Dec 19th, 2012
By Thomas S. Lee, NMD, APH
Hurricane Sandy’s winds and water have done their damage, and our hearts go out to friends and neighbors on the East Coast who lost so much. But there’s a sequel coming their way that might be called “Sandy’s suckerpunch.” It’s not as dramatic as the original hurricane maybe, but it’s possibly just as lethal to those who are the most vulnerable and unprepared.
Water damage from the storm affected furnishings, rugs, draperies, and walls that may still be in the process of being cleaned up. In cold weather the homes are closed up, the heat is on, and winter is upon us. Family gatherings in cozy, well-insulated rooms will be welcome moments of caring and support. But after what people have been through during that terrible storm, don’t let fungal illness bring any more misery into the home.
With less ventilation in a closed-up building, excessive moisture from warm, water-damaged materials is a recipe for black mold. Fungal overgrowth is more than a nuisance—some strains of mold are killers. Environmental scientists have termed this problem in the workplace as “sick building syndrome.” The dangers of mold infestation in buildings to people who may be weakened by stress, illness, and age are well known to doctors and lawyers alike.
Let’s review what to do about it if you think mold in a living space may be starting to affect you or people you care about. With relatively affordable and available materials, you can dodge this suckerpunch to the immune system.
How to Handle Mold Damage
Professionals are available to help determine if mold damage is a possibility or already an actuality. Consult with a contractor, building inspector, or insurance investigator. These professionals are trained for this, and you should get their advice if at all possible. Unfortunately, after all the damages incurred by Hurricane Sandy, many people are tapped for resources and they can’t afford professional services and new materials. If money isn’t a problem, get the help of a pro. This article is for those who need to know how to get it done with their own time and money, and quickly.
By now you may have figured out that the room or building has a problem by a bad smell or obvious black growths. You need to get the mold out of your space and out of the bodies you care about as quickly as possible. Typical symptoms of mold illness are severe recurrent lung or digestive problems, and sometimes vertigo and waves of headache. These symptoms often seem to come in waves or cycles of 7-10 day periods of getting better, then worse.
Buy the following supplies in the most affordable bulk quantities for the size of your project:
Chlorine bleach (straight, without added fragrance), baking soda, white vinegar, 20 Mule Team Borax™, a mop, several spray bottles, heavy duty trash bags, and dust masks.
Buy, borrow, or rent this equipment:
A dehumidifier, a HEPA air filter, an ozone generator, a strong vacuum cleaner or carpet cleaner, and one or more electric fans.
Buy these nutritional supplements in sufficient quantity for at least a couple of months (sources are given below):
SuperSulfur, Lugol’s Iodine, Modifilan, Buffered Vitamin C, Organic Honey, powdered cinnamon and ginger (the regular culinary spices available from the grocery store), and fresh lemons.
Replace all damaged materials and furnishings with new or new-to-you, undamaged if at all possible.
After making any required structural repairs and before putting on new wallboard or trim, mop the hard surfaces of floors and walls (if they are colorfast) with a mixture of 20 percent bleach and warm water. Put this same bleach and water mixture into spray bottles to treat interior walls, and spray it into ventilation ducts after thoroughly vacuuming them. If wall damage is extensive, you’ll need to gain access to the inner spaces in order for the dehydrators and fans to dry them out completely. Check all plumbing and wiring you can get access to.
For most people, diluted bleach is cheap and effective if the area is properly ventilated and dried out. Some people are very sensitive to it, however, and hydrogen peroxide (3 percent) is recommended instead.
Replace all ventilation filters with high-grade HEPA filters. HEPA is an acronym for High Efficiency Particulate Air, and a HEPA filter traps tiny particles that otherwise would recirculate back into the air of your home. There are different categories of HEPA filters that can make the choices confusing, but look for True or Absolute HEPA filters, which are rated to remove at least 99.97 percent of airborne particles that are 0.3 microns (µm) in diameter. Inform yourself about these materials by chatting with the more experienced employees at your hardware or big-box stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s. Many of these people are former contractors with great information to share with an interested quick-study like you.
To reclaim fabrics or furnishings that are not colorfast, use borax and baking soda in hot water, following the package directions for amounts. Soak large furnishings like carpets, drapes, or furnishing fabrics with the borax and soda solution, then use a carpet cleaner or vacuum on them, and let the material dry by hanging them outside in the sun, or with fans and dehumidifiers left on for hours.
Launder linens and clothing with that same soda and borax mix, using less laundry soap than usual. Use about a cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle for clothes and bedding. Finish up by spending overnights or full days out of the home, leaving an ozone generator on to sterilize the fabrics, carpets, and material surfaces. Return and air out the rooms before living in them again, because ozone can irritate your lungs if it is too concentrated.
How to Recover from Mold Injury and Strengthen the Immune System
The following amounts are for an average adult weighing 175 pounds. Children, pets, or smaller people should take proportionally less. Consult with a natural healthcare provider if you have unique concerns or doubts.
- SuperSulfur: Take 1 rounded teaspoon in 1 glass of filtered water twice a day (for every 100 lbs of body weight).
- Lugol’s Iodine: Take 2 drops in water or juice twice a day.
- Buffered Vitamin C: Take ¾ teaspoon in water 2 or 3 times a day.
- Modifilan: Take 2 capsules with a major meal, 2 or 3 times a day.
Use cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, and lemon juice or zest from the peel, frequently in meals where taste permits.
A good blood cleanser is half a lemon squeezed into the 4 or 5 glasses of water that most adults should drink, and it tastes good, too.
Mix 3 parts of organic honey (warmed but not heated) with 1 part powdered, organic cinnamon. Take 1 teaspoon of this and swish it around in your mouth to mix it with saliva. Swallow this before every major meal. These spices help the digestion and support the immune system in fighting mold and fungal infections, specifically Candida.
It also helps to avoid or minimize the intake of sugars, starches, synthetic sweeteners, and refined flour, because these foods just welcome the molds into the body. Eat well and enjoy balanced meals of whole foods, and your body will show its appreciation by feeling better.
Antibiotics might help with initial relief if severe chronic infections of the lungs or sinuses have been occurring. However, they rarely get rid of them completely. Have your doctors prescribe specific antibiotics based on your test results. Avoid the common ones that might be in your medicine cabinet, because urban bacteria have probably trained up way beyond those. Antibiotic overuse or misuse will harm your resistance to molds.
Systemic antifungals like Diflucan can sometimes resolve the chronic fungal infections, usually for a time or two, anyway. But no medicine, be it natural or synthetic, will take the place of cleaning up your living space and restoring clean air, water, and food for a necessary period of time that allows a body to heal and recover. No one else is going to do that cleanup of your room, house, or body for you.
Complete your recovery from the hurricane disaster by cleansing your living space and the bodies of those who matter to you of all dangerous molds and fungi. This needs to happen as soon as possible, so share this information with friends and relatives who ought to have it. When you finish, give yourself a round of applause for getting through a dangerous environmental hazard and learning how to protect your family from other tough times that might come your way.