364: How To Prevent And Treat Mold Naturally
David Bloom And Ashley James
- VOCs and particulates are the most common household air pollutants
- Dangers of burning candles
- Best air filter combination
- Molds accumulating indoor
- Indoor moisture problem can be serious
- Radon – a harmful, naturally occurring gas
- Environmental mold
- Prevent mld growth inside the home
- The importance of proper ventilation
- House treatment after a flood
Welcome to the Learn True Health Podcast. I'm your host, Ashley James.
This is Episode 364.
We have a very interesting guest for today's show, David Bloom. I'm so excited to finally have you on the show. I've been a really big fan of Green Home Solutions which has created a revolutionary technique for removing mold that is both non-toxic and permanent. It's something that no other company has. I have personally experienced the benefits of what you've created. I had black mold in our bathroom and it was making sick. I didn't even know it was making me sick. It basically shot my immune system and I was catching everything, and then I finally used your services and it removed the mold, and I stopped catching the germs. I thought this is amazing. I spent probably a year just catching every single cold and flu and just feeling like my immune system had hit rock bottom and it was because of the mold in our house that I was being exposed to everytime I went to our bathroom which is right off our bedroom. So I was basically breathing in these mold spores all the time.
Other companies will use harsh chemicals. They won't actually get rid of 100% of the mold, and I'm really looking forward to you teaching us today more about how to create indoor air quality; what to look for and the science behind this technology that you've developed. So welcome to the show.
0:01:56.0 David Bloom: Thank you very much for having me, Ashley. It's a privilege to be with you. You've done some great work. I've listened to several of your podcasts. Just to give you an idea of how this all got started. About late 90's to early 2000, I had just completed finishing my basement turning it into a living space. We had had a sewage backup or a blockage and the plumber came out with the septic system. He was running a snake from the tank back towards the house to clear the blockage. What I forgot was above the ceiling in that newly finished basement space was a standpipe for water [inaudible 0:02:36.1]. So everytime the plumber is pushing the snake there is ethylic coming over that pipe into the basement which had just been completed into a living space.
So I started to freak out and called my local DP and they said get rid of everything, get somebody in there. Called environmental protection with the same issue. But I remember meeting a gentleman at the Atlanta airport who had created a particular product that was rather unique. Back at that time, I live in Connecticut northeast, and most homes or a lot of the homes up here are heated using heating oil. And the oil tanks had historically always been buried in the ground. They found that around that time that most of these tanks started leaking. And if you had a tank in the ground you couldn't sell your house. You would have to remove it first, and if you removed it and they found any evidence of leakage that was considered hazardous waste – that had to be hold away.
So he had come up with a combination of microbes that would be injected into the ground prior to the tanks being dug up a few days ahead of time. And these microbes would actually digest the oil in the ground and then when you dig the tank up there's no hazardous waste left. It was brilliant. So I got his card and I said, “Stephen, will this stuff work with what I'm doing?” He said, “I have no idea, but why don't you try it.” So we did. We dried the space out ourselves, we used his product as a spray, we used it on the carpet, we used it as a wipe down. We used it for everything. Now, it wasn't a big mess. It came in a quarter, maybe a 6 by 6 area, but it was a carpeted space. They told us we'd have to get rid of all that and everything. Bottomline was we spent a couple of days playing around with the stuff. I had somebody come in and test my house and there was no evidence of mold and there was no evidence of bacteria.
That actually stayed that way. The only thing we got rid of – there was a wood bookcase that had a particleboard core. So that swelled up a little bit. I got rid of that. Everything else stayed there until about two years ago when we finally re-did the space. I test my house regularly, usually about every six months. Never have had an issue. So, Steve and I got together and we formed the company and we started looking at other alternatives. So we worked on this particular product for mold remediation specifically because at that time they're a good industry to get into and we expanded it off of that with other cleaning products. We have odor neutralization technologies we developed, we do biogas desulfurization for anaerobic digesters which is to clean the gas up so it can be burned in a generator from plants or using a fuel cell.
So what happened was I went back to school at roughly 50 years old for microbiology because I had to know what I was talking about and everything took off from there. I come from a family of scientists. I actually took a wrong turn when I went to college and thought that law looked pretty good. My uncle is a very well-known research chemist in the Boston area. I used to work for him during the summer. As a matter of fact, I had a better chemistry set in my house when I was a teenager than my highschool had. It just thrilled me to death to get back and become a scientist. My daughter is finishing up her PhD in neuroscience. I mean we're a science type of family. We love what we do because we're helping people. We're not breaking things down. We're just helping people get healthy the best way we can.
It took us a couple of years to get the formula perfected and it needed to get through an EPA registration which is not an easy process. You have to prove your efficacy, you have to prove the safety. it really comes down to having a registered product means that the EPA has looked at our data which is generated from third-party laboratories and it matched what we say it does. So, it does what we say it does. It's the safest we say it is. That's a big deal. In the mold remediation industry there's a lot of cowboys out there. We call them “spray and pray.” They go in to somebody's house with God knows what? I mean they're gonna tell you, “Oh it's all natural. It's safe. Everything's fine.” But if it's not EPA registered, there's no way of verifying that and you just really don't know what you're getting. Unfortunately it's giving the industry a pretty bad rep.
With Green Home, I got involved with them 2015. They have an exclusive – mostly the products that I make now. We have a couple of things we do for the industry but most of the products we make. I had been responsible for training their remediators. They all have to get accredited by the American Council for Accredited Certification whose own programs are created by the council of engineering and scientific specialty branch which is the only one like it. There's a lot of people that have [inaudible 0:08:03.0] after their name in the mold industry, but usually it's a paid up plaque. You pay them a fee, you answer some questions and you get a certification. ACAC does not offer any kind of training. All they do is they do proctored exams. So it's really a great way to do it and it puts us ahead of a lot of the other people that are out there and much more reputable.
We're actually getting into a lot more things than just mold. In fact, I'm not sure if you're aware, but the two most common indoor pollutants are VOCs and particulates. People don't realize it. There is an article recently in one of the journals where they analyze the air in a home after they had cooked the roast in their oven. It was a gas oven, I think that would probably make a little bit of a difference. The air quality was equal to New Delhi India which is about the 6th most polluted air in the world – off from that roast.
0:09:05.9 Ashley James: Yeah. I believe that. I had a doctor on who wrote the book Dirty Genes and his whole thing is teaching people how to help their body through epigenetics. Because when we're exposed to different chemicals, it can actually trigger genes to turn on and off – basically genes to be suppressed or expressed themselves. And when we are cooking with gas, when we're breathing and we don't have the hood on to suck all the byproduct or the waste of burning gas away from us, it can change our genetics. Because there are chemicals like formaldehyde in the gas that comes to our stove and so people often will turn the oven on and not think to turn the hood on and their whole house is being filled with formaldehyde.
0:10:01.5 David Bloom: Yes. The electric stove still have the issue from the particulates from the cooking process itself, but obviously not from the gas. And while we're talking about gas, one of the other major pollutants are the pilot lights that are in gas fireplaces. A lot of people still have pilot lights instead of electronic ignition. Those are very inefficient – they way they burn. They let something that's not used very often. When it's on it gets complete combustion. You don't get the same particulate matter, but when it's not operating and just the pilot light is on – then you're putting particulates in. And along those same things, the next one that everybody should be avoiding is burning candles. Candles are atrocious for putting particulates into the air, especially paraffin candles. Soy-based candles are better, and if you had to burn a candle and you could keep your wick short under about half an inch – that's even better.
We did a test where we hooked up a sort of like a radon fan in a filtration system. We burn a single candle for 20 minutes, the filter was as black as black could be from that one candle. Nobody realizes it and then you go into somebody's home and they can't understand why they don't feel well and they got 25 candles burning everywhere – not a good idea.
0:11:28.4 Ashley James: Wow. We have one air filter that we keep running in our bedroom. I turn it on a few hours before we go into the bedroom to sleep. I turn it on high and when I walk in there, it is like I'm walking into a fresh forest. The air smells amazing. Not that our house smells bad, but it's just there's something totally different about the quality of the air. It smells clean and fresh and it feels different when I walk into our bedroom after having turn the air filter on high and we have it running all night long with us. I just notice a difference. I thought that was really interesting that the rest of our house is so different from this one room that has an air filter in it.
0:12:18.6 David Bloom: I'm guessing you have charcoal filter in that filter also. Activated charcoal is unbelievably good at absorbing some VOCs and gasses. So typically the best combination that I would ever recommend is a HEPA filter with an activated charcoal pre-filter and that will take care of a lot of the pollutants that we would normally see. A HEPA filter is down to .3 microns so you're getting most anything that could get down deeper, you're not getting really tiny stuff, but you're getting a good portion of it.
0:12:51.3 Ashley James: Is Green Home Solutions planning on designing and providing air filters that are effective?
0:13:03.4 David Bloom: Actually we're in the middle of looking at that now. There's a lot of them out in the market. There's a big discrepancy between what the lab results on a lot of these filters are versus what you actually get in real life. In fact, Wire Cutter which is a division of the New York Times published an article just recently where they did real life experiences with a bunch of different air filters and made some strong recommendations. There's some really good ones. So we're not necessarily to re-invent, we're looking to see if we can find the one that does what we want. If we had to, we will. But I think we're gonna find a manufactured product that we can recommend based on the design and how it works.
0:13:43.8 Ashley James: Very cool.
0:13:46.1 David Bloom: But I would recommend that article for your listeners.
0:13:48.5 Ashley James: Great. I will make sure that we link it. Is there a particular brand that you have in your home right now that you like?
0:13:56.4 David Bloom: No. [Laughter]
0:13:59.1 Ashley James: The jury is still out?
0:14:01.0 David Bloom: I actually have a commercial unit that I was still learning remediation business for a number of years before I decided I didn't wanna do the work anymore and just make the stuff that other people use and train people how to do it. So I've got air scrubbers that will move anywhere between 500 and 2000 cubic feet of air per minute.
0:14:19.7 Ashley James: I bet your house smells amazing.
0:14:22.0 David Bloom: Well, we've got dogs and cats. So, got to take that into consideration. But I'll run those periodically for a couple of hours especially if we're not home during the day, I'll let it run. I have activated carbon pre-filters on those also. So that's what I do use.
Getting back to the VOCs, what a lot of people don't realize, I mean formaldehyde is bigger. Formaldehyde can come from building materials, particle boards, new carpet smells – typically formaldehyde. But most of the VOCs that we find when we test homes are actually from personal care and cleaning products. So the typical house if you open a cabinet under the sink is just a zestful of VOC producing chemicals and people don't realize that that could be affecting your health in the home.
Personal care products – I had a client that I was visiting and she was undergoing chemotherapy. She thought she had mold in the house and it tested negative for that. So we looked for bacteria, we didn't find anything. So we did the VOC test and there was some sort of a funny smell and I couldn't quite put my finger on it when I was in there. So when the test results came back, she had two major sources – one was under her sink and the other was she had a perfume that she would put on when people are coming over. It was a very light scent, it had a perfumey type of smell but I didn't really detect it on her, but that was putting a tremendous amount of VOCs into the air. And so here she is sitting getting chemotherapy but she is making herself ill. So once we got her to change, things got better of course.
