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» LymeNet Flash » Questions and Discussion » Medical Questions » Relative Humidity in House = Mold??

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Author Topic: Relative Humidity in House = Mold??
seekhelp
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I have been concerned about something for a while. The relative humidity in my single story home seems to always be in the 55-60% range. I use a pretty high quality hygrometer to measure.

We have a whole house dehumidifer attached to the furnace, but is it not safe to assume it's not doing it's job given these levels? I live in Michigan. Average temps now are in the 30-50 deg range.

I'm highly allergic to dust mites, mold, ragweed, and pollens. I'm at home 99% of the time now since falling ill. [Frown] Do you feel these moisture levels could be causing even more issues?

I think I read it takes 70%+ relative humidity to breed mold, but I'm not 100% sure.

All I know is every day I sit here with my eyes / nose literally pouring liquid, breathing issues, horrid fatigue, brain fog, head pressure, eye pressure, sinus issues, etc. I was REALLY having major issues breathing today. Yesterday I was like that too. I took a Zyrtec and it helped a bit. It was my ONLY relief. I constantly blame Babesia for all my issues, but maybe I'm being a damn fool not focusing on this!

Something seems suspicious. [Frown] I grow a lot of plants in my basement too. It's a hobby. These RH levels are upstairs as well. I run a large dehumidifier in the basement, but still am getting 60% RH there. [Frown]

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LSG Scott
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any thing under 70% is fine to keep mold away

--------------------
LSG Scott

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Elaine G
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Quoting from Mold Illness and Mold Remediation

"Dust mites grow at 55 % and mold grows when humidity is over 65 % "

Get a box fan and attach, with tape, a Merv 11 filter to the backside of the fan. Pollen, dust, mold spores, etc will be sucked into the filter and help clean the air in your home. You won't believe it until you see the filter changing colors. It really works great and is inexpensive. Under $ 50.00

When you go to put a new filter on the fan, put the old filter in a plastic bag and seal with tape, then discard.

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seekhelp
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I will give that s shot Elaine. Thanks! Well, I'm guessing dust mites run rampant here at least. [Smile]

If you do the fan strategy, how much area does it cover? Do you need one fan per room or would a single fan do an upper floor of a 1,500 sq ft home? How long does it usually need to run before the filter gets changed? How many hours per day should it remain on?

I wonder if this works better than putting the air filter into your furnace unit?

Sorry for all the questions. I appreciate your help!

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Tammy N.
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seek - I think you are on to something big. Buy the book Surviving Mold. I just did. Major insights. I think it's a big connection for me. It may not be my current home, but a past exposure that has triggered all this stuff going on in my body now. I'm doing to bloodwork and will also do home testing.

The book doesn't say it, but I just got rid of all of my plants. Every time I watered them I would get an earthy moldy smell. Then it dawned on me that the moisture from this moldy soil is evaporating into my atmosphere. I'm trying to create as clean an environment as I can. I always thought plants purified the air, plus I love them so I had a lot. But recently the smell from watering my plants, especially the orchids sitting in the moss, sent me a strong signal that I need to get rid of them all for now. Can't tell a difference yet because I have been in a tailspin this last month. But one thing I can say is I tend to feel better when I am away, and not as good when I am at home.

Also, I ordered a propolis diffuser (model A3). If interested, check it out: http://www.beehealthyfarms.com/HealthCare_GOEMButtons.htm

Good luck. I think you are on to something.
Tammy

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lightparfait
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I spoke with the author of Surviving Mold recently...and it is groundbraking information. Especially related to chrnoic illness/lyme/ms and autism. also F Labs has a new protocol for treting this in lymies...to be discussed at Dr. K's May "Beyond Lyme "seminar in Wa. allrelated to the mold and environmental issues that are changng in our world. There is a camp that study and see a direct correlation between our changing environment outside and the one inside! concerning us all is the Japanese issue today as well, and the inpact eventually on our world eco system then our interior health.
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karenl
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You can also read the posts on [email protected]
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Elaine G
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Seek,
When we had the Forensic building tester come to our house, he also said to keep humidity 60% or lower.

