What Is Toxic Black Mold? Here’s the “Down & Dirty!”  0

Posted on July 20th, 2007. About .

I love this article. Read it on our main site HERE

When Randy wrote this article for us 4 or 5 years ago, it made lights go off in my head while I was trying to understand WHAT was trying to slowly kill me.

To understand Mold, you have to understand Mycotixins and VOC’s.

EDUCATE YOURSELF – READ THIS ARTICLE


Mold: Volatile Organic Compound’s
& Mycotoxins : A Primer for Homeowners

by Randy Penn – www.Envirochex.com

Introduction

You can find a lot of information on mold, but trying to understand it may be difficult to those who didn’t take biology and chemistry. Even after stumbling through the pronunciation of these words, not everyone can comprehend what was meant by the statement.

“Satratoxin, a low-molecular weight non-volatile organically derived agent, belongs to the macrocyclic trichothecene class of mycotoxins generated from fungal microorganisms.”

As an aid to the homeowner, this overview is intended to explain a few bad products of mold in a less scientific manner. It will focus on those types of mold that have been considered as problematic to the “indoor mold issue” and does not address other fungal organisms which may behave differently. Analogies presented are not intended to be scientifically accurate, but rather to illustrate complex behaviors in more simple terms.

The people who study mold (mycologists) have identified and described over 100,000 species and many believe that this is only a partial listing (estimates of 1.5 million species have been suggested). Try jotting down the names of the first 100,000 people you know then describe each person’s behavior in a specific setting. You will begin to understand the complexities of the problem facing these mold professionals.

Most people have associated mold with allergies and these reactions are certainly prevalent with most all species found indoors. In addition to causing an allergic response, molds can be irritating, infectious and even toxic to humans. Understanding the general behavior of mold provides insight into the adverse components produced by mold.

The Organism

Fungi can be considered nature’s garbage disposal. Without them, the term “biodegradable” would not be so significant to our planet and we would have mountains of leaves, dead trees, and other organic materials sitting around…all deposited since the beginning of time. This, in simple terms, is the ‘why’ of mold. For the moment, think of mold as a weed. This weed has a root system, a vegetative stalk, and a seed pod.

For mold, the root system is made up of hyphae (high-fee). As hyphae grows into a mass during the vegetative state,it becomes a mycelium (my-sill-ee-um). The spores, designed for reproduction, are similar to seeds.

Like a weed, mold needs food and water to survive (yes, both need more than that, however, we are simplifying things here). For mold, the food of preference is organic matter (things that once were living). Indoors, those things are wood, paper, organic dust and dirt, leather, skin flakes, body oils, etc.

When mold spores that are floating around in the air land on a food source, they sit there patiently waiting for water. If the item they land on should contain sufficient moisture, or water comes from another source (leaks, etc.), the spore germinates and hyphae grows. The hyphae branch out, secrete enzymes to breakdown the food, form the mycelium, and absorb nutrients to grow. As long as the food and water hold out, colonies will continue to grow. Note that individual hyphae and spores are very, very small and few can see them without a microscope. When you see visible mold, you are generally seeing that mass of mycelium.

Hyphae can intertwine into the fibers of the substrate, penetrating the pores. As it consumes the substrate, it can also create it’s own route by dissolving pathways into the material. This is one of the reasons it is so difficult to kill and/or clean up mold on organic substrates. If you remove the surface growth, those bits of hyphae within the substrate are ready for re-growth upon the return of moisture.

As the organism matures, it develops spores intended for reproduction. Spores vary in size, shape, weight and methods of distribution. Some are light and buoyant so they float easily through the air. Others are wet and sticky and may cling to insects, rodents, etc. as a mode of travel.

Volatile Organic Compounds

As mold “consumes” it’s food, the chemical reactions of enzymes, substrates and mold growth produce carbon dioxide, water, and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Because these items are a result of actions essential to the growth of the organism, they are classified as primary metabolites.

