EP 61: Top Mold and Mycotoxin Myths Exposed with Jason Earle

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Do you worry about mold and mycotoxin exposure? Well, it’s no wonder. The statistics are quite sobering. In fact, almost half of houses in the United States have significant levels of mold, and close to 90 percent of commercial and office buildings have water damage that may lead to mold. What’s more, up to 21 percent of asthma cases may be attributed to toxic mold. With all the risks, it’s inevitable that mold and mycotoxin myths abound.

In this episode, I talk about the top mold and mycotoxin myths with Jason Earle, a nationally recognized expert in mold, mold remediation, building science, and healthy homes. We tend to think of mold as the enemy, but it’s more nuanced than that. Mold when it’s outdoors is beneficial as it turns plant matter into dirt. It’s nature’s great recycler. However, when mold is indoors, it wreaks havoc on our buildings and our health.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How mold spores can be particularly harmful to those who are highly sensitive to them.
  • Why common mold tests on the market are not reliable.
  • How you can use your five senses to detect mold.
  • The questions you should ask mold remediation companies when you’re looking for a reputable mold remediation company.
  • The ultimate goal of mold remediation.
  • The #1 source of mycotoxin exposure; the answer may surprise you!

Listen to the podcast here:

Within the below transcript, the bolded text is Samantha Gilbert and the regular text is Jason Earle.

Top Mold and Mycotoxin Myths Exposed and Mold Exposure Symptoms to Beware of

Mold and mycotoxins are hot topics these days. After watching several of my clients get taken advantage of by so-called “mold experts,” I decided to dig deeper into my suspicions about the mold remediation industry. And as a result, I met today’s guest who has become my go-to expert for all things mold and understanding how remediation actually works. I really appreciate his honesty. He doesn’t hold back and will blow your mind with his vast knowledge and understanding. In fact, we ran out of time, so I decided to bring Jason back on the show for Part Two, which is airing in two weeks. We’re talking about what the real enemy is, what the best testing methods are, and what is junk science. Jason also shares how to find a qualified professional and what questions you should be asking if you are considering remediation. Jason Earle is a man on a mission. He is the founder and CEO of the mold inspection company: 1-800-GOT-MOLD and the creator of the GOT MOLD Test Kit.

The realization that his moldy childhood home was the underlying cause of his extreme allergies and asthma led him into the healthy home business in 2002, leaving behind a successful career on Wall Street. Over the past two decades, Jason has personally performed countless sick-building investigations, solving many medical mysteries along the way and helping thousands of families recover their health and peace of mind. He has been featured on/or appeared on Good Morning America, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, The Dr. Oz Show, Entrepreneur, Wired, and more. Thanks for being with us today. Here’s the first part of my conversation with Jason.

Mold Myths with Jason Earle

Welcome to the show, Jason. It’s such a pleasure to have you!

It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you, Samantha.

You know I’ve been eagerly awaiting the show because as you know, the topic of mold toxicity is often very confusing with lots of conflicting advice. So today, I’m excited to bust some myths with you to better help those that may be struggling with a mold issue. Before we dive in, I’d love to know what led you to become a mold expert.

Well, once again, thank you for having me; this is a genuine pleasure. I’ve listened to your show, and I’ve found some real gems in doing so.

Does Mold-Induced Asthma Go Away?

It’s a privilege to be here. My story of awareness around mold was largely accidental. And I think most of the people that I know that are doing great work in this space, come at it from a very personal experience. There’s no specific academic track for mold experts unless you want to be a mycologist, which is a whole different ball of wax. My interest really is not so much about mold per se, although I’m fascinated by it, and I know probably more than I should about it, but rather about how buildings impact our health; the buildings that we live in, work in, and spend 90% of our time. In contrast, everyone’s always worried about the outdoor environment, and we should. It’s clearly a priority, especially for future generations, but we must remember that we spend 90% of our time indoors.

So, the experience that brought me to where I am today began when I was about four years old when I suddenly lost a lot of weight in just three weeks. My parents brought me to the pediatrician who said that they should take me to the Children’s Hospital, which has a renowned respiratory clinic, as I was having a hard time breathing. Also, I lost 30% of my body weight in a very short period. The Children’s Hospital’s initial diagnosis based on family history, and the symptoms that I was presenting with, was cystic fibrosis, which was devastating for several reasons. Back then, it was a death sentence, but in addition, my father had seen four of his cousins perish before the age of 14 due to the disease as there’s a genetic predisposition in my family. Six weeks later, after my parents had cried for six weeks straight, while they were waiting for the second opinion, thankfully, and as evidenced by the fact that I stand here at 46 years old, the doctors concluded I did not have cystic fibrosis. Rather, I had asthma, which was compounded by pneumonia, which is when I got my first big dose of antibiotics, by the way. I was also allergic to every single thing they tested me for, so they put me in a papoose or a straight jacket for toddlers, which is one of my formative memories. And then the allergy specialist kind of drew a grid on my back, and to this day, I still kind of smell the scent of the examining room, which is quite interesting. Then they did this antigen test on my back and my dad in describing my back said that I looked like a ladybug, as I had a big red swollen back with dots all over it. The items I was allergic to were grass, wheat, corn, eggs, dogs, cats, cotton, and soybeans.

So being allergic to cotton, I was allergic to my clothes, my sheets, and things like that. It was a very itchy childhood. And I ended up spending a lot of time outdoors because of a lack of awareness and not really connecting the dots at that point. But I found that I just had more energy when I was outside. I also spent a lot of time with the animals as we had sort of a non-working farm. So, I was surrounded by all the allergens that were on my list. But my parents were really kind of like a tough love type of scenario. I lived on inhalers and my mom was a nurse. As long as I wasn’t bleeding from a major orifice, it wasn’t considered an emergency. My mom just figured I would suck it up – and that I would grow out of it. In fact, when I was 12, my folks split up and we moved out of that house, and all my symptoms went away. And no one said anything about it. In fact, I do recall them saying that they thought I had grown out of my asthma as my grandfather had when he was an adolescent. And I didn’t think about it again until fast forward, I became a stockbroker at a really young age. In fact, I did that for about nine years. Then, when I decided to do something meaningful with my life, after the.com bubble burst, I decided to go on a walkabout. And while I was in Hawaii, I was reading some local newspapers and some local magazines. There happened to be one particular story that was all over the news; it was everywhere.

And it was about the Hilton Kalia Tower, which is Hilton’s flagship property on Oahu. I happened to be there right when this was all happening. The building had been shut down for about six months at that point because of a mold problem, and this was something I’d never even heard of before. But what caught my attention was a story about a gentleman who worked there who claimed that the building had been making him sick. He claimed that it had caused him to develop adult-onset asthma, which was something that I’d never heard of before, as well as all these sensitivities to foods and other environmental exposures that he had never had a problem with before. And so it was like a deja vu moment like a light bulb just went on. I immediately thought, “Geez, I wonder if that was the issue with me as a kid?” So, I called my father from a payphone, which I’m sure isn’t there anymore. I asked him if he thought there was a mold problem in our old family home and he laughed at me and he said, “Of course there was. Mushrooms were growing in the basement. Why do you ask?”  That’s typical of my father; he’s very flippant about those things.

