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cleaning black mold

Is it Safe to Clean Black Mold Yourself?

It’s time to answer one of the most persistent questions seen on MoldBlogger and other sites: Is it safe to clean black mold yourself?

Whether you’re a headstrong homeowner or you simply can’t afford professional mold remediation, you’ve certainly been wondering the same thing lately. Is the risk worth it—and what is the risk anyway? That’s what we’re about to find out!

Can Black Mold Kill You?

Yes, black mold can kill you, but there are a great many factors that must take place before that’s a possibility.

For one, the type of exposure to black mold is important. A one-time exposure may produce unbearable and debilitating symptoms for a period of time, but if the person is treated correctly and never exposed again, the chances of the symptoms becoming a chronic and eventual death threat are extremely low. That said, some one-time exposures have the capacity to become chronic if the person suffers from a weakened immune system or an immunodeficiency. They are at a greater risk of developing long-term and life-threatening mycotoxicosis symptoms (toxic mold sickness). Even a poor lifestyle—poor eating and exercising habits—can lead to a weakened immune system that is vulnerable to a great variety of life-threatening disease—not just black mold toxicity.

One-Time Exposure Black Mold Poisoning Symptoms:

  • a long, painful headache
  • a tightening in the chest
  • burning sensations in airways
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • fever
  • fits of sneezing
  • nose bleeds
  • skin irritation
  • stuffy nose
  • watery or itchy eyes
  • wheezing

Repeat exposure, such as working or living in a mold-infested environment presents the greatest possibility of chronic black mold poisoning symptoms and death to both immunocompromised individuals and those at peak health. When exposure is persistent, the immune system experiences a bombardment of intense attack that affects the whole body. From the throat and lungs to the digestive system, to the bowels and skin, toxic mold symptoms act very much like a poison on the entire system. There is only so much even the healthiest of bodies can take before it becomes completely incapacitated and meets a fatal outcome.

Repeat-Exposure Black Mold Poisoning Symptoms:

  • asthma
  • autoimmune disease
  • cold and flu
  • emphysema-like disease
  • fatigue
  • memory loss
  • migraine-like headaches
  • muscle aches
  • nosebleeds
  • pulmonary hemorrhage
  • rashes and dermatitis
  • sore throat
  • vomiting and diarrhea (especially in infants)

How Long Does It Take for Black Mold to Kill You?

There have been many cases of toxic black mold sicknesses and death in public record for the past thirty years, but often, the issue is denied outright or the blame is shifted to keep landlords and businesses from being held accountable for their poor property maintenance.

In the 1990s, Cleveland, OH saw an inexplicable rise in pulmonary hemorrhage (bleeding in the lungs) of children. On average, such a severe affliction occurs in only one out of a million children worldwide from time to time, but when every pediatrician in Cleveland suddenly began seeing five or more patients each week suffering from the same symptoms, it was determined that cases in that region alone had risen to one in every one-thousand children. A two-year investigation into the incident identified exposure to Stachybotrys chartarum—toxic black mold—as the cause. Sadly, it took the deaths of several children before the results could be concluded. Those years were warmer and wetter than usual, and Cleveland’s general mismanagement of moisture-damaged rental buildings was to blame, yet many rose up to deny mold sickness was even possible, claiming it to be an imagined disease and downplaying the dangers of black mold. (See: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Acute pulmonary hemorrhage/hemosiderosis among infants—Cleveland, January 1993-November 1994. MMWR 1994;43:881-3.)

In 2009, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, FL lost three young cancer patients in less than a month due to mold inhalation. The cause was the hospital’s construction project that exposed and released toxic black mold into the pediatric cancer wing of the hospital. The children were trapped in poorly-ventilated rooms while microscopic black mold spores attacked their chemo-weakened bodies. Only the three deaths were admittedly due to this mold exposure, but more families are claiming their children suffered from chronic negative effects and even death due to the same negligent exposure.

Periodically, reports will come in regarding farmers, construction workers, handymen, and DIY homeowners who have been exposed to black mold and died from it. As most are usually middle-aged and very fit, the problem was repeat exposure as they worked in silos or on building or renovation projects. For some, it took years before they passed; for others, it took only months.

How long does it take black mold to kill you? As you can see, it depends entirely on your age and current state of health. Those who are most-likely to experience black mold poisoning symptoms and lose their lives because of it are:

  • infants and children
  • older adults
  • people with allergies or asthma
  • people with weakened immune systems

What complicates matters is that black mold exposure has also been linked to certain seemingly-unrelated diseases and cancers. This means that the death rate from black mold exposure could be significantly higher, but there is no way to know for sure until medical providers, landlords, and lawmakers take mold toxicity more seriously.