The other thing that people don't realize is when they store – if you have an attached garage and you store chemicals, pesticides, gasoline. All of those things can generate gasses that then can get sucked in to the house. Most homes are under a slight negative pressure. Ideally we'd have them under positive pressure, but most are under negative pressure and that comes back to what's called the [inaudible 0:16:42.0]. Assuming you're in the basement or crawlspace, air will flow from that cooler space below all the way up through the attic. One of the things just on a side note is if I walked into somebody's attic and I see that they've got mold there, the first thing I would look for is a wet base in their crawl space because that's typically where it comes from. Second would be lack of ventilation.
0:17:07.0 Ashley James: So an attic can have mold because there's like a leak in some other part of the house but that the moisture is travelling upwards into the attic.
0:17:17.0 David Bloom: That's correct. So if moisture generates below is always gonna go up and you reach middle pressure, somewhere towards the top of the house and then you get a little bit of negative pressure in the attic. So it is all going in that one flow. It's a very common known issue. Nowadays they typically try to air seal attics from the rest of the house so that you don't get anything going up and then if you can condition your house to take care of that moisture, you're fine. But here in New England we typically all have basements here, but if you don't have a dehumidifier in your basement, you're gonna have a mold issue. Because in the summer time it gets very hot and humid and you get a tremendous amount of moisture because that cooler space down below, you get hot air infiltrating into the house reaches that cools space and you get moisture. Ventilated crawl spaces are a big issue. Same thing, you have hot humid air coming in, it gets the cooler surface of the dirt or the floor in the crawl space and it condenses and you end up with a moisture problem.
In fact some people would fans in there because they think if they move more air through their crawl space it makes sense, but the reality is you're really just bringing in more moisture and allowing it to condense. So I'd like to say, seal the crawl spaces.
0:18:45.1 Ashley James: Oh okay. I was gonna say what the solution? So the solution is to seal them.
0:18:48.1 David Bloom: Yeah. That's the best thing you can do. Seal it. If you don't have combustion appliances in the crawl space then we would actually recommend sealing the entire thing. You should probably put a dehumidifier in there, but you'd seal between the crawl space and the living space and obviously you're gonna seal between the outside and the crawl space itself in the ground. If you do have combustion appliances, you have to be careful because those typically require either a draft for the gas to get up the chimney plus the air for combustion. So there you have to have some alternative ways to doing it.
Modern day furnaces, condensing furnaces, gas units have their own air supply. For other types of units – oil; here they do something where they bring in we call a fan in a can, but it's a little fan that turns on when your furnace turns on. So it has enough air for combustion. But sealing them up is one of the best things they could do. It improves the whole indoor air quality of the house.
0:19:50.4 Ashley James: So Green Home Solutions franchises. So you teach, you're one of the main educators at Green Home Solutions and you teach these franchisees how to do these things and I know they go through extensive education with you. Do you teach them how to detect these kinds of problems? Sort of beyond mold, but looking at what should be – like where the VOCs and particulates are coming from, what should be sealed off, is this something that if one of our listeners called Green Home Solutions and have one of their local people come out to their house they could inspect this and see if they could find these problems?
0:20:35.4 David Bloom: Yes. We spend several days just teaching building sciences. So we teach them about proper construction techniques to manage moisture so that when they go to look at a property and if it doesn't look like they way it's supposed to look, you know you've got a potential issue there. As far as testing for these, we're just really getting into it. I've been doing it for a while. I've got several franchisees that are preferably qualified and we're slowly getting everybody.
So originally we go in and test for mold. If that came back negative, then we're sort of out of luck because we're not helping anybody. We just tell them they don't have mold issue, they have some other issue. And actually mold is really isn't the problem. Mold is a symptom of a problem. Moisture is the issue. So mold is just a symptom of a moisture problem. That's why we spend so much time at the building sciences is because they have to be able to identify where the source of moisture is coming from. And we do that, we use thermal imaging, moisture meters, we have[ inaudible 0:21:40.9] so they can look inside walls. We have a number of tools available to help us do these inspections, but there's really no substitute for your eyes and your nose actually – of just looking around.
We can test for molds, we'll test for bacteria, we can test for VOCs, formaldehyde – we test for separately because it doesn't always show up on a standard VOC test. If there were spray foam insulation, we'll do a different type of aldehyde test. Spray foam – if it isn't put in perfectly, it can off-gas and the half-life is like 50 years. It never goes away.
0:22:16.7 Ashley James: Oh my gosh. I know so many people who thought they were really smart to use spray foam for insulation. They do it themselves.
0:22:24.3 David Bloom: I used to recommend it. I don't any longer. Although in some situations it's okay, and if they're doing it themselves and they're using a single-part system, that's okay too. But when it's done professionally, there's two separate components to it that get mixed together, and if everything is not perfect it doesn't cure properly and then it has the potential to off-gas for an extended period of time. But in some areas you have to do it, we talked to some people up in Boston that had bought a new condo and they're renovating it and they only had about nine inches of sealing space, but Boston requires an R60 I think it was for insulation in the roof. The only way you can get that level is with spray foam. So if it's done properly – somebody described it to me as this, somebody smarter than I. He said it's like playing Russian Roulette with a revolver that's got 50 chambers. 49 out of 50 times it's gonna be fine, but when it's not, it's catastrophic.
I did several spray foam insulation remediation projects or managed them a few years back and I couldn't do it anymore.It was just awful. The first one, we literally cut the roof off the people's house. Cut it off where the rafters meet the ceiling bush. Take it with a crane, we built them a new roof.
Second one I did, they tore the house down because there's no way to fix it. If it's a mild issue, you can bring in more fresh air. I did one where we put in something that brought in an extra 7,000 cubic feet of fresh air, conditioned it and it kept the house in a positive pressure so it held the gas in the wall. That's why positive pressure is always good. When you end up at negative pressure you can suck pollutants in places you didn't even know you had.
0:24:23.3 Ashley James: I need to unpack that. My mind is about to explode. So many people have homes that have this spray foam. Maybe they moved in to a house and someone else had done the spray foam and they're sitting here going, “Oh my gosh I have spray foam in my attic. I have no idea whether my house is positive or negative.” Or whether the draft is coming down from the attic and I don't know whether it's off-gassing. Can we talk a bit about what are the symptoms, what's the harm in having the spray foam off-gas for 50 years to our whole family in our house?
0:24:58.7 David Bloom: If it's off-gassing, that's a big if. Like I said 49 out of 50 times it's probably just fine. If it's off-gassing, there's usually a little bit of an odor that you detect, but not everybody is sensitive to it. That first house I mentioned where we took the roof off, the two other people that live there had no symptoms at all and one of them is actually one of their children couldn't stay there. He just would get headaches, migraines, he'd feel awful and as soon as he left the house he felt better. So obviously there's some sort of a correlation there.
Now, if somebody wanted to check and see if it's cured properly, you could actually cut a little sample out. Put it in a mason jar and set it out in the sun for a little bit, then open it up and take up and take a big whiff. If it has sort of a sweet fishy smell, that would be an aldehyde – one of the gasses that's pretty common that's not right. Formaldehyde is an aldehyde. There are other aldehydes – glutaraldehyde, formaldehyde, but they're aldehydes. Often you have acetic acid which is like a vinegary kind of smell. This is not a scientific test by any way, but it is simple that somebody could do. To do it properly you would have to have sorbent tubes in a pump it runs for about 24 hours and that then gets analyzed specifically for gasses that could be present in spray foam.
There's not a lot of places that do that. In fact, I'm only aware of one laboratory that does that kind of analysis specifically for spray foam. There's a lot of really good labs that can test for various VOCs, but they have a very nice panel of all the potential gasses that could come out of spray foam insulation.
0:26:59.9 Ashley James: We didn't define VOCs. So for those who don't know what VOCs are, can you just define it and explain why they're harmful?
0:27:10.4 David Bloom: VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds. They're essentially gasses that are given off by various organics through their life cycle so to speak. Now, a lot of them will off-gas fairly quickly and dissipate quite quick. We had new carpet put in as I mentioned when I redid my basement living space not long ago and that stunk. It was awful and I have a way of getting rid of it, but I wanted to see how long it would take to actually dissipate on its own using. We weren't using the space, so I figured it would fine. And it took almost four weeks before it completely off-gassed. So it's just such an off-gassing from a chemical compound. It usually gets more intense when it's heated. So that actually is one of the methods of trying to get rid of VOCs in the house. You could turn your heat up as high as it'll go. Let it run that way for eight or nine hours and then ventilate the heck out of it. So the idea is to get as much of that gas you can into the air and then get it out of the house.
0:28:21.8 Ashley James: And don't stay in the house while it's happening. [Laughter]
0:28:26.0 David Bloom: No, because you're gonna put more of it into the air. The other thing that people forget about is just open your windows. I mean this is gonna sound silly but I tell people this all the time. Dilution can be the solution for pollution. Just diluting that air, so the concentration now is lower makes a big difference. And as houses get build tighter and tighter and tighter for energy efficiency, if there's not enough fresh air make-up, you're carbon dioxide levels go way up because as humans are exhaling a lot of carbon dioxide. The moisture levels go up because we as humans have a lot of moisture and it's got nowhere to go which is also why we see more instances of mold growth nowadays than we did in the older homes.
0:29:16.9 Ashley James: Right.
0:29:18.3 David Bloom: My first house I bought was built in 1865 I think. It leaked like a sieve but I never had a mold issue because it could breathe. It had the ability to dry if it got wet. It could dry to the exterior. It could dry to the interior. Now, when we build these things so tight, there's no ability for them to breath. So there are units that are either energy recovery ventilators or heat recovery ventilators – ERVs or HRVs. Those are pretty standard issue today in modern homes. What they do is they take and equal amount of outdoor air and exit an equal amount of indoor air. So you always have some fresh air coming in. The problem I see is they don't seem to be enough in a lot of cases. The house is really tight but just not enough of it, and it needs to be increases. There are ways to doing that, but as I mentioned open your windows and take a deep breath.
Now, granted you're exposed to a lot more mold outside than you are inside normally, but getting that air diluted especially for any of these other things we're talking about particular to VOCs – let's dilute it and make it not such a big deal. Getting back to the things that we test for, we can also test for settled allergen. We'll take a dust sample and have it analyzed for pet dander, dog and cat dander, dust mite matter, rodent excrement – there's a lot of things they can look for and they can actually look for actual particles too. I had an instance where an old woman wasn't feeling well in her home and she said that she's had an abnormal amount of dust lately. We had the dust analyzed and it was silica. So I took a drive around, in about a mile away from her home, there was a place that they were demolishing a building and they were generating a lot of silica dust and that was carrying into her home and that's what was causing the issue.
So it really becomes sort of an investigation. It's a lot of fun actually. The other thing too is radon – is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarettes in this country. People would test for radon when they buy their home and never think of it again. it really should be tested every three or four years. It's a simple test, non-invasive. And your water should be tested on a regular basis, especially if you're on a well system.
0:31:59.3 Ashley James: Oh absolutely. I want to talk about the radon for second. What in the home could generate radon?