They smoked indoors and smoked in the car with an asthmatic kid, not because of a lack of love, but because of a lack of awareness. That is just how things were in the 70s and the 80s. We rode in the back of the pickup truck and there were no seatbelts. It was just the way things were. I remember that nobody wore helmets; it was very amazing that we all survived. But at that moment, it was kind of like an epiphany, if you will, that’s not an exaggeration or hyperbole. Because I immediately realized that this <mold remediation> is where my interest and where my heart was. Once again, it was not about the mold, but about the fact that buildings can make people sick. This was a completely foreign concept to me up until that moment. And then I thought, “Jeez, this is probably an epidemic.” I began doing research at the internet cafe because this was 2001/2002 after all, and I could barely get off that computer. But I just couldn’t find a lot of research; however, people were talking about mold remediation. As a result, I began following these people. Then I came back to New Jersey armed with curiosity, and I began (since I had time on my hands), looking for my next career. I began going to universities to talk to scientists and I began getting books, textbooks, and building science manuals to see what was wrong with these buildings. And I ended up taking a job with a mold remediation contractor to learn the ropes from him.

At the time, there was no such thing as a pure mold remediation contractor. They happened to be doing mold, in addition to other things like basement and water damage; whatever was interesting. So, I rolled up my sleeves and quickly saw not only how things were being done, but also how they were being done badly, how the consumers were getting completely taken advantage of, and how they were using chemicals instead of cleaning, and causing other harm as a result of that. And it wasn’t long before I realized that what I needed to do was become an expert in buildings, as well as understand how these things really worked and how they didn’t work and where those points of failure were. So, what I started to do was perform inspections for free; I would offer my services to various people, including physicians who thought that their patients were getting sick from the buildings that they were working in. And it just snowballed from there. The next thing you know, I was able to charge for services, and that mold inspection company, which we called “Lab Results” because we use specially trained Labrador Retrievers to sniff out the hidden mold in buildings, which is a topic for a whole other podcast – and that ultimately became 100-GOT-MOLD, our mold inspection company.

Moldy buildings can make you sick. Click To Tweet

Thank you. Wow! Thank you for sharing your story with us. I think that it’s powerful and I can relate to that because, on my end, I really struggled with a lot of more mental health challenges when I was younger, and I kept searching, and searching, and searching for answers. And I love meeting other people that turn their pain into purpose and use that as a force to help other people. In your line of work, as you shared, and we talked about before we started recording, some people are taking advantage of the vulnerable, and those that are really hurting and suffering. And that was one of the reasons, in addition to your vast knowledge, that I wanted to bring you on the podcast because I want to talk about the nitty-gritty of what mold really is, which aspects of it that are harmless, and so on. I really loved it when you mentioned that we’re indoors ninety percent of the time, and I had never really thought about a number – but ninety percent – Gosh, that’s a lot! And I know I try to always open my windows, especially during the summer, even for a little bit to get some fresh air circulating throughout the house. But gosh, if you think about how often we are indoors working, behind our computers, with artificial light … there are so many things going on there. So, for sure, that’s really, I think, significant for our listeners to hear. So, Jason, let’s dive in; I’m curious: What is mold? And how does it really harm us?

Oh, by the way, let me rewind for one second, the number ninety percent is actually a low number. Many of us if you include transportation, or in really extreme climates are in a much higher category percentage-wise. For instance, Dubai clocks in at ninety-nine percent tight. In fact, there’s a great book called “Never Home Alone” by Rob Dawn, which I highly recommend to anybody interested in the subject matter. It’s eye-opening to me, and I’ve steeped myself in this stuff. And he refers to us not as “Homo sapiens” anymore, but “Homo Indoorus” because we’ve really gone from, “of the earth.” Human is from the root word, “Humus” which is Earth. So we come from the earth and then we go back to the earth. But now we are so disconnected from that. And we wonder why something like mold, which is a normal part of our environment is so harmful to us because we’re disconnected from the natural environment. Because we’ve created these synthetic environments, mold does different things indoors than it does outdoors. It shouldn’t be growing in your home; if it’s growing in your yard, it’s doing its job. If it’s growing in your home, it thinks it’s doing its job, but it’s really not.

Fascinating! I have not read this book, but I will definitely check it out. Well, we’ll link to it in the show notes as well.

Absolutely! So where were we? What is mold, and how does it harm us?

What Is Mold? (And Is It Dangerous?)

Yes. What is mold and how does it really harm us?

Mold in its simplest form is nature’s great recycler. Its job is to take stuff that was at one time, living, particularly plant matter and turn it into dirt. Once again, if it’s doing that in your yard with sticks and leaves, it’s doing its job. But if it’s doing that to your sheetrock or to your carpet and carpet padding, or your clothing and upholstery furniture that is probably not welcome. Mold is a seemingly simple organism that is highly complex and actually very intelligent. Also, mold is part of the kingdom “Fungi” which is thirty percent of the Earth’s biomass. So, we’re on a mold planet. In fact, mold is so ubiquitous that the kingdom “Fungi” produces 50 megatons of spores every year, which is the equivalent of 500,000 blue whales. We are awash in spores; there’s no such thing as getting away from this stuff. But it’s a balancing act, as are many things. Mold generally causes us harm. First of all, for people that are highly sensitive to it, because they’ve either got a respiratory sensitivity, an allergic sensitivity, or a compromised immune system, mold, even outdoor mold can cause them harm. With indoor mold, the biggest problem with it is that it produces while it’s growing. The spores themselves are specifically harmful to the people that fall within that sensitive population. Because you’re breathing in and out right now, with every inhalation, you’re breathing in thousands and thousands of different kinds of microbes, believe it or not, without any effect. In fact, we need those. They keep us healthy, they’re hormetic i.e., they challenge our immune system to stay on alert. If you lived in a place that didn’t have those microbes, you’d actually probably not do so well because your immune system would not be nearly as robust.

But when the microbes are growing indoors, this is where you have problems. So, if the mold spores have the right combination of things like temperature, humidity, and food source, which is basically what we build buildings out of these days, as well as oxygen, of course, and those things line up with moisture as the activator, then suddenly we have the spore which sends out a little shoot like a root. And then that starts to send out enzymes and those enzymes begin to digest the material that it’s growing on that it seeks to eat such as dust, sheetrock, paper, basically anything that was made from plant material. And when that happens, the by-product of that digestion is a chemical factory. So there are chemicals that come from their digestion, just like our digestion creates gases. Mold produces gases which are called microbial VOCs or MVOCs. And that’s the musty smell that most people equate to the presence of mold growth that used to be considered an aesthetic nuisance. It’s a basement smell; it’s just like grass, and grandma’s house smells. However, the current science has revealed, and we can talk more about that later on, the fact that it is actually a health hazard. The musty smell has a massive impact on people’s immune systems, and it can cause mitochondrial dysfunction. There’s even evidence that it’s correlated to depression. So, it’s a powerful, powerful chemical potpourri if you will, and essentially, it’s the by-product of decay. It’s ideal for us not to be inhaling the by-products of decay, right?

