Mold Remediation: How to Identify and Remove Mold from Your Home

Mold Remediation

Mold exposure is an all-too-common problem that can cause serious health complications for your entire household. Unfortunately, it’s also a difficult and potentially expensive problem to solve.

Mold is composed of small spores that can grow into fuzzy patches of fungus if left unchecked in high-moisture environments. Mold thrives in warm, moist environments on organic matter like wood, paper, and even sheetrock. 

Unfortunately, some molds produce biotoxins that can seriously affect your health and that of your family. Mold illness also isn’t as recognized as it should be within the medical community. Consequently, it’s likely that mold illness affects far more people than can be accurately estimated. 

Consider if you’ve ever been exposed to mold. If not in your home, then perhaps in a school building, your car, your holiday cabin, your church, someone’s home that you visit frequently, or at your workplace. Maybe mold spores and mycotoxins still exist on the clothing or furniture that you moved to your new home from a previous residence that was infected by. As prevalent as mold growth is, especially in older or water-damaged buildings, it’s very possible that many of us have experienced sustained mold exposure at one point or another. However, not everyone is susceptible to the chronic inflammatory responses from which genetically predisposed individuals often suffer.

The symptoms of mold exposure vary widely from person to person, but may include fatigue, headaches, weakness, digestive issues, nerve and joint pain, anxiety, sleep disturbances, shortness of breath, and autoimmune problems, among others (1). Unfortunately, mold illness may often be one of the last considerations when a physician is presented with such seemingly disparate symptoms in a patient.

Of course, mold prevention is the best way to avoid mold illnesses. Mold comprises microscopic spores and as a result it can be difficult to completely remove. However, if there is mold in your home, removal is your best option unless you decide to move out.

“In order to reverse and prevent some of the deleterious effects of mold exposure, a complete mold remediation, or removal, should be performed in your home.”

In this article, you will learn what mold remediation is, what tests you need to identify mold growth in your home, how to hire a good mold inspector, and how to remove mold from your home.

What is mold remediation?

Mold remediation is the process of identifying and removing mold from your home. This process should be thorough and comprehensive.

“One of the most important steps in recovering from mold-related health issues is removing the mold so you’re no longer exposed to it.”

Mold remediation includes conducting some home testing to assess the extent of mold growth, followed by hiring a mold inspector. Mold is then removed from your home and the contents are all cleaned. 

Not only should you remove the mold, you should also seek to fix the problems that initially caused the mold growth in your home, such as excessive humidity, ventilation problems, or leaks. This process can be expensive but the only other viable alternative to mold remediation, especially if the mold is affecting you or your family’s health, is to move to a new house.

What’s the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) test?

This test is an easy way to measure the extent of mold growth in your home. It involves collecting carpet dust, which serves as a reservoir for mold spores, for a specified amount of time before sending it to a lab for testing. You can perform the collection yourself using an ERMI testing kit.

Within the dust sample, the ERMI test is able to detect 36 different types of mold. ERMI scores range from – 10 to +20, with 20 being the highest mold level. However, some extreme cases of mold contamination may have ERMI scores that are higher than 20 (2). A shortened form of the ERMI is called the HERTSMI-2 test, which measures only five species of what are considered the most pathogenic mold species to humans. These are Aspergillus versicolor, Aspergillus penicilloides, Chaetomium globosum, Stachybotyrs chartarum, and Wallemia sebi. A different score system is used to evaluate these five mold species but generally a score greater than 10 is considered problematic for many individuals.  

The presence of some mold in a home is to be expected, but the ERMI test helps you to determine if there are unhealthy molds present in your residence, even if they’re not visible to the naked eye.

This can offer a great starting point for you and help you to determine if you need to move on to the next step of mold remediation, which is hiring a mold inspector.

Hiring a mold inspector

A mold inspector will provide some additional insights into the causes and sources of mold growth in your home. 

A mold inspection will involve not only air quality tests, considered to be the gold standard of mold assessment but fraught with caveats, and most certainly an ERMI test if you haven’t completed one already. The process also involves a thorough inspection of the different surfaces or areas in your home where mold could be growing or where mold spores may collect.