0:32:05.9 David Bloom: Radon is a naturally occurring gas from the ground. It comes from rocks similar to uranium actually. It's naturally occurring. It's much stronger in certain parts of the country. The northeast has pretty high radon because we have a lot of rock and that tends to be where it is coming from.
0:32:29.0 Ashley James: Because of the bedrock, the Precambrian Shield, I think it's what's called.
0:32:34.1 David Bloom: Yeah. Other parts of the country, it's not nearly as big of a deal, but certain parts on the East Coast is pretty good. Getting down south, we don't see it as much because the sand is more sandier and it's not anywhere near as much rock. But the EPA has a map on their website that shows where the highest instances of radon are. I would certainly recommend to your listeners that they take a look at that and if they're in one of the red areas, get it checked if you hadn't done it in a couple of years. It's odorless, colorless gas. you'll never know if you have it.
0:33:09.5 Ashley James: But it can cause lung cancer.
0:33:12.4 David Bloom: It can cause lung cancer.
0:33:13.4 Ashley James: Very interesting. Yeah because we're always thinking that these things in our home might be from like you said, carpet or a mattress off-gassing, or mold – but we don't think that something totally natural coming from the ground would be harmful. So remember to test radon. It can shift, so when you first buy your home radon might not be present, but five years in the future it could start happening. Like shifts in the earth and then it just starts off-gassing?
0:33:48.3 David Bloom: A construction project can do it. Our well water has always been perfect. I was in a fairly rural area. They were building a new house maybe a quarter mile from me on my street and all of a sudden I started getting iron in my water and it came from the construction that they were doing and when they had a blast because again, we have so much bedrock – they had a blast to actually get their well dug drilled, it disturbed the aquifer and all of a sudden it started with a relatively high iron content. We had to put a fairly sophisticated filter system to take care of that.
0:34:36.2 Ashley James: I just had the exact same thing happened. We're on a well and we've been living here for five years, the water has been perfect. We were joking about bottling it in glass bottles and selling it to Europe or something. I mean it's just like the best water. We have friends come from all around to bottle out water and take it home with them and all of a sudden our water become murky, it taste like heavy metal, it taste very metallic and it had an odor to it. Out of nowhere, just one day it's fine next day it's not and we got a water filter, but we're waiting back from the lab right now. They said it will take like 10 days because they're testing all these things. It feels like it's taking a million years to get these results back because I wanna know with our water. Is it even safe to bathe in it. We were like bathing in a friend's house. But yeah, that made me realize that I hadn't actually had our well water tested since our son was born because we had it tested to see if the nitrates were high – that's one thing because we had to substitute with some formula and I didn't wanna make the formula with water that's high in nitrates because it can cause blue baby syndrome. For adults too, it makes our red blood cell not be able to carry oxygen, and so people can feel really lethargic and sort of just down if their drinking well water that's high in nitrates, and most filters cannot filter out nitrates. I discovered this, that most filters in the market – you have to get a specific filter that filters nitrates.
So really being careful if we have a well and making sure that we test our water every year is really important. Time just flew by and I'm like, “Oh my gosh. What are we doing to drink this water that we don't test every year.” So yeah, being really careful testing for radon every few years. if you have a well, most people don't, but if you do – get that water tested.
You mentioned that one of the things that your franchisees do with Green home solutions is test the home for bacteria. Why test the home for bacteria? Is bacteria growing inside the home?
0:37:08.7 David Bloom: bacteria is growing everywhere. There's a book by a guy named Rob Dunn called “Never Home Alone” and it's about the microbial bio [inaudible 0:37:17.2] all the time. It's creepy, but it exists. We need them. Most of the bacteria is healthy and it's fine, but we just don't need bacteria. So when I was back there before I got involved with Green Home, we found a number of instances where we would test for mold and it would come back negative. So we would test for airborne bacteria levels and if those were elevated, we would take care of it in the same way because the product works equally as well in bacteria as it does in mold. Bacteria is actually much easier to get rid off. Bacteria just have a single cell wall whereas mold spores can have two or three membranes you have to get through before you can get to the nucleus, and I'll get into that in a minute.
So airborne bacteria levels which a lot people take slobs on the surface. It's [inaudible 0:38:08.3] bacteria when it should in most cases. But elevated airborne bacteria levels sometimes could be an issue. It's not as common, we don't do airborne bacteria very often but it is a test that's available.
Now, for surface – one of the things we do we're using something that's out of the food service industry which is called and ATP test. This is used to determine cleanliness. ATP is a particular enzyme that is present in all organic matter, and this is an instant test. We do it with a meter and a slob. I can take samples in numerous locations around the house ad if the levels are elevated, I don't necessarily know that it's bacteria, but it does indicate a general level of uncleanliness I guess, which could easily be bacteria. It could be peanut butter for all I know, but there's something. So it's just an overall level of cleanliness, but if you have a clean home you typically don't have much of these other issues with bacteria that you don't want in particular.
0:39:23.4 Ashley James: So when you met Steve at the Atlanta airport, I think that's such divine intervention to have the two of you meet with your love of science and that problem that you had in your home. Did you look back at your life and see how, it's sort of like all the stars were aligned. You had to have that bad thing happened to you in your home in order to be intrigued. So when you met Steve you had this problem to solve and then that led you to want to solve this problem for other people.
0:39:54.6 David Bloom: Yes. That was life-changing for me. I switched careers. I was a small business owner for a number of years. I completely switched careers in the middle of my life and I just fell in love with the fact that I was able to help people. I like the fact that Green Home being a relatively new company, a lot of people that I work with are half my age which is terrific. I love it. And I love sort of getting the next generation involved in the same kind of work. I've never been happier. I can't imagine why I would ever want to retire. I love what I'm doing.
0:40:41.8 Ashley James: Yes. That's exactly it. You know you're doing what you should do when you don't wanna retire. Like when I interviewed Dr. Esselstyn, he's in his 80s. I think he's 87, and he still is an active cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic and he still takes phone calls. If you call him up, he'll answer the phone. He talks to people all day long for free. He's amazing. but he's the kind of person that he's gonna be like 110 years old and he's still gonna be a cardiologist helping people. So, when you find your life's calling, you find your purpose in life, you do it for free – you know when you absolutely love what you do, especially when it comes to helping people.
David, I know you're passionate about what you do, but you're also really helping people. You're helping the business owners, those who choose to be a franchisee of Green Home Solutions – you're helping them to help other people and then ultimately you're helping all these homeowners through what you're doing as the Chief Science Officer at Green Home Solutions.
When you met Steve and he talked about this enzyme that he created to breakdown the oil, how did you figure out that it could also be effective at basically destroying and demolishing mold? Can you take us back to that moment, that conversation you were first having with Steve, was it a light bulb moment? How did you come to that conclusion?
0:42:19.2 David Bloom: It's actually by chance because I'd met him and learned a little bit about what he was doing with the oil stuff. So I had enzymes in my brain to start with, and when you look at what enzymes do, enzymes can either break things apart or they can build things up. We have about 3,000 different kind of enzymes in our bodies. We would not be alive without them, because what they do is the speed up the reactions that are required to keep us alive, and the reactions wouldn't occur fast enough without them. They are in our RNA and DNA and various enzymes in there. They're in almost everything. So when he was talking about using the enzymes to essentially digest the oil molecules I said, “Why couldn't we do this…” And then of course when I tried it, we had no idea whether it would do anything or not. It did actually worked pretty good. Not as good as what we have now, but it did work pretty good.
The concept of breaking something down by using itself so to speak, so the enzymes that are present in our mold product are actually from molds. They are harvested from other molds. So molds have a very very strong protective mechanism and they have these things we call acceptors that open and close. They are like channels that allow material to get in. That's how they get their food, energy, and moisture. When they come in contact with something that's foreign, they typically sort of like close up and don't allow anything to enter. When we attack the mold spore with our product, it's like a homecoming and they welcome it with open arms. So it actually gets in and destroy the mold spores from the inside out.
0:44:10.8 Ashley James: That's so cool.
0:44:12.9 David Bloom: And then the enzymes themselves are specific types to breakdown various parts of the mold spores. So there would be one type that would go after the membranes, one type that goes after the fatty lipid layer between the membranes. The nucleus is typically a protein, so we use a protease which breaks the bond. Proteins are just strings of amino acids held together by a peptide bond. By breaking the protease, it breaks that bond and actually digest it. So all that's left is amino acids, and typically when most people have a reaction to molds, your typical reaction – I'm not talking about people that have very serious diseases, but just your typical sort of sinus type reactions. That's a reaction to the proteins. So by breaking down the protein's amino acids – there's no protein, there's no allergy. So mold is essentially a histamine, that's why if you get a cold or a stuffy head, you're gonna take an antihistamine to try to get rid of that. So molds has the same symptoms as histamine, that's the trigger. So by breaking down the components so that you don't have an allergen left makes all the difference in the world.
0:45:23.6 Ashley James: Does inhaling mold or mold spores increase histamine in the body?
0:45:30.5 David Bloom: I don't know, to be honest. I'm not a medical professional. That would be a question sure I could find out. It's just nobody asked me that question before. [Laughter]
0:45:45.3 Ashley James: If in itself is a histamine, is it as we're inhaling it, is it the same as our own histamines? I know our bodies react to it. It is like breathing in pollen and their histamine levels go up. Or someone eating a food they're allergic to and their histamine levels go up or even under stress our histamine levels go up.
0:46:08.2 David Bloom: I would assume it's the same kind of trigger.
0:46:10.7 Ashley James: This is so fascinating. One thing that was explained to me – I had a health coach on the show and she's the one that introduced me to you guys, and it was life changing for her to have find your company. She bought a home with her family in California and for six months she could not live in their new home. She had to live at a tent in the backyard because she was sick everytime she went into their new home, because it had mold. And they finally found your company and so they went in and they sprayed everything. And she said it was like a miracle, she was able to live in their home after that. She's had a lot of her clients use the Green Home Solutions services very successfully. When I interviewed her she told me about it, because at the time I was telling her about my immune system was shot and I didn't know why because I eat super healthy, I have a really healthy lifestyle, like what's going on. And something that you wrote to me that basically health requires three things; it requires that we take into account – lifestyle, genetics, and our environment. She pointed out that my environment probably had mold in it and told me about you guys.
How she explained how it works – she basically said a lot of companies will say they're mold remediators and they go ahead and just use something like bleach which just kills the molds but does not get rid of the mold spores. So even though it's “dead” is actually now more toxic because now it releases these mold spores and it can still harm your body. Is that an accurate description? Like if I went to Home Depot and bought some kind of natural mold remediator or bleach which is so common. I've heard landlords use bleach all the time. The different between those chemicals and the enzymes that you use, can you explain the difference?
0:48:22.5 David Bloom: Sure. It's actually pretty simple. Most of those products – a lot of them are oxidizers, and oxidizers can work a couple of different ways. An oxidizer can literally shake a molecule to break it apart and then essentially the guts leak out, it's dead, but you still have the residual. Others are DNA disruptors – they actually don't kill the spore, they just make it so it can't reproduce. So you still have the spore left, it's still intact and could still trigger an allergic reaction which is the most common response.