And then you also have the mycotoxins, which get a lot of attention in the news. But the reality is there’s a lot of misinformation about mycotoxins. In fact, only a few of the molds i.e., only a handful of molds out of the 100,000 or so that have been identified and described produce mycotoxins. And even those only produce them intermittently; generally, when they’re threatened, or when they start to go into starvation mode. So it’s a chemical weapon that they use on a competitive basis. This is chemical warfare, on a microscopic level; we get caught in the crossfire, right? It’s really interesting. In fact, some of the chemical weapons that have been used in Iran and Iraq, etc. are actually fungal derivatives, like T2 mycotoxin, which is actually very similar. And they create these in these bioreactors, and it’s nasty stuff. But the amount that we’re getting exposed to in indoor environments, generally speaking, is not directly correlated with most of the illnesses that it’s blamed for. Most of the illness, as it turns out, that mold produces is actually related more to microbial VOCs. That’s because all molds when they’re growing, produce microbial VOCs. However only some of the molds, and even those, again, only produce them intermittently. And only some of the molds produce the mycotoxins. So oftentimes, people are chasing the mycotoxin. It’s like chasing the tail; you’re missing the point. There are typical allergic sensitivities and then you’ve got the sort of toxigenic stuff where you end up with a high toxic load. That toxic load can come from mycotoxins and from the VOCs; VOCs can make you toxic. And I’ll tell you how you can know that: alcohol is a VOC, as is formaldehyde. So, these things are highly toxic.

And then there’s an inflammatory response. This is typically what a lot of the doctors who treat mold talk about, which is this chronic inflammatory response syndrome, or CIRS. It’s a bucket diagnosis, around which there are a lot of controversies. But the inflammatory part is not controversial. So, in fact, what’s fascinating about the inflammatory part is that we’re working with a high-volume psychiatric clinic that has found inflammation to be present in all of their intake. In other words, all of their patients who come in (except for the ones that are coming in for relationship issues) have underlying inflammation. Some scientists are saying depression is an inflammatory illness. And I can see how they certainly see that. So Brown University did a great study in 2007 that connected mold and dampness indoors with depression. Dr. John Bennett Ruckers does beautiful work in this area as she had a personal experience where she was sickened by her own moldy building. She happens to be a mycotoxin expert; however, she knew that because she was wearing a mask, she wasn’t getting exposed to the mycotoxins, rather she was getting exposed to the musty odor. And she went back and started testing the musty odor on fruit flies that were genetically modified to glow when they produce dopamine. When she tested her hypothesis on them by exposing them to the musty smell, they stopped producing dopamine. So they got depressed and then they also stopped reproducing because they were depressed.

With depression, the first thing you do is lose your mojo. They also stopped flying toward the light and they started flying for hours. And they also developed Parkinsonian-like symptoms i.e., nervous system disorders. A subsequent study on the heels of her work found that they developed mitochondrial dysfunction. So you’re talking about very real problems from one of the chemicals that are found in the musty smell. It’s called 1-Octen-3-ol, which is a mushroom alcohol. It’s kind of like the truffle smell.  You can buy it off the shelf. I mean, this is like a food additive, right? But once again, it’s balance. In life, it’s not what you do some of the times that matters; it’s what you do all the time that matters. Now, when you’re getting exposed indoors, what people don’t realize is that you breathe 13 to 15 times a minute. If you do the math, you’re breathing 20,000 times a day. And if you’re doing that with the same air, you’re not exposed once; you’re exposed 20,000 times a day to the same toxins. Plus, you have the cumulative nature of indoor air quality because we build tighter buildings these days than we ever have.

Mold: Why Petri dishes are inaccurate for mold testing. Only fast-growing and viable mold grows on them. They miss the mold spores which are allergenic and potentially toxigenic.

Why Common Mold Tests Aren’t Accurate

I’m glad you brought up the buildings. Yes, it’s a huge challenge, right?

Yes, so we don’t ventilate enough. We also build buildings out of materials that off-gas which also adds to it. And we don’t get enough outdoor air. So essentially, we’ve created these chemical boxes, where even if you don’t have mold growing, it’s unhealthy. But then when you actually have a moisture problem and mold is doing its chemical production, it’s literally like an industrial, chemical factory. It’s doing this in an environment where it accumulates, and then that’s where people develop a toxic load, right?

Yes. I’m so glad you mentioned the newer homes. In fact, I’m looking; I’m house shopping. And I specifically said that I don’t want a new home. I mean, I don’t want something from the 40s, but I don’t want something new because they fall apart in five years. They have so many of these issues that you’re sharing with us. The information you’re sharing has so many wonderful pearls, Jason. And I know we could talk about this on and on, the VOCs specifically. In addition, when we think about how many children have asthma these days and how many children struggle with allergies. And then, of course, there are things like ADHD and OCD, and then how autism has exploded. It’s all fascinating how we can bring that back down to the environment, but also these newer materials that don’t last as long and aren’t as well-made plus how they start to develop these challenges. I love how you frame this, in terms of what is actually the enemy. We’re told that all mycotoxins are the enemy. However, there are a lot of nuances to that. And I think that can often send people in a different direction, down another road that might not be in their best interest. So once again, I’m just so grateful for all this valuable information that you’re sharing with us. But I’m curious, in terms of testing now, this is another huge area, as you know. And I also love that you’re so well-versed in this, but when it comes to testing methods and junk science, how can someone avoid a scam? As you said, the spores aren’t really, always the issue. What guidance can you share with our listeners about that?

Well, first of all, junk science is probably in ninety percent of the marketplace, unfortunately. And if you want to have your house tested and you hire a professional, you will find that they’re not using any of the stuff that you buy on Amazon, or at the hardware store. There’s a reason for that. It’s because it’s just not scientifically valid. I define junk science as scientific devices used in an unscientific way. So Petri dishes are used in science all the time. In fact, they’re used in proper indoor air quality assessments, but you must have a special kind of pump that pulls air through at a fixed flow rate. Then you must have a fixed volume of air as well as an outside air sample. So you do something called a volumetric comparison, where you compare the indoor air to the outdoor air and the different air in the different rooms. But if you take just one of those elements out, you’ve negated the entire methodology, right? It’s just that a lot of this stuff looks “sciency.” But really, it’s more like a sixth-grade science fair experiment, right? It’s almost to demonstrate basic science that yes, mold grows.

