MOLD MENTOR

 From the authors of MOLD: The War Within

Protect Health with a HEPA Air Purifier

07 Nov Protect Health with a HEPA Air Purifier

The quality of the indoor air you and your family breathe can directly impact health. Clean air enables the body to expel toxins through the lungs with each exhale. On the other hand, contaminant-filled air increases toxins in the body with each inhale.

When toxic contaminants from structural molds become concentrated in an indoor living or work environment, health of the occupants can be affected in various negative ways and even plummet.

One Piece of Advice

If there was only one piece of advice we could give people who discover they are living or working in a mold-contaminated building—based on all of the interviews we have conducted with medical and scientific experts—it would be to tell the occupants of the contaminated building to leave the toxic environment.

People living or working in a mold-infested structure should not return to the building until the following steps are taken:

  1. The source of moisture or water intrusion has been identified
  2. The cause of moisture or water intrusion has been corrected
  3. The affected portion of the structure has been remediated
  4. Post testing has been performed to confirm that elevated levels of indoor contaminants are no longer present.
High Risk Groups

Leaving the contaminated home or workplace is especially important for high-risk people, including the following:

  • Children
  • Pregnant women
  • Elderly
  • People with weakened immune systems from various health conditions

Keep in mind that people with existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD, and even allergies are also considered by the CDC to be at high risk.

Unfortunately, far too often, immediately leaving a mold-contaminated home or workplace is oftentimes not a feasible option. Worse yet, immediate remediation of the structure is oftentimes not possible either.

What are people to do when they have no other option but to remain living or working in a water-damaged building—even though they know it may very well lead to negative health consequences?

Temporary Stop-gap Measures

When people are stuck in moldy environments unable to leave, experts advise occupants to reduce the level of indoor air contaminants they are breathing by taking one of the two proactive steps:

  1. Increase ventilation by opening doors and windows. The fresh air from outdoors will dilute the level of toxins in the indoor air, making it safer for the occupants to breathe the air inside the building. Keep in mind that it is not always feasible to open doors and windows, for example, due to extreme hot or cold weather, high levels of crime, or equal or higher levels of airborne contaminants in the outside air such as what can occur in post-disaster areas.
  2. Use a HEPA air purifier in each occupied room. HEPA filters are capable of capturing at least 99.97 percent of particles 0.3 micron or larger in the air that passes through them. By reducing the level of indoor airborne contaminants, the associated health risks to occupants can be lessened. Make sure air purifiers are equipped with properly maintained high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters properly sized for each room.

Had our family known to use HEPA air purifiers in our home after Hurricane Katrina to reduce the amount of mycotoxin-laden mold spores and fragments in the air we were breathing, our level of exposure would have been much less and our health may not have been as negatively affected.

Our Experience with HEPAs

As it turned out, many more wet buildings lay in our future after Hurricane Katrina. We had the misfortune of multiple mold encounters in rentals during and after our mold recovery. However, by using HEPA air purifiers, we were able to preserve our level of health at that time and even progress forward with our recovery.

The severity of structural mold in each rental varied. Although we secured alternative housing as quickly as possible, we—like others—were not always able to instantly leave the mold-contaminated rental. And, of course, with each successive incident, it became more difficult to uproot due to the financial loss from relocating from the previous rental that had become mold infested from water damage.

We attribute the preservation of our health while temporarily living in the mold-contaminated rentals to the use of multiple HEPA air purifiers. We strongly urge people to look into the benefits of using HEPA air purifiers in post-disaster areas as well as in normal living conditions, because “normal” environments can also have unhealthy levels of ambient air pollutants.

For More Information

To discuss how a HEPA air purifier may benefit your individual health, check with your treating physician. For information on which type of HEPA air purifier would be most appropriate for your specific environment, contact one of the indoor air quality consultants listed in our HEPA Air Purifier directory at www.MoldMentor.com .