Bleach is a really good example of this. If you have mold on a wall in our home, the roots of the molds are into the paper. What you see on the surface is topical. So bleach let's say it reacts with that mold. It's what we call a stoichiometric reaction, it's a one on one reaction and all the energy in that chemical is consumed instantly. It's used up instantly. So even if it kills the mold on the surface, the byproduct of that reaction is water, and water is now gonna feed the roots that are still in the wall. So that's why, often when people use bleach – it looks like they got rid of it for a short period of time, but it comes back because they actually fed the roots.
Enzymes on the other hand are catalyst. So a catalyst enables a reaction to occur but it's not consumed in the reaction, so it will continue working as long as there's something for it to work on. The best analogy I can give you is men's facial hair. If I were to shave, that's sort of like using a bleach. if I would have laser hair removal, that's using our product.
0:50:10.0 Ashley James: Because you're getting the root.
0:50:13.9 David Bloom: We're getting the root. That's what makes the difference.
0:50:15.0 Ashley James: It's so fascinating.
0:50:17.1 David Bloom: It's not an exact salience, but there is some evidence that molds, when it's killed or reactions occur – some molds can give off toxins, they're known as mycotoxins which can be harmful. The problem is that not all molds produce mycotoxins and even the ones that do, don't do it all the time and there's no real easy way to measure for them. A lot of people will test for mycotoxins in their urine, but I would challenge that everyone of us has evidence of mycotoxins in our urine because it's on our foods. If you are to open your refrigerator door and close it because you had somebody take an air sample for mold, you would dramatically skew those results even though you have no visible mold in your refrigerator. Trust me, there's mold on your food. So that's where it comes from.
So, it makes it a little bit difficult. Going back to your air filtration – activated carbon is pretty good at working with mycotoxins. So that's why I talk about activated carbon a lot. You can even buy these bags now that you just sit out and they absorb some odors and things like that. That kind of stuff could be helpful for someone.
The other thing that we found when we started working with doctors, and that's where that whole three-part thing was. It was to try to convince a doctor that, “Look, if you're looking at genetics lifestyle and environment, if we can take your environment on the picture, even if it's not the problem, at least we eliminated one leg. Now, it makes it easier for you to do your diagnosis.” Several of the doctors we worked with did discover a correlation between a treatment for lyme disease and moldy homes. So what they're trying to use the normal treatments they would do for lyme weren't working on a number of their patients. When we got them to look at the environment then we cleaned up the environment, all of a sudden they started responding to their treatment.
0:52:37.7 Ashley James: Yes. So What kind of things were common? Did you find that everyone that had lyme also had mold in their home? Or was there some kind of commonality?
0:52:47.6 David Bloom: The commonality for us was the particular practice that started us on this path because they had a lot of lyme patients, and they were trying to figure out what could it be, why are these people not reacting. The commonality was the fact that had mold in their homes.
0:53:03.4 Ashley James: Ok. That's what I meant. So, you had all these lyme patients given to you by this practice and you went into their homes and all of them had mold in their homes?
0:53:11.7 David Bloom: All the ones that weren't reacting to the treatment. Yes.
0:53:16.3 Ashley James: That's what I meant.
0:53:17.9 David Bloom: Yeah.
0:53:18.5 Ashley James: So all the lyme patients who weren't reacting to the treatment, all of them had mold in their homes.
0:53:23.5 David Bloom: That's correct.
0:53:24.2 Ashley James: And when the mold was removed all of them started responding to the treatment?
0:53:29.7 David Bloom: I can't say that every single one is good because I didn't know.
0:53:36.1 Ashley James: You didn't stick around to follow up with the doctor.
0:53:38.6 David Bloom: Yeah. I didn't stick around to follow up long enough, but this particular practice in Virginia have us referred to patients. And that has actually spread, so we've made some really strong inroads. And that what's made us get into all those additional testing things because we're gonna look at the environment home, we decided that mold is one piece of the puzzle, but look at all of these other potentials. The downside is lab fees can add up quickly. So when we go in to look at a home, we wanna know what we're looking for. I don't wanna just go in and test. I want to get a hypothesis and device a testing strategy that will either prove or disprove that hypothesis. So often, we'll do a couple of basic test first to rule out the most obvious and then. it gets a little bit more detailed if that's not the answer.
And I have to admit, there are some times when we've been stumped. I have one of Green Home franchisees not far from me has a particular client that we just can't figure it out. I've done a fair amount of testing and all kinds of different things. His doctors don't have any clue. Occasionally there is some syndrome and for the life of me I can't remember where your brain gets wired a little bit differently. It's not a hypochondriac because the symptoms are real, but they're caused by the brain not necessarily by an external force. There is an actual name for it. I just can't recall what it was.
There's other people out there that do mold remediation in a number of different ways. The old way was just what we call “Bash and Trash.” You go in, you just physically remove everything. Now, we do follow IICRC S520 standards – that's the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration certification. They came up with a guideline on basic standards. So they have five specific principles that we follow as part of what we do. So to say that we don't remove building materials would be a missed number, we do. We just try to preserve as much as possible because of our method. We're typically able to preserve more which makes it a more economical project instead of just going in and just ripping everything out and putting it all back together.
So there's a lot of that going on there. We had a client that I got a wonderful letter from just recently where she was in the Atlanta area and they found mold in her home and her doctor told her she had to leave the house and get rid of all her possessions and she did. She moved into an apartment. She had Green Home test the apartment, it had mold. So then, they said, “Well, we gotta get out of here.” So they looked at four or five different other places and they all had mold. It's in the south, it's humid, it's hot, there's mold. So, when I talked to her I said, “Look, why don't you let us see if we can get you back into your home. There's a number of things that we can do and if it doesn't work, don't pay.”
0:57:11.7 Ashley James: That's nice.
0:57:11.9 David Bloom: Let's give it a shot. So we did. We went it. We treated it for mold. We have a device that uses a very low level of hydrogen peroxide but yet gets a 99.999% kill. Which is a lot of reduction on bacteria. And we did that in a couple of areas that were problematic just sort of her insurance and I believe you are aware that we also have this probiotic treatment. We put that back in there. They moved back into the house and she said it was like the place is brand new. So the letter I got said that I saved her marriage, I saved her life, I saved her kids happiness, I saved their dog. It's just crazy but we got her back into her own house because all the properties are gonna have an issue, let's just fix the one we've got. But I fear that happening time and time again. I was meeting with a doctor in Peabody Massachusetts who had a client that had just built a $5 million dream home on a lake and the same thing, whoever her prior doctor was told her, “You're house is killing you. You gotta leave.” She got out of the house, went somewhere else and she didn't get any better. So it wasn't necessarily the home and that's what we try to avoid.
There is a lot of testing that's being done now called ERMI – Environmental Relative Moldiness Index. ERMI was developed in early 2000 to be used as a research tool to see if there was any correlation between water-damaged properties in the Detroit area and childhood asthma. So they came up with. It's actually PCR testing which is measuring DNA. So it had a very specific design. We took a 6 by 3 area in the main living room and we vacuum that with a special attachment for exactly five minutes. We repeated the same thing in the main bedroom. And then it gets analyzed for mold DNA and what they did is they had a list of 36 molds; 26 that were potential water damage indicators and 10 that were typical environmental molds. They subtract the environmental molds from the water damage molds and it come up with a score.
What the score shows is sort of a history of that building, that's why they did it on carpeting. Carpet is designed to hide dirt. So it traps stuff deep down, and that's how they look clean. So it's getting that stuff, but you don't know if it's something, and as I mentioned mold is a symptom, moisture is the issue. We don't know if there was a moisture problem in that property 25 years ago or yesterday. So what happens is nowadays there's a lot of people recommending that particular type of testing and it does serve its purpose. Don't get me wrong, not that I don't like it. But they're making decisions on whether they should remediate or not based on it and they're not following the test, but most of these are getting advise and take a swiffer cloth and just go pick up some settled dust that are on there. But that's not how the test was designed, it was never meant to be done that way. So they're not sampling properly and then they come back with a high score and they'll spend thousands and thousands of dollars chasing something that doesn't exist because there is no moisture issue – it's really at that point housekeeping. Getting rid of all that dust.
1:00:40.9 Ashley James: So just to elaborate on what you said earlier on, mold is a problem. Mold is dangerous for our health, we should not live in a home with mold. But it's not the root cause, and you don't chase symptoms. So if you go to an MD with a headache they might chase symptoms and prescribe something instead of asking deeper questions. Where you go to a naturopath, they're gonna go, “Ok. What's going on? Let's find out what the root cause is because a headache is a symptom.” So you're saying mold in a house is a symptom of a problem. Moisture and looking at whether you need to make the house pressurized, whether you need to ventilate properly, or whether you need to seal off certain areas, but when you solve the root cause and of course take care of the mold. You solve the root cause, the mold doesn't come back.
1:01:35.0 David Bloom: Correct.
1:01:37.3 Ashley James: So if other companies test incorrectly, they could be testing for a mold problem that no longer exist and then paying thousands of dollars to treat something that's not there.
1:01:50.3 David Bloom: Correct.
1:01:51.7 Ashley James: Got it.
1:01:51.8 David Bloom: So the Inspector General of EPA came out with a position statement a couple of years ago and said exactly that, that this was designed solely as a research tool. It was never intended to be used to determine whether a property needed remediation nor should it be used to determine if remediation was done properly.
One of the more interesting things thought, if you look at the numbers – so if I had an individual that was mold sensitive, I would think the overall mold exposure is gonna be very important. We wanna limit that as much as we can. Let's say you had a very small amount of the water damage indicator molds, but you had a ton of environmental molds, you're overall exposure would be quite high, but your ERMI score is gonna be very low and vice versa if it's true. So if you really cleaned the place well so that there's absolute, almost none of the environmental molds but there's a couple of fragments of the other ones, you can have high ERMI score because there's nothing to subtract from it.
So, when we see people using ERMI to confirm remediation, typically they've got to wait 30 to 45 days to let that house settle down and equalize and then ERMI is where it comes down. But instead they'll spend, again they sometimes get into that trap of spending thousands and thousands of dollars. It kills me when I see that happen.
One of more interesting things thought, if you look at the numbers – so if I had an individual that was mold sensitive, I would think the overall mold exposure is gonna be very important. We wanna limit that as much as we can. Let's say you had a very small amount of the water damage indicator molds, but you had a ton of environmental molds, you're overall exposure would be quite high, but your ERMI score is gonna be very low and vice versa if it's true. So if you really cleaned the place well so that there's absolute, almost none of the environmental molds but there's a couple of fragments of the other ones, you can have high ERMI score because there's nothing to subtract from it.
So, when we see people using ERMI to confirm remediation, typically they've got to wait 30 to 45 days to let that house settle down and equalize and then ERMI is where it comes down. But instead they'll spend, again they sometimes get into that trap of spending thousands and thousands of dollars. It kills me when I see that happen.
1:03:25.5 Ashley James: Thank you for warning us about that. I know that Green Home Solutions is in a lot of places, but it's not everywhere. So if someone's in an area where Green Home Solutions just isn't there and they have to use a different company, it's really good to know to make sure you don't use the company that uses the ERMI score to test your mold.
