Dr. Mercola Speaks Out on Mold

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Dr. Joseph Mercola is an osteopathic physician whose mission is to help individuals take ownership of their health. His website is the leader in the field of natural medicine, offering an array of natural solutions for chronic health issues. Last weekend, Dr. Mercola dedicated an entire article to the issue of toxic mold. In it, he states:

I recently had a leak in my basement that was improperly remediated for $10K. The cause was not addressed so the problem worsened, which more than tripled the price to properly clean it up. That is part of the reason that prompted me to contact some of the leading experts in this area and learn how to do this properly.

In his July 30 article titled The "New" Hidden Pandemic Sweeping Across America, Dr. Mercola presents a 90-minute interview with leading toxicologist Dr. Jack Thrasher. The two discuss the various options for remediation, as well as the high toxicity levels involved with mold as compared with pesticides or heavy metals. According to Dr. Thrasher:

Mold is far greater than anything I've ever looked at before, particularly in the indoor environment. Some of these mycotoxins that molds produce are far more toxic than any of the heavy metals I've looked at, concentration-wise. They also tend to affect more biological systems in the body than a pesticide would or a heavy metal would. For example, stachybotrys produces mycotoxins referred to as tricothescenes, and they inhibit protein synthesis and it affects every organ in your body from your toes to the top of your head. I really think molds are much more dangerous from that point of view. For example they extract chemotherapeutic agents out of mold and bacteria to fight cancer. What else can I say from that point of view?

As the article continues, Dr. Mercola explains why Dr. Thrasher believes we have a mold pandemic:

As many as 40 percent of all American schools and at least 25 percent or more of all homes are believed to be affected by mold and microbial growth due to water intrusion. A large portion of the problem stems from shoddy construction.

According to Dr. Thrasher:

One thing that I have seen and observed by working with individuals in the field who understand construction, is that construction is extremely poor in the homes we have today. Plus, they're using building materials that are tremendously good food material for the microbes.

When I was a child... all the homes were built with genuine lath and plaster on the inside. [Now] you walk in and knock on any wall and you have what we call wallboard. That wallboard loves and is a good growth medium for all forms of mold. Everyone that I can think of, almost everyone now has carpets. The backside of carpets is also a great growth medium for mold and bacteria.

... The other type of home that I'm seeing that is of tremendous potential problems to the homeowner is homes that are built with a basement... [T]hey put the concrete down, and there is no water barrier between the earth and the concrete wall of the basement.

The same thing with the foundation; there is no water barrier. So when you water your yard, when there are heavy rains and things like this, the moisture... goes right to the foundation and into the basement or underneath the house, and then the moisture wicks up through the home, increasing humidity.

All of that increasing humidity, anything above 60 percent, is going to lead to growth of mold and bacteria... People have to be very careful about this situation. That's the reason why I call it a pandemic.

Dr. Mercola notes that gutters can also cause problems.

You need to be mindful of the drainage from your roof. I didn't realize this myself, and suffered the consequences when one of the gutters on my home drained onto the ground directly beside the wall, and the water seeped straight through to my basement. So you want to make sure the downspout is far enough away from the building. Ideally, it should empty at least 5 to 10 feet from the wall. You also want to take care that the soil next to the walls of your home slopes away from the walls, to prevent water from collecting around the foundation. And make sure your lawn sprinklers do not spray the walls. Other common construction issues that can contribute to water intrusion and subsequent mold proliferation include:

  • Using polyethylene PVC piping instead of copper or galvanized piping, which can be easily punctured by nails or staples
  • Bath tubs installed with improper sealing around the drain
  • Improperly sealed sinks and garbage disposal
  • Installing particleboard (waferboard) after it has been rained on during construction

The Mercola article is full of practical, helpful information. To read it in its entirety, click here.