For mold, many types of VOC’s are produced and typically include aldehydes, alcohols, keytones, and hydrocarbons. They have complex structures and names like “2-methyl-1-propanol”, so if you are going to dig deeper into VOC’s, get ready for chemistry class.

They are called volatile in that they evaporate easily at room temperature and pressure. Fortunately, this volatility aids in dilution with fresh air to minimize concentrated build-up of these chemicals. Testing for VOC’s is often accomplished by using vacuum cylinders to obtain samples of the air with laboratory analysis obtained from sophisticated test instruments (gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer).

When you smell a “musty-moldy” odor, it’s generally the VOC’s you are noticing. VOC’s are often considered irritants to mucus membranes, however, are also capable of both short-term and long-term adverse health effects. If you do smell these odors, it’s a sure sign the mold is consuming and growing and you need to take action. (Note that VOC’s may also be derived from non-mold sources including natural materials used in cleaning agents.)

Toxins

Many molds are capable of producing compounds called mycotoxins which are toxic to other organisms, including people. Mycologists believe these toxins are produced as protection against competing organisms and therefore, humans are simply caught in the cross-fire of this fight for survival.

Since these toxins are not essential for growth, they are classified as secondary metabolites. Toxic secondary metabolites require extra work on the part of the organism so production does not occur at all times, or, with all types of mold.

Scientists have identified over 400 mycotoxins and unlike VOC’s, these compounds are usually non-volatile (don’t evaporate easily at room temperature and pressure). One strain of mold may produce multiple toxins and one type of toxin may be produced by multiple strains of mold. Research has indicated that the type of substrate (nutrients), the growing conditions, together with the species of mold, will impact which toxins are created.

Some of these toxic substances are considered extremely hazardous to people, unfortunately, quantified human dose-response data is limited. Lab and field studies have shown these compounds to produce severe toxic effects in both animals and humans and therefore, the general recommendation is to minimize exposure to potentially toxigenic mold. Symptoms from toxic exposure range from flu-like symptoms, skin rashes and lesions, bleeding, fatigue, difficulty breathing, depression, etc. to longer-term nerve and organ problems, altered immunity, and cancer.

Not all secondary metabolites are considered bad for people…the antibiotics such as penicillin have beneficial use. However, from the mycological standpoint, antibiotics are considered mycotoxins since they too are generated by mold to ward off microorganisms (i.e. competing bacteria).

When the organism is producing toxins, the toxins are known to be present in the cell wall of spores and hyphae. It’s relatively easy to test for spores and hyphae, however, testing these components to see if they contain toxins is significantly more complex. Whereas a single spore can be viewed under a microscope, identifying what compounds are contained in the cell wall is difficult.

In order to identify these toxic compounds, laboratories must have a sufficient quantity of toxin-containing spores and carefully process them through sophisticated and expensive equipment that is capable of isolating chemicals down to billionths of an gram (remember, mold spores are microscopic so what is contained within it’s cell wall is extremely small). This testing is made even more difficult since there are a few hundred toxins to analyze and the behavior of mold is such that a toxin-producing mold in the field doesn’t necessarily produce the same type and quantity of toxins in the lab.

Generally speaking, identifying a mold type that is known to be capable of producing toxins is sufficient information to warrant precautions and avoid exposure without submitting for toxic analysis. However, if trying to confirm specific adverse health effects, obtaining an analysis of both VOC’s and toxins can be beneficial but often expensive.

Randy Penn, a Real friend of StartRemodeling.com, is an independent licensed real estate inspector (Texas #5491) who specializes in mold testing and specimen recovery. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering, is a member of the Indoor Air Quality Association, has invested hundreds of hours in researching and training on fungal microorganisms, has completed IAQA’s workshop on mold remediation and has provided mold related presentations to homeowners and real estate professionals.

Refinance with Poor Credit  0

Posted on July 13th, 2007. About .