1:03:46.8 David Bloom: Again, don't get me wrong. ERMI does have a place and it could be a very useful tool especially if you're looking for historical idea of what's going on in the property. It just shouldn't be the only thing used to determine if you need remediation. You could get a false positive. Fortunately a lot of the medical community has gotten involved. I mean the idea of having a standardized test is brilliant because the other types of testing for mold, either air sampling or surface sampling – it's not an exact science. Typically we look to compare suspect areas to non-suspect areas. So if you tell me that you feel okay in the bedroom but you don't feel good in the living room, I'm gonna sample both and see what the difference is.
If it's not that situation, typically we look and see what the outdoors is, because once you open your windows or your door, you're gonna start to equalize whatever you have outside. We're never gonna make the house completely mold-free. What we're looking for is just to make sure that there's nothing actively growing in the home.
1:04:49.1 Ashley James: I was about to ask, you mentioned environmental molds versus the sort of the black mold growing in my bathroom. So. environmental molds, maybe someone walks into the house after going for a walk and they don't take their shoes off and they're tracking something to the house or our groceries come into the house or a dog walks into the house and the dog tracks in something. So environmental molds are just things that would come from outside from nature?
1:05:19.9 David Bloom: Yes. If you're sensitive to molds, any kind of mold could bother you potentially, but these are molds that we would commonly see in our everyday life and you don't even have to bring it in with you, just open the door and you feel that little breeze? Yup, that's all coming inside. So we can't escape it, but we try to keep the house as clean as it can and make sure that it's not actively growing.
1:05:51.4 Ashley James: So environmental mold comes from the outside, it's not growing, it's not taking hold of the wood or the drywall and like replicating itself.
1:06:05.0 David Bloom: Well, it could if you had a food source which is complex polysaccharides – is what they love which is like paper cellulose and a moisture source. So yeah, it could grow.
Often you'll see windows that get condensation, you will see a little bit of black mold all the way around them? That's actually cladosporium – is the king of leaves and grass. It's a very common outdoor mold and it's probably the most common mold there is. That you can just wipe off. It's coming because your windows have condensation on. You see in southern areas particularly because a lot of times they have metal window frames, you have hot humid weather outdoors so they keep the inside really cold, and that temperature difference will cause condensation. Just like if you take a bottle of water outside in the summer and it starts to sweat, that's the same reaction. And then you're getting your typical environmental mold growing on it.
A lot of molds are black by the way. When people talk about the black mold, they're usually talking about a species of stachybotrys chartarum which happens to be a particularly nasty mold to a lot of people. Which brings me to another thing, I just want to mention why mold testing can be valuable. If I got called into a home and there's some mold growing because the washing machine hose broke two weeks ago. And I look at that with blinders on and got rid of it. I may be doing that client a disservice. If we take samples for examples, and I see that there's chaetomium or stachybotrys – those are what we call tertiary molds. So you have three classes of molds essentially; primary, secondary, and tertiary.
Primary molds will show first after a water event and sometimes it's fast as 24 to 48 hours. Penicillium is a good example of a primary mold. Secondary molds typically take three or four weeks of that moisture exposure before they grow. And then your tertiary molds can take months. So if I'd look at this damage that occurred two weeks ago but I picked up stachybotrys or I find some stachybotrys, I know that something else is going in that property, it's been going on for a long time. And I would be doing them a disservice if we don't try to track down what that long term even was. Often, it's just chronic high humidity. That's a big cause of a lot of issues. People just don't seen to dehumidify. And again, in the southern half, often the air conditioning system weren't sized properly, so they'll cool a place down before it gets the chance to fry itself out and that's the recipe for mold growth.
So there's a lot of things that can contribute to that, but chronic humidity is a big one which is why you see mold in the bathroom. Again, one of the things that's out of sequence, but we were talking about mold in an attic. In this area, I'm not sure if it's the same all over the country, a lot of people have pull-down stairways to get up into their attic, and they're typically located in the hallway, and that hallway is typically pretty close to a bathroom. So, if somebody get out of the shower and let's assume you have an exhaust fan, not everybody's fat. Assuming there's an exhaust fan in the bathroom, they shut it off and leave the door open as soon as they leave. All that moisture is gonna get sucked right up through where that stairway is because they're not sealed. It's on top of the attic side that keeps a tight air seal, but sometimes they're called blankets. There's a number of different ways of doing that, but the normal thing for a shower is when you take a shower, the door should be closed, the fan should be on, the fan should stay on for about 10 minutes with the door closed after you vacate it. That's what it takes to get rid of that moisture, but when you open it and release it, now you're dumping moisture into the house.
1:10:14.1 Ashley James: And it'll go where the air in the house is pushing. Like you said, into the crawl space, up in the attic, down in the crawl space. It's gonna push somewhere in that airway.
1:10:28.3 David Bloom: It's typically gonna go up.
1:10:30.4 Ashley James: It's gonna go up and push. The hot air rises, cold air falls and so the moisture is gonna go with the hot air up into the attic and create the mold and we're not looking. So we don't really know. We're just experiencing the spores which can really harm our immune system, seriously.
1:10:56.1 David Bloom: One of the other things that is typically is often we'll see bathroom vents vented into the attic space itself which should always go up to the roof. Or we see multiple vents connected to each other and then they go up. So what happens is when one vent is running and the other isn't, you're actually pulling air from one bathroom to the other bathroom as opposed to get rid of it.
1:11:20.8 Ashley James: I interviewed a woman in the last few months who's a health coach who is in Florida and had to have their home mold remediated and it was a major deal. Apparently it's only in the bathroom, so they have to seal off the whole house and they said, “Okay. We'll work on it in the bathroom, but it's totally sealed off while we're spraying. You guys just hang out in the living room.” So she's in her living room with her young kids and it definitely affected her health living in a home with mold, and as she's sitting there and they're doing all this work on the bathroom she's starts smelling the chemicals. So she's like, “What's going on?” And she comes in and said, “Hey. I thought you guys sealed this off? Is it okay for us inhaling this? And we're now inhaling the mold because they are doing construction to remove it.” It turns out how the house was built – the venting for the bathroom went into the living room. It's the most ridiculous thing. So now they're sitting there and the first company she hired was just a complete joke – ended up causing them to be exposed to more mold and the chemicals which were not safe. So they breathe them in and they started to feel sick. So they ended up having to get another company to come in and they had to do construction and make proper venting for the bathroom and it was just this whole ordeal, but the first company was so irresponsible with their health.
It's just amazing that a house would be built in Florida where the bathroom would vent into the living room – it's just beyond me. Just like we have to advocate for our own health, we really need to advocate for ourselves and look into how our home is built whether we're renting or we own it. We need to know, what's the ventilation system like, have we had our ducts cleaned properly, do we have mold, let's test for radon, let's look at the insulation – make sure it cured properly, let's test the VOCs and make sure we're not being exposed to particulates and off-gassing that's harming us. We need to take our home environment into our own hands. I love that you've mentioned that when a family cooks a turkey in the oven, that the pollution inside the home is like being in New Delhi, like breathing in the air of New Delhi. And we are sitting here thinking that, “I live in such a wonderful neighborhood where the air quality is so clean.” Or like, “Here I am living in Washington state where it rains so often and that we always feel like the air is really clean here.” But not inside the house, because these newer homes are designed to be energy efficient, so the more energy efficient the home is, the more it becomes like a balloon where the air is trapped inside and it traps all of these VOCs, particulates, mold. It traps everything inside and so our home air can become toxic over time.
I had a woman on the show who said she had this machine, it's like a little box, and she leaves it in a home for 24 hours. I'm sure you probably heard of them, and then it captures all the VOCs and then she tests it. And she said that she could tell you what brand of cleaners you have in your home. There's this one Mr. Clean Wipes – because of the specific carcinogenic chemicals that she would see on this list that was captured from the air quality in the home, because she said everything under your sink off-gasses including all your cosmetics. And we think that we're safe because they're in a metal container, if it's a spray – like Lysol or something. “Well, it's in a metal container. What do you mean?” Or if it's in a plastic container, we're safe it's in a plastic container. But all these things off-gas even through their containers and pollute over time the air we breathe. So we have to look at every single thing and create a home environment that supports our immune system, our overall health.
Just like you said with the lyme patients, they were responding to the treatments after the mold was remediated. They weren't responding to their treatments because they all had mold. I mean, that is right there a big wake up call for people who are listening to the show going, “I've tried everything. I don't know why I'm still sick.” Just like me with catching every cold when I know I eat really healthy. It was because my home environment was destroying my immune system.
1:16:22.2 David Bloom: I'll tell you an amazing story. I got called into a job where somebody went in and did some mold testing and it came back negative. They guy didn't believe him. So I went down to take a look at the property. The house was pretty clean. It did have a little bit of an odor to it. The wife has been horribly sick. She swore that they had tons of mold. I went down to the basement and there's a 6 by 3 shelving rack and it is 5 or 6 shelves. Everyone of the shelves was stocked with Lysol floral scent something. And I said, “What is all these for?” He said, “My wife sprays it everyday, everywhere because she thinks she's got mold.” But what she was doing was contaminating the environment because there's a lot of chemicals in propellants – number one, depending on what they're using. it could be bad for you. Who knows what other additives are there. I mean the active ingredients they have to list, but you don't know what else is in there. She was using so much of it, that's what was making her sick, and after she stopped using it, within a week or two she felt fine.
1:17:29.4 Ashley James: Oh my gosh. She thought she had a mold problem and she was causing her health problems with the Lysol.
1:17:38.1 David Bloom: Yup. Too much of a good thing just doesn't work.
1:17:42.4 Ashley James: We need to be really careful with those chemical cleaners and also really careful with those things that “Kills 99.99% of germs.” It's like we do actually need, like you said there are beneficial bacteria in our environment and we don't want to live in a sterile environment. We need to have the good bacteria, the good microbiome. I know everyone in the last 18 years has been talking about the microbiome of the gut. You know, “Eat yogurt because it's good for your gut.” Or. “Eat fermented food because it's good for your gut.” And now in the last few years, everyone's raving about that there's a microbiome on our skin and on every surface of our body and in so many more areas of our body than we knew and it's beneficial bacteria. And so, we're home which I find fascinating also has beneficial bacteria.
Tell us a bit about this device that you guys created to spray, to spread beneficial beneficial bacteria into the home. Why did you guys create it and what are the positive results of it?
1:18:48.1 David Bloom: Actually we can't take credit for creating it. Environmental probiotics have been around for a while. There is several companies in Europe that have been on to this technology for quite some time. The device is designed to spray every 30 minutes for 20 seconds. Essentially it's fermented bacillus and what that does is it's very unfriendly to the bacteria we don't want and much more friendly to the bacteria that you do want. So the way that it works essentially is, a lot of bacteria is transferred on skin cells. We all shed thousands and thousands of skin cells everyday. If you ever used a facial scrub, part of that uses a keratinase which is a particular enzyme that's formed when bacillus is fermented. And keratinase is present in our nails, our skin, animal clubs, horns, and things like that. But the keratinase sort of softens up that piece so that it's not conducive for bad bacteria to attach to, and it's also slightly acidic which makes it much more unfriendly to bad bacteria while encouraging the growth of good bacteria. So it's sort of like probiotic and people take probiotics as a supplement. If you're taking antibiotics, they typically tell you to take a probiotic so that you can keep that balance going as the antibiotics are not selective of what they're getting rid of.