A mold inspector will also look for signs of past and present water damage, which is a significant risk factor for mold growth. Mold requires moisture in order to propagate. Mold lives on drywall, paper, cloth, carboard, food compost, wood, and carpet. In Calgary where I live there has been massive flooding in the past, leading to many homes and offices becoming mold contaminated, in spite of remediation attempts. 

A good inspector can identify not only active mold growth, but also areas in your home that are susceptible to mold or conditions that are likely to promote mold growth. They may be able to provide recommendations regarding how to prevent further mold growth by conducting some home repairs, improving ventilation, and sealing up areas where moisture may be able to enter.

According to the Professionals Panel of Surviving Mold, inspection involves two key steps (3). An exterior inspection should be carried out from a distance and at at close range, examining the roof, gutters, seals around windows and doors, the foundation, and areas where water may be likely to pool. An interior inspection will involve the use of several specialized tools to measure moisture and humidity levels and to count the particles in the air. Close attention will be paid to walls, crawlspaces, areas around plumbing fixtures, and carpeting, looking for actual water damage and/or evidence of condensation on wooden window and door frames.

Mold does not proliferate as greatly in drier air. Within the home, it’s important to keep humidity below 50% and a dehumidifier may be needed in certain cases. Air conditioning units, heat furnaces, and air vents can house mold spores and mycotoxins. Regular maintenance, cleaning of vents, and use of HEPA filtration is crucial to maintain safe air quality. 

You should hire a trained and certified mold inspector with the experience and tools necessary to perform a comprehensive inspection of your home. A good mold inspector will take their time, inspecting everything methodically from inside the attic all the way down to the basement. Amongst other issues they will look for water staining on structural beams, the condition of fiberglass insulation, water staining around celling pot light fixtures, roof leaks, and buckled base boards. The inspector will uncover the toilet water tank looking for mold growth, examine the front-end seal on washing machines, pull out your dishwasher and washing machine looking for water leakage, and inspect your showers and bathrooms. They should come equipped with an infrared camera or a device to measure moisture ithat’s present in drywall. If someone comes to your house, looks around for a few minutes, and sets up a five-minute air sampling device, this is not the person you need! 

Removing mold from your home

The final step of mold remediation is the remediation, or removal, itself. This a multi-step process that in most cases will require hiring a professional mold remediation team. You may or may not be advised to move out of the home temporarily while the process is ongoing.

Removing mold from structures in your home

Unfortunately, according to the Professionals Panel of Surviving Mold, structures made from organic materials, including wood and drywall, will need to be completely replaced if they’re infested with mold or even if only a small amount of mold is present (3).

This can be quite costly and requires professional help, but is the only way to ensure that the remediation is complete. It’s also best to replace caulking and seals in areas that have experienced water damage to ensure that the mold is completely removed.

Water damaged carpeting should also be disposed of. In fact, carpeting in general is a poor choice for flooring because it serves as a reservoir for dust and inactive mold spores. If that carpet becomes wet then mold can rapidly grow out of control. If carpet becomes wet, it’s recommended that it’s replaced. If a home has been contaminated with mold but the carpet wasn’t wet, the carpet still has to be extensively HEPA filtered and cleaned appropriately with Benefect Decon-30 Disinfectant.

Flexible ductwork and air filters should be completely torn out and replaced too since these are difficult to clean completely. Inadequate cleaning can lead to the reintroduction of mold into the ventilation system of your home (3).

For the structures that don’t need to be replaced, Greg Weatherman, Certified Microbial Consultant (CMC), recommends the following steps regarding cleaning (4).

  • Vacuum using a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) rated vacuum, not a ‘HEPA like’ vacuum cleaner. Regular vacuum cleaners will suck up the mold spores only to redeposit them back into the air. 
  • Vacuum the carpet in multiple directions.
  • Empty the vacuum cleaner outside. If using a bagless vacuum clear, you should be wearing a N-95 mask and clean the inside of the vacuum cleaner with Benefect or a similar compound.  
  • Wipe down vacuum cleaner with a residue-free cleaning agent using a damp cloth.
  • Clean porous materials and surfaces that have visible mold growth with a hydrogen peroxide or 5:1 water to vodka mix. Some people find Benefact, which contains botanical essential oils, mainly thyme, to be useful. Nonporous surfaces will only require additional cleaning if they are caked with residue.
  • Vacuum once more using a HEPA vacuum.

