Friday, October 5, 2012
Mold – “A Tough Tussle”
The fantastic writer Ambrose Bierce wrote a short story, a quite frightening piece, called “A Tough Tussle”. The story concerns a Civil War soldier’s deadly nighttime struggle with an unseen or unknown terror. “A Tough Tussle” and Brainerd Byring’s frightening incident come to mind when I think of my own experience with another unknown or unseen terror: Mold.
My daughter got sick with a neuro-immune illness in 2002 and stayed about half sick for three or four years when she went downhill. Prior to her downhill crash in 2006 she moved to St. Paul, MN from NYC. In St. Paul she lived in the same apartment until May 2012.
I became suspicious of the building in which my daughter lived after reading about mold as a complication for neuro-immune illnesses. I went through her entire building, attic and basement, and saw no evidence of water damage or water intrusion. I spoke to her landlord who has owned the house for thirty years, and he said that there had been no water intrusion in the time that he owned the building. Upon closer questioning he did reveal that when he first bought the building, he looked into a square hole (no longer there) in the floor of the basement and was surprised to see water, and that something floated by on the surface of the water indicating that the water was moving. This gave me an idea and I went to the historic society of St. Paul and found a map of the property prior to the house being built in 1920. It appeared from this map that the house had been built on a stream bed.
Over a period of several years I did two ERMI tests of my daughter’s apartment and they were both high. They registered 11 and then 7, both with an extremely high Aureobasidium pullulans. As with all molds it is difficult to find out much about this strain - except that it is associated with water. This made sense if the house was actually built on a stream bed. Aureobasidium pullulans does not seem to be a dangerous mold, but who knows?
During these years my daughter was too sick to consider moving from the premises.
Circumstances led me to move into the apartment below my daughter. It is a two apartment building so I had control of the entire building. I was shocked in October 2011 to get an even higher ERMI test for the ground floor apartment, which I now occupied – 17, including another sky-high Aureobasidium pullulans.
With this test I decided to do what I could to remediate this building. In the next month I went over every square inch of the building, first cleaning it and then spraying every surface with a concoction of vinegar, borax, oil of oregano, vodka and clove. I cleaned and did the mold treatment on all floors, walls and ceilings including the basement and the attic. I found a small amount of mold in the basement eaves that I remediated myself.
I did another ERMI test that came down significantly but was still irritatingly high. Of course, with my remediation, I was unable to get into the walls or the floors.
At this point I bought a number of dehumidifiers and was able to lower the humidity in the basement to about 40%. It is believed that mold does not grow under 50% humidity. I was shocked to find the humidity in the attic was close to 100%. The reason for this was that the landlord had put insulation down on the floor of the attic, a short-term solution for insulation, but one that will lead to the roof rotting. I pointed this out to him, did him a favor, and took up the insulation. Thus, I was able also to lower the humidity in the attic below 50% with a dehumidifier.
This remediation was completed in November 2011, and the low humidity in the building continued until my daughter was able to move out of the apartment in May 2012. Over that time, November 2011 to May 2012, she made slow but steady improvement with one major setback. However, she was strong enough on May 2, 2012 to make this move to an apartment ten blocks away – and the move went without incident.
There are various other reasons – beyond mold remediation - that one might point to for her improvement – primarily the introduction of the probiotic formula MAF 314. This occurred simultaneously with the mold remediation – in October 2011.
My daughter’s slow progress has continued in her new apartment. While she is better, she still remains quite ill. I have not done an ERMI test in the new space.
Over the last few years she has done a number of tests that measure global cytokine activity or inflammation or NK cell function. Among them are:
c4a – at Jewish National lab, Denver
In 2011 my daughter’s c4a was 15,210 (0-2830). In March 2012 it had come down to 7,377 (0-2830). I imagine that it would be even lower now. I will find out soon.
MMP-9 – at Quest
In 2010 her MMP-9 was 888 (0-985). Disregarding the Quest lab's normal parameters, Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker says that anything over 332 is high. In March 2012 her MMP-9 was 1325 (0-985). In September 2012 her MMP-9 dropped to 272.
Functional NK (LU30) - at Focus lab
Over the past year my daughter's functional NK cell has gone from 17 to 21 to 34 (9/2012).
There is another useful test which I need to repeat. It is a urine test from Realtime labs and measures three mycotoxins.
Do I think my daughter’s illness was caused by mold? No, I do not think that mold caused her illness. Do I think that mold was a complicating factor? I think the evidence points to this, but, like all things with this illness, we will never really know. I think she lived in a sick building.