So the idea is just a sort of filling the environment with bacteria that's not harmful. Bacillus is the same bacteria that if you are a kid playing in the dirt, that's what you would get that on you, which is one of the other interesting things I have too. If little kids nowadays will spend more time outside and eat a little dirt once in a while, they'd be a lot healthier as when they're grow up. But they're just not exposed to it, well certainly like I was or people my generation anyway, and so this is a sort of supplementing that. So it's not an air purifier – it doesn't filter anything out. The idea is just to get a healthier biome. Results on that have been pretty good. I have one on my bedroom. I don't really notice much of a difference, but I also have a 70 pound dog that sleeps between my wife. Wonderful birth control by the way. [Laughter] And we don't seem to have had any issues. So I'm guessing it's helping, but a lot of the people that we put it in especially the ones that have had serious mold swear by. The pricing on the units has come down, it's not as expensive than it used to be. But it's an interesting concept. Because it doesn't get rid of any particulates, it's not a replacement for a good air filter.
1:22:02.6 Ashley James: Yeah, it's just designed to support the microbiome of the home and discourage bad bacteria, encourage good bacteria. Can you share any of the anecdotal testimonials from using that?
1:22:19.7 David Bloom: Yeah. But one thing I did fail to mention, the one thing that it does do and this is pure review literature on this. There are two particular enzymes on dust mite matter that are very strong allergen triggers. And the bacillus neutralizes those two enzymes. So dust mite matter is a huge allergen trigger. It's a little bit different bow because mattresses aren't quite made the same. But years ago, your mattress could gain half of its weight again after 10 years and that was all because of bugs so to speak, from dust mites. So that's a very very strong environmental trigger and it does definitely negates that along with helping crowd out that bacteria and provide a healthier biome.
We had one woman here in Connecticut. She had very severe mold illnesses. We went through the whole situation and we treated her house, we put in the better air units and she was feeling pretty good. Then she would leave and go visit, I don't know if it was her son or daughter, and say that she just didn't feel well. So the second time she took the machine with her – it's only the size of a half loaf of bread. She took the machine with her and she was fine. So is it in her head or did it really make that much of a difference? I can't answer that, but it seems to work very well for her.
The people who have them like them because they have to replace the cartridge every three months. So we certainly would know if they stopped replacing cartridges. They love them. There are some units actually go into an HVAC system and treat the whole house as opposed to the unit but they're considerably more expensive.
1:24:14.7 Ashley James: My son is allergic to dust mites and it causes him to have asthma. And we again, eat super clean. he doesn't eat processed foods, no sugar. Like we eat so clean so when he was getting asthma, I'm like what's going on? He doesn't have nutrient deficiencies, he eats super healthy, he gets outside, you know everything. His health is perfect and then all of a sudden he was just getting this asthma. And we finally did all these allergy tests and we figured out he was allergic or sensitive to about five different foods that would increase his histamine, but that dust mites was through the roof. Like he was really really allergic to dust mites. So of course, we're vacuuming like crazy and we have the special dust mite covers on the mattresses and we're washing all everything really often. I even saw this really cool study where they're able to kill most of the dust mites, it was something like 96.7% something like that with washing and soaking linens, blankets, and pillows with eucalyptus oil. And we're just going like gang-busters, washing everything with eucalyptus oil like crazy. And so he doesn't have his asthma right now, but if he goes to a friend's house and he plays in their playroom on the floor for half an hour, he comes home and has an asthma attack. So we really noticed that when he is at other people's homes and they might not vacuum as diligently as we do, he'll have asthma attacks from being around dust mites for even half an hour.
So we're looking for anything we can do to mitigate dust mights. And what you're saying is that this device that you have that releases the bacteria healthy microbiome into the bedroom, that it somehow neutralizes dust mites?
1:26:26.4 David Bloom: It neutralizes the two allergenic triggers that dust mites have. The reaction that you have to dust mites is as an allergen and that allergen is caused by I think it's an F1 or F2 enzyme – it totally neutralizes that so that you shouldn't have that allergen. You could also use that in a spray, a personal spray and spray some of it on his clothes before he goes to play somewhere and see if it makes a difference for him. I don't know if it would or not honestly, but it might.
1:27:02.1 Ashley James: Or bring the small box, because you said it is very reasonable, I could travel with it to a friend's home and plug it in their playroom. Does it act that fast or does it take time?
1:27:17.3 David Bloom: No. It takes a little bit of time to build up. When we install these, typically what we'll do is we'll actually spray just like we would for mold. We'll spray all the surfaces with sort of a boost to give it a head start and then it starts working from day one, but otherwise, it can take a week or two before it builds up enough where you would notice a difference.
1:27:40.4 Ashley James: Interesting. And what about the enzyme that Steve brought to you that breaks down mold, and of course he was using it to break down the oil in the soil. Do these enzymes also destroy dust mites or kill them? Do you have any experience with that?
1:28:06.5 David Bloom: No. Again, we'd have to be very careful because when you start to make claims, your product has to be registered for that purpose. So these enzymes are different than the ones that are digesting oil. The concept is the same, but the enzymes are much different. But even if it did, I couldn't say it does because the registration is not one of the intended uses when we registered the product. So we've never actually done that same rigorous amount of testing on bugs as we did with bacteria and molds.
We did come up with something for bed bugs that we developed, would have been what's called the 25 B Exempt Pesticide. 25 Bs were very limited and what you could use for the ingredients is very select list. But if you stay within that list, it doesn't require a federal registration. Although it typically does in the States, because that's what we are trying to do – to get something really really safe that would help bed bugs. it worked terrific, but the problem is it didn't have any walk-over kill. So in other words, if I sprayed at bed bugs, it would kill them. If I sprayed a surface and a bed bug walked over it, the kill rates are very low. So we just couldn't decide and just forget it about it at that time because it was too difficult.
1:29:36.3 Ashley James: Got it.
1:29:36.7 David Bloom: But that's the difference. I mean most soaps will work. Because if you spray something in a soap, you're gonna suffocate it essentially. Or in cases like with ants for example, the way that ant's circulatory system works – there's no actual vein system, but it sort of breaks the bond and literally their guts leak out. But a soap could do that because it's a surfactant. It's more slippery than water and so by decreasing the surface tension, it can kill bugs. So that's why people use it on plants for small bugs all the time and they're pretty harmless.
1:30:18.6 Ashley James: Right. And that's a natural way to go about it.
1:30:25.1 David Bloom: So that won't work with dust mites, it would have to be a direct contact. That's the difference.
1:30:34.2 Ashley James: I just love it. Now what about cat or dog urine. The smell – I've heard of people using sprays that have enzymes that break it down. Does Green Home Solutions have a solution that helps to breakdown the smell of cat urine?
1:30:54.6 David Bloom: Yes. Cat urine and tobacco are the two worst odors to try to get rid off. Green Homes' order technique and it incorporates a product that I made, that is an actual odor neutralizer. So most of the things you have, air fresheners and things like that mess with the receptors in your nose. So it's not that the odor necessarily went away, it's just you can't smell it anymore. Either that or it substitutes a different fragrance for the fragrance that exited. A lot of times the use of molecule called cyclodextrin which is sort of like a seashell shape and it typically have a lot of solvents in the product and you gotta break it up into small pieces and it gets trapped in that molecule and that molecule would be coated with a masking odor. So again, the odor is still there, you just can't tell because it's being masked and it tricks your nose.
Neutralization, we actually change the physical characteristics of the odor molecule so it no longer has an odor. Most [inaudible 1:31:58.9] have a charge to it and the product has the opposite charge, it becomes neutral. Once it's neutral it has no odor. So it works really well. Dog urine is not a problem, dogs are fine. Cat urine though. Cat urine is made up of several different things. Initially when the urine is fresh it's a bacterial odor. So at that point, anything that's antibacterial would actually get rid of the odor because you'd kill the bacteria, you'll get rid of the odor, but it has to be relatively fresh. But when you come into a home that had cats for a long time and it's old, eventually the urine will form uric acid crystals and uric acid crystals are not water soluble. It takes about 15,000 grams of water to breakdown one gram of uric acid. So that's where the enzymes come in, but when you do add that water, it actually releases more of the odor. So everytime you try to clean up with something that's water-based it seems like it's getting stronger. So enzymes will breakdown that particular odor. But you gotta be able to get to the source and that sometimes is tough because it soaks into things quite deeply.
So we have a procedure that takes a number of steps. It's a little bit time consuming but it's been proven to work. We do use a little bit of hydrogen peroxide and depending on the situation, I mean if there's a carpet, the carpet is gonna have to go. Unless you want to keep cleaning the same spot over and over again which would be somewhat labor intensive and too expensive. It really has to go. Because then you can get to see if it got into the sub floor and a lot of times on a real estate job that we do a lot of work with realtors from the house they're changing hands and the owner will say, “Well my cat only messes this one room.” And then you'll pull out a black light and you see this orange and greenish blotches everywhere – that's where all the cat pee is. And if they're male cats, they spray – you're talking about going up about two feet on the drywall. Source revealing is the best think you can do. We can neutralize it once we get the source of it. If it's on concrete in a basement for example, often we can get rid of it but then we have to seal it. Because you're not gonna necessarily get down far enough into that concrete. Concretes are very porous to be able to pull everything out, but there is a process for it.
Tobacco, it's the same thing. If you are in a room and somebody smoked in the room, we could spray that room to go away instantly. But if somebody has been smoking for 20 years, there is what we call third hand smoke which is everything that builds up on the walls There are 4,000 different chemical compounds in tobacco smoke. The problem with neutralization technology is the chemistry is different depending on what you're trying to neutralize. So we came up with a formula that works on most everything. There's no way I'm gonna cover 4,000 different chemicals, but if the smoke is new, it's fine.
There is a study in [inaudible 1:35:14.0]? they had people smoke in a room for four hours. They measured the gas level. They went back and 10 hours later and measured the gas, then they went back 10 hours after that which is 24 hours later and measured the gas levels. The gas levels were high at the 24 hour period. So that was because everything that got onto the walls was giving back. So in a tobacco remediation, those walls, ceilings, floors, all have to be physically cleaned first. You got to get rid of that source. Again, if I just sprayed it I would neutralize what's on the surface but eventually whatever is buried in the paper is gonna emanate back up. So you've got to clean that all off first and then you treat it and it will work fine. We've been very successful. But it's not as simple as we'd like. But it's really only those two odors that cause that issue.
1:36:04.2 Ashley James: It's amazing to think about like if someone buys a home from a smoker, they're being exposed to 4,000 chemicals that's off-gassing out of the walls.
1:36:14.4 David Bloom: Yes. They may not all be there but they are going to be exposed to a significant amount. I've gone into homes were the person moved out and the walls were yellow and when all the pictures are gone, you could see that the walls are really white and the difference is dramatic. I mean it looks like there's a ghost in there because that's how heavy it got built up.
1:36:41.1 Ashley James: Amazing. I like talking about these different things your company does. I mean obviously removing cat urine is not gonna be sort of life changing to someone who has health issues. But it is the reality of being a homeowner and also being a pet owner and your company can save people a lot of headaches.
1:37:02.4 David Bloom: Yeah.