Multiple attempts at vacuuming may be necessary before the full benefit is realized.

Depending on the extent of the mold contamination, the cleaning crew may need to take additional steps.

  • Contain and seal the relevant area with plastic containment material. 
  • The HVAC system must be isolated from the rest of the building. Taping may be necessary to seal room leaks around windows or other openings. 
  • In order to allow technicians to clean equipment and change protective gear when going in and out of the work area, an anteroom should be established to serve as an entryway. 
  • The room requiring remediation needs to be at a lower pressure than the surrounding area. 
  • A negative pressure HEPA filtration extraction unit must be used. 
  • Personnel involved in the cleanup must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) up to and including respirators and protective suits (3)

After cleaning, porous surfaces such as wood should be sealed with antifungal paint.

Removing mold from your household items

Next, you’ll need to remove mold from your personal items and belongings. As a general rule of thumb in cases of mold contamination, you should throw away anything porous that you’re comfortable getting rid of.

However, there are steps you can take to clean items that you wish to keep. As with the structures in your home, the first step is to vacuum your belongings with a HEPA vacuum (4).

Inorganic, nonporous surfaces and items such as plastics and metals can be thoroughly wiped down with a residue-free cleaner. Porous materials with visible mold growth should be cleaned with a hydrogen peroxide cleaner, Benefect, or the vodka 5:1 mixture. Using a wet and then a dry cloth method is recommended. 

  • Use disposable wipes to clean the surface twice.
  • Follow up with a dry cloth to remove any moisture.
  • Throw the wipes away without cross-contaminating your clothes or other surfaces.
  • Clean the dry cloth with hot water and borax.

After cleaning, your items should be vacuumed once more with a HEPA vacuum (4).

Items generally considered safe to keep and clean include:

  • Jewelry
  • Cutlery
  • Dishware
  • Pottery
  • Statues
  • Hi-Fi equipment and electronics
  • Artwork, although this still needs to be wiped down and cleaned 

According to Larry Schwartz, council-certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC), certain household items may require special attention or consideration. Here’s some additional guidance for household items that you may not feel comfortable disposing of (5).

  • Papers and documents: Scan them electronically and place them in long-term storage.
  • Books: Wipe down the cover with mild borax soap and water. HEPA vacuum the outside and edges of the book.
  • Upholstered furniture: Vacuum with a HEPA vacuum and wipe down with borax, vodka mixture, or Benefact.
  • Mattresses: Vacuum with a HEPA vacuum although you should strongly consider replacing your mattress as it can collect moisture, dust particles, and mold spores.
  • Bedding: Wash in laundry borax and detergent or have bedding professionally cleaned. 
  • Electronics: Disconnect the wiring and clean the cables and the exterior of the electronics or have them professionally cleaned. Computers may blow mold spores around when the fan starts up when turned on.
  • Clothing: Wash in laundry borax (sodium borax) and detergent. Borax is a natural anti-mold and antibacterial solution. One recipe is to soak your clothing for half an hour in one cup of borax to one gallon (approximately four litres) of water before washing. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling borax. 
  • Shoes: Depending on their material, they can be wiped down with borax soap and water. You may also HEPA vacuum them.
  • Indoor plants: These should be disposed of since they retain mildew and mold spores.
  • Antique rugs: Rugs are a frequent source of mold spores and are difficult to clean.
  • Toys: Stuffed childen’s toys and animal toys should be disposed of. Plastic toys can be cleaned with the recommended solutions. 
  • Washers and dryers: If you have a front-end loader washing machine, check the inner seal for mold contamination and wipe down with borax.
  • Portable air conditioners or purifiers: New filters must be used when transporting these items from a moldy environment to another area. 
  • Food: Be sure to get rid of open food packets, jars of rice, and other grains, flours, or spices.
  • Animals: Pets may need to be boarded elsewhere while your home is undergoing remediation and then thoroughly washed before being reintroduced back into the home.