Refinance with Poor Credit Article

If you are like every other home owner or general consumer out there, you need to pay for your expenses somehow. If you have poor credit, you might be limited in your options as to what you can do (or so you think…keep reading!). This can be especially annoying to homeowners who want to refinance their mortgages to take advantage of low interest rates but have had a few debt defaults in recent years.

The story is always the same: you see these low 5% interest rates advertised on TV and you know that you deserve to refinance your home loan with this low interest rate. However, once you call, you find out that in fact you can refinance your mortgage, but it will cost you a lot more than you think. “What?” you think to yourself… “Why does it cost more for me to refinance my mortgage than I thought it would?” The reason is simple: poor credit. Refinancing with poor credit can be difficult. You might have filed for bankruptcy or racked up a whole bunch of debt which you just couldn’t pay off. Debt defaults take a long time to get off your credit report (if they ever come off!) and they can affect every lender to whom you owe money.

This is because these days, lenders are very clued in to borrowers credit scores and credit history. All your credit information is stored in a giant database somewhere and if your credit is poor for some reason, it’s going to show up on a mortgage refinancing report. And banks probably don’t mind seeing a few defaults and poor credit accounts here and there. More fees for them! Your bank might like to see one of their client’s earmarked as ‘poor credit’…they can raise your interest rate and you can’t do anything about it.

These days, having poor credit isn’t necessarily as poor as it should be. This is because banks are business entities too. Banks borrow money just like people do. In times of relatively low interest rates, banks need to make money by originating loans. And, a lot of new ‘subprime’ lenders have opened up shop in recent years and are specifically in the business of lending to people with poor credit. They are looking to refinance poor credit accounts like yours and collect massive fees on the backend.

Many people with poor credit history look to take out loans from friends and family. While this may be a fairly good short term solution, it might not be the smartest of long term business moves. What you need to do is refinance your mortgage and lower your payment. The best thing you can do for yourself is to shop around. I’d be willing to bet that some banks will give you a better deal on a mortgage refinancing than you think they would. Find out who’s got the best rate to get the best deal on your loan. This might take a little legwork, but it could pay off. Finding that right bank to give you the right deal on your refinancing will be worth the effort.

Mortgage can last a lifetime and that extra 1% can add up to literally thousands of dollars over the years. I have friends that are in their 70s and still paying off their home loans. It’ll pay off in the long run to make sure you find the best deal possible. Don’t let poor credit stop you from refinancing your home.

Low Interest Mortgages & Loans  0

Posted on July 13th, 2007. About .

Low Interest Mortgages & Loans Article

Super low interest rates aimed at getting consumers to buy mortgages, cars, computers
and skinny, big-screen TVs are encouraging a lot of people who really can’t afford those
slick TVs to whip out their credit cards.

“Low rates make you want to put more purchases on your card. It makes it seem like you have more money,” says Sister Veronica Catherine Ann George of Westin, Mo.

Yep. Even people you might not suspect of running around racking up debt have their moment of weakness. Or, in Sister Veronica’s case, many moments.

“The bottom line was I had too many credit cards. They were easy to get and came whether I ordered them or not. Before I knew it I had almost $18,000 in credit card debt.”

Sister Veronica cut up those cards a few years ago, but millions of other Americans, lured by low-interest-rate credit cards, are still saying, “Charge it!” Others are signing financing contracts for $3,000 TVs, home improvements and appliances.

The Federal Reserve reports some astounding consumer debt figures: the outstanding credit card debt at the end of 2004 was $796 billion, over three times higher than in 1993. Plus there are over 1.5 billion credit cards in circulation — that’s an average of a dozen credit cards per household.

Kay Worden, a certified financial counselor with Consumer Credit Counseling Service, a credit counseling network agency, says that kind of increase is a huge red flag.

“People use credit cards to enhance their lifestyle and increase their level of living. That’s not what credit cards are for; they’re not to keep up with the neighbors,” Worden says.

“Wise use of credit is fine. Does it fit my budget? What’s my goal for paying it off? Will I just pay the minimum? No. I’ll pay $100 per month and get it paid off in six months.”