Is it Safe to Clean Black Mold Yourself?

Now that you have a better understanding of the dangers revolving around black mold exposure, surely you’re wondering if cleaning it on your property is worth the risk. The answer is: “Yes, but it depends.”

In most cases of illness and death, the victims did not use the proper equipment when cleaning or removing black mold from their home. Even if the cleaner wears the right protection, the other inhabitants are often exposed because not enough care was taken to ensure the issue was resolved before allowing them back in the home. If you must tackle this problem yourself, you must do it right the first time. You and your loved ones depend on every precaution being executed correctly.

Preparing the Home for Black Mold Removal

Any attempt to resolve mold issues in a home will disturb the mold and release millions—if not billions—of mold spores into the environment. These spores are invisible to the naked eye and completely unavoidable. They spread through every room within minutes—even seconds—so do not think for even a moment that your family is safe in another part of the house. Even if the spores finally settle, you can expose your family by introducing them on your clothing or opening a door and causing them to rise up again on air currents.

This is why a complete strategy must be in place before you make any removal attempt at all.

If you must do this on your own:

  • purchase the proper personal protection equipment (PPE)—wear and use it at all times!
  • have your family and pets removed completely from the home for several days
  • invest in an air purifier that combines HEPA and Activated Carbon filters
  • be willing to throw away any items that are fibrous or porous, such as wood or fabrics
  • if replacing elements of the home, purchase only mold-resistant drywall, paint, sheet rock, and other materials
  • use black mold removal products or cleaners, or make them yourself from anti-fungal essential oils—NO BLEACH!
  • document the entire process with videos, photographs, and/or journaling (in case of litigation)
  • safeguard yourself and your family with anti-fungal meals and supplements
  • maintain mold-inhibiting temperatures and moisture levels in the home

Conclusion

Cleaning black mold yourself can be a daunting task—and one that you should never take lightly. If it is at all possible, I urge you to seek professional assistance. That said, if you choose to move forward regardless of what you have read here, you are doing so with the full knowledge of what the risks are. My only advice is to be unwavering in your precautions and planning. Never move forward without the proper equipment. Do not cut corners. Do not compromise safety for “cheap” or “easy” solutions. Your life and the lives of those you love are at stake.

If you’re in need of black mold removal solutions for specific materials or situations (such as: “how to remove black mold from wood,” “how to get rid of black mold on walls,” or many other topics), please feel free to use the search bar on MoldBlogger. Every week, more topics and solutions will be posted to help you with your mold problems, so check back frequently.

If you’ve ever found black mold in your home, please share your experience in the comments below—it could greatly benefit other readers. What led you to search out the mold—did you experience symptoms beforehand? Where did you find it? What steps did you take to remove it? What black mold removal products did you use? Ultimately, do you believe it is safe to clean black mold yourself or do you think it is wiser to invest in the help of professionals?

Article by Amanda Demsky.

mold concrete block wall

How to Get Rid of Mold on Concrete Block Walls

According to the 2021 Old Farmer’s Almanac, this winter is going to be warmer and wetter than usual. Perhaps that’s what brought you here today. Is your basement collecting more moisture this winter? Have you noticed a musty smell or discoloration on your basement walls? If so, then the most-likely culprit is mold. It’s time to figure out how to get rid of mold on concrete block walls—and fast!


Why Concrete Blocks are Susceptible to Mold

Concrete blocks are made up of water, aggregate (gravel, rock, or sand), and Portland cement. The aggregate acts as a filler while the Portland cement acts as a binding agent. Many of the ingredients in Portland cement (what is commonly used in poured concrete today) are anti-fungal, such as lime.

Portland cement is created by pulverizing and measuring out specific proportions of the following materials:

– Alumina: sourced from bauxite, clay, or recycled aluminum.
– Gypsum: sourced alongside calcium oxide from limestone (below).
– Iron: sourced from clay, fly ash, iron ore, or scrap iron.
– Lime (or calcium oxide): sourced from calcareous rock, chalk, limestone, shale, or shells.
– Silica: sourced from argillaceous rock, clay, sand, or old bottles.

Cinder blocks (often confused with their concrete cousin) tend to be antiquated but can still be found in older buildings. They contained cement and cinder ash. Today, new composites of cinder blocks are being manufactured that have a special blend of concrete ingredients and volcanic pumice or coal. Volcanic pumice and coal are both anti-fungal, as well.