1:37:03.8 Ashley James: And save money – I like that your company tries to do it the smartest way instead of like, “Ok we have to tear out everything.” You're gonna do it the smartest way and try to save the homeowner money.
1:37:19.8 David Bloom: 90% of the work that we on those two in particular – cat urine and tobacco, are done because of a real estate transaction. Somebody wants to sell their house, they have an open house, people walk in the door, turn around and walk out if the house smells like smoke – that kind of thing. Most of the time the people that have the cats don't necessarily realize that there's an odor and maybe there is. I mean I've got cats, I don't think my house smells. Typically if you're trying to sell your house, you're looking to buy a house that has that type of an issue, that's when we can really make a difference.
1:37:59.7 Ashley James: So a lot of real estate agents use your services?
1:38:04.4 David Bloom: Correct. For a number of reasons, number one – we're pretty quick. We're really good at what we do. But because we can preserve most of the building materials or certainly more than conventional remediation, the turnaround is much quicker. So often we can be done in a house in a day, but it really depends on the extent of it. In the northeast, I'd say a good 75% of their real estate work is just attics because they all have problems. The probably 15% is basements and 10% is somewhere else in the house. Our whole goal is to help them preserve their deal, not waste a sale. And they are excellent referral source of course.
1:38:53.3 Ashley James: Speaking of preserving, I know that your company also works with a lot of victims of floods. We've had some really crazy floods the last two years. I'm just remembering hurricane Harvey, I had friends in it and their house was so damaged. And so I'm just thinking about the floods we've had and are currently having now in the United States, tell me about how Green Home Solutions helps people who have just had a flood to basically preserve their home.
1:39:36.1 David Bloom: Floods are different and the reason they're different is the water – when you get rising water like that, you don't know where it came from, you don't know what it traveled through. So it's considered category 3 water. Anytime you have category 3 water, anything that touches has to be physically removed, unless it can be cleaned. So drywall has to go. Normally we can clean drywall and preserve it, but in case of a flood you can't. Because you can't be 100% sure that there's not something in the middle of that drywall that could kill you and you just can't take that risk. So any kind of rising water, flood waters, sideways rain is considered category 3 water – so if you get a tornado type of thing or you get the wind whipping the rain around sideways, again, you don't know what that water could have gone through before it reached you.
Normally, our work is done with either category 1 or 2 which is category 1 is potable water and category 2 is, I wanna say gray water, but it's water that isn't perfect, you wouldn't wanna drink it, but if you did, you're not gonna die. Category 3, you could die. So that has to be treated considerably different. Not all of our franchisees do water dry outs. A number of them do, especially the ones on the West Coast and we do have a group in Houston that got started in Harvey. They preserve as much as they can, but you're gonna lose a lot because you just can't. It's not worth the risk in those kind of situations.
1:41:19.2 Ashley James: And so, can you walk us through. Let's say someone has just gone through a flood, can you walk us through, like what are the steps that Green Home Solution takes to ensure that, that home is gonna be safe to live in.
1:41:34.0 David Bloom: First thing you're gonna do is you're gonna get rid of the water – that's gonna get pumped out. You're gonna dry everything as fast as you can, because you can dry it quick enough using commercial dehumidifiers, a lot of air movers – you can at least limit any kind of mold growth. And then often if there's a lot of debris left behind, you have muddy things – there's a piece of equipment that's almost like a carpet steam cleaner that it's made to clean this type of work – to clean all those surfaces off and getting down to where there's no contaminated materials. Normally you're gonna have to test it, make sure there's no bacteria, make sure there's no mold growth.
1:42:21.8 Ashley James: Is that where you use the ATP device?
1:42:25.5 David Bloom: No. It would that as a screen, but if it came back positive, you would definitely check and make sure it's bacteria. You'd wanna know what was going on in there.
Like I said, not a lot of our franchisees get involved in the heavy flood stuff. There are some decent water restoration companies. It takes a lot of equipment. The capital investment to be in that end of the business is substantial and you also have to be on-call 24 hours a day. Not everybody who gets involved in the business wants to be a 24 hour a day business, they like their 9 to 5.
1:43:14.3 Ashley James: Sure. That makes sense.
1:43:17.4 David Bloom: So we don't do a lot of that, except most of the guys in California and the ones in Texas do water restoration.
1:43:25.3 Ashley James: Got it. So let's say someone has done the water restoration side, could they have Green Home Solutions come in and just test to make sure that there's no mold?
1:43:41.4 David Bloom: Yeah. We actually work with some of the water restoration companies where they'll go in. They'll do the demo, whatever needs to be taken out. They'll get the place dry and we go in and we'll typically treat it even if it's just preventative to make sure that there's not gonna be any bacterial growth or mold growth, but it's after it's been dried out. So we let them do the heavy lifting and then we go in and take care of the house like we normally do.
1:44:08.8 Ashley James: So the enzymes that you have that you use to kill mold, it can also be used preventively?
1:44:15.9 David Bloom: Yeah. It can. It's sort of an insurance policy. So it's really prophylactic to try and prevent growth by making sure there's nothing there that can grow. So if the house sits for a couple of days or something and it's humid, we're hoping to run and prevent that growth from occurring. Ideally we would do it again when all the walls that are up in the house is in back condition. We do a lot of work with Habitat for Humanity, we're one of their major sponsors. And in their situation, a lot of times they build a home, it doesn't get occupied for maybe three or four weeks and it sits there and they have the potential for mold growth. So for them, we go in and test. If it's not obvious, we can't say anything, then we'll test. We're gonna clean the house, if they feel comfortable turning a house over to their [inaudible 1:45:14.8] So it would be something similar to that.
1:45:20.3 Ashley James: Ok. I was curious whether the enzymes that you spray to kill the mold, if you spray an area, let's say a bathroom, it doesn't have mold but you sprayed it. Do the enzymes stick around and then if mold were to enter the area kill it later on? Like does it have a half-life or shelf life that it kills what enters the area for a certain period of time?
1:45:51.3 David Bloom: You know I get asked that question quite often and to be honest, I don't know. Because we've never been able to get a scenario where we could actually test that. That being said, if you go and treat an area, obviously it's gonna kill anything that's there, so you're not gonna have any mold. And if you did that in some sort of a reoccuring timeframe, then you're never gonna allow it to grow. By the time you can see it, you've got a lot of it. So when you have a square inch of moldy wall board for example, that could be anywhere between 10,000 and a million spores. So you can't see it until it's already got its little fragments that are gonna start to grow into things. So spraying periodically would be helpful to keep it away. Now, can I tell you how long in between? No, I really don't know.
We got a school that we did in West Virginia that was sitting in a flood plain. So they would get water under the building quite frequently and there is a lot of mold growth under the building. We treated the school, we actually broke through the foundation to treat in there one time. And then the idea was that we would come back, they would have the school tested every three months, I think it was. And we had figured that we'd probably have to come back about every six months and re-treat it. They ended up closing the school. I mean they kept it for that school year and then close it. So we actually never did go back, but it did keep it away for nine months or so.
1:47:38.1 Ashley James: And I like that your whole philosophy as a company is to get to the root anyway. Your philosophy isn't let's just spray all the time and keep coming back and spraying, let's try to prevent it. In the school's case, you couldn't prevent the recurrence of flooding.
1:47:57.0 David Bloom: Correct.
1:47:58.4 Ashley James: But in most residential areas, your company looks for the root cause and make sure – whether it's putting a dehumidifier in and making sure the bathroom is ventilating correctly or the other steps you take. You're making sure that the home doesn't have sort of that perfect environment to create mold and then you spray to kill it. But you're not necessarily spraying – coming back and spraying preventively because there would be no need if you got rid of the moisture problem.
1:48:27.2 David Bloom: Right. If we can get the homeowner to address the moisture issue or at least we'll do it. Somebody's got to address it. If we can do that and we get rid of the mold that they have now, they should never need us again. Because without the moisture, you shouldn't have a mold issue. Now, at some places there are areas that you can't just avoid it, but there's a lot of things that can be done. When I look at a property, when I approach a client's property, I'll look at the outside of the building first and I'm saying, “Ok. If I'm a raindrop, where am I going?” Are there gutters that are gonna take the water away from the foundation? Or is it dumping it straight down along the foundation? Is the grading such so that water is gonna drain towards the house or drain away from the house?
Because when you think about it, it's really pretty simple. There's only four places that water can from from. It's either gonna come down from the top, it's gonna come up from the bottom, it's gonna be a pipe leak or some sort of a leak, or it's gonna be high humidity. So when you break into those simple things and look at what you're dealing with, it's not that complicated. Sometimes you have buildings that have a convolution of factors. One in particular was in the clubhouse for an over 55 housing community and the exercise room – the pictures in the room started falling off the walls because they're are so wet. This was in Maryland, and what happened here was a whole bunch of different things. So for example Maryland for some reason, they love their mulch and they mount everything up really high. In fact a couple of trees were dying because they were drowning, they were just holding so much moisture. So because they love their mulch, they had splash blocks which is a gutter comes down, goes into a splash bx and lead their water away from the building – turned around backwards because they didn't want it to wash the mulch away. So the water is just going back towards the building. They had sprinkler heads that had a 360 degrees spray pattern, six inches away from the building which had a brick facade and brick is very porous. The rest of the building was vinyl sided and there was no vapor barrier.
In Maryland that's not uncommon because half the year the vapor barrier would be in the wrong side anyway, pretty much even heating included. But the inside of that exercise room which was kept cold had vinyl wallpaper which is a vapor barrier. So now, vapor pressure is driving moisture in the humid summers into that room, and it's going from hot to cold, and it hits that cold paper, condenses in the vinyl wallpaper but it can't get out because it can't get through the vinyl. Vinyls are impervious, so it just collected in the wall. And it was all of those things together that caused that problem we had.
That's why you can't just look at the obvious and a good visual inspection is the best thing you could do. Your eyes and your nose are far better than any testing. Testing can confirm, but your eyes and your nose are really what you need. That's why we have to train our people so well.
1:51:54.7 Ashley James: And I love that because these tests were really expensive and if someone just comes in and doesn't take the time to look at the outside of the house. What happens if they came in the winter, they may not think to think about the sprinkler system in the summer for example, or if they came during the dry season they might not be thinking about the gutters of the house. In Canada we call them eavestrough, but here in the States you call them gutters. But basically to see the water coming off of the roof and where does it go and what's the gradient of the landscape. There's this one corner of our house where it kind of floods outside and we have a pump underneath the house pumping water out, but that failed one year. It didn't get in our house but it was underneath our house – there was water. And just to think about, like wow. That could be mold under our house you know, coming up like you said. In our bedroom, in our walk-in closet we have a trap door with stairs going down into the crawl space underneath which is is just dirt and that was flooded a few years ago until the pump was replaced. I haven't even been down there, but it's not a vapor barrier, so mold could be down there coming up potentially. So having the visual, looking around and see where is it coming from, what's going on in this home inside and outside before you even spend thousands of dollars testing, because then now, like you said, you know what to test. Your company really helps people save a lot of money. Whereas another company might wanna come in and just start testing mully nelly and wracking up that bill.
1:53:43.5 David Bloom: Well basic mold testing is not that expensive, depending on how many samples you have to take. It could be $300 to $400 maybe.
