Mold Caused My Asthma and Allergies
By Jason Earle
Developer of the Got Mold? Test Kit
When I was 4 years old, I lost nearly 30% of my body weight in a 3-week period. I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis after tests at a local hospital. Several of my father's cousins had died from cystic fibrosis before reaching adulthood so, needless to say, the diagnosis devastated my parents. My mother, however, being a Registered Nurse and a strong-willed woman, dug deeper by demanding additional testing and a second opinion at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Six weeks later, a second set of tests revealed that the first diagnosis was wrong. I did not have cystic fibrosis, but I was suffering from asthma, compounded by pneumonia. Allergy tests revealed that I was allergic to nearly everything in my environment; eggs, milk, grass, wheat, cotton, pollen, cats, dogs, soybeans, basically my whole world. A few doctors recommended a bubble-boy approach to treating my severe allergic sensitivities.
After years on inhalers and medications, when I was 12 years old, my family moved from the house in which I had grown up. Almost instantly, my allergies disappeared. I have not had an asthmatic episode in more than 17 years.
When I look back, it is clear to me that I was living in a home with a chronically damp indoor environment. I distinctly recall the odors, the dampness in the basement, the feeling of a hundred-pound weight on my chest. Our well was in the basement, a 3-foot diameter hole with a loose concrete lid, and all our laundry was done down there, and left there constantly.
At the time, the medical community had not yet begun to accept indoor mold growth and other byproducts of damp indoor environments as potent triggers for asthma attacks and allergies. It is now clear that the mold in my home had very likely made me hypersensitive to nearly everything. In the absence of this long-term exposure I have become extraordinarily healthy. It's hard to believe the solution was so simple.
Mold is a subject I take seriously because it's very personal to me. My childhood struggle set me on a journey to learn how I could protect myself. Fueled by this passion, I began contacting industry experts, reading endlessly, searching and researching for clues or guidance toward a more practical solution than moving to a new house.
So I got down and dirty, rolled up my sleeves, and got into the mold business to learn as much as I could from the ground up. While working for a fast-growing mold remediation company with many of the most respected experts in the field, I began seeing huge flaws in the way mold inspections were being done. They were random at best. Ask some questions, look around, take a ton of air samples, cut a hole here, cut a hole there, look inside the walls. This process was frustrating to me because it was expensive, time-consuming, destructive and, worst of all, very inaccurate.
In other words, most professional mold inspections consist of little more than what's included in the Got Mold? Test Kit, often less. Most inspectors do a visual inspection and three air samples in 45 minutes for $500. And, often as not, they are the ones doing the remediation, which means even if they find nothing they get to rip out your walls and charge thousands of dollars more.
Out of frustration with such inadequate methods, the innovation of the kit emerged. I used to get calls from people asking if I sold a mold test kit. I didn't. So I began investigating to see what was out there, and there wasn't much of any use. The kits that used industry-standard science were expensive, intimidating, and required the rental of a very expensive air-sampling pump which, if lost or broken, became a big liability for the customer.
The other kits were just garbage: Petri dishes, or settling plates with a culture medium that would grow whatever spores fell on them. The problems with these are many. First, many of the nastier molds have heavy spores that are not easily airborne. Second, these molds are very slow growing and will not show up. Third, the medium used in these kits is the wrong stuff to grow the infamous stachybotrys chartarum (aka black mold/toxic mold). Fourth, most of them tell you to judge for yourself what grew. Fifth, mold spores are literally everywhere, so growing mold in a dish doesn't tell you anything about how much stuff is in the air you are breathing (you might as well just leave a slice of bread on the counter). Sixth, if you're sensitive to mold, do you really want to encourage more of it to grow inside your home?
Some kits want you to slap a filter on your vacuum to collect whatever's hiding in your carpets, while others consist of no more than a piece of cellophane tape. No kidding.
What I developed was a mold test kit that uses industry-standard Air-O-Cell cassettes and BioTape surface samplers, both made by Zefon International. Then I got to work and built a battery-powered air sampling pump that took the cost and the liability out of the equation.
Then, with some help from a company that automates nuclear power plants, we developed web-based software that makes the lab side of the job so efficient that we can provide lab analyses for less than you can buy from most mold inspectors. We charge $30 for each analysis --most inspectors will charge you $100 or more per sample.
My goal has been to develop a mold test kit that is based on solid science, is less expensive than a professional inspection, and is extremely easy to use. To make sure that our test kit is easy to use, we have put together a step-by-step User Guide and DVD Video Guide.
I have developed the Got Mold? Test Kit after years of experience, suffering from the effects of mold on my health, and then learning to detect mold as the first step toward building a healthier personal environment. Throughout this adventure, my mission and purpose has remained the same: Helping people breathe easier, one person at a time.
If you feel that your home or workplace is contributing to health problems in you or in those you care about, you owe it to yourself to investigate the problem. We are here to make sure that your discovery process is as easy, effective, inexpensive, and painless as possible.