Quick. What do you see when you visualize mold? Do you visualize little green spores trapped in the fibers of your air purifier?
For many, the visual will more likely be green mossy stuff on the outdated bag of Wonder Bread in the cupboard. Or perhaps even creepier looking green stuff on the pipes below the sink in the basement bathroom.
But the least-imagined mold scene that comes to mind?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.
Literallyblowing in the wind. That’s because, surprisingly, airborne mold can be as prevalent outdoors as it is indoors. And people who are sensitive to molds can have asthma attacks triggered by outdoor mold just as easily as indoor mold. In fact, according to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, “while indoor molds are well-recognized allergens, outdoor molds are more generally important.” That’s not good news for asthma and allergy sufferers in many parts of the nation this year.
The elevated levels of outdoor mold this year are no surprise to those with asthma and allergies in the Midwest. Recent heavy rain storms and high temperatures have combined to produce mold alerts in many areas this week. That includes the greater Chicago region, where Dr. Joseph Leija, chief allergist at the Loyola University Health System’s Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, has issued a mold alert. That means more than 50,000 mold spores in a cubic meter of air. Allergy and asthma sufferers no doubt knew something was up.
Using his microscope, Dr. Leija identifies and counts every single allergen in a process that can take more than one hour. He then uses National Allergy Bureau-dictated algorithms to arrive at the official allergy count for the Midwest. “This is the highest mold count the Midwest has experienced this year,” Leija said this week.
In areas where flooding has occurred, the mold risk for those with respiratory conditions increases. “If those with sensitive breathing have homes or workplaces that have experienced flooding, I advise them to get out immediately to a clean, controlled environment or risk injury,” Leija said. “Flooding can easily cause indoor mold counts to be much higher – even to toxic breathing conditions,” he said. Which brings up an important point: Outdoor mold becomes indoor mold because outdoor air comes indoors. And when it finds an ongoing source of food – moisture – it grows!
Mold will continue to be a problem indoors whenever there is moisture for it to feed on. So the best bet for a homeowner with a mold problem is to call a remediation expert to identify the moisture source and eliminate the feeding ground for mold. Without a doubt, use of high-performance air purifier such as the IQAir HealthPro Plus can help too. Consumer site Airpurifiers.com recommends IQAir air purifiers as “the very best indoor air purifiers on the market today.” And, says the site, “We feel so strongly about the quality of these air purifiers that we rate them No. 1.”
HEPA air filtration systems can effectively remove mold spores from the air, notes Airpurifiers.com. Mold spores will die once they are captures by the air purifier, and they do not reproduce because there is no moisture for them to feed on. They advise choosing a high-quality air purifier that can reliably run 24/7 to clean the air. “Mold has to go!” says the site.
Earlier this year, IQAir was called in by the hit ABC TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” to provide high-performance air filtration for the Dickinson family in Beaufort, South Carolina. The previous Dickinson home was overrun by mold. And the family’s baby, one-year-old Sophia, was afflicted by severe allergies triggered by mold. “It was very scary at night,” says India Dickinson. “I would listen to Sophia breathe in her crib. As her mom, I was afraid to sleep myself. I was wondering if she would stop breathing in the middle of the night.” The IQAir Clean Air Team designed an air purification solution thatturned the new Dickinson home (completed in less than two weeks by the EMHE team!) into a haven where baby Sophia’s tiny lungs could breathe and grow, free from mold and any other toxins in the air now and in the future.
“Sometimes we don’t appreciate how great ‘normal’ is,” says India. “But Sophia is now a normal, thriving toddler ready to take on anything. It is obvious that our air purification system has made this tremendous difference in Sophia’s health. It has changed our lives and we will be forever grateful for this gift,” India says. “Clean air has not only changed our lives, it has possibly saved my baby’s life. How can you ever put into words how that feels?” she asks. “I no longer get up five times a night to put my hand on her chest and make sure she is breathing.” she adds. “IQAir is a blessing.”
It’s not only those with respiratory problems who are at risk in the current mold crisis afflicted the Midwest. Others at risk include the very young and the very old, and also professional contractors such as carpenters, handymen, carpet cleaners and others. In addition to using a high-performance air purifier, there are other steps you can take to fight mold inhalation. Dr. Leija’s air quality control tips: Run an air conditioner and a dehumidifier to combat indoor mold. If flooding occurs, remove all damaged materials as soon as possible. Plain water should be used to wash off floors, walls and soaked items, and then everything must be dried thoroughly. Lightly rinse your nostrils with a saline solution to rinse off trapped particles and spores.
Meanwhile, the 10-day forecast for Chicago includes only a couple of days of isolated thunderstorms, giving the region a chance to dry out. However, the first tropical storm of the season is headed for the East Texas coast.