Fun Fact: Roman concrete was an ideal choice for building. Not only was its hydraulic-setting composition (meaning: it could pour and cure under water) unique in all the world, many of the Roman concrete structures remain to this day because the composite contains volcanic ash, which made an inhospitable environment for mold and other microbials that would have molecularly broken down the blocks over time. Sadly, the exact secret composition of Roman concrete was lost alongside the fall of the Roman Empire itself around 476 A.D.

Whether you have concrete blocks, poured cement, or old or new cinder blocks, the ingredients are relatively the same and provide the same amount of protection against mold growth within and throughout the structure itself. The problem lies in the fact that both concrete and cinder blocks allow for the re-absorption of water. Strangely enough, this actually restrengthens the molecular structures of the blocks themselves. At the same time, however, because they are so porous and have a high proclivity toward moisture, this allows for the risk of mold growth.

Thankfully, the concrete or cinder block itself does not supply mold with a food source. Unfortunately, it is the layer of dust and other contaminates that settle on the surface over time that can provide plenty of nutrients for a mold to grow.


How to Get Rid of Mold on Concrete Block Walls

Theoretically, if you kept your concrete or cinder block walls clean of dust and debris, and were able to control the temperature and moisture level of the room, your mold problem would dry up, so to speak. Unfortunately, even if these measures are taken regularly, it is still possible for mold to simply lie dormant as it waits for the ideal conditions to arise again.
Therefore, if a mold problem has already arisen, you will have to take extra mold-fighting steps in addition to maintaining the clean, dry conditions, as well.

Before we get into the specifics of how to remove mold from concrete basement walls, you will need to have the right gear. Going in unprepared could put you at risk for mold infection and toxicity. I suggest reading up about mold containment and personal protection equipment (PPE) against mold.

After you have decided on the appropriate PPE—and are wearing it!—your first task will be to remove the moisture issue in the afflicted room. Is it a spill, a leak, or just the result of the climate? Whatever it is, clean up any puddles and repair any broken pipes. Then, well-ventilate the room by opening windows or consider investing in a dehumidifier to control the humidity immediately and long-term. (Further reading: how a dehumidifier can help get rid of mold in your basement.)

Your second task will be to clean the room and concrete or cinder block walls thoroughly, clearing away dust, debris, and/or mold itself. Whether it’s mold on the surface of concrete blocks or mold inside cinder block walls, a liquid solution comprised of a mold-killing ingredient is best and you’ll need to seal it afterward with mold-preventive vinegar.

What you will need to clean mold off concrete:
• PPE (mask, goggles, gloves, etc.)
• hard bristle brush (here are some options on Amazon; don’t use a wire brush, as it will damage the walls)
• anti-fungal laundry detergent diluted with hot-water in a spray bottle (you can use a simple dilution of borax, but I highly suggest this recipe)
• white vinegar water-diluted in a spray bottle
• anti-fungal essential oils to add to the vinegar to veil the strong scent—optional
• hot water in a spray bottle
• rags and towels you are willing to throw away
• a trash bag

Please note: All spray bottles should have a misting option—not a jet spray.

IMPORTANT: While laundry detergent is suggested, please do not use anything but a detergent that specifically highlights its anti-fungal properties. This usually entails an all-natural detergent made with essential oils. If you are unable to find such a detergent, create your own from the recipe link provided, or stick strictly with borax. Any other detergent will only provide nutrients to the mold and allow it to grow back exponentially worse.


How to Remove Mold From Concrete Basement Walls, Steps 1 – 6:


Step 1: Once you have donned your PPE and brought everything on the list into the affected room, remember to keep the room well-ventilated or leave your dehumidifier running. Then, spray the walls generously with your detergent mixture, soaking them thoroughly. (There is no need to wait for a specific period of time before you go on to the next step.)

Step 2: Start at the first area you sprayed and scrub vigorously every inch of the wall until you have finished scrubbing the entire room. The bristle brush is meant to break up and pull out from the concrete pores any visible and non-visible particles of mold-food or mold growth. (While poured concrete in the floors is less likely to have mold growth, it is wise to hit that area, too. I suggest a floor-scrubbing bristle brush instead of getting on your hands and knees with a handheld brush, though. You can find those in the Amazon link provided above, as well.)

Step 3: Spray the walls (and floor) with hot water from a spray bottle in segments one by one and then use rags or towels (you are willing to throw away) to wipe the walls and floors down. Remember to replace the towels frequently between segments so that you are not merely spreading the moldy mess. (The reason for spraying hot water is that, by the time you have finished scrubbing, the detergent and debris will have dried up and you’ll need to remoisten the walls in order to wipe them away.)

