May 4, 2022
Facebook Live: How to Identify and Remove Mold From Your Home
In this Facebook Live, Apollo Health’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Dale Bredesen, and ReCODE 2.0 Certified Health Coach, Julie Luby, were joined by mold remediation and mold inspection experts Michael Rubino and Brian Karr, who offered practical and actionable information on how to identify sources of mold in your home, which pose a threat to your cognitive health and overall wellbeing. They also discussed the mitigation process of removing harmful mold and the building construction process, and how the handling of building materials for it can promote mold growth.
We’ve included a complete recording of the session and a full transcript below for your convenience.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (00:01): Hey, everyone. Welcome to Facebook Live. It’s wonderful today to have Michael Rubino and Julie Luby with us, and two real experts on mold. Michael is an expert on remediation. And Julie, as a health coach, has had her own exposure and has had, of course, many people who have dealt with this. I just got an email a few days ago from a group in Australia interestingly, and they’re experts in mold as well. They’re trying to convince the National Health Service in Australia to recognize mold and mycotoxins as a relatively common cause of disease.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (00:40): And what’s interesting is that the establishment, the NHS in Australia has said, “We do not recognize that mold has anything to do with human illness,” which is, I think, what so many of us are facing right now. And the other day I asked one of the physicians, who’s working on the clinical trial with us for patients with MCI and Alzheimer’s, what percentage of his patients typically had some exposure to mycotoxin? The answer was about 80 percent so it’s incredibly common. It’s something that needs to be dealt with typically to get best outcomes. So, it’s really fantastic to have two experts here. Welcome Michael, and welcome, Julie.
Michael Rubino (01:21): Hi.
Julie Luby (01:21): Thank you.
Michael Rubino (01:22): Thanks for having me.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (01:24): Michael, if you could talk a little bit about your background. I see here that Brian Karr, who’s been with us before, who’s in the analysis side detection of mold, is going to join us as well. So Brian, welcome.
Brian Karr (01:38): Hey, how’s it going, guys?
Dr. Dale Bredesen (01:40): Hey, good. Thanks for joining. Michael, if you could tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into this, and what you see as the major issues going forward?
Michael Rubino (01:52): Yeah. Hi guys, I’m Michael Rubino. I am a second-generation restoration contractor. My father before me was a restoration contractor since I’m five. He primarily dealt with fire restoration, which as you know, gets put out with water, the catalyst for mold and bacteria to thrive. I went down this journey of learning the business. But it really wasn’t until Hurricane Sandy happened, because I’m from the Northeast and as we know, that was a big event that happened up there, I started seeing people getting sick.
Michael Rubino (02:22): Because before that, I never really associated mold, just like most of the population, that mold can be such a big health hazard. But as I started to see this pattern of people getting sick, they’re staying sick, they’ve had remediation, it didn’t work. This is where I started to take a huge interest, which led down this 10-year journey of mine. Which led to me writing the book, The Mold Medic, based upon my success really looking into the science of how this impacts us, and how to carefully remove these things from our home so that we are seeing success.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (02:55): Great. Yeah. It’s interesting to me, 100 years ago, people were arguing about whether cigarettes did anything bad for your health. Then, of course, we’ve heard over the years about carcinogens. Are they really hurting you? Are they not really hurting you? Of course, we’re hearing more and more about processed food, and effects on glycemic index, and things like this, and effects on insulin resistance. There’s always this threshold that you have to get over for people to recognize that there’s actually a disease out there.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (03:25): Back in the 1980s, people were getting sick with Parkinson’s that turned out to be due, as Dr. William Langston discovered, to MPTP exposure. I think it takes a while for the medical community to recognize that these. And yet it’s interesting to me, it’s so common that all of us are seeing it all the time. In fact, of course, we’d like to see people treated and get better to prove that, yes, this really was something. We’ve seen that repeatedly in patients with cognitive decline. If they don’t treat the mycotoxin exposure, they don’t get much better.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (03:58): If they do treat it, they get more better, they get an increasing improvement so it’s absolutely critical. Then maybe, Julie, if you could give us a little of your own background and how you, as a health coach, got exposed to this, both professionally and personally?
Julie Luby (04:14): Sure. I think probably getting exposed to it personally led to me working with it professionally as well. I had an exposure. I wasn’t exactly sure where it came from, and I was in denial for a while. I didn’t really want to believe that it was my own house that was making me sick. But I eventually did some testing, brought in Brian as my inspector, and he definitely identified several sources of mold in the house. We were able to remediate and got those sources cleared.
Julie Luby (04:47): My house has tested pretty well since then, and my mycotoxins have pretty much disappeared from my body. I’ve gone through treatment as well. In my mind, I wanted to use that experience as a health coach. I was already coaching in this space, but wanted to work with people then, who have had mold exposure or toxin exposure. I thought I could at least put it to good use. I have a lot of clients now who are going through the very same thing.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (05:13): Did you notice changes in your own health with this when you addressed these issues?
Julie Luby (05:19): I did. I got very acutely sick at one point in time, and I’m still not sure exactly what precipitated it. But after trying to treat, I had really bad gut issues that came on very suddenly. We tried to treat that for a year, and it didn’t work. My doctor, a great functional medicine doctor, finally said, “The book says if you don’t cure SIBO with three rounds of treatment, it’s time to look for mold.”
Julie Luby (05:44): We had no reason to believe I had mold, but we looked for it and found it. And so, after that, after we cleared it all up, my symptoms started falling away. My SIBO, I finally got a clear SIBO test. Feeling much better, able to eat food and actually absorb it again, which is wonderful, so feeling much better.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (06:02): Brian, thanks for joining us again. I know you were with us a few weeks ago, and talked a little bit about your own background, and how you got into the mold detection business and looking at various issues. Do you have a sense about when you see people and are looking at their homes, how many of them do you find this is a clean bill of health, there’s just no problem at all?
