of our newsletter discusses possible ways to remediate mold problems
without the use of toxic biocides. I have outlined some alternatives
to the chlorine treatment that is most widely used today. In this
article I am not discussing application methods, but only giving
alternative product information. Please discuss these options
with a licensed contractor or environmental professional who has
experience with mold abatement; together both product and application
guidelines can be agreed upon.
I have a
cabinet in my own home that has a mildew problem, and until recently
thought that my only option for mold eradication was to resort
to using a chlorine product. I didn't want to use chlorine
for two reasons: I am a chemically sensitive person and I feel
very ill when I smell chlorine, and chlorine is a very toxic chemical
which when broken down adds dioxin to the environment.
Bower the author of the classic "The
Healthy House" book not only talks about mold but more
importantly mold abatement. On page 345 of his book, Bower talks
about using Zephiran (Benzalkonium) Chloride and says "A
product called Zephiran has been recommended for sensitive individuals,
but it also has a fairly strong odor."
Chloride towelettes are frequently used in doctor's offices for
cleaning the skin prior to an injection but the strength needed
for mold remediation is apparently 17%, according to Carolyn Gorman's
book "Less Toxic Alternatives".
Zephiran Chloride in this strength is only available by prescription
and is sold by Abrams
Royal Pharmacy. Gorman says to use the Zephiran: 1 to 10 parts
Cartwright, who frequently works with the American
Environmental Health Foundation in Dallas, Texas, states that
Zephiran Chloride also has a strong smell that dissipates fairly
quickly. As a chemically sensitive individual, I would have to
stay out of the area for at least an hour and then do a 'smell'
test to see if the odor had gassed off sufficiently for
me to be able to tolerate it.
Many of the
books I've looked at gave me a lot of info about mold but little
help with info. about mold abatement. The excellent Environmental
Building News (EBN) provided a link to an article that speaks
to the issue of mold remediation. This article also links to the
Department of Health Web site which contains the strongest
argument, for me, to avoid using biocides for mold remediation:
"All previously moldy materials should be dry and visibly
free from mold. Routine inspections should be conducted to confirm
the effectiveness of any remediation work. The use of gaseous,
vapor-phase, or aerosolized biocides for remedial purposes is
not recommended. The use of biocides in this manner can pose health
concerns for people in occupied spaces of the building and for
people returning to the treated space if used improperly. Furthermore,
the effectiveness of these treatments is unproven and does not
address the possible health concerns from the presence of the
remaining non-viable mold. For additional information on the use
of biocides for remedial purposes, refer to the American Conference
of Governmental Industrial Hygienists' document, [Bioaerosols:
Assessment and Control]."
is available online form the EPA
Mold Resources page I
didn't reference this page in this article; it is also a valuable
suggests using grapefruit seed extract, a powerful natural non-odorous
viracide and bacteriacide, for mold remediation. She also recommends
a solution of borax and vinegar (use 1 tsp. borax and 3 tablespoons
vinegar or lemon juice).
Berthold Bond gives three different recipes for mold problems;
one is to use pure white vinegar, another is a dilution with tea
tree oil, and the third is grapefruit seed extract. Here is the
link to this information:
I hope that
this article has been helpful in providing some non-toxic product
recommendations for mold abatement.
to thank Dwayne de Vries of de Vries Building Consultants for
his time, the information he gave me and for the excellent article
from Environmental Building News. Email Dwayne at email@example.com.
I also would like to thank my "canary in a coal mine"
friend for the loan of the books that were invaluable to me
for many of the references in the article.
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