I'm so sorry to hear of your plight. Hope things have improved since the time you wrote. I too have been dealing with persistent mold problems and mold-related health issues, since 2008. What a drag.
Today I decided to get more serious about dealing with the mycotoxins... and found your post, among other things. Thought I'd post this info, in case it is still relevant to you, or to others...
In case you don't know about this resource, you may want to check out http://www.chronicneurotoxins.com.
There is a lot of health info there about treating mold related illness, way beyond allergy.
But here is what I have learned about dealing with mold and mycotoxins in houses.
I've been dealing with the house where I got exposed (where I no longer live, but need to visit weekly) on four fronts. 1) Repairing water leaks in basement and elsewhere; 2) Washed all carpets, and working on family to get them removed; 3) Sprayed entire house, including damp carpets and basement, with these amazing enzymes- a product called "liquid alive," by Dymon. This really took care of the smell, and I think made a big difference overall. 4) sleep with a hepa filter with carbon filter (Austin Air) in my bedroom.
The best test for mold contamination is not air sampling... it is DNA testing. DNA testing will catch even dead mold spores, where air sampling and gets only live ones (this matters bc the toxins are a problem even if the spores are not viable/live).
The test is called "ERMI," (stands for Environmental relative moldiness index). EMSL labs and/or Mycometrix will send you a test kit that you use with your vacuum- takes about 20 minutes and costs $150-$300, depending on which lab you use. You can find them online and order the tests. I think there are some methodological issues with their interpretation of the results, but it is the only way I have found to determine the actual presence of mold dna/toxins in the building. (They will give you a count for 36 different species.)
My house tested off the charts on this test, before I did the treatment above, even though there was no obvious mold in the house itself (just a little bit in the basement). The test results were much better after we did the work, and, more importantly, I feel better when I am there. (But we are not done, and I would never live there again.)
So then here is what I learned today, trying to find out if I am succeeding in reducing my mycotoxin exposure or not.
Size Range of Spores: Most mold spores range from 1 to 100 microns in size with many types between 2 and 20 microns.
(1m = 1000mm = 1,000,000 micrometers or ‘um”)
Hepa gets most (~97%, by definition) of particles down to .3 um. So it gets most of the spores, but how big are the toxins that may have separated from dead spores and be kicking around in the dust?
Damn. From: http://blackmold.awardspace.com/mold-vacuum-hepa.html
Mycotoxins are as small as 0.1 microns (or um).
Although HEPA filters remove mold spores from the air they aren't effective at filtering the mycotoxins produced by toxic mold.
Some good news: Activated carbon filters can remove mycotoxins from the air however.
Removing Mycotoxins from Carpet
Most mycotoxins from toxic mold in houses usually end up embedded in the carpet. When you walk on the carpet you stir up many of the mycotoxin particles into the air, along with other spores and allergens. There is no way to remove all mycotoxins from carpet and the only option is for the carpet to be removed and replaced.
Vacuuming the carpet, even with a HEPA filtered vacuum, will not suck up all of the mycotoxins embedded in the carpet. And even though HEPA vacuum cleaners can trap mold spores, the smaller mycotoxins will pass through the vacuum cleaner and out the exhaust, increasing the amount of mycotoxins in the air and hence worsening your toxic reaction. (Yikes)
Central vacuuming systems may help to remove some mycotoxins if the air from the vacuum is exhausted outside the home, but again it will still not be able to pick up all the mycotoxins embedded in the carpet.
Mycotoxins aren't actually alive like mold spores. So when we talk about "killing mycotoxins" it really means breaking down mycotoxins and their toxicity so they are no longer dangerous to humans.
Bleach with 5% sodium hypochlorite kills trichothecene mycotoxins as well as other mycotoxins including aflatoxin.
Ozone is supposed to kill most or all mycotoxins. However the level of ozone you need to kill mycotoxins is not safe for humans. So if you use an ozone generator there must be no one in the house.
HEPA air filters are not effective at removing mycotoxins. Activated carbon filters can remove mycotoxins from the air however.
Mycotoxins do eventually break down and lose their toxicity after some time. Some types of mycotoxins can take several years though, for example trichothecene mycotoxins which are among the most resilient.
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