Dr. Dale Bredesen (06:26): And how many do you find that you think that there are quite significant problems that could be contributing to their changes in health, whether be it cognitive decline, be it rashes, lung problems, what have you?
Brian Karr (06:38): Yeah, it’s interesting. When someone gets referred to us and usually it’s a doctor or they’re going on their own health journey when we know that connection is there. It’s not even an exaggeration. If they’ve done some of the health work up front, that’s shown that there’s a mold issue, whether it’s mycotoxin urine test, whether it’s specific blood testing they’re doing. Whatever the doctor is basically saying, “Okay, mold is something that’s going on here.” Every single time, every single time we’re finding stuff in their house. That’s not even an exaggeration.
Brian Karr (07:09): It’s literally true. One thing I always say to people is if you trust your doctor, you’ve taken time to select them, you’ve researched them. They’re telling you that this is a thing, we really need to believe them. Because a lot of times somebody’s initial reaction is like, “Oh, my house is clean. I haven’t had a big flood. I have housekeepers that come in. I keep a good house.” A lot of times we think that, or I’ll see that they almost feel like that it’s an indictment on the way that they might live, as to why they have a mold problem.
Brian Karr (07:44): This is a very big public service announcement; it has nothing to do with you being a bad occupant in your house. This is a systemic building problem that goes on. It happens in almost every single home that exists to some extent. There are a number of people, who have figured it out. And they understand that there’s something triggering their health and there’s a mold issue. There’s also a whole bunch of people that are just not feeling the way that they can’t put their finger on it.
Brian Karr (08:13): They’re feeling off, something’s going on. They don’t really know why; they haven’t connected with a medical professional that’s able to connect those dots for them. But the stuff that’s happening in the house is affecting those people too. They just might not know it yet. And if you just look at just four of the biggest health issues that we see when we’re talking to clients. You talk Lyme disease, you talk chronic inflammatory response syndrome, PANS/PANDAS, and just autoimmune disease is like a lump bucket.
Brian Karr (08:41): Those four things, that’s 130 million people in the US that have been diagnosed with one of those four things. That’s 40 percent of the population, and that’s not including all of the other things that could be triggering this stuff. This is a massive, massive thing. This isn’t a, “I’m the crazy person that’s being affected by something and I’m not normal.” So it’s a very, very common thing.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (09:03): Let me ask a very practical question, so here’s a case for you. I just received an email a couple days ago, and this is someone we’ve worked with for the last few years. This is a person who had clear mold in one home for years. Her mother passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. She then developed Alzheimer’s disease. MoCA of 18, so she’s already well into what we call early-stage, but full-on Alzheimer’s. She’s passed SCI, she’s passed MCI, she’s into Alzheimer’s disease, and clearly had urinary mycotoxins, high TGF-beta 1, high C4, the whole nine yards.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (09:46): Had a non-amnestic presentation, as well as some amnestic, which we typically see the non-amnestic with toxins and the amnestic part with APOE4. She had both. Her husband has been absolutely spectacular working with her, optimizing her insulin resistance, optimizing all the various metabolic things, and she clearly improved. Family members noted, and visitors noted, and all these sorts of things, but she’s been holding her own. And so, she had her house remediated, but interestingly, she still has urinary mycotoxins, and she still has a high TGF-beta 1. The argument is she’s probably still exposed.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (10:33): The husband is saying, “Absolutely not. We did the remediation, it’s done. She can’t possibly be exposed.” Here is my question for you guys, how often do you see people where there’s been some remediation, and yet there’s still suggestions of mycotoxin-related illness and mold-related illness? And when you go in, Brian, you actually find things that haven’t been found. And Michael, you find things that can be remediated and then actually get a better outcome. How often do you see that?
Brian Karr (11:03): Let me start, Mike, and we’ll kick it over on the back end with you. On my end, that scenario happens a lot. Most people that get to us, there’s this journey that they’ve been on because it’s not easy to find the specialist. The same way to find the best brain surgeon in the country, you don’t do that immediately. There’s usually a way that you get to those people. Usually, people have had one, two, maybe three inspections at some point. The first inspection, the first person comes in, they do a couple air samples in the rooms like all these local inspectors do.
Brian Karr (11:41): The samples come back and say that everything’s fine. We know that the way that they’re collecting samples, it’s giving false senses of security. But now that person in the home feels like there’s no problem. They go back to the doctor. Doctor’s like, “Okay, cool.” Because what does the doctor know? They haven’t been in the house. Then they continue treatment, same thing. They’re plateauing, it’s not really happening. Doctor says, “Hey, you know what? I really think that there’s still something going on.” Homeowner will then do this again. Where do they go?
Brian Karr (12:10): They go on Yelp. They go on these places. People look at this the same way that you look at a plumber coming to your house to do something. We’re talking about a medical situation here. You’re not going and getting a plumber on Yelp and that’s where the difference is in what goes on. So, then they bring someone else in. Now with this person, they tell this person what happened with the first one. So now, this person that comes in like, “Man, I better say there’s something. I better find something that I can point to,” so they feel like that they got something.
Brian Karr (12:40): So, this person charges $1,200, $1,500 bucks. They charge you more than the first person did. Comes in, they find one thing in the house like, “This is your smoking bullet. This is it. This is where it’s happening. Fix this, remediate this, your life is going to be better.” By the way, the way you fix it is you just fog your whole house with this magic solution and everything’s better. What happens is now the homeowner, they feel that they find they’re like, “Finally, we finally figured it out. It took us a couple people. We figured it out.”
Brian Karr (13:07): They spend 10, 15 grand for this remediator to come in, fog their house basically, and not actually address the source. They’ll feel better for a little bit of time because the fog diminishes the initial impact of what’s going on. They’ll feel better for a month, two months maybe. And then all of a sudden, they start going down again. And then the whole cycle happens again. A lot of times that’s usually when people get to us. We come in and now there’s two things that I see that happen in this scenario. First thing is the inspectors didn’t find the problems.