Step 4: After the walls (and floor) have been wiped clean, they will most-likely still be a little moist. That is perfectly fine. Now it is time to apply the vinegar spray. This, too, should be applied generously, which is why you might want to add an anti-fungal essential oil to it, like lavender—to help stave off that awful vinegar smell.

Step 5: Remember to safely remove and throw away the bristle brush, the rags and towels, and the PPE in the trash bag you brought with you once you are finished. It might seem like a waste of money instead of washing these things, but these items have so many nooks and crannies where mold can live, that it is best to toss them out to ensure they do not contaminate the rest of your house. This is especially important if you are dealing with toxic black mold.

Step 6: Shower and scrub your body and hair thoroughly, then opt to eat a dinner infused with plenty of garlic. You can find many anti-fungal food suggestions on MoldBlogger.

If you want to be extra thorough, add anti-fungal essential oils to your hot water bottle and repeat Step 3 twice before moving on to Step 4. This will ensure that there is absolutely no residue of detergent or mold remaining.

That’s it!


Conclusion

The answer to “How to get rid of mold on concrete block walls?” is a simple one, but if you live in a hot and humid climate, you may have to repeat this process once or twice a year. There are commercial mold sprays, but I cannot in good conscience suggest them due to their highly corrosive ingredients. Some PPE will not be able to keep your mucous membranes (mouth, nose, throat, eyes) safe from such chemicals, and it would be a shame if, in the process of saving you and your loved ones from mold, you inadvertently exposed them to chemical burns via inhalation. That is a very likely outcome if you are working on an entire room that had poor ventilation to begin with.

If you are still curious as to why ingredients such as borax and vinegar are worthy mold fighters, please feel free to read these articles that can answer the following questions:

How to clean mold off basement walls with borax? (This article is all about Borax and why it is a useful and safe mold cleaner.)

Will vinegar clean mold on concrete? (This article describes how vinegar can kill about 82% of known molds and help prevent future outbreaks.)



Article by Amanda Demsky

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Celebrate Korean-American Day Mold-Free with Kimchi and Cheonggukjang!

With Korean-American Day here at last, it seems only fitting to celebrate our beloved brothers and sisters of Korean descent by sharing a little-known fact about Korean cuisine. Thanks to centuries of Korean ingenuity, recent research reveals that Korean food health benefits go well beyond the scope of essential nutrients. Two of America’s favorite Korean dishes—kimchi and cheonggukjang—are in the spotlight today as we celebrate Korean-Americans and their anti-fungal contributions to this great nation’s diverse menu!

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How to Remove Mold from Your Body with Exercise

We live in the pampered era of couch potatoes and desk jockeys. From 2-hour long commutes, to 8-hour Netflix binges, we are successfully neglecting our need for daily exercise. In the United States alone, less than 23% of the population commits to even the most pitiful of exercise standards. Picture in your mind’s eye that unwilling 77%. It’s possible that 40–60% of them are plagued with mold or biotoxin illness, which would explain their unwillingness to engage in adequate physical activity. If only they knew what you’re about to discover—how to remove mold from your body with exercise. Then, perhaps they’d feel encouraged to push through that foggy, mold malaise and commit to detoxifying their bodies by moving their bodies.

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The Complete Guide to Black Mold

What is Black Mold?

Stachybotrys, otherwise known as “black mold,” has a rather notorious—and nefarious—reputation worldwide, but what makes black mold so dangerous and unique from other molds? And, why is it so important that you learn how to recognize the signs of black mold in your home or the black mold symptoms within your body? Is there truly a need for such elevated alarm or is the hype regarding black mold unnecessary and exaggerated? Let’s find out!

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You are Drinking Mold in Your Coffee

According to recent studies, Americans are drinking more coffee than ever before. In 2015, it was predicted that excessive coffee consumption would decrease, thanks to the invention of the coffee pod. This prediction, however, was a flop. Now, in 2019, over 80% of Americans drink coffee daily—that’s about 400 million cups a day—and many confess to drinking two or more! It’s no secret that coffee is America’s most popular drug, but what if there is something more troubling about coffee than the harmful effects of caffeine? What if there is mold in coffee and you’ve been enjoying every sip of it—down to the last drop?

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Mold Dust Tests – ERMI Testing

Mold is a common health problem plaguing many homes across the globe, irrespective of financial status or location. A homeowner or renter who suspects mold can quickly become overwhelmed and stressed about where to start and what to do. So, what should you do when you think you have mold in your home? Mold is a serious issue, and safely detecting mold and the types of mold is often the first step in determining the best course of action. This is why it’s beneficial to use the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) method of testing mold. Read More

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Black Mold Symptoms

What is Black Mold?

