How susceptible are you to mold? Some food for thought. ServiceMaster Advanced Mobile, AL (251) 653-9333. Although this article contains some information regarding our industry, it contains a ton of useful information for the consumer to consider as well.
How Many Remediation Customers are
Susceptible to Mold Illness?
It's important restorers understand the health
consequences some customers face in their homes.
April 27, 2016
One of the biggest challenges faced by people sick from mold is the fact that doctors,
friends, and other family members dismiss their symptoms simply because they,
personally, do not get sick when exposed to mold.
Many victims of mold sickness are labeled as hypochondriacs and are accused of not
being sick at all.
This is tragic because many people that get sick have no control over their sickness
because their bodies have a genetic pre-disposition to mold illness.
The purpose of this article is to explain why contractors, particularly mold remediation
professionals, should know why some of their customers get sick from mold and other’s
There is actually a scientific reason, and understanding of that science will not only help
you serve your customers more effectively, but also increase sales by addressing the
needs of mold sensitized individuals.
Lessons Learned From Interviews With Mold Sensitized Individuals
In 2015, Wonder Makers Environmental, a company based in Michigan, launched a new
website with the mission of educating consumers, contractors, and health professionals
on the health concerns caused by mold. The website’s goal is to be the ultimate resource
of mold information and contains many articles written by the CEO, Michael Pinto.
Since launching the website, numerous mold sensitized individuals have been
interviewed and many lessons can be learned from these interviews.
1. In general, there is a lack of appreciation among the medical community of the
impact mold can have on certain individuals.
2. The symptoms from mold sickness are broad, leading to multiple misdiagnoses of
patients by many doctors.
3. It is quite common for mold sensitized individuals to seek help from multiple
medical practitioners and still not get healthy.
4. Eventually, the individual learns mold has been the cause of the sickness.
5. Mold sensitized individuals frequently are forced to seek alternative shelters
because traditional remediation approaches are not adequate to address their
sensitivities, even assuming that the current standard of care is followed.
Anecdotal Data Versus Scientific Data On Mold Illness
For more than a decade, people have tried to use the courts to sue for compensation from
sicknesses caused by mold. During the early stages of these legal battles, the court system
tended to side with the defendants citing a lack of scientific evidence that mold actually
makes people sick.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence, anecdotal data from thousands of contractors
working with occupants of water-damaged buildings documented the health challenges
In the 1980s, the World Health Organization, coined the term “Sick Building Syndrome”,
which people believed was caused by poor indoor air quality caused by water damage to
According to Erik Johnson, a mold expert and survivor, it was not until the 1990s, that
the World Health Organization, acknowledged “Sick Building Syndrome” could be
caused by toxic mold.
The medical community is beginning to acknowledge the health impact that waterdamaged
buildings can have. This recognition was made very public in 2015 with the
release of the MOLDY documentary which featured health professionals and people who
have suffered mental and physical health issues after moving into moldy houses.
In a presentation at the PLR Expo in Toronto, Canada, in November, 2015, CEO of
Wonder Makers Environmental, Michael Pinto presented “13 Future Trends in the
Restoration Industry“ and has since also written an update to several of his points.
One of the most notable trends he cites is a “A Tighter Connection Between Medicine
Pinto cites new diagnosing techniques to identify an illness called Chronic Inflammatory
Response Syndrome (CIRS), which legitimizes the tie between water-damaged buildings
(WDB) and sickness. He also cited research that has identified a genetic component to
this condition, a screening test (VCS), and most importantly, a treatment regimen.
Pinto also believed the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) demonstrates
the important ties between medicine and the environment. ERMI is a scientific test that
analyzes dust samples for 36 mold species. This test provides base information to identify
CIRS because 26 of the mold species are considered to be water damage indicators.
This test is important because one sample can be analyzed to identify the extent of water
damage in the building that could make someone susceptible to CIRS sick. Importantly,
this test provides an ERMI score, i.e. a HERTSMI-2 score that can be given to physicians
and will help them assess whether a building will make their patient sick.
Because of growing medical awareness and the fact that there are now medical tests and
drugs to diagnose and treat mold illness, Pinto believes one of the other outcomes of this
acknowledgement will be a more active justice system where plaintiffs will now be able
to get compensation because they now have science to back up their claims.
25% of the Population is Susceptible to Mold Illness
The most interesting aspect of the research on the effect that Sick Building Syndrome has
on patients pertains to genetics.