Brian Karr (13:38): The reason none of this is happening is because there’s probably seven, eight, 10, 12 other things going on in the house that nobody knew about. That’s the first thing. The second thing that happens a lot on remediators that don’t really know what they’re doing, is they don’t actually properly remediate the area that they were tasked to remediate. Let’s say behind me in this room, the person that came in said, “Oh, this wall and this wall had to be removed. And if we do that, everything’s cool and we’re going to do it.” They remove the wall, they put the wall back.
Brian Karr (14:08): The cleaning, and the remediation, and removing the source out of the cavities behind the walls doesn’t get done very well. So, when I have a client where they’re like, “Yeah, I’ve had remediation done in this room and this room, we’ve had some other things,” my process is two pieces. The first thing is we still have to inspect the whole house. There are probably other things going on. The second thing is we need to retest these areas that were remediated and make sure that they actually are not a problem anymore. I can’t tell you how many times I come in; this wall was remediated six months ago.
Brian Karr (14:38): They took it out. Everything was tented out in here. They did what they’re supposed to do. I come back in; it’s all put together. I put a wall cavity in this test and do a wall sample, and there’s [inaudible 00:14:49] behind the wall because the remediators did a poor job. It’s a combination of identifying all of the issues, but I’m only as good as Michael is, at the end of the day. Because I could find everything that there is, but if you don’t have somebody like Mike who’s going to come in and handle it properly, I can’t clean it myself. And that’s why this is really a two-prompt thing.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (15:11): Yeah, absolutely. All right, that’s very helpful. So, Michael, could you give us an example. So, someone like this, who’s been through “remediation”, but clearly still has laboratory values and symptoms that suggest continued exposure.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (15:29): Has that been something that you’ve seen repeatedly? And have you been able to get past that and remediate it in such a way that people stop having the problems that they’ve continued to have, despite the initial remediation?
Michael Rubino (15:42): Yeah. So, to answer the first question, it happens far too often and that’s part of the problem, and I think I know the reason why. The remediation and inspection industry it’s pretty antiquated, in terms of what our current technology is versus what the practices traditionally are. I think we need to modernize things, and guys like Brian and myself have been on that journey to do just that. When I look at why things fail in the first place, it’s because we have to look at the science.
Michael Rubino (16:12): Bacteria and mold, they’re living organisms and we have to remember that, especially mold that has roots called hypha that grow into building materials. So, removing some of the building materials, that’s part of it, but they’re missing the other part. The fact that organism creates particles. So, we have mold as an organism and then mold again as a particle, same with bacteria. Now, these particles are what opportunistically gets inside of our bodies. That’s what triggers these symptoms. It’s the toxins and it’s the spores that are produced by these.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (16:45): Right.
Michael Rubino (16:46): When you look at that aspect and you understand that. We have to ask ourselves, “Well, why isn’t remediation also geared towards removing these particles?” Because traditionally, standardly they’re not. When you remove mold from a wall by removing the sheet rock and maybe the insulation behind it, but you leave all the particles and toxins inside the home. Of course, when the person reenters the home, they’re still exposed because the particles are still there.
Michael Rubino (17:12): The toxins are still there. I think that’s one of the biggest issues that we have today with remediation, is the fact that a lot of these companies out there, they’re really geared towards handling things cosmetically. It’s unsightly, they handled the water damage stain, they painted over it, or they replaced it and patched it. That’s all they’ve done. And if they’re not doing this scientifically, of course, it’s not going to benefit their health.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (17:38): Yeah. Great point. Now, let me ask you guys. Years ago, early 1800s of course, people were dying when they would deliver babies. It took a while for people to figure out, “Well, wait a minute. The medical students are dealing with cadavers, and that’s bringing germs to these people and they’re dying of sepsis.” And interestingly, one of the experts at the time said, “Well, hey, there’s no way that a little amount of stuff under your fingernails could kill a whole person,” because they just didn’t understand the concept of germs and microbes. I think that to some extent, we’re facing the same thing.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (18:15): People think when they’re building a house, “Okay, we’re going to go home now, and it’s going to rain on the boards that we’re using to build the house, and that’s not a big deal.” The question I have is should people, and do you think it would be helpful if people began to have essentially pre-home building changes in their approaches, such as preventing rain on boards and things like that? Should people be doing more ahead of time when they are constructing new houses to prevent downstream mold problems? Or is this all-post-build and this is all really about leaking after the fact?
Michael Rubino (18:55): Brian, you mind if I tackle this one?
Brian Karr (18:57): Yeah. Jump on it. Yeah.
Michael Rubino (18:58): All right. There’s something called the Structural Building Components Association, and they issue guidelines of how to transport and store the lumber as the house is being built. I can tell you, if we drive across America right now, they’re not following the guidelines. As a matter of fact, COVID only heightened this problem because we had lumber shortages, delays in lumber. So, what happened is lumber sat in the soil for long periods of time, as these homes were being built. With that being said, the Structural Building Components Association recommends elevating the lumber out of the soil.
Michael Rubino (19:33): They actually give you instructions of how to do that. You’re supposed to put platforms every 12 inches across the span of however long of feet you need for the lumber to stay out of the soil. And it recommends that you wrap it in plastic, but you leave the ends open so that you have cross-ventilation. This prevents trapped moisture. I could tell you; I have never seen a house being built this way. I drive through neighborhoods all the time and see homes being built, so that’s problem number one. Problem number two is not one builder is required to have any knowledge on mold and bacteria.
Michael Rubino (20:09): Two of the main things that impact our homes at this stage of the process. So, what ends up happening is we get mold growing on the lumber. Anybody who points that out, the builder usually says, “That’s just lumber yard mold. That’s just surface mold,” whatever names they come up with to try to make people feel better. The reality of this situation is this is a problem that’s happening. That’s why people are moving into brand new homes, thinking there’s no way it has mold and it’s full of it. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve been part of these projects as an expert, trying to help advise what next steps are.