As far as the fan strategy, we had 3 bedrooms affected with mold spores but no mold. The only place in our house that has carpeting is the bedrooms and only the carpeted rooms were affected. I think that says something about carpeting.

I put a box fan filter in each bedroom. Our bedrooms are large with attached bathrooms. So one box fan will do the bedroom and bath.

Buy a box fan with the cord coming out from the bottom of the fan, this way the cord doesn't interfer with the filter placement. The filter should be attached to the rear of the fan, the side where the cord comes out. The pleats of the filter must run up and down not side to side. An up arrow on the filter will show direction of the filter. A 20 inch filter for a 20 inch box fan.

Filtrete filters are sold and Home Depot and Lowe's. May sure you check the Merv rating on the filter. It should be an 11.

You should also use a Merv 11 filter in your furnace and depose of it properly by a sealed
plastic bag. You don't want to be walking through your house to get to the garbage can while dropping millions of spores into other parts of your house.

I run the box fan about 8 hours per day. I'm sure if you are affected badly it would be good to run as long as you are in the room or even continuously. Only one bedroom is used, the others are guest rooms. So, I run the guest rooms about 8-10 hours per day and the bedroom I run continuously if the A/C is off. If the a/c is on, I run it about 8-10 hours.

There are also portable Hepa machines. But, remember filtered box fans and Hepa machines will do you no good UNLESS you get rid of an active mold or water source. If the source is still there the filter or Hepa machine will not clear the air permanently because the source is still there.

In my case, we had mold spores clinging to our carpeting. One reason we had a high count of mold spores is that I was not ventilating the rooms with open windows or a fan when the air conditioning was off. We have replaced the carpeting in two rooms already with tile. I'm working on the 3rd room now. I will never have carpeting in any home. It is not healthy.

You are fortunate to have a dehumidity system hooke up to your furnace. We have that also.

I would suggest buying one 20 inch box fan and filter and try in in the room you spend most of your time, sort of a trial. Once you see what that filter is picking up, you will probably go out and buy more fans and filters for other rooms.

I noticed a color change in the filter within 2 days. After six weeks the filter was a dark brown and I had to change it.

Seek, for dust mites and pollen and mold spores, it is best to vacuum with a hepa filtered
vacuum. I had an Oreck with Hepa Filter prior to moving to Florida, now I have central vac which takes the spores out of the house.

I guess the best suggestion to give you is to do some DIY testing of your house, as I mentioned
in another post. DIY Mold Testing

Forensic Building testers are expensive but they have the best equipment and will look for water leaks with infrared cameras.

The other thing would be to have human mold testing done. Real Time labs does that but also expensive.

Please remember if you have a water leak behind a wall or somewhere in the house, that must be attended to first. You can't do remediation until the water problem is fixed. Or in the case of mold spores, ventilate the rooms.

I am only giving information that I have gained through mold professionals. I am, by no means, a mold professional and only share what I have learned and experience myself through mold spore exposure.

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Elaine G
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One other thing that I learned is that our food has a lot of mold on it. Corn is the worst offender. Wheat, rice and cheese are also bad.

So sometimes mold will not come from a sick building but from our food.

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TerryK
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The EPA states
"Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth"

I've read in other places that it should be below 55%

Elaine is right about mold in food. Add nuts and oils to the list of mold laden foods. The livestock industry has to get very involved in dealing with moldy food because it can make animals very sick and cut into their profits. Why no one addresses this in humans is very odd. Oh, I guess they don't care because we are not a cash crop.

I was surprised when I read about Dr. S's low amylase diet because he does not address mold in food and the only grain he approves of is corn which as Elaine pointed out is VERY moldy.

Terry

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seekhelp
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I've got another question on this. Today is an extremely humid day outdoors. The Relative Humidity outside is 82%. The temps are only mid 60s, but it feels 'sticky.'

Well, it's VERY humid in my house too. My hygrometer is reading at 70-80% humidity. Is this dangerous to have this high inside? When it's very high outside, should the inside be more comfortable or does it take on the outside levels?