If you are unsure regarding what to do, place your questionable items in a sealed container and remove this from the area you’re attempting to remediate. Be sure to use an N-95 mask and even consider purchasing a hazmat suit when working with contaminated materials.  

Although a professional remediator will need to handle the structures in your home, you can clean most of your household items yourself. This will save you some money by decreasing the workload of the remediation team (5).

Fogging for mold

The final step in remediation is fogging.

“HEPA vacuums are powerful, but they are unable to filter certain particles that are too small or light.“

This can include mold spores (3). However, fogging or misting the home with an air purifying solution, once all other remediation steps are complete, can help ensure that even these smaller particles are disposed of.

There is a certain protocol that should be followed to ensure that fogging is as effective as possible, so it should be handled by a remediation professional.

Prevention and maintenance

After remediation, you should take steps to prevent further mold contamination by performing routine maintenance on your home and taking action to fix water leaks, ventilation problems, or changes in humidity.

Mold is a very common contaminant of water-damaged or damp buildings but it has been estimated that there are over thirty other contaminants that can be found alongside mold. These include, but are not limited to, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), gram negative and positive bacteria cell wall components, glucans, mannans, hyphal fragments, inorganic xenobiotics, antinomycetes, mycoplasma, and chlamydia fragments. 

You may want to invest in HEPA filters for your home, which can help cut down on dust and mold spores settling on surfaces such as carpets and upholstery. It’s important to use HEPA filters that filter down to 0.1 microns. Most commercial HEPA filters only filter to 0.3 microns and will not be adequate for removing mold spores or mycotoxins. The Blueair Sense HEPA filter, the IQ Air purifier, and the Austin Air purifier are three recommended brands.  

If your home is humid, you should also use dehumidifiers to remove some of the moisture from the air, which will discourage mold growth.

Post-remediation, you may also choose to do follow-up EMRI testing or have a follow-up mold inspection to ensure that the remediation was successful.

Mold illness can be daunting, especially since treatment requires not only medical care but also a potential remediation of your home. As a Shoemaker protocol certified physician, I’m uniquely positioned to help you manage and treat your mold illness. My team can also help point you in the right direction to start the mold remediation process. Contact us today.

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References

  1. Hope, J. A review of the mechanism of injury and treatment approaches for illness resulting from exposure to water-damaged buildings, mold, and mycotoxins. The Scientific World Journal. 2013; 2013:767482. Published April 18, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/767482
  2. Kamal, A, Burke, J, Vesper, S, et al. Applicability of the environmental relative moldiness index for quantification of residential mold contamination in an air pollution health effects study. J Environ Public Health. 2014; 2014:261357. doi:10.1155/2014/261357
  3. Schwartz, L, Weatherman, G, Schrantz, M, et al. Indoor Environmental Professionals Panel of Surviving Mold Consensus Statement: Medically sound investigation and remediation of water-damaged buildings in cases of CIRS-WDB. SurvivingMold.com
  4. Weatherman G. A condensed remediation plan for small microbial particles. AerobioLogical Solutions Inc. Published January 2013.
  5. Schwartz, L. Suggested protocol for preparation of home prior to fogging or ventilation treatments of the air. SafeStart Environmental.

Household Toxins: What They Are and How to Fight Back

Household Toxins: What They Are and How to Fight Back

One of the most challenging issues facing practitioners who treat patients with chronic multisymptom illnesses is identifying the exact triggers. These triggers could include food, infections, pathologies, genetics, nutrition, hormonal deficiencies, chemicals, heavy metals, stress, head injuries, and many other unknowns. When segments of these triggers are focused on and related to their environmental causes, the literature can get very specific; however, in real-life situations, it is often very difficult to clinically separate one factor from another. The question then remains: how can we best identify and isolate the core issues without breaking the bank in test costs?

The reality is that for far too long we’ve ignored the impact of environmental toxins on our health. This is because conventional medicine has largely viewed the body as separate from the world around us, and this is working to our detriment. Our modern world today is oversaturated with environmental toxins which are infiltrating our bodies at unprecedented rates. These at-home and/or occupational exposures may sometimes be acute (high levels of toxicity) or chronic (low-level and continuous). The number of toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis is in the tens of thousands. Simply put, we cannot deny their effects on our health any longer.