Michael Rubino (20:45): It’s so simple. Builders get a small education in mold and bacteria. It doesn’t even have to be as extensive as the continuing education that I’ve done. They have to dry in the place appropriately, test the house for mold. Then if there’s any mold, they remediate it before they bring in insulation and drywall. Those are very simple steps that we can implement that really won’t change the cost of the way we build our homes much at all.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (21:12): It’s really interesting because what was it, 25 years ago or so, there was a big movement toward green building, and everybody wanted to get certified in doing green building. We now need to have another movement on clean building that has people so that they actually follow the appropriate things. It sounds like and certainly, we had this experience a few years ago with one patient who said, “Well, I’m leaving the moldy house and I’m moving to a new house.” And of course, the ERMI score ended up being worse there.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (21:41): And again, I recognize ERMI score isn’t perfect, but it was clear that the new house had more mold than the old house, despite the fact that it was new. I think this is a really critical point and it’s unfortunate that this isn’t being enforced because it sounds like this is a significant issue. Then what about when you have people who say, “Well, look, it’s going to be impossible to get it to zero.” Clearly, there’s some dynamic balance here, and people will get things like IQAir, and various HEPA filters, and things like that.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (22:19): How do you deal with people who live in the real world? Let’s face it, we all live in the real world and so people often say, “Well, I can’t actually simply move out of my home.” What are some of the things that they can do to minimize exposure?
Brian Karr (22:35): Yeah. I say this a lot. Just because we find X number of things that’s going on, it doesn’t mean that you are now required to address every single one of those things. I think all of us, at least on the panel, have heard this concept of this immune system funnel. This idea where your body can only take so much. Then as soon as it takes too much, it overflows, and you get all these reactions. Well, everybody’s funnel’s a different size. The hole in the bottom on how fast everything comes out is also a different opening or closing. That’s why it’s incredibly unique.
Brian Karr (23:12): You can’t just make a set standard that everyone has to have X number of something in a house. Which to your point, I know Mike and I sometimes have to struggle with this too, is when someone comes back and says, “My ERMI needs to be X,” it’s not really that black and white. It’s what we’re doing is we’re trying to create an environment that’s going to allow someone to actually live in their space together, instead of having their space fighting them. For different people, that’s a different scenario. The big thing that I always talk about is one, we have to figure out everything that’s happening so we can create a plan on what needs to be done.
Brian Karr (23:50): A lot of times people will say, “Well, if we go through and find all this stuff, and we have to do all this stuff,” and that’s not necessarily true. But what it does help us understand, is applying like an 80/20 concept or principle to things. So, if we go through a home and we find, let’s say, 20 things going on in the house. And we look through all the sources that come back, and maybe five of them are just really on another tier in their own that would be like a top tier. Listen, we can address that first. If you can’t move out of your house, or you can’t afford all the remediation or whatever it is, everybody has different scenarios.
Brian Karr (24:23): This isn’t about me coming in or Michael coming in and saying, ‘This is the only way you do it. And if you don’t do it, you might as well write your death certificate.’ That’s not what this is about. It’s about trying to understand what we’re up against and then creating a plan that’s going to give us the best impact, based off of our understanding knowledge of what’s sitting there and where we’re starting from. If we could pick out a few of the things that will have the biggest impact. And then start talking about what you mentioned, in terms of ongoing maintenance, ongoing cleaning protocols, bringing in technologies.
Brian Karr (24:56): Listen, air filtration, I think mold out, forget that we’re even talking about mold. Every single house should have these high-quality air filters in them. I was just talking to somebody today. They lived in New York, they turn on their water, their water comes out and it’s brown for 10 minutes because all the pipes are old and they’re bringing all this stuff out of the pipes when it comes in. I don’t know how many people have actually seen what it looks like behind a wall. Forget the mold that’s back there, it’s freaking gross and there’s a lot of stuff back there. And if mold is impacting us out from behind walls because we know the stuff comes out from behind walls.
Brian Karr (25:34): Then you better believe that all the mouse and rat poop that’s back there, which I hate to break it to you guys. You have that behind your walls in a lot of homes. All the insect droppings, everything is all coming out. We need to have these air filtration systems in all of our homes, regardless of what our mold health situation looks like. I’m a very, very big believer of that. I live in my house right now. I have no mold problems in my home. Obviously, I’m looking at it all the time. I have a high-end medical grade air filtration unit in every single room that I spend time in my house, which is about 80 percent.
Brian Karr (26:11): All the rooms we don’t go into so about 80 percent of my rooms has one of these things in there. All of my kids’ bedrooms, my bedroom, living room, kitchen, they all have one. I took one of them off to change the filter the other day. I can’t even tell you how disgusting the filter was when I pulled it out. If we weren’t doing that, that means we’re all breathing the stuff in. And a quote from Mike that I’m going to steal, “We all take 20,000 breaths a day.” So, if all this stuff is floating around, you breathe in 20,000 times in a day, we need to be doing this regardless. But there are things you can do.
Brian Karr (26:44): Remove main source, at least a chunk of it, apply 80/20 concept. Incorporate a continuous cleaning plan in your house that’s geared around getting rid of dust reservoirs, because that’s where the particles settle that Michael was talking about that mold creates. They settle in dust reservoirs, and they get repopulated up into our breathing zone on a regular basis just by moving around the house. You sit on your chair, you bump your table, you be a normal person, and you’re always constantly re-suspending particle. But if you could get rid of the reservoirs where a lot of it resides, then that’s less that could get popped up.