The air just seems stale to me. Tired of it all. [Frown]

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momlyme
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quote:
Originally posted by Elaine G:
Quoting from Mold Illness and Mold Remediation

"Dust mites grow at 55 % and mold grows when humidity is over 65 % "

The humidity in my second floor bathroom was measured by the inpector at 44.1%. There was one small bathroom on the first floor with humidity at 50.6%. That was the highest in the house.

I have lab results that say mold is in active blooming growth in the basement and in the attic. Both: Aspergillus/Penicillium & Stachybotrys

That is with humidity BELOW 45% in both areas!

STACHYBOTRYS
Natural Habitat - Decaying plant materials and Soil.
Mycotoxins produced by Stachybotrys include Roridin A, Roridin E, Roridin H, Roridin L-2,
Satratoxin G, Satratoxin H, Isosatratoxin F, Verucarin A, Verucarin J, and Verrucariol.

Stachybotrys can be found in water damaged building materials such as: ceiling tiles, gypsum board, insulation backing, sheet rock, and wall paper. Paper. Textiles. Soil.

--------------------
May health be with you!

Toxic mold was suppressing our immune systems, causing extreme pain, brain fog and magnifying symptoms. Four days after moving out, the healing began.

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Elaine G
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Momlyme,
Wow, that is really puzzling.

You have low humidity for a basement and attic.

I am very happy that Stachybotrys was not found in our house or even outside on our property.
That one is a real killer.

I'm sure your tester used an infrared camera to search for active water in your home.

Our mold inspector used the infrared camera and did not find any active water. That was an interesting camera. While in the attic, the inspector put his hand, for a few seconds, on a peice of plywood. He then aimed the camera on the plywood and I could see his handprint !! The camera actually seeks heat.

He also used a new machine that he was doing a study on 100 houses. The study was being performed with a Ph.D and a paper will be written on the results.

I was with the inspector all the time he was in our home. I was very curious and he explained everything he was doing. He spent a total of
over 6 hours in our house doing all the testing and explaining things to me. It was quite an education.

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desertwind
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I just had black mold in my attic taken care of by mold remediation specialists. I too have bad allergies and mold is one of them.

According to them typically you want humidity to be under 55% but it all depends on the structure and materials used in the house.

We also had black mold in the bathroom that was removed a couple years ago. That mold was hidden and could not be seen but I became very symptomatic each time I showered. No more symptoms while showering since the mold and leak has been addressed.

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Elaine G
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seek,

Forgot to chime in on your question...

70-80 % humidity in your home is too high. You will be growing mold if you have spores.

Do you have opened windows? Also, you should check for openings in your house where outside air will be penetrating the inside of your home.

When our mold tester used his infrared camera he was a little bit concern with a small area in our attic. We have blown foam insulation in the attic and he got a different color in a area about 4 x 4 inches. He was concerned that the insulation was not thick enough and air would be penetrating from the outside. We have since had more foam installed in that area.

Did you ever try the box fan and filter? Wondering if your filter is changing colors.

It is bad enough we are sick with TBD and spending our hard earned $$ on that but then to add mold into the soup, it is a real challenge.

Seek, if you are in an area like the Northeast, they have been getting a lot of rain. Humdity levels will be higher when it rains. If your house is reading in the 70-80 % hunmdity level then you have outside air coming inside from somewhere in your home. Try to find out where it is infiltrating your home.

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sixgoofykids
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Seek, yesterday you jokingly asked me if AI was a miracle. I'm taking it to change how my body reacts to allergies because I had an anaphylactic reaction to shellfish last December.

During the second round, my environmental allergies (whole family has had them BAD this year) flared really badly and I also got really sick with a fever and everything. When that passed my seasonal allergies were gone, yet the rest of the family still has theirs.

I know it's too soon to tell, but I thought I'd pass on that info. I don't believe AI is a cure all, which is why I've never taken it, but it does seem to be a help with the way the body responds to things like allergies (and for me digestion).

--------------------
sixgoofykids.blogspot.com

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sixgoofykids
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Maybe for weather like this when the heat isn't running enough yet it's not warm enough for A/C, a freestanding dehumidifier might help.

