Allergy and Family Medicine

Albert H. Cobb, Jr., M.D.
F.A.A.O., F.A.A.O.A.

Adult and Pediatric Allergies

Loads of Information:
Latex Allergies and Food Cross-Reactivity
Treatment and Services:
What to expect when you visit the clinic
Medications to avoid before testing
Authorize Request for Medical Records
Diet Diary
And More:
Site Map
Dealing with Mold

Water leaks: Get them repaired and dried out as quickly as possible. Prevention of leaks is much cheaper in the long run. Look under sinks for dampness. Look behind every appliance that uses water (water softener, dishwasher, washer/dryer, etc.). Clean roof and gutters at least once a year.

Food sources: Get rid of old wood, papers, leaves, and carpet - especially if they have ever been wet. Wood, tile, or decorative concrete is easier to maintain than carpet. Keep refrigerator clean and check the drip pan.

AC Filters: We recommend that allergy patients use 3M Ultra Allergen Filtrete 1250 filters. They are very good at removing mold, hair, dander, dust mites, and other particulates from the air. They are so effective that they will “whistle” when they are becoming filled. At first, you may have to change the filter more often than the once a month interval recommended by the manufac-turer. They are expensive – but cheaper than being sick and having to go to a doctor. If I find a filter better than these, I will recommend them. This is not a paid advertisement. We use them because they work. Get your air conditioner cleaned and inspected at least once a year. Getting your ducts cleaned is not as good as having them replaced.

STACHYBOTRYS CHARTARUM (ATRA), likely culprit in "sick buildings". It's a slimy, greenish-black fungus that loves high-cellulose materials, such as straw, wet leaves, drywall, carpet, wallpaper, fiber-board, ceiling tiles, and thermal insulation. It does not grow on plastic, vinyl, concrete products or ceramic tiles, unless there is standing water.

Dealing with mold requires eliminating humidity, darkness, and its food source. Chemicals can be used to kill it, but since mold spores are in the air, it soon returns. Not every mold is harmful. Some are. Of particular interest is the black mold Stachybotrys, which has been linked to illness and even death in susceptible individuals, causing home abandonment and even school closures. Luckily, this mold is relatively rare if precautions are taken in our buildings.

Killing mold and preventing its growth are worthwhile – a person cannot become allergic to something to which they are never exposed. This is the reason that I have never found anyone allergic to rutabagas. When was the last time you overindulged in rutabagas?

How to deal with mold:
Mold Lights: We have been using a mold light like you used to see in barbershops for killing viruses and bacteria on razors and scissors. You can place them behind your refrigerator or inside the return air duct of your air conditioner. The light does not kill the mold; it sterilizes it so that it can't reproduce. Your allergy AC filter will trap the sterilized mold and eliminate it from your environment. This works IF you have taken steps to greatly diminish sources of mold in your home or office. See The Lightbulb Shop in Austin for a source of these lights.

Ozone generators: Since ozone is a trigger for many of my asthma patients, I am reluctant to recommend them to every patient. However, if your asthma is not triggered by ozone, or your family does not have asthma, an ozone generator is the most effective method of eliminating mold.

A mold elimination diet can be helpful to some patients. You will be better able to tolerate high mold levels if you can decrease or eliminate the mold in your diet. If you sit in the back yard at night drinking alcohol, eating cheese and hors d'oevres, you may overload on mold. Click HERE to print a mold elimination diet.

Stachybotrys colonies growing on sheetrock in a flooded basement.
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