And Petri dishes are the most prominent. In fact, there are about half a billion dollars a year worth of these Petri dishes being sold – and they are completely worthless. First of all, the first rule about mold is to try not to grow more indoors. And that’s exactly what they encourage you to do, by collecting it and then letting it incubate. But also, those particular dishes only grow fast-growing mold, and they only grow the ones that are actually viable or alive. And so the spores that are dead are still allergenic and potentially toxigenic. Also, gravity doesn’t work equally on spores, right? The light ones stay aloft for days, and the heavy ones generally don’t trail up into the air very quickly. So basically, these things are sold to people who have little to no understanding of the way things are done on the professional side. As a result, they get taken for their 10 or 20, or 50 dollars.  And they discard it because a lot of people get confused by it. Also, a lot of people panic when they see, “Oh, my God, I’ve got this mold!” or “I’ve got that mold!” So, if you want to have your house tested for mold, the first thing I always say is that the best test is your senses.

Yes, that musty smell.

How Can I Tell if There’s Mold in My House?

Yes. If you see it, smell it, or feel it. Or if you see something, smell something or feel something, I always say do something. And so, I want people to be encouraged to trust their own senses and trust their own intuition. Generally speaking, people know if there’s something wrong with their building. That’s been my experience. I’ve done this for 20 years and I’ve done thousands and thousands of in-home assessments. And generally speaking, people know when something’s wrong and they even know where. Whether they’re in denial and whether or not they’re willing to actually look at it, and deal with it is a whole different conversation. But generally, people know. And so I always say trust your senses, but then get the data. So you’re going to look for a couple of things. First of all, one of the junk science tests is called Ermi. Everyone talks about it, right?


It’s a shame too because it’s PCR, which is the same kind of technology used for COVID. Doctors love it because it’s DNA-based, and they think they understand it. And they do except for the fact that they don’t understand how it’s being misused when it comes to mold. Ermi looks for 36 molds out of the more than 100 000 that have been identified and described. And it’s based upon a study of 34 homes that was done 20 years ago. So, it’s just so flawed. And then they also suggest that you vacuum dust from two rooms in your house and combine them into what’s called a composite sample, which immediately takes it out of being a diagnostic tool and puts it into being simply a research tool. So, they’re looking at the house, rather than where’s it coming from. And also, the presence of those molds is potentially indicative of a problem, but there’s no context. So, in other words, it doesn’t tell you if the house is old, nor does it take into consideration how old the house is, or what the setting is. For instance, you’re going to get a different read from my old Manhattan apartment than you would from my Minnetonka, Minnesota house because I’ve got trees all over the place here as opposed to on the 16th floor in the concrete jungle. Yet the test itself doesn’t take that into consideration; the index is narrow. In fact, it’s like driving down the highway at night using a laser beam, instead of headlights. So, you’re only seeing one thing that you’re looking at, at the risk of all the other stuff that you’re going to run into. Likewise, Ermi is just that narrow; 36 molds out of a possible 100 000. I mean, it’s even narrower than a laser beam going down the highway.

And the other way that it’s being misused is that people get a single numerical data point that says you’re going to get a reading from that. There are tons of professionals that will tell you that that number is actionable. In other words, you need to leave the house or you need remediation based upon that, instead of saying a test is not actionable by itself; no test is actionable by itself. They probably don’t even care about human testing. So in other words, if you get high cholesterol from a blood draw, is that actionable? I mean, are you going to schedule heart surgery? Or are you going to start taking statins? Probably not. You probably would be well advised to go to a doctor and then get a workup and say, “Well, what does my high cholesterol mean?” “Is it familial?” “Is this genetic?” There are a million different reasons why you might have high cholesterol. So that one test is not actionable, except for the fact that it should lean you towards taking some action. You don’t have a path from that, except for the fact that it’s forward. And the same thing can be said and should be said about all mold testing. Mold tests, just like human tests are an attempt to find clues, to give you information to help you make the next decision; not to make big decisions such as lawsuits, moving, and so on. Those particular decisions are not to be made, without, ideally a qualified, experienced specialist to help you navigate what the data means and then look below or peel the layers of the onion away, like I like to say, to see what their core or underlying issues are, specifically moisture issues in the building.

So, mold testing goes back to the mycotoxins, looking at the tail. What we’re really looking to do is figure out where the moisture is coming from. Mold is not a mold problem. Mold problem is a moisture problem. Mold is the symptom of a moisture problem. As a result, when we’re doing testing, and we’re focused on the spores or the mycotoxins or even the musty smell, if you use that kind of a test, you’re still missing the point, if that’s the thing that you’re focused on. The moisture problem is the problem that needs to be diagnosed and corrected. And then the by-product of that is the damage that was caused both in terms of the damage to the materials that have gotten moldy, and the contamination that has been caused because mold spores are designed to break free, and then go forth and prosper. The mold has done that very well. That’s its evolutionary advantage is that it flies anywhere, and it comes along with us. It goes on your clothes, on your glasses like mine, it’s on the face of your watch, just waiting for the right environment to reproduce.

And so testing should only be used as a way to get closer to the root cause, which is, “Where’s the moisture coming from?” and then, “What’s the extent of the contamination that might have been caused?” That way you can then include that in the overall scope of work, in other words, the cleanup efforts. Then you might also find some testing that shows that you’re not exposed to as much mold in that area versus this area. This might in turn give you some peace of mind, and it might give you a chance to spend more time here while the work is being done over there. There are lots of reasons to do testing, for instance, to answer the question: “Is this mold?” So you might do a surface sample if you’re not sure; that is valid. But what kind of mold doesn’t really matter except to figure out what kind of moisture problem you have because chronic moisture creates different kinds of mold.

Mold is not a mold problem. Mold is a moisture problem. Click To Tweet

What to Look For in a Mold Remediation Company

Yes, it creates so many challenges. I’m remembering I had a specific client that I worked with a few years ago. She was making progress, but not as much as we wanted. And she was still having just kind of a subset of bizarre symptoms, and other family members weren’t being impacted, but her daughter was as well. I said, “Can you just move out for a week or so; maybe stay with an in-law, a friend? And let’s just see how your body responds.” Well, everything cleared up in a week. So I said, “Okay, well, we know this is an environmental issue. And now, let’s start to, do some of this deeper work of figuring out what was actually going on in your environment.” That’s when she and her husband brought some people in and they ended up having to move, unfortunately. But just a simple thing you can do for free like going to stay with a friend for a week to see how you feel to see if the symptoms are changed in any way. And I think that right there can be a good starting point to get an assessment. Along the lines of having to hire someone, Jason, I’m just really curious: How can someone find a qualified professional? What questions should they be asking? How can people start this process?

Well, one thing I would encourage people to do is realize that when you’re looking for a qualified inspector, you should really think about this as if you were looking for a doctor. It can have an even greater impact on your health, quite frankly. As I mentioned earlier, we spend ninety percent of our time indoors mostly in our homes these days post-COVID. And so your indoor environment, going back to the 20,000 breaths, and the re-breathing, the constant exposure and re-exposure, and really understanding the impact of your indoor air quality, and the quality of your indoor environment is probably paramount for your health. They used to say food was the primary cause of chronic illness. And there’s enough evidence, and I’m working on a meta-study where we’re taking a look at all the different variables and it looks to me, like we may actually be seeing that air quality is the leading cause of, or at least an aggravator of most chronic illness.

