I started in the mold business about six years ago in the St. Louis, MO area to expand our business while construction was slow. As a general contractor, I dealt with mold on a limited basis. Spray some bleach on moldy wood and you’re done. I was also curious about mold. My business partner and her family where experiencing a wide range of health problems. Was mold responsible?
I took a course through the South Eastern Mold Institute — a learn-by-mail couse. (Be careful here. Some courses are not approved by all states.) Before I started examing other peoples homes I started with my partner’s home. I took samples and sent them to a series of labs to get anylized. The results where less than satisfying. My partner had been urging me to get a microscope to really see the mold. I soon found out you can’t really be a mold inspector without a microsope. I put everything that even looked remotely unusual under the microscope.
Anything sticking to a fan — mold.
Slight discolerations of wood — mold.
What I had always been told was harmless lint or dust turned out to be very dangerous species of mold. As a mold inspector, to truly understand what you are dealing with, you need a microscope.
Mold comes in two varieties — a plant with roots, stems, branches and endless amounts of seeds or an animal called slime mold. Slime mold are increadibly small creatures that live in a tightly compacted colony. At least one species feeds on fiberglass insulation, which is how I found them in an attic in Omaha — the yellow insulation was almost gone.
The plant side of mold is your bread and butter, and you must understand one very important point. Mold can kill you. Mold spores get deep into your lungs and cause inflamation. Your cell walls can rupture, and you start bleeding into your lungs. I have had this condition twice.
To help prevent dangerous molds from harming you, use a respirator with a carbon filter. Humans breath in oxygen and breath out carbon. Molds breath in oxygen and exhale a long list of dangerous toxins. The carbon filter absorbs the toxins before they get to your lungs.
I once had a petri dish full of a mold that was in its early stages of growth. I took off the lid to look at the mold and marched off to my microscope . While I was walking, I noticed the mold was giving off this very pleasant odor. As I was thinking that I could use this mold as an air freshener, I was hit with an incredible headache. It felt like six red hot drill bits slowly boring into my temples. I cannot ever remember being in so much pain, and as a result, I’ve never removed a petri dish lid without my respirator on since. When doing mold inspections, I recommend a full face respirator. Mold can even grow in your eyes so it’s best to cover up entirely when looking for mold.
Now let me tell you a little bit about your customers. Most of have been to many doctors with no results. Some have even been sent to a psychiatrist because the doctors could not determine their problem. They’re often desperate and very confused. Molds toxins can attack the nervous system very much like a virus so many of the symptoms are the same — mood swings, inability to problem solve, headaches, suppression of your immune system so you’re always sick. This is particularly dangerous in children.
Do not be surprised if they treat you with hostility. These are some very sick people and nobody seems to know what’s wrong with them. In time when you keep hearing the same complaints over and over again you will know what’s wrong with them. It’s the mold.
Just remember — when it comes to mold, you are dealing with peoples lives so be very thorough and kill ‘em all!