One of the biggest problems with mold sickness is that it impacts everyone differently.
Some may experience minor allergies, and other health conditions like asthma and
chronic sinusitis, while other mold sensitized patients may suffer severe illnesses.
One physician documented the health symptoms of 227 patients who lived in waterdamaged
buildings during a three year period and found 98% of his patients had one of
the gene types where their immune systems were not able to effectively deal with
contaminants from water-damaged buildings.
As stated by Pinto:
“In layman’s terms, two different genes have been isolated, which keep some people’s
immune systems from functioning properly when they have been exposed to contaminants
from water-damaged buildings. Instead of properly identifying and eliminating the
foreign invader, those body defense mechanisms increase the problem. When viewed with
a basic understanding of genetic distributions, this research made it clear that up to a
quarter of the population (25%) is at increased risk from exposure to water-damaged
This research is very significant because it demonstrates that up to 25% of the population
has a genetic pre-disposition that makes them more susceptible to mold illness and the
condition known as Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS).
Because of this research, the scientific community and legal system is now taking much
greater notice because diagnostic tests, lab tests and treatment tools are being developed
to help these patients. In short, the data is no longer anecdotal, but based on objective
What Is Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)?
According to Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, CIRS is:
“An acute and chronic, systemic inflammatory response syndrome acquired following
exposure to the interior environment of a water-damaged building with resident toxigenic
organisms, including, but not limited to fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes and mycobacteria
as well as inflammagens such as endotoxins, beta glucans, hemolysins, proteinases,
mannans, c-type lectins and possibly spirocyclic drimanes, plus volatile organic
Listed below are the 37 symptoms associated with CIRS.
4. Muscle Cramps
5. Unusual Pain
6. Ice Pick Pain
8. Light Sensitivity
9. Red Eyes
10. Blurred Vision
12. Sinus Problems
14. Shortness of Breath
15. Abdominal Pain
17. Joint Pain
18. Morning Stiffness
19. Memory Issues
20. Focus/Concentration Issues
21. Word Recollection Issues
22. Decreased Learning of New Knowledge
25. Skin Sensitivity
26. Mood Swings
27. Appetite Swings
28. Sweats (especially night sweats)
29. Temperature Regulation or Dysregulation Problems
30. Excessive Thirst
31. Increased Urination
32. Static Shocks
36. Metallic Taste
For 75% of the population, when exposed to biotoxins caused by mold, the individuals’
immune system responds by binding with the invading poison that allows its cells to filter
the biotoxins through the liver, kidneys, and other organs.
In contrast, 25% of the population who have the genetic susceptibility to mold illness get
sick because their body’s immune system does not bind to the biotoxin, meaning it is not
eliminated and therefore continues to circulate, causing the many symptoms, documented
The “C” in CIRS refers to the term “Chronic” because individuals exposed to poisons
from mold are unable to eliminate the toxins from their body, resulting in on-going and
escalating sickness, particularly if the person is continually exposed to mold. This is the
primary reason that the first priority of medical practitioners treating mold sensitized
patients is to begin the detox process which also must coincide with movement away
from the building that is constantly exposing the person to the toxins.
The “I” in CIRS refers to the term “Inflammatory” because the constant exposure to the
toxins creates a cycle of sickness, meaning the individual’s immune system is constantly
trying to fight the toxins, leading to inflammation.
The “R” in CIRS refers to “Response” because the human body is designed to respond to
invading toxins. In the case of patients suffering from mold sickness, the immune system
is constantly trying to fight the toxins causing a stress on the complete immune system of
the individual, which in turn leads to other health conditions.
As stated by Pinto, the “S” in CIRS refers to “Syndrome” because:
“The symptoms are a result of many factors, including external exposures and internal
responses. The contaminants from water-damaged buildings should trigger the activation
of an immune response, but some people’s genetic structure does not allow the proper
recognition of the biotoxin. Since this combination of circumstances inhibits the
clearance of the poison from the body, these harmful substances continue to circulate and
create continual damage. With such individuals there is no linear dose/response
relationship, meaning that even trivial exposures can create severe problems.”
Is CIRS Life Threatening?
The major problem that individuals with CIRS face is their bodies immune systems
become severely compromised and weakened from the vicious cycle of invading poison,
immune response, and inflammation.
The end result is many of their bodies systems are damaged, leading to a wide range of
health conditions, some life threatening.