Yes, I would agree.

I mean it’s very close to food, or it’s right above it. And it’s profound because this is the stuff that’s hiding in plain sight, right under the tip of your nose, right? Of the four basic human needs: air, water, food, and shelter, we eat food a few times a day, maybe less if you’re doing intermittent fasting. However, you can live for three weeks without food, and three days without water, but you can only survive three minutes without air. But people spend so much time worrying about their food and their water, and the aesthetics around their houses. But the air is more of an afterthought. And just like many things, you don’t think about it until you don’t have enough of it. It’s like money; it’s one of these things that is so impactful. But we’re like fish in water; fish don’t know they’re in the water, right? They don’t know until they’re out of it that they really need it.

We have a similar sort of blind spot when it comes to our air. When it comes to finding a professional, one of the best ways to do it if you can, is to ask your doctor because some mold professionals are really good at marketing through physicians. That’s what we’ve always done. So, ask your doctor, especially if you’ve got a specialist. But a lot of times, unfortunately, the mold doctors are really firm on Ermi. And they’re sending people to inspectors that are using Ermi. And then you’re in a really bad spot because of the whole thing with Ermi. Your local Department of Health is also a good place to look as they will often have a list of environmental consultants that specialize in indoor air quality; I know that’s the case in New Jersey. Once you find one, you should obviously check BBB and Consumer Affairs, etc. The other good resource is ac.org, which is a certifying organization for indoor air quality professionals. And they have various designations where you can find certified mold inspectors and things like that. But there’s a certified indoor environmentalist certification such as CIE, and CIEC is an advanced one; I’m not one of those, but many of my friends are. Those are generally well-rounded professionals that have a deep interest in this.

In terms of questions, you want to obviously ask, “What’s it going to cost?” And so the big red flag is free inspections. On the flip side of this is that you also don’t want to spend too much. And what I mean by too much is the average mold inspection is probably going to cost you $1,500, including lab tests. If people are quoting a lot higher, those people tend to be using Ermi and other tests that are not just questionable, but also actually harmful, and that tends to skew highly toward false positives. I can’t tell you how many Ermi tests I’ve been called in to investigate where there was no underlying cause. And I’m using mold-sniffing dogs, so if we can’t find it no one’s going to find it, right? We’re using thermal imaging to try and find moisture issues. And we spend a lot of time at the home. I mean, it’s not uncommon for us to spend half a day during an inspection. And so that’s another question is, “How long is the average inspection?” and “How long are you on site?” because you want someone who’s going to take the time. In fact, with every single inspection I’ve ever shown up to, I felt like I was starting fresh. I must get familiar with this building. There’s a certain degree of acclamation for the inspector; he’s going to walk in with his/her own senses and sort of immerse themselves into this environment, and then follow a protocol, hopefully, that will in a methodical way, lead them around to become aware of where the problems are in the building.

And so that comes with experience, which is the next couple of questions you want to ask such as: “How long have you been in the business?” “How many homes have you done?” “How many remediations have you been involved in?” “How many have been successful?” “What’s your average pass rate?” and “What’s your average fail rate?” We fail about 30% of remediation projects, but then we come back, and we just keep contractors accountable. But on the first pass, we fail probably about 30%. Nobody likes to hear that, but guess what? That’s the value that a qualified inspector will bring is that they will keep the contractors accountable. First of all, they’ll help you find a contractor (they should at least), but not one that they have a financial relationship with. So. independence is another big deal. You want to make sure that they do not do remediation.  As a result, ask them these questions as well: “Do you also do remediation repairs?” and “Do you have a financial relationship with your contractor?” Now, they may lie about that if they’re unscrupulous.

Certainly! Unfortunately, sometimes it’s hard to know. And there are certain affiliations, right? And some of them seem to be a little questionable.

Yes. You can buy a certification and you can take an open-book test.  So, the certifications are kind of not even worth the paper they’re printed on. But if people rely too heavily on their acronyms, that can be a red signal. I let all my certifications go a long time ago because I refuse to play the game with that.

Yes, I’m so glad you said that.

It doesn’t validate me as a professional. What validates is that we have exactly 20 years and thousands of homes we’ve worked on. And I can tell you how many remediations we’ve done, and I can show you the testimonials and the doctors … we’ve got evidence of success. And we specifically specialize in dealing with sick homes, which is another point that a lot of remediation work is done by a lot of inspectors. This is another good question to ask: “How much of your business is insurance-based?” and “How much of it is health-based? As a result, home inspectors need not apply, by the way. Also, asking them “Is this your full-time job?” is a vital question to ask. You want to ask: “Is this all you do?” or “Are you also doing home inspections? and “Are you also doing roofing?” Additionally, you want to ask: “How much of your indoor air quality work is mold specifically?” and “How much of it is commercial versus residential?” Commercial inspectors are common environmental consultants, but residential inspectors are hard to find at least quality ones. That’s because a lot of residential inspectors and remediators are snake oil salesmen, I hate to say.

Well, it’s common, unfortunately.

It really is. And to your point, certifications are mostly junk. This means you really need to ask questions such as their experience and how many houses they’ve done. Also, what kind of testing do they do? If they say Ermi is their primary test, I would say that’s a red flag. And I will also say anyone who says swabs is also a red flag because all that swabs do is tell you what’s on the surface. And by the way, you can swab any surface and find mold spores. That means you can culture mold off any surface. So, what does that tell you? It tells you the same thing that a Petri dish will tell you, which is that mold is ubiquitous and that it will grow in a Petri dish as it’s designed to do.

I love that! That is so true.

And as you start to realize that we’re dependent on the building, but the building also depends on us. Buildings actually don’t have an immune system. They’re kind of a system of systems. You could even argue that the HVAC system is the lungs, and the circulatory system is the plumbing, and you could anthropomorphize this a little bit and have some fun with it. But when you realize that the building doesn’t have an immune system, and then you realize, wait a second, no, it does – you’re the building’s immune system. By the way, the building has a birthday and potentially a death day and its longevity is largely driven by the way you care for it. So, when it develops aches and pains, the first thing usually is a moisture issue. And that moisture issue shows up as mold quickly. By the way, within 24 to 48 hours of a moisture problem, mold will begin to grow. And at 72 hours, you’re pretty much cooked. As a result, you must act quickly with these things.

But the thing that’s interesting to me is that when I start thinking about the building as a body like this, and you realize that we’re the immune system, and you see the aches and pains develop, and the first thing that shows up is mold which sends a signal which is the musty smell. So maybe mold is not the enemy; maybe mold is sending you a signal that something’s wrong. Maybe there’s a benevolence there, right? It’s actually giving you a warning and that first round of molds are actually generally just allergenic. These are called primary colonizers. And they all release this musty odor. It’s a lot like inflammation in the body. Look at mold as inflammation in the building, and so you’re getting the signal. And just like if you don’t listen to inflammation in your body, that becomes chronic inflammation, which is its own disease.

