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Other Diseases Surprisingly Linked to Mold Exposure

Dangerous molds have now been linked to a number of different diseases that are prevalent today, including learning disabilities, gastrointestinal disturbances and GERD, heart problems, cancer, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and several autoimmune diseases. Kurt and Lee Ann Billings wrote the book Mold: The War Within after extensive personal bouts with toxic mold exposure, writing extensively about their experience and recovery. They describe ongoing problems with thyroid regulation, in terms of both excess and deficiency, among a multitude of other health problems.

The truth is, when your immune system is impaired, almost anything can happen in terms of negative health affects. This makes identifying the cause a real challenge, and when mold is hidden, it is extremely easy to miss the link between toxic mold exposure and a persisting health problem. This makes it that much more important to find a healthcare provider who can perform a smart, comprehensive evaluation if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having an unexplained medical condition.


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Mold the War Within, is an excellent, easy to read, eye opening verification of the major public health problem we have in this country with mold and mycotoxin exposure - best illustrated after floods and hurricanes.

 –Lisa Nagy, MD, Environmental and Integrative Medicine Specialist

Mold: The War Within provides one of the few available maps to guide patients through the science of mold-related illnesses and a view of both natural and pharmaceutical treatment options in the field.  –Andrew Lange N.D.

One excellent resource is the book Mold: The War Within by Kurt and Lee Ann Billings. The Billings learned the hard way about the damaging health effects of mold—and the level of ignorance about mold's effects by the medical profession as a whole.  –Dr. Joseph Mercola, DO

A Must Read for Anyone Exposed to Toxic Mold...The Billings should be commended on their extensive research and tireless work on this book. Their contribution to the field of toxic mold poisoning is monumental. This book is very well written and organized and loaded with important information, so it can be referenced time and again as those exposed to toxic mold struggle in their journey back to health.  –Mary Short Ray, DO, environmental specialist

Mold: The War Within provides an excellent guidebook to patients and others who suspect they are suffering from mold poisoning.  

–Raymond Singer, Ph.D., FACPN, FNAN, FAPS

As a “victim” of the bureaucracies, ill-informed medical community and confusing, sometimes contradictory, regulations, Kurt and Lee Ann waded through the mire of information and emerged with a clear, comprehensive understanding of the problem and solution. They have unselfishly shared this information through their book and are probably unaware of the thousands of people they have helped through this effort.  –Doug Hoffman, Executive Director of  NORMI

The Billings offer an educational process, albeit technical at some points (out of necessity), that is truly second to none.  –Doug Kaufmann, national TV host of Know the Cause

This book will be of value to the lay person who might have just experienced a mold infestation, because it contains information from scientists who are active in the field and provides some of the latest up-to-date scientific information in the field of mold. Of further value are explanations, for the novice, of some of the techniques on the procedures that mold inspectors use to examine houses for mold.  –David C. Straus, PhD


If there was only one piece of advice we could give people who discover they are living or working in a mold-contaminated building—based on all of the interviews we have conducted with medical and scientific experts—it would be for them to leave the environment. They should not return until the source of moisture or water intrusion has been corrected, the affected portion of the structure has been remediated, and post testing has confirmed that elevated levels of indoor contaminants are no longer present. Leaving the contaminated home or workplace is especially important for high-risk people, such as children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems for various health reasons.

Unfortunately, immediately leaving the home or workplace is oftentimes not a feasible option, nor is immediate remediation. In these situations, experts advise to reduce the level of indoor air contaminants the occupants are breathing by either increasing ventilation, such as by opening doors and windows, or by using air purifiers equipped with properly maintained high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters properly sized for each room. HEPA filters are capable of capturing at least 99.97 percent of particles 0.3 micron or larger in the air that passes through them. By reducing the level of indoor airborne contaminants, the associated health risks to occupants can lessen.

Had our family known to use HEPA air purifiers in our home to reduce the number of mycotoxin-containing mold spores and fragments in the air we were breathing after Hurricane Katrina, our level of exposure would have been much less and we may not have gotten as ill as we did. There is no way to know for sure, but we were later able to use HEPA air purifiers as successful stopgap measures until we could get moved out of a few rentals that had developed structural mold from water leaks. We attribute the preservation of our health while temporarily living in the mold-contaminated rentals to the use of multiple HEPA air purifiers.

We strongly recommend the use of HEPA air purifiers in post-disaster areas as well as in normal living conditions, because “normal” environments can also have unhealthy levels of ambient air pollutants, such as heavy pollen, mold, smoke from wood burning stoves, debris that dislodges from trees, particulates from factories and other sources of airborne pollutants. For daily air quality updates by zip code in the U.S., go to

When the outdoor air comes inside it can mix with even more contaminants from indoor sources, such as pet dander, dust, formaldehyde, radon, and perhaps even mold and bacteria and their associated toxins. These contaminants—from both outdoor and indoor sources—become concentrated in the indoor living environment. It is no wonder that the EPA reports, “Indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks.”