Brian Karr (27:18): So, if you’re doing a thorough cleaning plan, you have air filtration units in place. You’re addressing some of the more key players that are contributing to your overall problem, these are some things you can do without having to completely move out of your house, gut your whole house, all of these different things.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (27:34): Yeah. So, we had a patient a few years ago seen by Dr. Ann Hathaway, who came in with Lewy body disease. So, it’s essentially a combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s so very unfortunate. There are a million people in the United States with Lewy body disease. This person had exactly what you described, tremendous amount of rodent feces in their ducts and lots of mold. All that was cleaned out. Guy got better from his Lewy body disease and stayed better for several years.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (28:02): So, these are things where, as you indicated, we just don’t think about this, and yet we’re being exposed. Part of the problem is we’re living indoors and that’s really not a natural setting, unfortunately. And let me ask another one. Just a woman I talked to yesterday, who has done beautifully and her MoCA score’s gone from 24 to 30. She’s done great. She clearly had mycotoxin associated illness. One of the things that she’s noticed, because she still gets a little anomia.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (28:31): She’s still got a little bit of mycotoxin in her urine. What she finds is that she sleeps well when she sleeps outdoors. But if she sleeps in the house, she gets some sleep but it’s not the same. She doesn’t get as deep of asleep. She wakes up more. Do you ever recommend to people that they spend less time indoors?
Michael Rubino (28:55): Yeah. It’s an interesting comment. I can comment on that a bit, as far as when you’re outdoors, you have an infinity volume of air to deal with. So, the amount of mold that’s going to be present in the air outside is going to be diluted compared to inside, especially if you have problems like sources creating these particles and these toxins that are getting inside the body. The good news is you don’t have to build a bubble around your home or sleep in a tent outside to get better. It’s really like Brian had a very good, well said comment, regarding how it’s about reduction.
Michael Rubino (29:30): Think about it like this. We would feel totally different if we had a little bit of sugar versus a lot of sugar. Our body would react in some sort of way. It’s no different with anything else on this planet. If you have an abundance of these particles getting inside the body, you’re going to notice a difference. So, it’s about looking at this scientifically, seeing where are the particles, how much are being produced and how do I really prioritize tackling this and fixing our home? Because let’s face it, most people they’re not going to be able to fix every single problem that they find inside their own in one shot.
Michael Rubino (30:06): Because this has been handled the wrong way 50 plus years, so likely people are going to have lots of different little problems here and there. It’s about looking at how can I make the most impact to reduce the most amount of particles in my environment and keep it that way? And then when you have air purifiers, all these other things that are going to continuously reduce the amount of particles that you’re breathing in, it’s going to make a huge impact. Spending time outside typically does make people feel better for that exact reason.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (30:36): Yeah. One of the questions then for all three of you. How important is when you’re improving things and when you’re remediating, how important is it to get rid of the various porous surfaces, the couch, the books, the things like this?
Dr. Dale Bredesen (30:51): Because that’s one of the big issues that people always say is, “Well, my gosh, you’re asking me to get rid of my favorite books, and my favorite couch, and my favorite chair.” How important is it to get rid of these porous surfaces.
Michael Rubino (31:05): Yeah. Interestingly enough, I think it’s very individualized. I follow judgment, in terms of what I can effectively remove from people’s homes during remediation, but I can tell you stories. I’ve had clients that are like, “I’m not removing my carpets. I refuse to do it.” And I’m like, “Well, we’re probably not going to be able to remove all the mycotoxins. We’re probably not going to be able to get all of the dust out there.” With the dust comes these particles, and so that’s a big concern. Oddly enough, after the remediation, the results looked very impressive.
Michael Rubino (31:41: Mycotoxins were gone, particle count was significantly lower, and he got to keep his carpets. Like I said, this is very individualized. Because I would imagine if it was somebody who is maybe worse off than this family was, they may not get so lucky with that. It’s really using your best judgment. If people have certain things, they want to hold onto. I would always tell people, “Look, if you hold onto that, what I would do is I would isolate it and see how you feel. And if every time you sit on that couch, you feel a little worse than when you’re in your bedroom sleeping on your bed, that may be a good indicator that it’s time to get rid of the couch once and for all.”
Michael Rubino (32:20): You got to put people’s health back into the driver’s seat and put them into the driver’s seat. I think it’s going to take them realizing and them saying, “You know what, I’m going to do this.” Do the best you can, is my philosophy when it comes to this. We know that porous items, there’s no 100 percent guarantee to be effective at remediation.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (32:40): Yeah. Julie, what did you do in your case?
Julie Luby (32:44): In our case, we got rid of most of our porous items, I would say. As a health coach, I like to help people reframe this as an opportunity. This is how I came to it myself. Sorry about that. It’s an opportunity to really think about your stuff. It’s an opportunity to think about I realized in my case, the thought of getting rid of all my books was just horrible. Then I sat back and said, “I never read a book twice, certainly not a novel. There’s too many good books out there.” So, when I started thinking about it, I thought maybe I don’t need all my books.
Julie Luby (33:28): I tried to reframe even my own possessions and decide what I needed. We personally took it as an opportunity to pare down our things. We realized we were storing way too many things. We did not need them. We were ready to go on to the next phase of our life. And we even rethought how we used our house after remediation. So, when we got rid of some of our furniture, first of all, opportunity to redecorate. I was in a situation; my furniture was pretty old, so redecorating wasn’t a problem. But we all also thought about, “Well, how do we want to use the other bedrooms?”
Julie Luby (34:03): And one room became a yoga room, I put a sauna in another room. So, you don’t have to get rid of everything and replace everything. Sometimes things don’t need to be replaced. It’s good to think about that. Also, we took some items, we put in plastic bins, and we stored them in a storage locker to decide what to do later. It’s so emotional and if you can’t part with things, put them somewhere else for a while. And when you’re feeling better, think about them. When you think, “Gosh, I’ve lived without that for a year. Do I even really need it?”
Julie Luby (34:41): Some papers that we thought we needed to save, at least for seven years, we just wrapped it, put it in plastic, shrink wrapped and cleaned the outsides. We hope we never have to even open it. We kept them, but we hope to never have to open those boxes. There’s a lot of different way to tackle, but I do like to have people think about, really reflect on your attachment to your stuff. I love Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I think she has some wonderful Asian attitudes toward things, and really things as objects that almost have personalities.