So if you don’t listen to the signals; the musty smell that comes from that acute moisture issue; that first round of inflammation, you will end up with chronic dampness which leads to these toxigenic molds such as Stackybotrys, a toxic black mold, which doesn’t show up until the very end. And the toxins are used to kill the original molds. That’s the chronic dampness, and that’s chronic inflammation, which is its own disease. And so there’s a philosophy here which is that there’s a symbiosis between you and your building. People love to name their cars and their boats and stuff, what about your house? It doesn’t do well without us and we don’t do well without it. And so recognizing that mutual dependency is something that we would all benefit from.

Yes, and that care is so critical. Thanks so much for being part of today’s show. If you’re concerned about mold in your home or workplace, you’re not alone. Moldy environments are a common problem and something I see frequently in my clinical practice. There’s no shortage of mold-testing products available. But sadly, the vast majority are junk science and almost always come up positive for mold, even in normal, healthy environments, something Jason and I talk about extensively in today’s show. If you’re interested in testing your environment and getting the answers you need, Jason is offering my listeners 10% off your got mold.com Test Kit purchase. I’ve personally used this kit and really like its ease of use, and the data I received was really helpful. Go to GotMold.com and use coupon code EATFORLIFE10. As an added bonus, Jason is offering his step-by-step handbook: “How to Find Mold in Your Home, and Inspect Your Home Like a Pro.” Not everyone needs a professional inspection or can afford one. This easy-to-follow guide will show you where to look, what to look for, and if you find something, what to do next. It’s got inspection checklists, FAQs, and lots of other great resources.

Jason, I loved when you said in the beginning, the difference between different types of cleaners and what is really viable and what really isn’t, as well as the toxic chemicals that are used and how those can create their own sets of problems. But when I think about what we can do on our own, as homeowners, or even if you’re renting, just in the care that you take with the types of cleaners that you use; how you in that sense, take care of the environment, the dust and so forth, wet dusting versus dry dusting and opening windows and so on. These are really small minute things that we can do, just like we can do with a healthy diet, right? Take care of your body with a healthy diet, exercise, and take good care of yourself, and you’re going to get more mileage out of your body. So it stands to reason that that is going to also apply to your home, and how well you take care of your home. So can we talk about some of the chemicals that are used just briefly? Whenever I’m around some of these things, I immediately think of, “What’s going on with my endocrine system?” and “How is this going to impact my hormones?” That’s always my big concern. And I think that there’s a lot of confusion in that sense as well, for the consumer, don’t you think?

Yes, absolutely! I’ll definitely get into that. There are a couple more things I wanted to mention about finding a qualified professional, and that also dovetails into the chemicals. So, one of the things you want to ask is:  “What remediation standards do you follow?” And that goes into the chemical thing, and that’s why I bring it up. So there’s one standard; there’s lots of different guidance such as the EPA and New York City Department of Health, but really the gold standard is the IICRC S520. Unfortunately, you can’t find out what’s in it unless you buy it, and then it’s very dense professional language. But the contractor should be certified and trained in that, and not just the firm. As a result, if you ever have to go through remediation, you should actually make sure that the foreman and the workers have been trained. And that’s not a given, so that’s very important. When it comes to the inspector side of things, and then we’ll get into the chemicals, you must ask if you’ll get a full written report with observations and recommendations. I want to know what you found. And I want to know what you suggest that I do in terms of repairs. Also, if I will get a scope of work, which is a detailed step-by-step plan on what needs to be done, and that includes clearance criteria. All the inspectors are hating me right now! But this is the way it’s supposed to be.

That’s what you’re paying for!

That’s what you’re getting and clear criteria that say, “How do I know when the job is done?” and “What are the standards?” For us, it’s no visible moisture, no dust in the work area, and normal fungal ecology; in other words, not sterile, not, but also no visible mold growth or conditions conducive to mold growth. And then you also want to make sure there’s a written interpretation of the lab data because the lab data is written for scientists, by scientists. You also want to ask what kind of lab they use. If they’re using labs like Prolab, then I would say that’s not going to work. There are a bunch of labs that I would say don’t work. You want to make sure that they’re spending money on good analysis because not all lab reports are created equal. So that’s it in terms of how to find a qualified professional. So, on to the topic of chemicals.

That’s another huge topic.

Also, in terms of testing, you don’t need to know what kind of mold you have. It does not change the treatment, no matter what people tell you. Even though people tell you about the binders and all this stuff, you truly don’t need to know the kind of mold you have. It does not change the remediation protocol; it does not change anything. It’s information that’s useful to understand the nature of the moisture problem because some molds are indicative of chronic dampness, and some of them are not. So that’s more of an understanding that the consultant should be aware of so he can help to correct that and really understand the depth of it. But as I mentioned earlier, I look at buildings as an extension of your immune system.

What Does Mold Remediation Do?

It’s a huge topic! And it’s a bone in my craw and a drum that I pound all the time. And essentially, there is no place for chemicals in mold remediation, and this is very shocking to most people, except, in the case where you are concerned that there might be bacteria, because of a moisture source that has contamination, for example, sewage. If you’ve got a sewer burst, or a toilet overflows, or even in cases where your washing machine overflows, there are a lot of nutrients, and a washing machine would support funky stuff. If river water gets into your house, that’s going to have potential bacterial contamination that could contaminate ocean water. The industry standard for that is called the S500 Water Damage Standard, also by the IICRC. And they break that down into clear water, gray water, and black water. Anytime you’ve got clear water, there’s really no place for chemicals, but even so, it’s still sanitizing. You’re sanitizing to kill the bacteria; you’re not doing it to kill mold.

Killing mold is not necessary. It’s not like something you sneak up behind and snuff out before you wrestle it to the ground and drag it out the door. Mold remediation is removal. As a result, you remove the affected materials that can’t be cleaned such as sheetrock, carpet, carpet padding, ceiling tiles, and upholstered furniture. You remove those things, but you do that in a very special way using containment and negative air pressure. So, you do this in a bubble kind of like E.T. E.T. phone home. It should look a little bit like NASA with plastic and guys in moon suits. And they’re taking precautions to keep contamination from occurring beyond the work area, but also to protect themselves.

The root word of remediation is “remedy.” If you really think about what that means, that means you’re fixing something. It means you’re fixing the water problem. If it were mold killing, then it would be eradication. And that’s not the term of the art, right? The term of art is remediation. You’re remedying the underlying cause which is always the moisture. And it’s cleaning, not killing; no chemicals, no chemicals, no chemicals, no chemicals. By the way, I talk to contractors about this all the time, and they’re insistent, “Well, then what are you going to clean with?” Well, put it this way, there was a study done recently with COVID. And they used a surrogate virus because they’re not testing this stuff with live COVID viruses. But these used a surrogate virus on a non-porous surface like a marble tabletop, just a regular marble counter. And they cleaned it with a damp cloth, just a microfiber cloth with just water versus various antiviral solutions. And you know what they found out? No difference.

