If you are struggling with a chronic illness, then toxic mold could be a contributing factor. Many times, it’s hiding in plain site, and we have no idea the damage it’s causing.
I have recently been slapped in the face with a toxic mold score that was “off the charts” on the ERMI test even after having my house test clear just a couple of years ago.
Mold needs three things to grow: MOISTURE, WARMTH, and FOOD, and all three conditions are necessary for it to grow.
The three most likely places for mold to grow are in a bathroom, basement or kitchen, but it can grow in other rooms if conditions are favorable.
The climate where you live and the living habits in your household can affect the ability of mold to grow and reproduce.
Anywhere there is moisture and high humidity there is the potential for mold.
Some common areas that mold is found are areas affected by a leak like around pipes, or walls, or areas around house plants, especially ones that sometimes are over-watered.
Mold can grow in just 48 hours when you combine a moist environment with room-temperature conditions and an organic food source.
What Does Mold Like?
Temps between 40 and 100 degrees
Humidity above 50%
How Can You Determine If You Have A Toxic Mold Problem?
Follow your Nose
Many times you can smell a mildewy smell that can indicate the presence of toxic mold. Examples would be a musty basement or bathroom.
Follow the Water
Anytime there has been a water leak there is a high probability that mold is present. Many times, water leaks are behind walls or under tile in a bathroom and are not discovered for years. Look for any discoloration on ceilings and walls.
Follow the Slope
Walk around the outside of your house and observe the slope of your property. Does it slope toward your house or away from it? This has been my downfall. My backyard slopes toward my house.
It doesn’t look very severe in the photo, and it’s not. However, it’s enough to drive water up against the house when it rains.
I even had someone come address this issue with regrading and french drains, but they didn’t solve my problem. So, if we get a really hard and fast rain in a short amount of time, my basement will flood. This has happened a couple of times.
Each time I cleaned up the water quickly and dried out the area. I even have a dehumidifier in order to keep the humidity below 50%, but I STILL had “off the charts” mold.
Do An ERMI or Three
It’s fantastic if you can smell it or see it; however, it’s the mold that’s not visible that’s the most dangerous. I have NO VISIBLE mold, and I was still “off the charts” in my basement. Can you tell that I’m still in shock??
If you want to know without a doubt if your living environment has toxic mold, then the ERMI is “hands down” the best method to determine this. Some outdated methods for mold testing include a quick air test, swab, or culture to locate the problem.
These are spot checks that do not give a comprehensive picture. These could be good if you wanted to test a very specific area such as around a drip pan of an air handler to see if anything grows.
The cold, hard truth is that toxic mold could be ANYWHERE in your house… behind any wall, on any level, around any window. It would be impossible to take samples from every square inch of your home.
What is an ERMI?
“ERMI is the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index. Based of leading scientific technology, Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (MSQPCR), the ERMI has brought to light the darkness of indoor mold testing.
ERMI is an objective, standardized DNA based method of testing that will identify and quantify molds.
ERMI uses the analysis of settled dust in homes and buildings to determine the concentrations of the DNA of the different species of molds.
Thirty-six species were divided into 26 species/clusters of molds associated with WDB, water damaged buildings, (Group 1) and 10 common species/clusters not associated with WDB.”
You can choose to collect the dust using a cloth or using your vaccuum. In addition to the ERMI, they also have the HERTSMI which looks at the top 5 most deadly types of mold.
It’s less than half of the price of the ERMI, but you get a lot more information (36 species as compared to 5) with the ERMI.
The HERTSMI comes in handy if you’re wanting to test a home that you are considering buying for the most toxic types of mold. I think I’m going to stick with the ERMI, though.
I chose to collect the dust with a cloth, provided in the test kit. I bought 2 kits. One for my basement and one for my main level. I decided not to test my 2nd level.
However, I have now ordered a kit to test the upper level as well, since my numbers were so high for my basement and main level.
The turn around time after Mycometrics receives your sample is 7-10 days and they send the report via email. Mine ended up in my junk folder, and it took about a month for me to remember that I hadn’t received my results.
I found that calling the company with questions is easy and a call back happens promptly.
I asked for someone to call me back to help me interpret the results, and I got a call back within the hour from the founder of the company, King-Teh Lin, PhD.
It helped to understand the mold index in context of the percentile.
For example, 36.82 really didn’t mean that much to me, but when I learned that the highest scores they usually see fall around 20, I realized just how “off the charts” my results were.
My main level fell within the 75th percentile which wasn’t much better.
If you are struggling with any type of chronic illness, then you need to determine if you have toxic mold. This information could be the missing puzzle piece to your healing journey.
Sometimes, you can see and smell mold. However, most of the time toxic mold is hidden behind walls, behind tiles, in attics and basements.
If you have water, warmth, and a food source, then you could definitely have mold.
Air samples, swabs, and cultures only spot check for mold. The most comprehensive mold test is the ERMI by Mycometrics Labs.
The ERMI uses DNA analysis of dust samples in order to determine the concentrations of mold in your environment.
It’s taken about 24 hours for the reality of my ERMI score the sink in. I am now in the process of figuring out what to do next.
So, stay tuned! I’ll report back whenever I get that figured out! If you’ve discovered a mold problem you may want to check out my post on mold remediation.
Have you discovered mold in your home? What did you do about it?