This is one of my most personal blogs to date.
I am writing to share my experience of living with mould and how it quickly caused my health and that of my kids to unravel. The more people I spoke to about this issue, the more people came out of the woodwork wanting information and pleading for me to share my story and my learnings. A word of warning that the photos contained in this blog are a somewhat graphic.
So a little background...
I moved into my current home (double-brick free standing) a little over 2 years ago. The kids and I have had on the whole vibrant health for the best part of the past decade since eating a traditional wholefoods diet. In early February 2016 I feel ill with a virus that was doing the rounds of Sydney. Even though I rarely get sick it (and when I do I bounce back within a couple days) I didn’t think it was too surprising that I succumbed to this virus given that I was extremely sleep deprived (having averaged only 4-5 hours sleep per night for 3-4 months straight in order to open Broth Bar & Larder under extremely stressful conditions in late 2015). “I’ll kick it in 3 days like I usually do” I thought to myself. A week day came and went and I was still really sick. “Well I guess I was extremely stressed and sleep deprived to get the retail shop off the ground so perhaps this virus will take me a little longer this time. I’ll start going to bed super early”. So I made a concerted effort to get at least 8 hours sleep per night.
Two weeks later my symptoms were getting worse. I started to develop severely mucousy sinuses constantly blowing my nose, having to carry a box of tissues wherever I went. “Hmmm, this ones got me good. But any day now I’ll knock it. My diet is impeccable, so it’s just got to be a backlog of stress and sleep deprivation working its way out. I’ll get even more sleep and knock it ” went the voice inside me. So I started going to bed at the same time as my 2 kids and getting 10 hours sleep a night. We all sleep in the same king sized bed in the master bedroom downstairs.
Here’s the thing. The more sleep I got, the sicker I got. And the sicker I got, the more slept, creating a weird cycle. My 2 kids also started to develop sinusitis. The 3 of us blowing our noses constantly and never being able to clear it. We’ve never had anything like this before. We tried nasal sprays, inhaling steam, increased bone broth intake, took olive leaf extract, extra cod liver oil etc.
The weeks went by like this. A month later Michaela’s symptoms cleared but Will and I were getting worse. I started to develop a really rattly cough. “Surely this will pass any day now. I means it’s been a whole month!”
One month turned into 2 months.
My cough was so bad that I thought I would break a rib. I sounded like a wheezy smoker of 50 years. My nose was red raw from going through 1 box of tissues per day. I was coughing up 1 cup (I kid you not) of mucous per day. My sinuses were so inflamed they were raised up from my face. I looked and felt the worse I had been in a very very long time. The last time I had been this sick for so long was in my late twenties when I had a emotional and physical breakdown after working 100 hours per week as a lawyer for years on end which made me question that industry and my lifestyle choices (but that’s a whole other story).
After 2 months I raised the white flag. I reached out to my trusted naturopath Anthia Koullouros. She assured me that I had been extremely stressed and sleep deprived and gave me a herbal tincture to clear the mucous and told me to avoid mucous forming foods. 2 weeks later with no improvement at all she sent me off to see integrative GP Kate Norris who confirmed that there was no chest infection thankfully despite the rattly cough but I needed a stronger herbal tonic. Back to the naturopath. That night I was blowing my nose so hard in a bid to clear the mucous that I forced the mucous up my ear canal which blew something in my ear. The pain was exquisite. It was worse than childbirth. And I’m not exaggerating. It brought me to my knees. If had someone to look after my 2 children I would have checked myself into a hospital. I literally crawled into bed at 6pm in a bid to get some respite from the pain inside my head. “Mummy are you dying?” asked my son who was scared to his wits end at the sight of me. “Hopefully not tonight, beautiful.” Back to the GP the next day to examine my ear and thankfully no ear infection – the pressure from the mucous in my ear ruptured a blood vessel and caused a hole in the tube which made everything sound echoey and out of tune and I could hear myself talking in my head if you know what I mean. By this point I was so exasperated, I lost my appetite, I started losing weight and felt like I had hit rock bottom.
That weekend I opened one section of my wardrobe in my master bedroom that I rarely open as we were packing to go away for the weekend. It was full of toiletry bags, black tie dresses, heels, leather jackets, and jewellery from another lifetime ago. To my horror I noticed that everything – everything- was covered inch thick in furry mould. The more I examined the wardrobe, the more I saw how pervasive it was. The leather bags, shoes and jackets copped it the worse. See exhibit A below. This was once a black leather handbag. It was under a couple of cotton backpacks that were not so badly affected so it went unnoticed for a period of time. There were no signs of mould on the carpet, ceiling or walls- just in the wardrobe.