When we initially began using HEPA air purifiers we started with the less powerful units available at the big box stores. However, after learning that Dr. Rapp, who is a board certified pediatrician and environmental specialist, recommends the Austin Air purifiers, we upgraded to the Austin Air HealthMate. What we immediately noticed was the increase in the quantity of air flow through the machine, making it powerful enough to effectively exchange the air in even our largest room, which is critical with a HEPA air purifier because the air doesn’t get cleaned unless it passes through the HEPA filter.  

Another thing we like about the HealthMate is that it is reasonably priced for a quality air purifier, which makes it affordable to use to create multiple “clean” sleeping rooms. By reducing exposure levels to common irritants/allergens while sleeping, the body can more optimally function and use the otherwise spent energy to repair the body. We are firm believers in creating a clean sleeping room for each person in a family.

In addition to Dr. Rapp, other medical doctors recommend the Austin Air Purifiers. For example, Mary Ray, DO, who specializes in the treatment of environmental illnesses, shares, “I recently had to use an air purifier in an environment in which I was working that was contaminated with toxic mold. I chose an Austin Air Purifier and immediately noticed a significant improvement in the indoor air quality. As a result, I experience much fewer symptoms when I have to work for long periods of time in the contaminated environment. The true HEPA filter is tightly sealed to ensure that all the air passing through the unit is filtered. Also, the Austin Air HEPA filter is surrounded by a large amount of carbon that filters out volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which is not possible to accomplish with the extremely, thin cheap charcoal pre-filters that are used in the less powerful HEPA air purifiers found in big box stores. As a medical doctor specializing in environmental illnesses, I now recommend Austin Air Purifiers to my patients.”  Continued

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If there was only one piece of advice we could give people regarding vacuum cleaners, it would be to get one with a multi-stage filtration system that includes a substantial HEPA filter and a sealed design to prevent the escape of particulates back into the indoor environment. None of the HEPA vacuums available in the big box stores meet these criteria. The HEPA filters on these vacuums are more advertising gimmicks than true air emission filtration systems. HEPA vacuums sold elsewhere (not in big box stores) may also have faulty designs, have insufficient HEPA filters, and lack seals. Just because a vacuum is advertised as a “HEPA” vacuum doesn’t mean that it is not going to spew airborne contaminants into the air you breathe.

Other problems to watch out for are vacuums that filter contaminants through water chambers because mold can develop around the seals. Also, cleaning the water container can expose a person to harmful toxins and contaminants. Likewise, cleaning dust bins on bagless vacuum cleaners can also cause exposure to contaminants. These bins must be frequently cleaned for the vacuum to maintain its suction.

Based on the aforementioned criteria, we set out to identify 1) a commercial grade HEPA vacuum suitable for industrial and DIY mold cleanup and 2) a residential HEPA vacuum suitable for daily household use.


In commercial applications, HEPA vacuums are used to clean up harmful contaminants such as asbestos, lead and mold.(10)  The EPA explains why the use of a HEPA vacuum is necessary when cleaning up contaminants such as asbestos, “These vacuums are equipped with filters designed to remove very small particles or fibers—such as asbestos—by filtering those particles from the air passing through the vacuum. Because the exhaust air from an ordinary vacuum cleaner is not filtered sufficiently, it is possible for tiny asbestos fibers to pass through the filter and back into the building air.”(11)

“The easiest and most effective way to initially clean mold from structural building materials is with the use of a commercial wet/dry HEPA vacuum followed by wiping, scrubbing, scraping, or sanding for complete removal,” states Doug Hoffman, executive director of the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors (, a nonprofit organization involved in providing training and certifications for mold and indoor air quality professionals.(12)

Jim Pearson, CMH, who is the chairman of the IICRC S520 Consensus Body overseeing the revision of the industry publication, S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation, reports that the HEPA vacuums manufactured by Nilfisk ( are some of the best commercial equipment available, “For a true HEPA wet vac, I strongly recommend the Nilfisk Eliminator II Wet/Dry HEPA vacuum. It can do either one: dry HEPA or wet, no HEPA.”

Mr. Pearson clarifies, “However, and I stress the however part...if a person just needs to suck up water, you could buy a consumer wet vac at most retailers for about $100. Of course, no HEPA, but when you are sucking up water in a flood zone, the HEPA doesn’t do much good as the water clogs the fine pores of the HEPA media.”(13)  Continued