Julie Luby (35:21): And recognizing that a lot of the things we have in our house, we had for a reason at one time, but we can thank them for their service, and get rid of them or move on. You can give your things away to people who need them more. There’s just so many options to go through, but it is very personal, and it can be very emotional.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (35:41): Brian, could you say what is an average when you go into someone’s home, and you are looking at detection? Then we’ll get to the remediation side. But for the detection side, what is an average cost? Because people always ask, “What is it going to cost me and what is a low-end cost?” What’s the best way for them to get started?
Brian Karr (36:05): Yeah. It really depends on the goal of what we’re doing and how into it we need to be getting. If you’re somebody who doesn’t care about mycotoxins, and you don’t care about bacteria, and all these other things that are going on. You’re just like, “Man, I just want to get a feel for what’s going on in here.” You could probably get a pretty thorough inspection for a couple 1,000 dollars. If all that you’re doing is just trying to understand source and nothing else at that point. As you start diving into getting into DNA sequencing of molds that are present, and mycotoxins, and actinomycetes bacteria, and endotoxins.
Brian Karr (36:43): These other water damage things that we know trigger inflammatory responses in the body, they’re more progressive testing methods. There are additional costs that go with all of that. And then it’s how deep in the house are you going? Are you somebody who’s just trying to look at key areas where water things are known to happen, or are you wanting like a full-on dive top to bottom? It varies so much. The thing that I would caution people of is a thorough inspection for under $2,000 doesn’t exist probably to be honest.
Brian Karr (37:20): And even at $2,000, you’re probably not getting a complete good look at every individual source that might be going on. Just to put some context behind when we go through and see things. When we go into … Let me do it this way. We created an ERMI interpretation tool. People are probably familiar with ERMI that is listening to this. For those who aren’t, it’s a dust sample you collect in your house. It gives you a general idea of the overall amount of mold basically that’s in your house. There’s flaws of the scoring system and other things.
Brian Karr (37:56): But what we did is we went through the last three years of inspections that we did through our company specifically. Then we compared how many sources were found in the house, or the frequency that mycotoxins were present, and these other things. The lowest tier of all of that data that we had. So, it’s three years, over 4,000 samples that we looked at across the board. The lowest tier in what we call the ERMI code, which is what this interpretation is. In those houses, which is the lowest 9 percent of the houses fall into this group one low group rating. There was still on average, five sources of mold that were in those houses that we found.
Brian Karr (38:34): So, you’re talking three years of looking through houses, 4,000 samples that were done. And if you have one of the best of the best ERMI’s that we’ve seen in a house, you can still expect that there’s probably five sources of hidden mold somewhere in your house, so every house has something. Now, the cost usually is based on how many issues are there. So, when inspectors come in, it’s usually a per sample type of situation. They’re not doing flat rates. So, if you’re in a 50-year-old house, and you’ve had three floods in your basement, and these different things have happened, there might be 30 things that are going on in that house.
Brian Karr (39:09): There’s going to be individual sampling for that. HVAC systems have to be tested separately, whatever. On the low-end for us, I think you’re bare, bare minimum probably around $3,500 to $4,000 on the very low-end to get a pretty good deep dive into what’s going on. And if you’re in a larger house and there’s other things going on beyond that, it could go up from there.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (39:30): And does it damage the house?
Brian Karr (39:35): Yeah. The most invasive thing that we do is that if we think, let’s say, that there’s a mold issue in this wall. Let’s say, for example, we do what’s called a cavity sample, put a little hole in the wall. It’s about the size of a Sharpie pen, and you put a tube through it, and you collect an air sample.
Brian Karr (39:49): It’s something that you could literally spackle yourself afterwards. So, you don’t need a contractor to come fix it. But you really do need to get to that level behind the wall because you have to get as close to sources as you can to do it.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (40:03): Got it. And then Michael, when you are remediating, what is a typical job going to cost, and what is a low-end job going to cost?
Michael Rubino (40:13): Well, I’m the bearer of bad news for sure, because remediation falls under the construction industry. The average remediation cost is somewhere about $50,000. And of course, it can be less. Of course, it can be more, but I would say the average person is spending about that much, as their budget to improve their environment. The reason being is because there’s usually big systemic issues, like an entire basement that needs remediated, or entire attic, or an entire HVAC system. You have to take that into an account and understand there’s no simple solution. You have to actually do the work to remove the organisms.
Michael Rubino (40:54): Fix what allowed the organisms to grow in the first place, so some source of water. Could be leaking windows, leaking roof, faulty HVAC, things like that. Or in basements, it’s typically just the water intrusion off the foundation. There are things to fix there. There are prevention measures that need to be made, such as dehumidification systems that all come together with this. It is a costly endeavor and I know that makes things much more challenging.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (41:23): Yeah, absolutely. Okay. The average cost for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease before they pass away is $350,000. That’s a big issue. And of course, the big problem is the heartbreak and the effect on the families, and the effect on the individual, so it goes far, far beyond any cost. So, if we can prevent that or reverse that, it’s certainly well worth doing that.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (41:53): Nonetheless, it’s something that we all consider. What’s going to be the out-of-pocket, cost for these various things? And how often do you two recommend to people, you really need to move to a new place versus yes, we can do something about the place you’re living in?
Brian Karr (42:11): Not too often. There are definitely times where I’ll be like, “Okay. Listen, what’s going on here?” Their kid has some massive neurological thing going on. There are 25 problems in the house. To Michael’s point, the cost of fixing those things might be an entire HVAC system or entire. At that point it’s like, “Listen, guys. We have to think out why we’d be going down this road.”
Dr. Dale Bredesen (42:37): Yeah.