After I recoiled from the disgust that this was only a meter away from where we sleep, the penny dropped. Loud and clear. “I wonder if this mould is causing our health problems!” I didn’t know much about mould at all but I knew enough to know that it was toxic to inhale. I emailed my naturopath and she confirmed “Yes that’s it! Mould and chronic sinusitis go hand in hand!!”
I examined the entire house and couldn’t see any other obvious signs of mould other than on the shelf of the adjacent room where my old workshop used to be (see picture below). Since Broth Bar & Larder had been set up I never entered the old workshop anymore but my cleaners did and I figured that if they had seen anything untoward they would have told me (apparently not).
While I was relieved to finally (after 2 months!) get to the cause of my unravelling health I was equally unnerved at this revolting beast growing in my house. What the heck do I do about it?!??! Do I have to move house? Can I get rid of it? And how? We will be sick forever? Is this curable?
I remembered that Chris Kresser had recently released a podcast on mould as he too had recently gone through a massive mould issue in his house. He interviewed Dr Ritchie Shoemaker on his podcast. Dr Shoemaker is renowned as the world leading expert in mould and its related health issues and has a website www.survivingmould.com. Kresser had a mould detection person come to his house and examine and test it for mould. I needed someone like! But where do I find them? Frantic emails and text messages flying back and forth to my trusted GPs Dr Kate Norris and Dr Min Yeo followed. They pointed me to the Surviving Mould Australian Face Book Support Page and to a company called Mycotox Pty Ltd who does mould testing and examinations. There was also another company recommended on that FB support page (strangely both of them are based in Newcastle) but Vince Neil from Mycotox was very quick off the mark to respond to me, so I went with him. His title is “Investigative Microbial Assessor”. He’s basically a doctor for a house. There are loads of “building hygienists” around but they are more generalists. I wanted someone highly specialised, qualified and scientific in mould detection. Vince Neil had been asked to speak at Dr Shoemaker’s conference in the USA. He was booked to arrive in 2 days.
In the meantime, I then proceeded to do something I never should have done. I tried to clean the mould! Just with a cloth and some eucalyptus oil, just treating it like common household dust. It was a huge mistake because I had no idea that mould needs to be cleaned in a very particular way. I sent black mould spores flying all throughout my house. I felt lightheaded, and my symptoms got markedly worse.
Vince Neil arrived with 2 massive suitcases full of testing equipment for both house and humans. He first to test the kids and I for the inhalation of what are called in the industry “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs). Mould is just one microbial contaminant. There are a whole range of biotoxins (including mycoplasma, mycotoxins, endotoxins, enterotoxins, exotoxins). Each chemical has its own toxicity and potential for causing different health effects.
Common symptoms of exposure to VOCs include:
Short-Term (Acute) to high levels of VOCs: eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, worsening of asthma symptoms.
Long-Term (Chronic) to high levels of VOCs may lead to an increased risk of: cancer, liver damage, kidney damage, central nervous system damage (Minnesota Dept. of Health).
Testing on humans involves a very specific eye contrast test developed by Dr Ritchie Shoemaker. The theory here is that VOCs cross the optical nerve that affects the eyes and the ability to contrast black against white. The results of our testing indicated that we were all affected but that I was hit much harder than the kids. You can do the testing yourself at home to see if mould has possibly affected you here.
Testing VOCs in the house is done via an ERMI test where the DNA of dust molecules is examined. The ERMI test did in fact indicate that the downstairs of the house was “too dangerous to occupy”. Elevated levels were also found upstairs.
These were his recommendations:
· Clean EVERYTHING in the entire house (both contents of everything in and out of cupboards as well as all internal surfaces of the house including every inch of the walls and ceilings). And it had to be cleaned in a very specific way: with HEPA filter gas mask and plastic suit on, with a vacuum cleaner using a HEPA filter to absorb the mould spores, then all surfaces in the entire house wiped down with a wet cloth in a solution of 80% vinegar and 20% water.
· Hot wash every single item of clothing in the house and sun dry them on the line or get them dry cleaned.
· Throw out all curtains, carpets, mattresses and pillows.
· Clean all of the rugs.