1:53:56.8 Ashley James: Ok. That's reasonable.
1:53:58.2 David Bloom: It's when you start going into all those other types of tests. The VOC testing is a little bit pricey. The lab fees on that are pricey because you're using a $3,000 piece of equipment. But yeah, testing for the sake of testing makes no sense. I mean you really need to get an idea what's going on. So if they go up in an attic, they know how to check and make sure there's enough ventilation. It's very simple for limited use, they'd make sure that they have ventilation. And again in the Northeast you get a lot of ice in the winter. If your ventilation is improper, you don't have enough insulation in your attic and that could be like a waterfall coming into the house. It's a very ugly situation, but they're not uncommon. So it's those kind of things we look for and you know we certainly don't want to scare anybody. We try to put everybody at ease like, “You know, it's not as bad as you think and we'll take care of it. Don't worry about it.”
1:54:59.0 Ashley James: We need to advocate. We need to look into these things to make sure that our home environment is as important as our diet and exercise and reducing stress like that is really important. There's this hot yoga studio that went out of business or moved or something out of this building in Woodinville which I live close to and we watched them moved into the building, start their business and a few years later they moved out and for weeks there was construction. So we went by just out of curiosity and I looked inside and I couldn't believe that the construction workers all had masks on and they were removing the drywall and they were removing the insulation. They had to gut the entire building that the hot yoga studio had been renting. They had to gut it and as I looked in the entire building was black, I mean black mold. And the light bulb went off my head, I'm like, “Oh my gosh. How many people do hot yoga and not realize that it is behind the walls, it's all black mold.” They're breathing in and they're going into a sanctuary where they think they're getting healthier or like you said into a gym – someone thinks they're getting healthier in this room for an hour a day and they're actually being exposed to toxins that are making their health worse.
1:56:25.5 David Bloom: There's that. I mean how many times you would drive by a site where they're building a house and the lumber sits outside for a couple of weeks in the rain?
1:56:32.5 Ashley James: Yeah. In the rain.
1:56:35.9 David Bloom: That's not uncommon. Lumber yards typically, a lot of their lumbers are stored outdoors anyway, they're covered but it's outdoors. When we first started making our product, we did some testing to determine long term efficacy. We bought sheetrock and plywood off the shelf at Home Depot and some of the samples we inoculated with molds and then treat it. Some of them inoculated and didn't treat and then we had our controls which we didn't do anything to. The control pieces which were just the way it came from the store under the same humid conditions that we created for this test actually grew more mold than the stuff we put mold on.
1:57:17.7 Ashley James: Oh my gosh.
1:57:19.9 David Bloom: Because it came that way, and you've got to be aware of this kind of stuff But I'll tell you one thing though. The most satisfying thing that we can do from Green Homes perspective, and this is part of our culture – is go into a property, do an investigation and tell them they don't need us. It is the best feeling in the world to do that and it's worth so much in goodwill. The industry itself doesn't have a good reputation, we really pride ourselves on that and if you don't need us, we're gonna tell you, you don't need us. Nobody in this company needs money bad enough that they would do work that wasn't necessary.
1:57:59.4 Ashley James: And then they've earned the trust of that customer, that customer's gonna refer to them or maybe use them in the future. It's so good to do a relationship with a company that we can trust. That's why I love you guys and I want my listeners to know about your services because I want my listeners to live in healthy homes and have a healthy air quality and to know the things that you've shared today. You've given us a lot of really great tips that we can all apply today – to our living space, including something as simple as have a dehumidifier, turn the fan on in the bathroom and leave it on, make sure that it vents out correctly outside of the home. You know these kind of things that we can test for.
It's been wonderful having you on the show and having you share all these great information. Before we wrap up, there's one last thing that I wanted to ask. Would you like to explain a bit about a bit about Green Home Solutions franchise. Maybe there's someone listening how has been looking for another career or wants to help people in some way and wants to stop being an employee and own their own business. Can you tell us a bit about the business side of it?
1:59:17.9 David Bloom: The business is actually pretty simple. It's really about establishing relationships. Most of our work comes from referrals. Initially when a new franchisee gets started, we typically have them visit with their local real estate agents, go to some of their real estate sales meetings, make a presentation in front of them, start joining some networking groups, and just make sure that people know that you're there. We cannot create a demand for our service. It's sort of like, I'm liking it to a Funeral Director.
1:59:56.6 Ashley James: [Laughter] You're good at murdering people?
1:59:59.7 David Bloom: [Laughter] No. But you wanna make sure that everybody knows what you do because when they time comes you want them to come to you. So it's really a lot of just building relationships. I don't know all that much on the franchise side, I mean I know the franchisees individually because I work with them everyday and train them. I don't know as much about that side of the business as I do with the science and the actual work that we do. But we've had people from all walks of life. We've had numerous people that change careers. I had one recently, I think it's a couple of years I guess. He was a highschool music teacher and he just saw that were numbered because the school budgets are getting lower and lower and they're cutting out some of the arts and music programs, and he has a very successful franchise. Well it takes a little while to get going, but it doesn't require a big capital investment, obviously there is some franchise fees and there's equipment that you need to buy. But if somebody likes to work, it's not easy work. I mean that much I have to say, there's some hard labor involved especially if you're working in attics and basements. But the thing that I can emphasize enough it's in incredibly satisfying because when you do this work for somebody, I mean they wholeheartedly thank you and you've got a friend for life.
2:01:27.0 Ashley James: I bet. You had mentioned that making connections with never can groups and real estate agents and I would say you should add to the list since you know all the franchisees, that they should really connect with health coaches, naturopathic physicians, chiropractors, like all kinds of healthcare professionals in the holistic field that are aware that mold is a big problem and that's exactly how I found out about you guys. So I love it.
2:01:55.1 David Bloom: Actually that is one of our focuses now. We've been gearing more towards it. I do speak to doctors groups periodically because if I can get them to listen and I'll make sense to them, they at least would give us a shot and all we got to take is one patient that's feeling better and it works out terrific and they're great people to work with. Some of the people that they have – patients are a little bit more needy, we had them take their time, but it's a wonderful feeling when you see somebody who was absolutely miserable and all of a sudden feeling better.
2:02:30.6 Ashley James: I bet it is. David, it's been so lovely having you on the show. Is there anything you'd like to share or say to wrap up today's interview. Was there any story left unsaid or any of your bullet points that really wanted to cover?
2:02:43.8 David Bloom: Well I think we've covered probably more than expected.
2:02:47.5 Ashley James: I know. Right at the beginning before we hit record you're like, “I don't know what we're gonna talk about.” And I was like, “You just leave it to me.” [Laughter]
2:02:55.8 David Bloom: I do wanna thank you for providing the platform and from what you're doing for the same type of people that we are helping, which is absolutely tremendous. I was unaware of who you were until I believe it was after you're meeting with Jeff and started looking into it and I'm just astounded at some of the guests you've had. I mean it's a treasure trove of good information for a healthy lifestyle.
2:03:24.0 Ashley James Thank you so much. This is just like you are doing what you do that you'll never wanna retire because you love what you do. I love what I do and I love learning from these guests like yourself and also helping all my listeners and my listeners love sharing these episodes with their friends and family. So we can spread this information and help as many people as possible to learn how to develop true health. It's where the name came from, Learn True Health. So we're all in this together. We're all becoming healthier and healthier together.
David, it's been such a pleasure having you on the show. You are welcome back anytime you wanna come and teach more. I love that you're constantly striving – you're a scientist and you're curious and you want to help people, so you're in a really good space where you can take that science and apply it to real life situations. And if you guys come up with anything new that's groundbreaking that's really helping people, I'd love for you to come back and share it with us.
2:04:20.6 David Bloom: Thank you very much and again, if your listeners have questions that are appropriate for what we discussed today, I'd be happy for you to share my contact information with them.
2:04:32.9 Ashley James: Great. I will make sure I put it in the show notes to today's podcast at www.learntruehealth.com so that people can reach David Bloom and also they can go to www.greenhomesolutions.com to check out more about the services and see if there's a local franchisee in their area that they could get in contact with, but I'll make sure that your email address is in the show notes as well.
2:04:55.2 David Bloom: Thank you very much, Ashley.
2:04:56.4 Ashley James: Thank you.
Outro: Hello, true health seeker. Have you ever thought about becoming a health coach? Do you love learning about nutrition and how we can shift our lifestyle and our diet so that we can gain optimal health and happiness and longevity? Do you love helping your friends and family to solve their health problems and to figure out what they can do to eat healthier? Are you interested in becoming someone who can grow their own business, support people in their success? Do you love helping people?
You might be the perfect candidate to become a health coach. I highly recommend checking out The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
I just spent the last year in their health coaching certification program and it really blew me away. It was so amazing. I learned over a hundred dietary theories. I learned all about nutrition, but from a standpoint of how we can help people to shift their lives and shift their lifestyle to gain true holistic health, I definitely recommend you check them out.
You can Google, Institute for Integrative Nutrition or IIN and give them a call or you can go to www.learntruehealth.com/coach and you can receive a free module of their training to check it out and see if it's something that you'd be interested in.
Be sure to mention my name Ashley James and the Learn True Health Podcast because I made a deal with them that they will give you the best price possible.
I highly recommend checking it out. It really changed my life to be in their program and I'm such a big advocate that I wanted to spread this information. We need more health coaches. In fact, health coaching is the largest growing career right now in the health field. So many health coaches are. getting in and helping people because you can work in chiropractic office, doctors offices.you can work in hospitals, you can work online through Skype and help people around the world. you can become an author. You can go into the school system and help your local schools shift their programs to help children be healthier. you can go into senior centers and help them to shift their diet and lifestyle to best support them in their success and their health goals.
There's so many different available options for you when you become a certified health coach.
So check out IIN. Check out the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Mention my name, get the best deal. Give them a call and they;ll give you lots of free information and help you to see if this is the right move for you.
Classes are starting soon. The next round of classes are starting at the end of the month. So you're gonna wanna call them and check it out.
And if you know anyone in your life who would be an amazing coach, please tell them about it. Being a health coach is so rewarding and you get to help so many people.
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For high quality supplements and to talk to someone about what supplements are best for you, go to www.takeyoursupplements.com and one of our fantastic true health coaches will help you pick out the right supplements for you that are the highest quality and the best price.
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Health Coach, Podcast Creator, Homeschooling Mom, Passionate About God & Healing
Ashley James is a Holistic Health Coach, Podcaster, Rapid Anxiety Cessation Expert, and avid Whole Food Plant-Based Home Chef. Since 2005 Ashley has worked with clients to transform their lives as a Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neuro-linguistic Programming.
Her health struggles led her to study under the world’s top holistic doctors, where she reversed her type 2 diabetes, PCOS, infertility, chronic infections, and debilitating adrenal fatigue.
In 2016, Ashley launched her podcast Learn True Health with Ashley James to spread the TRUTH about health and healing. You no longer need to suffer; your body CAN and WILL heal itself when we give it what it needs and stop what is harming it!
The Learn True Health Podcast has been celebrated as one of the top holistic health shows today because of Ashley’s passion for extracting the right information from leading experts and doctors of holistic health and Naturopathic medicine
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