The Sources of Toxins

If this is the first time you’re hearing about the scope of environmental toxins present in our everyday lives and their impact on our health, the sheer number of them may surprise you.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Pesticides present in our food
  • Off-gas chemicals from new furniture or mattresses
  • Chemicals currently permitted in cosmetics and personal care products
  • Air contaminants
  • Hormones, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals present in our public water supply
  • Hidden mold growths which release mycotoxins
  • Aluminum and nonstick cookware which release heavy metals into your food
  • Chemicals from printers and electronics
  • Gas and supplementary toxins from stoves and heaters
  • Toxic household cleaning products
  • Dust mites
  • Airborne viruses and bacteria
  • Pet dander
  • Cigarette smoke

Each item on this list has startling facts to back them. To name one particularly shocking one, an Environmental Watch Group (EWG) report co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found 20 different pesticides on a single batch of strawberries. In another environmental working group study, 200 common everyday chemicals out of 287 examined were found in the umbilical cord blood of newborns. These everyday toxins included pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage with 180 of these chemicals being known carcinogens.

The bottom line is that the sheer number of highly-toxic chemicals and biotoxins present in every aspect of life is a cause of serious concern. Yet, with there being so many different types of toxins and routes of exposure, this fact can be overwhelming. I can assure you, however, that by taking the time to learn more and make the appropriate lifestyle changes, you can significantly reduce the effects of environmental toxins in your life over time. The first step, however, is understanding this toxic burden as a cumulative effect with compounding consequences.

Which Toxins Make Us Sick?

Sadly, the toxins and chemicals that are released as part of our manufactured goods have practically no oversight. Sometimes it takes medical researchers years and even decades to fully realize the impact. These are most present today in personal care products, flame retardants on sofas, mattresses and carpets, and also pesticides in our foods (which are found in rates as high as 70% in conventionally grown food).

The net sum of toxins in our everyday environment, still largely unknown to us, have been linked to:

  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Developmental defects
  • Brain disorders
  • Obesity
  • Endocrine related disorders
  • Fertility issues
  • Fibroid tumors
  • Endometriosis
  • Cancer
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Autoimmune disease

Since we can’t count on the government to keep us safe from these toxins, it’s up to us to learn take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves.

So, what are the most damaging chemicals and toxins that persist in our day-to-day lives? Here are the most commons ones I have encountered in my long career practicing medicine.

Bisphenol A (BPA)  

BPA is an endocrine disruptor which mimics estrogen in the body. BPA is found in hardened plastic products, can linings, dental sealants and feminine care products. BPA is present in over half of all canned products, levels tested at levels high enough to cause birth defects. The highest levels were found to be present in chicken soup, ravioli and infant formulas. For those infants who are exposed, studies have found them to have weaker liver detoxification enzymes, particularly glucuronidation, leading to 11-fold more BPA’s in newborns and 5 fold more BPA’s in 3-6 month olds than adults.

BPA has also been associated with numerous health conditions including infertility in men and women, developmental disorders, increase risk of cancer, depression, aggression, diabetes, and obesity in children. There is also a tenuous link between BPA and polycystic ovary syndrome, premature delivery, asthma, and poor function of the liver, thyroid, and brain.

“Fragrances” & Phthalates

The term “fragrance” is used as a catch-all label for thousands of different kinds of chemicals, many of which are harmful to our health. Some of the worst chemicals that hide under the name fragrance are phthalates which have been associated with hormonal defects and  dysfunction. EWG found fragrance to be the hidden name for phthalates in 75% of 72 products sampled. Phthalates are thus the most common groups of toxins found in our daily lives due to their widespread use. They can be found in cosmetics, perfumes, cleaning products, plastic, baby products (even teething rings and sippy cups), printing inks, paper coatings, and more.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)

PFOA is found in Teflon coated pans, Gore-Tex, stain resistant carpet, and furniture. The toxin builds up in the body and is responsible for altering hormonal processes causing infertility, cancer, and developmental issues.