Everywhere gets humid indoors this time of year. It's nasty. Too warm for heat, too cold for a/c = too humid and sticky.

* edited - I'm thinking of whole house humidifiers .... I have a humidifier on my furnace because the heat dries everything out.

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Elaine G
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Seek

you have the whole house dehumidifer on your furnace, do you have separate controls for that? Can you crank it up to get rid of some of that humdity? Does it work when the furnance is not running?

Mine works if I have air or heat shut off. It is a separate unit with it's own controls.

I had to crank my whole house dehumidifer up today, outside humidity is running around 70% . Indoor humdity was getting close to 60 %.

I've got the air on and all the doors and windows closed. I guess summer has started in Florida, we've been at the high 80's in temp but today is the first day that outside humdity is so high. We've been running around 32-42 % outside humdity.

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lpkayak
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i couldn't read all of above but this stuck out:

"Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth"

reading 70% was ok scared me


my mold guy told me to try really hard to keep it below 40%

i can't alwys do that...but i can see mold starting to grow if i don't

i have a strong history of exposure and i am like a canary when it is around even if not visable

--------------------
Lyme? Its complicated. Educate yourself.

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mojo
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Seek: I have a couple of those HEPA filters and they work great. I use it in my bedroom and the air always smells so fresh. I have another for my daughter's room (she has mega allergies), too.

I hate the "Michigan Mugg" but I live right on the water which makes it even worse.

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seekhelp
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Thanks for all the great feedback/advice. Very useful. To begin, I made a mistake when I initially said I have a whole house dehumidifier. I wish. [Smile] I have a whole house HUMIDIFER as most do. I think a whole house dehumidifer is rare and more of a luxury.

I agree Six that an independent freestanding dehumidifer makes a lot of sense for my upstairs. I have one in the basement. They're not cheap to run unfortunately even when energy-star compliant, but what is cheap about this illness? [Frown]

Regarding the bigger issues, I'm kind of overwhelmed where to start. I'll be very interested to see my C3a/C4a results soon. My first was 12,000+. if the next is higher, I'll become pretty darn suspicious of mold in the house as my C3a is perfect. From what I read of Dr S' literature a normal C3a and very high C4a often indicates mold problems. Also, my HLA-Dr testing will be meaningful.

ElaineG, I did get the box fan and taped a 20" x 20" Merv 11 filter on it in my office. After a week, I didn't see any major color changes, but I'll look more closely.

Desertwind, can you tell me more how that black mold was discovered in your shower because I'm having the EXACT same problems after showering?

My meter still showed a 70% RH in my rooms today even though it cooled down some outside. Not good. My in-laws made a general statement when it's humid outside it is in the house and no big deal. However, they don't struggle to see straight, have a running nose 24/7, feel horrible, etc.

Lpkayak, getting it under 40% is impossible. You'll go broke trying!

Elaine, how much did that home inspection cost you where he was out 6 hours? I'm trying to get some estimate of this process. Feel free to PM me if you don't want to discuss on the forum.

Six, glad AI is helping you somewhat!!

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desertwind
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Well my house is very old - 1760 - so it has had many owners and was also abandoned for sometime..

I noticed that some of the tile on the floor and shower became loose and would essentially fall out - looked kinda black underneath. We also had a leak prior to the tile becoming loose.

In addition to the tile issue I would get nasty headaches, flashing lights in my vision and sinus congestion after showering.

I decided to have the bathroom re-done to take care of the loose tile and that is when we found the black mold.

I have to say that it has only been a few days since I took care of the mold in my attic but every morning since I have woke up without a headache and just feel better. My bedroom is right under the attic.

I would not under estimate the effects of sick building syndrome.

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sixgoofykids
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quote:
Originally posted by seekhelp:

Six, glad AI is helping you somewhat!!

Thanks! I've always had seasonal allergies, even pre-Lyme, so I didn't think this was something that could be "fixed".

The a/c dehumidifies before it cools, but it's just not cool enough to run it yet.

--------------------
sixgoofykids.blogspot.com

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