For this reason, many mold survivors have reported that they have abandoned the primary
residence that initially made them sick; instead, seeking shelter wherever they can find it,
especially very dry areas, with dessert like conditions where moisture is limited. These
drastic measures were taken by these individuals because their bodies have become so
sensitized to mold that even minor exposure triggers severe reactions.
Fortunately, the continued research on mold sickness is creating hope because treatments
been have developed that help individuals detox and eliminate the poisons, followed by
rebuilding the immune system so that it regains strength.
How Can This Knowledge Help Your Business?
At PLR Expo in 2015, Michael Pinto asked the audience of about 400 contractors if they
had heard of Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome? Very few raised their hand.
Honestly, I was a bit surprised. Keep in mind, one of the trends that Pinto identified was
“Growing Public Awareness.” If consumers are getting more educated, you should also.
One of the goals of this article is to explain why some of your customers are sick from
mold and others are not. Now you know the answer: 25% of the population has a genetic
pre-disposition to mold illness and may suffer from CIRS.
Learn about CIRS and know the symptoms. In fact, when you meet with a prospective
client who has health issues that could possibly be caused by mold, ask them how many
of the 37 symptoms of CIRS they have.
If you suspect they have CIRS, ask them to consult with a physician who can verify the
diagnosis and prescribe a treatment plan.
The next step is to work with your customer to properly remediate their home. It is no
longer just a matter of dealing with mold in just one part of the home when you are
dealing with a mold sensitized customer. You need to understand the big picture,
meaning you need to work on a plan that addresses spore deposition throughout the home
and also understand that the HVAC system could also be contaminated.
Addressing The Needs Of Mold Sensitized Individuals Will Increase Your Bottom
Recently, one of my clients began working on a mold project that was referred to them by
Wonder Makers Environmental. The mold sensitized homeowner was no longer living in
her home because her health kept getting worse as she suffered from CIRS and was
advised to move out until her home was properly remediated.
Wonder Makers referred this homeowner to a contractor who understood how to deal
with mold sensitized individuals. The mold remediator’s work plan addressed the source
of contamination, i.e. the moisture source. Once this problem was fixed, the scope of
work addressed the areas of the home that had mold growth. The work plan had three
1. Use proper standard of care, containment, negative air, air scrubbers, etc. to
remove porous mold contaminated content. The contractor also implemented
their mold prevention system backing it up with a 25 year guarantee.
2. Create a work plan to address the spore contamination in the HVAC system by
sub-contracting the clean up with a reputable firm
3. Address the spore deposition in the home by setting up a clean room where
contents could be cleaned with an effective solution, like Mold-B-Gone, and
HEPA vacuumed could be stored. It should be noted, the use of chemicals to
clean the contents is not necessary, though this contractor chose to use this
chemical because the ingredients are all natural, EPA approved, and on the FDA
The total price tag for this project was more than $20,000.
The customer is happy because the fungal ecology of her home is at normal levels and
she can live in her home again.
How many customers can you help if you simply ask the right questions?
How might your business grow if you position it as the expert on CIRS and begin
How many jobs will you win from competitors if your education efforts build more trust
Bottom line, there is a need for contractors that understand the needs of individuals
adversely affected by mold. The science of mold is advancing. The fact that up to 25%
of the population could be genetically pre-disposed to mold illness, means that
contractors that want to grow their businesses exponentially should begin preparing
themselves to service this market demand. How prepared are you?
We are the original ServiceMaster Clean (janitorial) & ServiceMaster Restore (disaster restoration) company operating in Mobile and Baldwin County in South Alabama, serving the area for over 30 years. We have handled some of the largest janitorial, fire damage, water damage and mold remediation cleanup jobs ever performed on the Gulf Coast and we would be honored to serve you. (251) 344-5105, (251) 653-9333, (251) 928-1028 and (866) 653-9333.
Our web site is loaded with informative articles and videos on mold remediation. Please view our site at: http://www.servicemastermobilealabama.com. It will give you a good idea of our standards. Also, please check the EPA guide on mold: http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.htm. You will find that we absolutely adhere to the guidelines in this publication.
When you call us, we will assess your issue, direct you to an independent testing company if necessary, and immediately contain the affected area if necessary. We only know one way to do the job - the right way.
Make sure you call, or tell your insurance company to call ServiceMaster ADVANCED Cleaning, Enterprise number 7027, The Master of Disaster (251) 653-9333. In Baldwin County, (251) 928-1028. "We would be honored to serve you."