Vinyl chloride

Found in furniture, household products, and interior car furnishings, vinyl chloride has been associated with liver damage, headaches, degenerative bone conditions, and enlargement of the spleen.

Benzene  

A byproduct of the combustion of crude oils, benzene is utilized in gasoline to prevent engine knocking and as a solvent in the rubber and surface coating industries.

Benzene and its by-products such as phenol, toluene and MTBE are common off-gases from furniture, carpets, and drapes. They have been associated with cancer, birth defects and immune abnormalities. The danger with these chemicals is that they bind to tissues and initiate an antibody immune reaction to the chemical attached to tissue protein, resulting in an autoimmune response.

When first exposed chronically to low-level industrial exposures of these toxins, subtle visual changes are often the first sign. Gas station workers, for example, have some of the highest levels for tragically obvious reasons. Eye irritation, burning of the nose and throat, headaches, skin rashes and memory defects are the earliest symptoms.

Pyrethroids

Found in bug sprays, pyrethroids have been linked to ADHD, autism, and premature death.

Xylenes

Found in pesticides, insect repellents, cleaners, and paints, xylene has been associated with severe oxidative stress, nausea, vomiting, and depression.

Styrene

Present in building materials, plastics, and food packaging, styrene has been associated with dysfunction of the central nervous system, muscle weakness, and irritation of mucous membranes.

Organophosphates

A very common toxin commonly found in insecticides and lice shampoo, organophosphates have been associated with abnormal behavior, aggression, depression, autism, developmental disorders, and shortened pregnancy.

2, 4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic (2,4-D)

GMO Foods such as soybeans and corn often include 2,4-D. 2,4-D is a known endocrine disruptor which means it impacts the hormones in your body and knocks them off balance.

Silicone

Although not ubiquitous, silicone is used in rhinoplasty procedures, calf enhancement for body builders and, of course, breast augmentation. Silicone has been associated with many autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid factor, antinuclear antibodies, and antibodies against brain tissue (specifically myelin) as well as specific symptoms involving the central and peripheral nervous systems. Immunosuppression induced from silicone may also make the patient especially vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections.  

These descriptions cover just a handful of the chemicals present in our everyday lives. Other common chemicals of concern are listed below and I encourage you to read further into each of these toxins to learn how they affect your health.

  • Industrial Solvents (defined as any liquid that can dissolve a substance)
  • Diphenyl phosphate
  • Methyl tertiary-butyl ether and Ethyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE and ETBE)
  • Lead
  • Methylmercury
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Arsenic
  • Toluene
  • Acrylamide
  • Fluoride
  • Perchlorate
  • Propylene oxide
  • 1,3 Butadiene
  • 1-Bromopropane
  • Ethylene oxide
  • Acrylonitrile

All of this is just the tip of the iceberg. The reality is that we come in contact with tens of thousands of chemicals on a daily basis.  There are three main areas where these toxins are propagated and harm us: in our air, our water, and our food. So let’s talk about those.

 


Toxins in Our Air

Most people don’t realize that the air in our homes is often more polluted than the air outside. This fact shocks my patients when they first hear about it, but is it really all that surprising?

Poor air quality in our homes and offices is often due to:

  • Faulty filtration systems
  • Poor air circulation
  • A lack of sunlight and fresh air
  • Toxic household cleaning products
  • Mold growth
  • Indoor appliances, such as gas stoves, that aren’t functioning properly

The effects of airborne toxins are always made exponentially worse in an environment with poor air circulation. You’re essentially trapping yourself in a cloud of your own allergens and toxins. Given that we now spend 90% of our time indoors creates the perfect storm for toxin to build up in our bodies via the air we breathe everyday.

 

Toxins in Our Water

It is a sad state affairs when we can no longer trust our tap water being safe, clean, and free of toxins. While the people of Flint, Michigan can definitely attest to this, as they have gone now four years without safe drinking water, there are concerns when it comes to our drinking water beyond just Flint.

