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Black Mold Encounters – A Story about Mold Exposure

My first few months of college became a miserable experience. Not because I had trouble adjusting or was homesick. I became terribly ill. Most nights I obtained very little sleep because I was coughing so profusely that I fractured a rib and would often gag and throw up as a consequence. During class, I always had to choose a seat based on easy exit and carried a plastic bag in case I couldn’t get out quickly enough and my coughing fits turned into gagging and then to regurgitation. I sought medical care with doctors and became an experiment. No one knew what was causing my health problems. I was given allergy medications, steroids, etc. Nothing helped. By this time each cough was terribly painful due to the fractured rib. I remember one night I was so desperate to get some sleep and relief from the hacking that I called home crying. My dad came to visit the next day, and I visited the doctor again.

My sister, who was also my roommate in college, began to suspect something with the air-conditioning filter. She called several times to have it replaced. Finally, after several months it was changed. I began to slowly improve. Eventually I stopped coughing and my rib healed.

More Exposure

Fast forward about five years. My husband and I moved to the west coast. The first two nights we stayed in a building that had visible mold. I had by this time suspected that my problems in college were due to a moldy air-conditioning filter because after this, every time I was around mold I developed a headache, and sometimes other symptoms. By the next morning I had a pounding headache which progressed to one of the worst headaches of my life. Pain medications did not seem to provide any relief. I told my husband that I couldn’t stay in that place any more. I would prefer to sleep in the car.

We found another location to live and I recovered. I still develop symptoms each time I enter a building with mold. I am not sure why my husband or my sister did not have noticeable reactions to mold, yet I felt horrible. I do not know if that first experience in college is what caused my sensitivity to mold which persists today. I do know that toxic mold has ruined and altered many lives. I know that there needs to be a more pervasive awareness of toxic mold and the consequences of mold exposure. I hope we can share more of our experiences and expand the information available that can save others from this life-changing encounter.

Krystle Reeves assists in managing MoldBlogger.com. She has experienced firsthand some of the physical distress mold can cause and hopes to help others find solutions and information for mold-related issues.

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How Home Construction can Prevent Mold

Moisture control is the number one preventative for stopping mold growth, and during new home construction is the easiest and earliest way to take measures to prevent future mold outbreaks.  Homebuilders are using a number of new ideas and products to help keep homeowners mold-free, because they know prevention is the least expensive way to deal with mold.  Some steps being undertaken by contractors during new home construction include:

  • Proper site selection:  The first and most important step in building a home is choosing its site.  If a home is built on a site with a high water table, future moisture problems are greatly reduced.  In addition, the proper site will eliminate any extra landscaping or grading that will need to be done to prevent moisture from entering the home or foundation.
  • Land drainage and grading: The site a house is built on should be graded, or sloped, so that rain and melted snow flow away from the foundation.  In areas where this is not possible, special landscaping and drainage can be installed to redirect the water away from the house.
  • Damp-proofing: Damp-proofing is when a special coating is applied on the foundation wall that sits below grade.  Make sure your builder uses a durable waterproofing material, as the coating can be damaged during the construction of the home.  A high-quality material is essential.
  • Elimination of Fake Stucco:  When fake stucco is not applied properly, it becomes a breeding ground for mold.  Many builders are encouraging homeowners wary of mold to forgo it altogether, as the application of fake stucco needs to be 100% properly and accurately installed to avoid excess moisture between the surface of the material and the walls.
  • Positive ventilation: When the air pressure inside is higher than the air pressure outside, this is known as positive ventilation.  Adjusting the HVAC system so that the air is positive will force allergens and mold spores outside the home.  Negative air will bring the air in from the outside, which is not good for those suffering from allergies.  The air should not be set too positively though, or else moisture will be forced into the walls and other small cracks and surfaces.
  • Whole-house air purifiers:  Primarily used in homes which house individuals with suppressed immune systems, these air purifiers can be rather expensive.  However, if you deal with allergies quite frequently, a whole-house air purifier is an excellent way to prevent allergens, dust mites, and mold spores from entering the home and making their stay known.

While taking all of these steps will not necessarily save a homeowner from a future battle with mold, following them will significantly reduce excess moisture on the interior and exterior of the home.  This extra moisture is the number one factor in the development of mold, and therefore a homeowner’s odds that they will remain mold-free will be high.

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10 Hidden Dangers in Your Bathroom

Whether it’s a strictly utilitarian space or a carefully decorated and designed oasis where you unwind in a bath after a long day, your bathroom is one of the most important rooms in your home. What you may not realize, however, is that it can also be one of the most dangerous. There are several things that can pose safety risks in your bathroom, and most homeowners aren’t even aware of the hazard. These are ten of the most common hidden dangers present in bathrooms, and ways that you can restore your restroom to a relative level of safety. Read More

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Mold in the Workplace

Mold needs moisture, oxygen and an organic food source to grow and is capable of colonizing almost any surface. There are molds that grow on wood, paper, carpet, insulation and dust that gathers in moist areas. Mold growth comes in various colors and is often known as mildew.

Molds alter the look and smell of materials they grow on and can weaken wood framed buildings. Exposure to mold spores can cause allergic reactions and influence health. Allergic responses include a runny nose, red eyes, and asthma attacks.

Local and state sanitation laws prohibit mold growth in most places of business, and while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have a standard for acceptable levels of mold or mold spores, the General Duty Clause requires employers to provide a workplace free of hazards.

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Mold Removal Remedies

Mold can spread like wildfire if left untreated. If you find evidence of mold in your home, you will want to take care of it as soon as possible. Mold is often found in poorly ventilated bathrooms,  where moisture cannot dissipate. It will eventually be absorbed by the walls and reside there, creating the perfect environment for mold growth. Within a few weeks you may notice black spots on the walls or ceiling. This is evidence that mold has begun developing. There are a few easy steps and solutions to help you fight and conquer mold once it has been identified.

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