“Black mold,” or stachbotrys as his mycologist friends like to call him, is actually a dark green mold, but not only did “Dark Green Mold” fail miserably at striking fear in the hearts of the public, Penicillium mold pretty much held the copyright to all-things-green. “Killer Mold,” too, fell short of fear-mongering. And “The Notorious B.M.” didn’t quite have the effect mycologists were going for, which could be why a dark green mold was given the nickname “black mold.” Or, more specifically, “toxic black mold.” But, what causes black mold? And why is it considered so toxic?
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Help! I Accidentally Ate Moldy Bread (or Moldy Cheese)!

Is Moldy Food Dangerous?

I know why you’re here. There can only be one reason why you now find yourself reading an incredibly informative and superbly written article on moldy cheese.

You’ve bought into the American Dream, haven’t you? What was it? Student loans? A new car? Don’t tell me–the new iPhone? Look, it’s none of my business. We’ll just say you “fell on hard times.”

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12 Harmful Types of Mold Commonly Found in Homes

How Many Different Types of Mold Are There?

New molds are discovered almost every year. Today, there are over 100,000 types of mold, but only several hundred have been thoroughly studied.

When wondering “How many different types of mold are there?,” what really matters are the types of mold that are more-likely to be in your home. The bad news is that there are over a hundred molds that thrive in homes and all of them are capable of causing harm and destruction. The good news is that, unlike outdoor molds, indoor molds can be subdued and eliminated.
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What is Green Mold and How Do You Get Rid of It?

What is Green Mold?

Some mistakenly believe that any and all green molds are penicillin. Penicillin, however, is not a mold. Penicillin is an antibiotic derived from the mold known as penicillium chrysogenum. Many times over, a common statement is made in regards to foods that have mold growth: “Ah, it’s just penicillin. It won’t hurt you.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, contact with penicillium chryosogenum–like any mold–can cause serious health issues. For instance, penicillium molds often cause chronic sinus infections and inflammation within the lungs.

The truth is, there are several types of green mold–thousands, actually–and none of them are friendly. So, what exactly makes green mold, green?

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DIY: Natural Mold-Killing Laundry Detergent

Most homes are teeming in the thousands, if not millions, of various types of mold spores and any location that offers adequate moisture will provide it the perfect home. Laundry rooms especially provide the key ingredients to what makes mold grow: moisture, decaying organic material (soiled laundry), warmth, and usually no direct sunlight. Thus, it is not uncommon to find mold on clothes.

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How to Remove Mold from a Washing Machine

Whether top-load or front-load, new or used, every washing machine provides an ideal habitat for mold. The high moisture content in both the machine and the resulting atmosphere, the typical poorly-ventilated laundry room with its stale warm air, and the continual supply of decomposing organic material provided by soiled laundry all contribute to an environment conducive to mold growth and its accompanying mildew smell.

Don’t wait until you experience that distinct mold odor. Because of such steady, mold-welcoming conditions, it is important to be consistent in regular maintenance. Cleaning a machine that appears to clean itself during each use might seem a little superfluous, but even washing machines could use a good wash from time to time.

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How to Clean Mold from a Fish Tank

Is Your Fish Tank Growing Mold?

The health of fish and their owners depend on tank hygiene. This is because every fish tank provides the perfect environment for both submerged and airborne forms of fungi. General tank cleanliness, water quality, filtration, decor material, and the initial health of the fish all contribute to the growth and dispersing of mold spores. A dirty tank allows a film to build both underwater and in contact with the air above. Decomposing organic material, such as wood decor, dead fish, excrement, or the open, seeping wound (infection or injury) of a fish can all provide nourishment to underwater fungus, as well as airborne mold.
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Mold Sickness: Will Activated Charcoal Help?

History of Activated Charcoal

The earliest known use for activated charcoal was recorded in 3750 B.C. It was during this period of earth’s history that Egyptian and Sumerian metallurgy was revolutionizing the metal works industry with the introduction of bronze—an alloy of tin, zinc, and copper dependent upon carbon, or activated charcoal, for the purpose of atomic oxygen-reduction and elemental extraction.
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As of October 8, 2017, the current population of the United States is estimated roughly at 326.8 million.[1] According to sales statistics in the year 2016, over 290 million of those Americans consumed peanut butter. In addition, it is predicted that November 2017—being the National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month—will bring about the consumption of over 65 million pounds of peanut butter. Suffice it to say, peanut butter is an American staple food—and why shouldn’t it be?
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