I knew you were going to say that and I’m so glad you did because in my gym, they’ve got the little spray bottles everywhere and they’re spraying them in the air and I hate them. I hate them, I cannot stand them. I’m like, “Get that thing away from me.”

Yes, it’s bad news.

It’s bad news and I wish more people understood. Please, please, please, stay away from the chemicals!

We’re creating a chemical legacy.

Yes, thank you for saying that. What would happen to our immune systems if we did that?

Yes, especially hotels. I’m having a hard time staying in hotels now because I know what they do. Every single time someone walks out, they walk in, and they spray a wide spectrum. Let me tell you something:  Read “Never Home Alone” or even a fabulous book called “I Contain Multitudes” by Ed Young. There’s an inverse correlation between the microbial diversity in your home and asthma and allergies. So, houses that have more microbes – I’m not saying it’s growing, just a diversity of microbes – have a lower incidence of asthma and allergies, especially with children. And so, cleaning does not equal sterile. This is an important point, right? “Clean” means free of debris. “Sterile” is free of all living things, right? It’s your “killed everything.”

That’s the thing, right?

We are microbial. We are super-organisms. We are 38 trillion human cells. They used to say it was like 99 to one, but the numbers have been refined. It’s more like one to one or 36 trillion microbes. You have more microbes in your stomach than there are stars in our galaxy. But we do a wonderful job as humans; our primary skill set is learning how to kill things. So, whether it’s antibiotics or nuclear weapons, this is what we’ve specialized in and it’s coming to roost. And this is showing up in autoimmune diseases and the prevalence of severe allergies. To repeat, we’re human “Humus”, from the earth, and we’re disconnected from this. So, there is no need to kill stuff in the process.

And by the way, when you clean up the mold by spraying on the chemicals, you can’t get rid of the chemicals. Yes, can’t remove those. In many cases, you’ve now just added a toxin. And I don’t care if you’re using thyme-oil-based stuff, which are remediation chemicals that supposedly mold killers that smell like thyme oil. And these cause all sorts of problems for people that are sensitive because a lot of times mold-sensitive individuals are also sensitive to fragrances. So, the house becomes unlivable, but you’ve gotten rid of the mold. So, what was the point of this? The point of mold remediation is to restore property to a normal condition where it does not cause ill health effects to the occupants. That’s the goal, right? It’s a normal fungal ecology, not mold-free, but free of conditions conducive to mold growth, and that does not aggravate mold-related symptoms, or underlying illnesses, that mold will generally aggravate or cause. So, chemicals are a big deal, and the entire industry is educated by chemical companies, unfortunately.

That sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Yes, it’s the same kind of thing. Contractors are educated by the building material companies, which by the way, are chemical companies, right? And so that’s how we learn how to build buildings, and that’s how we learn how to do remediation – it’s by the chemical companies. That’s a big part of what I try to do here is raise awareness about that very thing.

Yes, I’m just so loving this conversation, because we’re not told this unless we have someone with your expertise and your many years of knowledge and skill, we’re going to think that the opposite is true; we need to get in there with all those chemicals. But the chemicals are what are causing the challenge. And I liken this to, like you mentioned, antibiotics a couple of times. I have so many people come in my clinic that have been given massive amounts of antibiotics and other medications, and the vaccine schedule that’s so high now in children, and they’re really struggling. And it’s heartbreaking. Because there’s this conditioning by the pharmaceutical industry that we must have these things to be healthy. But actually, we need to be in balance with our environment, as you so wonderfully stated. And that balance comes with not trying to just get rid of everything and get rid of the bacteria in your gut. But it comes with the understanding that there is this important relationship that needs to occur. And this also reminds me of things like chelation therapy and so many things that just strip you and then your hormones are impacted, as well as your neurotransmitters. A lot of the ladies that I work with say, “Yeah, I just feel kind of dead inside, you know. I just don’t have any real feeling” because everything has been sanitized basically. Well said!

It’s absolutely true. And you know that your gut-brain; it’s three pounds of microbes in your gut. You strip that out; your serotonin is produced there, and your GABA is produced there. And by the way, a lousy diet will throw that off balance too. So, you don’t just have to take antibiotics, you can just live on a high-glucose or a high-glycemic diet, and you’ll have all sorts of wacky stuff going on with your serotonin in your GABA, and it has nothing to do with your brain. It’s your gut; the microbes produce that stuff i.e., your B vitamins. The microbes are our friends. And if we keep getting in there and trying to clean house; you’re unqualified and the doctors are unqualified. These are weapons of mass destruction. You know, they truly are, and thankfully that awareness is now coming to the clinic. But it’s scary still how liberally these chemicals are showing up in our water supply! GE just recently released a water filter and one of the bullet points is that it removes antibiotics and pharmaceuticals. Why would we have that in our water except for the fact that we’re taking too many of them? And they are affecting our wildlife; it’s just really unbelievable!

There are so many downstream effects to something that doesn’t have to be there, to begin with.

Totally, and we’re also eliminating our body’s ability to do the normal things they’re supposed to do and fight the fight. If we keep leaning on a crutch like that, eventually, our body’s not going to be able to do what it’s supposed to do on its own.

Yes, and unfortunately, I do tend to see that as well. That’s why we always encourage parents: If you notice a challenge in your child, please bring them in as soon as possible. And I don’t mean, the conventional kind of system protocol. But if you can find a really good holistic practitioner that understands what we’re talking about, how the body comes into balance, our connection with nature, real food i.e., not food that comes in a box, your child can be a completely different individual. It’s really fascinating. I’ve been blessed to see that so many times.

Yes, we can totally do another podcast on that! My son was born with no microbiome, and we’ve been supplementing him with frozen B. Infantis. He went from being able to barely hold his head up to being completely robust, and he’s transformed. So that was the supplementation of a very specific microbe. And the doctors all said, “You shouldn’t give a baby bacteria.”


Yes, just the ignorance on that.

What is in the vaginal canal when a baby comes out of the vaginal canal? What’s in mother’s milk? Remember when there was a recall of the formula, or maybe it wasn’t a recall, maybe it just wasn’t available? And people were going online and saying, “There are other options if you’re not able to breastfeed” and there was such a backlash. And I thought, “Wow, this is really sad.” We’re talking about whole foods that are coming from healthy animals that can nourish our children. And we’re saying it’s a crime. Farmers are now being threatened with jail time and fines because they are selling direct to the consumer, their own animals, and their vegetables, and growing them in a way that our ancestors did at one time so that they’re really truly healthy animals, and they are being prosecuted for that. It’s really sad.