Some may be shocked to find out these statistics about toxins in our water:

  • Pollution is by far one of our biggest killers worldwide. An average of 100 million people die each year due to pollution which makes it comparable to diseases like HIV and malaria.
  • 1 billion pounds of industrial chemicals are released into the ground every year.
  • 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used in Canada every year.
  • People who live in highly polluted places have a 20% higher risk of dying of cancer.
  • 40% of America’s lakes are too polluted for healthy ecosystems, fishing or swimming.
  • 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage and Industrial waste are dumped into the U.S. water system every year.

This way of living is simply unsustainable, not to mention that we are effectively leaving the future generations to poisoned conditions. If water is the starting point, then our current way of life has become rotten without us even realizing it.

 

Toxins in Our Food

Pesticides in our food have become a problem of epidemic proportions. The EWG reported in 2017 that most foods grown non-organically contain some sort of pesticide contamination. As I mentioned earlier in this article, one batch of strawberry on average has 20 different types of pesticides on it. Conventionally-grown spinach, for example was found to have twice as many pesticides as any other food!

The EWG has put together a list called The Dirty Dozen: the 12 most contaminated foods. Those include:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Bell peppers
  12. Potatoes

Glyphosate, also known as Roundup, has been found to be a major food contaminant. It was officially pronounced a carcinogen in 2015. Yet, because it is produced by the agricultural giant Monsanto, court cases that would permit warning labels and restriction for glyphosate are continuously lost to this mammoth corporation.

Other contaminants in your food which are not pesticides include mycotoxins from mold, found in anything being stored for a long period of time. This includes foods like coffee, corn, cocoa, and peanuts. For the most part, the mycotoxins present in food do not cause most people trouble unless their detoxification systems are disrupted due to genetic abnormalities or have certain sensitivities to such toxins.

 


How to Take the Right Precautions for Toxins

If you’re concerned about your toxic burden, the first step you should take is be tested for common household toxins with your physician. I would recommend the Great Plains Laboratory – Toxic Non-metal Chemical Profile which looks for environmental pollutants known to contribute to chronic disease. Toxin tests can tell you a great deal about your overall exposure and how it might be affecting your health.

13 Steps to Reduce Toxins in Your Home

  1. Eat organic: Eating organic food is one of the best ways to reduce your toxin exposure. The amount of pesticides that are found on conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are staggering. Conventionally farmed meat contain hormones, antibiotics, and sometimes are even disinfected with chlorine. Eating organic is the best way to prevent these pollutants and toxins from being present in your body and doing you irreparable harm.
  2. Use clean personal care products: You’d be wrong to expect that personal care products are regulated to keep harmful chemicals out of them. Many of the harmful chemicals such as arsenic, lead, mercury, are permitted under the label “contaminant.” This also means manufacturers are not responsible for them making you sick. Avoid them at all costs.
  3. Use natural laundry detergent: Laundry detergent is packed with loads of unnecessary toxic chemicals. It’s truly perplexing why so many chemicals are used in laundry detergent when all that’s needed is a little baking soda and borax (sodium borate). The solution is to find alternatives to PERC drycleaners. Instead, utilize a dry cleaner using CO2 based techniques instead of PERC or silicon-based dry cleaners.
  4. Get rid of all plastics, especially BPA-containing plastics: this can be done be doing a few simple steps. Firstly, use glass water bottles whenever you can and always opt for glass when possible. Secondly, buy meats in wax paper or freezer wraps. Thirdly, store food in glass or pyrex. Fourth, when purchasing coffee bring your own mug. Fifth, do not accept ATM receipts. And lastly, and most importantly, rid yourself of all BPA-containing plastics which can easily be researched online. As a suggestion for newborns, born-free baby bottles are free of BPA. As an added suggestion, switching from packaged foods to fresh unpackaged foods lead to a reduction in urine concentration of 66% for BPA. If possible, trying to avoid plastics whenever possible is the best preventive measure.
  5. Purchase products with the MADE SAFE certification: MADE SAFE is a certification dedicated to finding products that are free of all toxins. Using MADE SAFE products will give you a better peace of mind when it comes to purchasing personal care products, household cleaning products, and more.
  6. Get rid of toxic cleaning products: This includes harsh cleaning chemicals, pesticide sprays, foggers, and any aerosol cans. If you aren’t going to get rid of any of these, at least remove them from within the house.
  7. Carefully select non-toxic furniture and mattresses: Furniture and mattresses are a major source of toxins. Fortunately, many companies are now going through certain procedures to earn non-toxic certifications. It is definitely worth it to invest a little more into where you sleep and spend many hours each night to ensure it is free of toxins and safe for yourself and your family.
  8. Avoid stain resistant materials: Stain resistant materials contain toxic chemical coatings and are found on furniture, clothing, and carpet.
  9. Only use organic landscaping practices: Every time a pet goes out into your front lawn or children plays in the grass, they come in contact with whatever chemicals are being used to care for your lawn. Use organic landscaping practices whenever possible to reduce the number of pesticides being tracked into your house.
  10. Look for non-toxic pest control solutions: Pest control products, like ant killer and insect foggers, are some of the most toxic household products we come in contact with. Avoid relying on these whenever possible and I encourage you to find non-toxic solutions.
  11. Don’t take unnecessary medications: This includes purchasing over the counter medications in large quantities. Studies have shown that we dump expired medications at unprecedented rates which end up in our groundwater and drinking water. Additionally, unnecessary medications also add to your overall toxic burden and should be avoided.
  12. Avoid conventional women’s care products: Dioxins and furans are used in the chemical bleaching processes in most female care products like pads and tampons. The vaginal wall is highly absorbent and should not come in contact with such chemicals.
  13. Don’t use aluminum or nonstick cookware: The safest cookware you can use are high-quality ceramic and medical grade stainless steel pots and pans. These high-end pieces might be a little more expensive, but they usually last a lifetime. Cast iron pots are okay if you do not have high levels of iron or ferritin on your blood work.