Brian Karr (42:37): Can any house be fixed? I think in the very rare circumstances, if money wasn’t an issue, I think we probably could fix. I think Michael could go in and fix pretty much anything, if he had unlimited budget and had full reign to do whatever had to be done, but that’s not realistic. I think what you need to do is balance out what are their goals, where are they at? The problem with going somewhere else. The problem with just moving, why I almost never say that to somebody, is because the place you move to is going to have problems too.
Brian Karr (43:07): So, the difference is that the place you’ve been in, you know the history of this place. You know what’s gone on over the last number of years, and that’s very helpful in the inspection process. You move to a new place, the person who’s selling you that place, what are they doing before they sell it to you? They’re painting all the walls. They’re patching up all the little things of water damage that tell you where all the mold is hiding, right?
Brian Karr (43:29): So, a lot of times, you can move into a new place and end up in an equal or a lot worse situation. It’s really tough to just say we’re going to get up and go somewhere else.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (43:37): All right. We’ve got some excellent questions and comments here. One person says, “We spent over $1 million for my mother’s memory care over 13 years.” I’m so sorry to hear that. This is why we want to make this a rare disease, and it should be a rare disease if people get on active prevention and early reversal. I’m sorry to hear that.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (43:59): I hope that all of the children of your mother have all been tested, are all doing active prevention for cognitive decline. Sarah asks, “How do we sort through the number of companies offering to solve the problem? Is there a database or a proper certification to look for? What do we look for?”
Brian Karr (44:21): Do you mind if I jump in, at least on the inspection side? My company services the entire country, so you don’t need a database. You could just call us. We’re called We Inspect, and we offer different solutions too.
Brian Karr (44:34): So, there’s group consulting training programs. If you want to do more of a guided process through your house versus flying someone to your house to do an inspection, that could help manage the cost. We have a lot of different solutions on the inspection side.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (44:46): Yeah. And of course, we’re always interested in best outcomes, whatever that takes. We’re not pushing one thing or another. Is there a group that you respect, that you say, ‘Yeah, this group is also doing a good job.’?
Brian Karr (45:00): Yeah. There’s a group called the ISEAI, it’s the International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness. It’s mostly medical practitioners. Then there’s a handful of people like me, and people like Michael that are in those groups too, that are at least aware of what’s going on. It might be a little bit of a better fit.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (45:19): Yeah. And we’re familiar with Dr. Mary Ackerley and the wonderful work she’s done over the years with ISEAI. Let’s see, Carolyn asked, “Do you think humidifiers attached to the HVAC is a good idea, or is this a general mold and mycotoxin issue?”
Michael Rubino (45:38): Unfortunately, I think it adds moisture into the mix. And for those that don’t know, your HVAC is already a moisture producing machine. So, adding moisture on top of moisture, is really never a great idea. Of course, the theory behind it makes sense. The logic behind it makes sense, as I talked about logic earlier. Basically, what they’re trying to do is get that humidity to equally be distributed throughout the vents across the home, so you have a comfortable humidity to breathe. The problem with that is that when you add moisture to moisture, you’re creating excess moisture.
Michael Rubino (46:17): That’s where you start to get mold growing in the ducts. Now, especially considering the fact that most of our HVAC machines are not filtrated properly. Meaning we have a MERV eight filter on there, or one of those blue, cheap filters from Home Depot that don’t capture particles as small as two and four microns or the size of mold, which allows it to get to the coil and start to grow and colonize on the coil. So, keeping the moisture out of the HVAC that already produces moisture, is probably a really good approach there.
Michael Rubino (46:50): Of course, there other solutions to getting humidity if you’re in a dryer climate. And make sure you get something with a humidistat, so that it turns off when it gets to a certain humidity so that you never get home, and you see your walls are wet.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (47:03): Then Marley asks, “Any specific air conditioning filter system you would recommend, like some that have antimicrobial UV lights or something like that?” Do you have any recommendations there?
Michael Rubino (47:16): I love the Intellipure SuperV because there’s no gimmicks. It just has a filter that traps small particles, and it can get as small as seven nanometers.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (47:26): Wow.
Michael Rubino (47:26): So, it supersedes mold, supersedes bacteria, supersedes toxins, and even captures some viruses so I love that device. It’s classified as a MERV 16, and it has the pressure drop of a MERV eight. I’m not affiliated with them at all, other than the fact I love their product and I sell it because it’s such a great product. But I honestly think that whatever you do with filtration, the name of the game should be to try to remove the smallest particle you possibly can.
Michael Rubino (47:57): UV lights can be great when they’re situated on the coil, but they take time to kill things and particles pass by far too fast. We have to just make sure that the idea is to remove these particles, not try to kill them. And if we go down that route and we follow that philosophy, we’ll be in good shape.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (48:15): Great point. Then Sherry asked, “Is having mold allergy shots helpful?” This actually brings up, I think, a really important point. So often, we’ll hear about a couple where one (member) of the couple is having major mold-related problems. But the other member of the couple’s like, “Well, I don’t seem to have any problems, so it can’t be something that’s in our house because I seem to be doing fine.” And of course, Dr. Shoemaker in the past has addressed this saying it’s different HLA DR-DQs, things like that.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (48:45): Others feel it’s detox, it’s your glutathione system, and things like that but it’s a relatively common thing to hear about. Is this something that you guys see frequently? What do you think is going on, when you’ve got one person who’s doing just fine apparently, which says that exposure doesn’t seem to always be the major problem? It’s that combination of exposure and your own background. What do you recommend to couples who bring that up?
Brian Karr (49:13): It happens in almost every house that we go into. It’s usually not every single person in the house is reacting. Usually, it’s the woman. Mycotoxins are fat-soluble. Women physiologically have more fat than men. I’m sure there’s other reasons, but that’s probably one of the reasons why it happens. But there’s multiple things that impact somebody. We literally have to have this conversation over and over, because you have usually the husband, who’s not feeling it and typically, the wife or the woman that is feeling it. But it’s your genetic makeup to your point, what you were just saying.