Chris Viale, general manager of Cambridge Credit Counseling, the outfit that helped Sister Veronica shake her credit card habit, says his business has doubled since 2001. His company gets 40,000 calls a month for credit or budget counseling vs. 20,000 two years ago. But the growing trend is in the number of consumers having to file bankruptcy.

“Right now, we’re seeing double the number of consumers who are contacting us too late — they’re already at the point where they must file bankruptcy.”

What’s the cause of this growing trend?

“We’re seeing the results of promos that started a couple years ago and are ongoing. Many lenders have incredible offers on credit cards and financing contracts: zero-percent interest; six months, no payments due. People assume they can pay it when the time comes. People are completely overextending themselves with unsecured debt. It’s a lack of personal finance knowledge. They don’t have an understanding of how credit works.”

Squandering equity

Another area where something good can turn into something bad is home equity loans. Low interest rates have a record number of homeowners spending the hard-earned equity they’ve built up in their homes.

That’s fine, says Mark Blomquist, director of counseling at Auriton Solutions in Roseville, Minn., if the money is being used wisely instead of financing a Maui vacation and a new home entertainment center.

“A lot of people take equity out of the home, pay off the credit cards and that makes great sense. Take debt at 21 percent and drop it down to 6 percent. But too many people go out and acquire more debt. They max out their credit cards again. Now they have no options; they miss a paycheck and they’re in trouble.”

Worden understands the temptation to use a home equity loan to clear up credit card debt, but she says homeowners need to think hard before doing it.

“They’re putting their house on the line and they’re turning short-term debt into long-term debt. People need to learn to live within their means before they consider tapping home equity.”

If you’re in the market for a new car or truck, don’t let the purchase put you deeper into debt than is necessary. Car dealerships with ads that scream, “Super low interest! or “$2,000 cash back!”, can make folks salivating over the thought of a new vehicle forget about exploring other options that might be a better deal.

“Educate yourself on the fine print,” says Worden. “Why are they offering a super low interest rate or cash rebate? Where are they making their money? It can’t all be for the consumer. Maybe they don’t come down on the sticker price. Calculate the difference. What will it cost me with the cash rebate vs. paying a low interest rate and a lower sticker price? Also, what did you get for the car you traded? Did you lose money there?”

Teased to debt

Viale says credit card issuers need to take some of the blame for the credit problems so many people are having.

“The subprime market that was created a few years ago literally extends credit to just about anybody. When you get pre-approved for a credit card you feel good about yourself, it gives you a sense of self-confidence. But they have teaser rates, 5.9 percent for six months and then it goes up to 29 percent.”

Viale cautions consumers to research the details of anything they’re considering buying on credit. Make sure it’s not a promotion with flexible rates or payments that can rise. And don’t assume that in a year from now you’ll have more income and can pay for it.

Worden says leave plenty of room in your budget for the unexpected.

“Of the clients coming into CCCS for help, we’re seeing an average credit card debt between $8,000 and $11,000. Some counselors have seen credit card debt as high as $100,000. If he’s making the minimum payment, that’s about $200. He sees a big-screen TV and figures he can pay another $100 a month, so he buys it.

“Now he has a visit to the emergency room and a $500 deductible. He puts it on a card. Suppose he’s paying $200 a month for gas and the price of gas shoots up and he has to pay $300 a month. Now, he can’t breathe.”

Sister Veronica is breathing easier. She’s learned a hard lesson, but she’ll soon have her creditors paid off.

Remodeling vs. Toxic Mold Issues  0

Posted on July 12th, 2007. About .

Remodeling vs. Toxic Mold Issues Article

Why have we Devoted SO MUCH TIME and space to Toxic Black Mold and YOUR Health and Wellness ?

As an Information Resource and Educational Remodeling website for the last several years, it was an odd transition to bring Toxic Black Mold into the forefront on StartRemodeling.com as much as we have.