 


 

The Four Best Ways to Detox

It’s not enough to simply avoid toxins. You also must also take the necessary measures to promote detoxification throughout the body. The detox process should generally focus on your liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal system, lymphatic system, skin, and lungs. The best way you can help your body detox is to make sure these six organs are functioning well.

Here are my recommendations for four detoxification techniques you can practice to clean yourself of the damage that’s already been done:

  1. Exercise: This one should go without saying, but it must be mentioned. When it comes to detoxification through the pathways of your body, you need to get moving. Yes, this means exercising. Exercise supports better digestion, sweating, heavy breathing, and promotes blood flow and lymphatic flow – all factors that help remove toxins from the body.
  2. Saunas: Saunas, especially infrared saunas, are excellent for detoxification. Saunas promote intensive sweating and increased blood circulation, which reduces inflammation and enhances detoxification. Saunas have also been shown to promote detoxification of heavy metals through the skin.
  3. Detox Supplements: There are a number of supplements you can take to support the major detoxification pathways in your body. These include: Glycine, resveratrol, astaxanthin, quercetin, vitamin B, vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, milk thistle, and chlorella.
  4. Intake Glutathione: Glutathione is your master antioxidant and deserves its own place on this list. When you don’t have enough glutathione, your body is weaker in fighting inflammation caused by oxidative stress and cannot ensure proper detoxification. You can be sure you’re getting enough glutathione by taking it in supplement form.

By both reducing the number of toxins your body is exposed to on a daily basis and undergoing detoxification, you will begin to feel healthier and rejuvenated. Your perspective on life will also forever be changed.

Sadly, given current trends, the number of toxins we come across on a daily basis will only continue to grow. This means that it is up to you and the public at large to stay well-informed on which toxins threaten your health and work to reduce its impact – Your health depends on it.

 

 


 

 

How can we help?

Environmental toxins can be difficult to deal with. Dr. Hoffman and our clinic team are here to help and support you.

Your next step is to contact us, talk with our staff about your options and booking an appointment with Dr. Hoffman.

Contact The Hoffman Centre Today
 


Predicting plasma concentrations of BPA in Young Children. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2009

2 Food Packaging and Bisphenol A and Bis(2-Ethylhexyl) Phthalate Exposure. Rudel R et.al. Silent Spring Institute

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Website. (n.d.). Retrieved June 21, 2018, from www.ewg.org.