2 or HERTSMI detects 5 of the indoor toxic molds that grow in varying amounts of moisture. These 5 molds give a realistic educated guess of whether mold is a problem in a home or building.

There is a grading system or a “scorecard” to plug the numbers into and you get a good idea of how moldy a place is compared to other homes and whether or not a building is sick enough to make people sick.

“Only the ERMI and HERTSMI have been associated with sequential activation of innate immune responses, not air testing.” ~Dr. Shoemaker. Meaning it is the only test that he found that is consistently in line with lab results for CIRS, despite its drawbacks.

Buy a new box of unscented swiffer cloths from the drugstore.
This is important as an opened box that may be stored in your house may
be collecting mold toxins while sitting. Take one swiffer cloth from the
middle of the box – just in case the store was moldy – it’s more likely
that the middle cloths are not cross-contaminated.

Inside the building you want to test, use a clean swiffer to collect dust
from as many as ten sites, trying to get dust from the locations most
likely to have collected dust with mold in it.

Old dust may be a better indicator of what you want to find out than new
dust will be, if you are testing somewhere to see if you can live there…
or if someone is getting sick.

Put the swiffer in a ziploc and send that, the chain of custody form, and
$150 to the address on the chain of custody form.

You will receive the result via email five days after they receive it. You
can get faster results by paying extra, and you can overnight the sample
and form to speed up the process. Mycometrics is in New Jersey.

Make sure you check the HERTSMI box!
The HERTSMI costs $150 and can be ordered from Mycometrics.com

When you get the results back by email and/or snail mail plug your numbers in the HERTSMI scorecard:

The HERTSMI “Scorecard”
DOWNLOAD THE SCORECARD HERE

We use a point system. Units are Spore E/mg.
10 points are assigned for
Aspergillus penicilloides >500
Aspergillus versicolor >500
Chaetomium globosum >125
Stachybotrys chartarum >125
Wallemia sebi >2500
6 points are assigned for
Aspergillus penicilloides 100-499
Aspergillus versicolor 100-499
Chaetomium globosum 25-124
Stachybotrys chartarum 25-124
Wallemia sebi 500-2499
4 points are assigned for
Aspergillus penicilloides 10-99
Aspergillus versicolor 10-99
Chaetomium globosum 5-24
Stachybotrys chartarum 5-24
Wallemia sebi 100-499
Interpretation of HERTSMI-2 Score
<11 Statistically safe for re-entry for those with CIRS
11-15 Borderline; clean first and re-test before re-entry
>15 Dangerous for those with CIRS. Do not enter.
Disclaimer:
HERTSMI-2 is a building index. No one HERTSMI-2 can possibly show all areas of a given building.
HERTSMI-2 does not replace careful observation of symptoms and lab results obtained following re-exposure

If you have already done an ERMI and you want to use the HERTSMI scorecard, just pull the values for the 5 molds in the HERTSMI and plug the values into the scorecard above.

The ERMI

If you want a more detailed report that looks for 36 molds instead of just 5 of the most toxic molds… The Environmental Relative Moldiness Index or ERMI has been a highly valuable tool for many practitioners and patients alike in evaluating the potential of ongoing mold exposure in the indoor environment.

It is not uncommon for an air testing sample to return negative results in the same environment where an ERMI is highly positive.

Given that some toxic molds are not readily airborne, air sampling is generally not an effective tool for indoor air quality; thus dust sample testing using the ERMI may be a better option.

Dust is a sampling of the air over a longer period of time… while air testing shows a snap shot in time.

This panel, developed by the United States EPA, includes a total of 36 fungal species/clusters that are broad enough to help address the mold problems of water-damaged indoor environments and to help assess the risk of mold exposure.

The ERMI gives a ratio of indoor and outdoor molds and I will advise you to pull the five molds measured in the HERTSMI-2 and follow the “scorecard” for evaluting both the ERMI and the HERTSMI tests.

The ERMI costs $285-$290 from Mycometrics – you save $5 if you use your own swiffer cloth and ziploc bag as described above for the HERTSMI. The swiffer kit or the vacuum kit can be ordered from Mycometrics.com Some people have gone to other labs for the ERMI testing but I recommend Mycometrics 100%. We have found inconsistent and unreliable results from other labs.

No test is absolute. If even one person is sick in a home or a building, and your HERTSMI comes back low… that person can be reacting to low amounts of mold. I have known people who are still reacting to mold when their HERTSMI is a ZERO! The more immune-compromised we are, the more sensitive we are.

Other things to look into if your HERTSMI is low and you still suspect the environment:

  • Radon
  • VOC’s
  • formaldehyde
  • pet dander
  • microbial fragments
  • Electro-magnetic frequencies
  • smart meters
  • water
  • food

There is a home air test for mold that I talk about on this page — scroll down below the HERTSMI instructions which are basically a repeat of this page!

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