I have a confession to make! As a Specialty Remodeling Contractor for most of the last 20 years, I have been guilty many times of spraying a bleach solution on mold and painting over problems that I never knew could be life threatening!

NO ONE KNEW!

Mold has been around for Millions of years and as a Home Improvement Professional, I chose, as I thought I should, to Tear out what I could see, Clean the Area and ASSUME that all was well!

I had never heard of Mycotoxins before in my life!

Then My Grand-Daughter, who was on vacation with her Mom at a friends’ house for a couple of weeks, became seriously ill with breathing problems when she was only a few months old. The Doctor in the Emergency room had No-Idea what caused it!

Suddenly, everyone in our friends’ house was becoming ill and Mold began to show up in the house from water intrusions and a faulty roof installation !

( The house has since had $135,000 + in Remediation and a years + worth of inconvenience to everyone involved! )

My Grand-Daughter never experienced any breathing problems after she came home and I wondered if the Mold that I had heard so much about on television and newspapers could have been the cause!

After a TON of research and adding MORE and MORE Toxic Black Mold Info to the site over the last few years, I have had 10′s of 1000′s of emails, posts in our forums and phone calls from home owners and renters, with NO CLUE what to do about Mold in their homes and that have stories that would make those of you with a heart cry along with me!

To this day, I am absolutely ASTOUNDED at the Ignorance that accompanies Toxic Black Mold!

Most Doctors are completely baffled by it!

Insurance Companies refuse to admit it exists, but have been paying Millions in the last few years to Remediate it! Until it became TOO expensive of course! Now they’re heading for the hills. Hmmmmm!

But folks continue to be sick when exposed to it!

We are now the LARGEST TOXIC BLACK MOLD Education and Solution site on the Internet and feel that we have helped many 1000′s of people take steps in the right direction to avoid having Toxic Black Mold take over their lives.

So, Let us Help You!

Toxic Black Mold is a REAL Risk and can cause health problems for YOU and your loved ones. Especially young children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems.

The Good News is that it can be Avoided and/or Cleaned Up!

Take advantage of the many Resources and Toxic Black Mold Professionals that we have PRE-SCREENED as best as we could to give you SOLUTIONS to Anything and Everything Toxic Mold Related!

We Really Do Care!

So, Back to the ORIGINAL Question!
Why have we devoted so much time and space to
Toxic Black Mold and YOUR Health and Wellness ?

The SIMPLE and Health Conscience Answer is …

You can’t properly Remodel if you have or believe you may
have Toxic Black MOLD in Your Home and don’t address it.

Am I RIGHT?

Have a GREAT Day! Enjoy the site and Keep Coming Back!

Refinance for Remodeling  0

Posted on July 12th, 2007. About .

Refinance for Remodeling Article

Are you looking to refinance your home for some home remodeling? If so, it is easy to do and there are many home refinance options; using the equity in your home for a refinance for remodeling is also a good idea as it is tax deductible. So, how do you begin?

Once you and your contractor have determined the amount of money for your home remodel, call your trusted loan officer, or lender, to determine which loan option is best for you. If your existing first mortgage is higher than the going rate, you may wish to refinance your first mortgage and draw out extra cash to pay for your home remodeling. If your current first is at a good interest rate already, you may wish to look at other options for the cash needed.

Two good options are:

A home equity line of credit—this is an equity line of credit that you can put as a 2nd instead of refinancing your first for your remodeling. The benefits of a home equity line of credit are that you only pay interest on the amount you draw out, you can pay down and borrow against your home equity line as needed, and you can usually get one for little or no cost. The downside is that the interest rate is variable so it may go up.

A home equity loan is also a good alternative for refinancing your first for remodeling as you can also get one for little or no cost. However, as a 2nd trust deed, the interest rate will be at a higher rate than a first mortgage. The difference between the home equity line of credit and the home equity loan is that the home equity loan is fully amortized, a 30 years due in 15 years, at a fixed rate of interest.

The options are there to refinance for your remodeling.

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