It is, but I’m optimistic because I think these conversations – good news travels fast, and bad news travels fast. All news travels fast these days. And I think that people who are pursuing this, people who are thinking about these things, are thinking more and more about them every day. So I’m gratified by the fact that people seek us out for this kind of information. I can’t keep up with it, quite frankly. And that’s not always been the case. Twenty years ago, this was a push market; I had to get out there and let people know that we were around. Now, I could hide in a cave and people would find me. So that’s a transformation in our culture; that’s remarkable. I maintain a buoyant optimism about that, even though you still see the ignorance that seems to be a black cloud over it all. I do think those clouds are passing. I think this will become common knowledge soon. I agree. And that’s why this show is so important to me, and bringing on experts like yourself, and being able to share information that is kind of sort of out there, but not mainstream, so to speak, like we want it to be so that people can make healthy choices for their families, and really know what they’re getting into. That’s why this whole concept of mold in the home environment and so forth is so important.

The point of mold remediation is to restore property to a normal condition where it does not cause ill health effects to the occupants. Click To Tweet

Mycotoxins in Food

Jason, is there anything else you want to share with us? Do we want to revisit VOCs? Or is there anything else you want to share? Did I miss anything? I mean, obviously, there are so many different topics, we could go into another time, but …

Yes, we’re here on Eat For Life, right? And one of the things I want to talk about that comes to mind right now is that people will always ask me about is detoxing. And the first thing I always say is to stop “toxing”. That’s the first step. So, remediate, filter, or relocate just to give yourself some space. But also, this is a really important point because we’re on a food podcast, and that is that most mycotoxins don’t come from your air. They come from food. Everybody’s worried about their mycotoxins; they get their mycotoxin test from whatever practitioner they’re using. And they immediately think, “Well, it’s gotta be my house. It’s gotta be my workplace” and they go on this wild goose chase. And a fascinating study by the United Nations a while back said 25% of foodstuffs are contaminated with mycotoxins. And so a very well-intended group of reputable scientists went and looked at this and said, “Is this true?” They found that at the port, anything especially international foodstuffs, about 10% have mycotoxins, but upon receipt between 60 and 80% have mycotoxins, specifically on grains. And so this is another good reason to consider a no-sugar, no-grains diet especially if people are struggling with this, because A) You’ll find you’ll feel better anyway. And that was a powerful thing for me in terms of my detoxing, I believe, in retrospect. I did this not knowing any of this, but it was super powerful. And so when people are worried about their mycotoxins, they should start looking at their corn chips, and their stuff in boxes, bags, and cabinets, especially anything international. Domestic stuff is a much lower concern, but the international stuff – that’s coming over in shipping containers. That’s 30 days on an ocean. That’s a long time to be in an unconditioned environment. And so, people often ask about supplements and binders and stuff like that. And I always say, they’re different for everyone, and they should be done only with the care of a specialist, and are not always necessary. If you can change your diet and remediate your house, you enable your body to do this on your own. A lot of people do much better without having to mess around with glutathiones and these kinds of things. The other thing is that the VOCs are a real issue: manmade VOCs, as well as mold VOCs. And there’s evidence that is pointing to the idea that 40% of the US population has asymptomatic non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Did you know that?

Mold: The #1 source of mycotoxins is food. Mycotoxins are common in grains such as barley, wheat, rye, and spelt.

Yes, it’s insane.

And you have to ask where that’s coming from. A lot of it is diet … But VOCs too, right? If you think about how we process VOCs: we excrete them, we breathe them in, and excrete them. There’s some interesting work being done for VOC exposure, which would be a urine or a blood sample to see what you’re exposed to occupationally for mold and for VOCs. So, you’re filtering this stuff out and you’re concentrating this stuff. It’s not just mold. On a much broader basis, is being aware of your air, and its impact. It’s not just your upper respiratory system. It’s not just this general malaise or the fatigue – this is potentially impacting your liver. It’s a really big deal. And this is something that’s just under the radar for most people. 

I’m glad you said that. Thank you. I’m always telling the people that I serve, especially regarding grains, if we can kind of go back to that a little bit to what you just shared, but also all the glyphosate. And they use it as a desiccant and in every stage of food production. Then there’s all this cross-contamination with other things. So I just say if you can get rid of that, live on organic vegetables, find a local farmer, get yourself really good quality meats, you’re going to do great, and you’re going to feel great. I agree with you. It’s just fascinating what we can do just simply by changing our diet, having proper water filtration, and we talked about filtering the air … Now, these things cost some money, but as you know, when you spend the time actually focusing on prevention, and making that a part of your lifestyle, you certainly save yourself a lot of time and money down the road.

There’s no doubt about that. It pays huge dividends.

Absolutely! I’m just so glad that you’re touching on all of these things. And, now they’re pushing insects as a food source, and they’re full of parasites and bacteria, and they’re full of things that aren’t good for us. There have been studies already that were done; I didn’t realize how long this has been pushed for. But some studies that had been done, I don’t know, maybe five or six years ago; maybe you saw this already, regarding the potential challenges and illnesses that they’re seeing with insect consumption. But now since eating meat is supposedly so bad for us and so bad for the environment, they want people to start eating insects.

And the same thing with pea shoots, or pea protein; these Beyond Burgers. Yes, the vegans are so concerned. And listen, I think there’s something to be said philosophically about eating fewer animals and all that stuff. But if you want to create monoculture, mass monoculture, do you know how many animals you must kill and how many environments you destroy? You kill a lot more animals eating a pea-protein-based burger than you would be eating a cow. Then, there’s also all the nonsense that comes with what you have to do to maintain a monoculture in terms of all of the chemicals. And you can call it organic all day long, but that’s also kind of a trap. So, these are the unintended consequences of living out of alignment with nature. You know, nature will generally try to redirect us but at our peril, right? We need to all recognize that we must live in buildings, but we don’t need to live in them 24/7 and we need to get closer to nature and also respect the fact that mold is not always the enemy. Mold may be telling you something’s wrong with your building, right? You may actually be getting a signal there. You know, fungi are Earth’s communication system under the ground, and it’s also the Earth’s immune system. Look at the power of mushrooms, right? They’re incredible, whether you’re talking about medicinal, every kind of medicine, right? Every single mushroom has a medicinal quality. And fungi in general are actually probably our friends. If you can embrace that idea and not vilify mold, and recognize that it’s our imbalances, that we’re creating an environment conducive to its growth, we’re inviting it, it’s already here. And if you look at it that way, then when these signals come up, you can have less fear and more motivation, and recognize that there’s benevolence to all this stuff. We don’t need to kill everything, right? We need to embrace these things. I hate to say it because it sounds so woo-woo, but you’ve got to learn to love these things because mold is a fact of life. We live on a water planet, like I said, 30% of the Earth’s biomass. And if we can embrace that, more love in the world would go a long way, even towards mold.

Absolutely. Well said! Thank you so much, Jason. Once again, Jason, I so appreciate your time, your knowledge, and your wisdom and sharing all of that with us today.

Thank you for having me.

I trust today’s show was an eye-opener for you. It sure was for me. Please join us in two weeks for Part Two. We’ll be talking about VOCs, air purifiers, how you can test that the problem has cleared, and so much more.

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