Mold is a sneaky little bugger that COULD be harming your or your family’s health right now! In this episode we have the Mold Medic himself, Michael Rubino, to help guide us through the ins and outs of mold, how to tell if it’s in our house, and how to get rid of it. He’s discovered that a person suffering from hypersensitivity to mold needs all three types of decontamination to regain their health. To educate those who are suffering, Rubino wrote the book The Mold Medic. In detail, Rubino advises readers on how to choose a mold remediation company and the exact processes that the company should be using. Listen in here, or read on for the highlights!
How did you become The Mold Medic?
I got my bachelor’s degree in marketing first, and I worked in that field for a little while after college. I realized that it wasn’t for me and moved back to my hometown. My father is a contractor, so naturally, I would gravitate towards construction in my youth. I thought it was awesome how so much time, product, and energy can pay off like that. My father’s company primarily did fire restoration. Fires are put out with water, and after working with his company I saw how water damage affects buildings over time. Specifically with mold. I saw how insurance and construction companies put mold problems on the back burner, and how families pay the price later.
What is mold?
The first thing to be aware of is that mold is a living organism. It’s alive and constantly reproducing. Mold is also microscopic. So if you can actually see the mold then you know there is a LOT present. When weeds are alive they produce seeds. Similarly, mold produces spores. These spores get into the air and enter your body as you breathe. Your body is made up almost entirely of water, so it’s the perfect place for mold to grow.
Another statistic to keep in mind is that 1 out of every 4 people is unable to detoxify their body the way the other 75% can. So 25% of people are at a much higher risk of severe health problems because that mold has the ability to compound inside their body. If you leave the weed’s roots when you pull it, it’s just going to grow back. Pulling it out at the root is what prevents it from coming back. So it’s crucial to get to the “root” of the mold problem. Many of the mold remediation companies out there aren’t getting to the root, which is costing you time, money, and your health.
What are some symptoms that mold may be present?
Constant headaches and extreme fatigue are really common complaints. It’s also common to experience respiratory issues that feel a lot like allergies or a cold. There’s a species of mold that I’m really sensitive to, and I’ll feel a scratchy throat and a slight cough like I’m coming down with a cold. After walking out of the room within about 3 minutes those symptoms will all be gone. It’s really interesting going to hotels and knowing within minutes that they have mold in their HVAC. Depending on the person and the species of mold present, symptoms can range from a sniffle to extreme depression and fatigue.
What should I look for in a remediation company?
Depending on where you live, your state could require a particular license or just national certification. I would ask the company how long the first inspection takes. You want someone who will really go into every nook and cranny and find the source of the issue. This can be anywhere from a 4-8 hour inspection depending on the size of the home. If they’re trying to charge you $300 for a 20-minute house inspection, they’re likely not doing a thorough job.
Another good question would be asking if they will inspect HVAC systems. Excess moisture that hovers around the coil in an HVAC system is the perfect place for mold to grow and spread. Plus, it’s your HVAC system! That’s a major source of air that could be contaminating the entire home if it’s missed. I would also ask what types of tests they do. Air quality tests are important, but so are swabbing tests. Tests like EMMA, HERTSMI, and ERMI, analyze the dust in your home to see what mold spores and species could be present. All three of these tests are crucial to making sure your home stays mold-free.
What questions should I ask?
If you’re giving them a report, ask them if they are okay with the information provided. If they say that the report was over the top or unnecessary you’ll know they have their own agenda and that might not be your health and safety. I would ask them what their plan is for engineering controls as well. Engineering controls involve physical barriers to contain the work area as well as machines to control airflow. As you’re remediating the mold will naturally release spores, and we don’t want those spreading around the home. I’ve seen many projects like this. You can ask them how many projects they’ve done where they have improved the ERMI score of the location. If they ask “What’s an ERMI” then you know they aren’t a specialist and probably won’t be very thorough.
You want to find a company that will not only find the source of the issue but will suggest preventative measures as well. We remediated one home in New York that had a filing cabinet against one wall in the basement. There was almost an outline of mold behind that cabinet because the metal was trapping the spores there and keeping it damp. Some companies would suggest replacing that section of the drywall, but we discovered there was actually a water issue causing excessive moisture. If we weren’t as thorough as we are we wouldn’t have discovered that and the mold would return, along with more problems.
Michael Rubino and his company All American Restoration have been featured in USA Today, NJBiz, Reader’s Digest, New Jersey Monthly, and Digital Trends. He was also selected as a speaker for the Spring 2020 Indoor Air Quality Association Meeting and Expo. Rubino received a Bachelor of Science degree in 2008 and is a council-certified microbial remediator from the American Council for Accredited Certification, and a New York State Department of Labor Remediation Contractor. He has spent the past seven years involved in construction and remediating mold contamination.
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