Brian Karr (49:47): It’s previous exposures. If you were exposed to something before, your body now reacts differently to that thing. It can literally rewire the way that your body reacts to it. So, if one person in the house, as a kid, lived in a moldy basement, for example, and the other person in the house grew up somewhere else where there wasn’t a problem, their body’s going to see the same thing and react differently to it potentially. That’s one thing. Then the last thing is your current health position. We go back to that immune funnel thing.
Brian Karr (50:15): If you have somebody who’s already dealing with Lyme disease or something else that can compound the impact of this stuff, and the other person doesn’t have an immunocompromised issue going on, then their reactions are going to show up more. I’m sure there’s other medical reasons. I’m definitely not a doctor, but those are things that I see, and things that I’ve heard from a lot of the doctors I’ve spoken with are the reasons for that.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (50:38): It’s been interesting to me that we see a similar phenomenon again and again. We see it with COVID, we see it with Alzheimer’s, and I suspect that’s part of the answer here. Although, I know people talk about getting exposure with beta-glucans and things like that. But in COVID, you have the innate system that’s activated, and you have the adaptive system that’s not clearing the virus, and so you die of cytokine storm. In Alzheimer’s, you have chronic activation of the innate system. Again, you’re not clearing the problem, and you die of cytokine drizzle over 20 years.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (51:15): I suspect that the same thing may be going on here, that as long as you’ve got this inflammatory. That is chronic inflammatory response syndrome, and you’re not able to clear or you’ve got so much exposure, that your adaptive system can’t keep up with it. Then again, you’ve got this mismatch between the ongoing inflammation and the innate system versus what you’re actually able to clear, so it’s interesting. It may be that having early mold allergy shots may turn out to be helpful if it gets your adaptive system to recognize this. On the other hand, doing it after you’ve already started, may not be such a great idea.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (51:54): And then let’s see, air filtration units. You already answered that. That’s great. And let’s see, Michael, could you mention the name of that unit one more time? Several people have asked about it here.
Michael Rubino (52:08): It’s the Intellipure SuperV. If you go over to allamericanrestoration.com, you’ll see it there on the shop. It has all the specs on it. You guys can check it out. But yeah, make sure you’re getting something like that, that is filtering out a small particle.
Michael Rubino (52:23): I also wanted to bring something up because you made a great point with COVID. And one of the things that we saw with COVID is same virus, obviously, different mutations.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (52:33): Yep.
Michael Rubino (52:33): But we had wildly different outcomes.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (52:36): Right.
Michael Rubino (52:36): Meaning one person may have really gotten sick, another person may have been asymptomatic, another person may have lost their taste and smell. It’s really no different with any other microbiological contamination, like mold and bacteria. One may really severely impact one person, rather than another. I think for so many other people because I hear this all the time and the people that I work with.
Michael Rubino (53:00): The wife may be the canary in the coal mine but the husband’s feeling it too. He’s just not aware of it. After remediation, we’re hearing that the husband’s like, “I have more energy. I actually feel a difference. I feel a little better. I thought it was age.” There’s all these things. I’ve seen that happen so many times. I think it’s important to look at that this could be a bigger problem than we like to let on.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (53:25): Yeah. We did have one husband, who was skeptical about it, his wife having cognitive decline due to mold, until he then developed pulmonary issues. They turned out to be related. I know we’re running up against time here, so just final issues here. A request, this is from Marley, who’s asking, “If you’re looking for a new house, how do you be proactive?”
Dr. Dale Bredesen (53:47): So, you say, “I’m going to find a new house that doesn’t have this problem.” And the other half of this question, “Do you work with people, who are looking to build a new house so that you can make sure that they do it right ahead of time?”
Michael Rubino (54:03): Yes, I will work with people ahead of time. I do consultations, as part of what I do. I do that because I know that some people just need answers. Some people just need some guidance and help.
Michael Rubino (54:15): So, for those that are looking for help on that regard, go over to themoldmedic.com. And from there, you’ll be able to book a consultation with me. I’ll help you get started. And I’ll kick it over to you, Brian, to talk about the other aspect.
Brian Karr (54:29): Yeah. In terms of trying to avoid moving into a home that has problems, I wish it was as easy to give five tips. Do these five things and you’ll be in a house, but it’s not. So, what we did, is we created a program called Mold Finder’s Method. It’s literally the exact training program that I put all of my inspectors through. It teaches you what to look for in every single room, and where to look for it. And how to actually do a visual in the house without spending a dollar on testing, to know if you’re about to move into a house that has a bunch of problems.
Brian Karr (55:01): A lot of this stuff is super easy to see if you know what you’re looking for. We show what it looks like, we show you where to look for it. If you could look in a corner of a room and say, “Does it look like one of these five things?” No, cool. Yes, potential problem. If you go through a house and you find 30 of those, you know what? You probably shouldn’t move into that house. It’s such an easy way to do it without having to spend a whole lot of money on testing and inspections.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (55:28): Yeah. This is such a fundamental and unrecognized issue for so many people with so many illnesses. Just as you were saying earlier, Michael, just even a few of the illnesses that represent 40 percent of the population. Incredibly common, under-recognized, difficult to treat, and we’re walking around with all these people, who have things. I was surprised years ago when we first realized that a lot of the people who are presenting with Alzheimer’s disease have this, as a critical contributor.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (55:58): This is very, very helpful that I’m sure not the last we’re going to hear about this. I think we all need to move toward a world where this is recognized, prevented, and treated effectively. Thanks very much. Great to have you guys. Thanks for your expertise. Thank you, Julie, for sharing your own experience with this. We really appreciate it. We look forward to future discussions. Thanks again.
Michael Rubino (56:22): Thank you.
Brian Karr (56:22): Thank you.
Julie Luby (56:22): Thank you.
Dr. Dale Bredesen (56:24): Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Brian. Thank you, Julie. Bye-bye.
Michael Rubino (56:27): Thank you.