· Pull down the wardrobe in the master bedroom to see what’s going on behind it.
· Remove all of the plaster from all the walls downstairs to see what exactly what is happening behind them. Let me tell you that seeing the house that you’ve only bought 2 years ago being pulled apart at the seams is more than hair raising. But being able to see the innards of the house with its ‘skin’ removed gave us a really good appreciation of what was going on inside and takes out all of the guesswork.
· Buy an air purifier and run it 24/7 alternating the rooms.
· Get all of the pipes in the house checked to rule out any leaky pipes.
· Get the roof inspected to rule out any leaks from there.
· Move upstairs as far away from the mould as possible and completely seal off the downstairs area while it is being remediated. This meant that the entire contents of my bedroom (clothes, shoes etc), laundry and study are strewn upstairs and I had to sleep (in fact still sleeping) in a fold out in my daughter’s room while the works downstairs are ongoing.
· Go back to your GP and get some bloods done, mould sensitivity gene testing as well as a Marcons nasal test to assess how the mould has impacted our health.
Once I digested the enormity of the tasks above that he laid out for me (especially point 1!!), I did what any person would do: I burst into tears feeling completely overwhelmed. I then got on the phone to my sister in Qld and asked for her help. There is no way I could this alone even if I was feeling 100% healthy let alone barely holding it together. Cleaning the entire contents of your house is a 1000 times worse than moving house. It involves taking EVERYTHING YOU OWN out of its rightful place, then cleaning all of the cupboards that house it in a certain way, assessing whether you want to chuck or keep the item, if yes clean or wash it a particular way, then putting it back (whilst wearing a gas mask and plastic suit no less). This job was HUGE!!! It took us an entire week of working from 6am till 10pm (while I was also juggling kids on school holidays and a business) to trawl through every square inch of the place leaving no stone unturned. We threw out an entire skip worth of stuff.
Here were the problems we identified:
· Rain water flows directly under the house due to lack of drainage and a sloping block. Modern houses are built with drains to prevent rain water running under the house but an old house like mine doesn’t have such adequate drainage.
The rain water was pooling in the laundry at the bottom of the house and then trickling down behind the walls of the adjacent master bedroom. See photos below that show what was happening behind the laundry and master bedroom walls when we removed plaster. You can clearly see water trickling down.
· There was no ventilation in the master bedroom. The windows are tiny and often closed as there is no security grills on them. The stagnant air pools near the corner of the wardrobe. As Chris Kresser states in one of his articles "Exposure to an indoor environment is a burden on health when that environment contains inadequate ventilation. High concentrations of particulates from smoke, burning wood, cooking emissions, or overexposure to biotoxins such as mold are some of the most problematic factors with respect to indoor air quality." [emphasis added]
· The washing machine tap was leaking further adding insult to injury with water running under the floor of the laundry and pooling on the inside wall of the master bedroom.
· There were a couple leaks in the roof and the gutters needed replacing.
· I used to have 10 dehydrators and 5 stock pots going 24/7 (without the exhaust fan on) adding further moisture to the walls and floors generally.
· The leather couch in the lounge room was sitting flush against the wall causing mould to grow on the back of the couch and on the wall, not visible to the naked eye.
· Since opening up my retail shop I used to use the clothes dryer several times a day to dry the shops’ towels and all our clothes and never hung anything on the clothes line (for apparent lack of time). Thus adding further moisture in the laundry. The master bedroom wardrobe is located just on the other side of the laundry wall.
· The house was full of MDF (stair treads, skirting boards) which absorbs moisture (MDF is also toxic and banned in Europe). So the stair treads and the skirting boards all needed to be replaced.
· The exhaust fans in the laundry and bathrooms simply pumped air under the floor above or in the roof cavity instead of out of the house!
· The side of the house was completely overgrown with shrubs and 2 massive rain water tanks preventing air circulating leading to mould behind certain skirting boards not visible to the naked eye and mould growing behind photos hung on the wall also not visible to naked eye. See photos below:
The above factors all accumulated to create the perfect mould storm. So it wasn’t just one thing, but a toxic cocktail of a number of things.
Vince Neil recommended that I get in a mould remediation consultant to advise how to deal with the water drainage issues now that water accumulation under the house had been detected. Vince’s expertise is in detecting mould but not necessarily on how to remediate the house once mould has been detected. So in comes the mould remediation consultant (a couple of times) who advised on establishing a drainage system in the front of the house so that rain and hose water trickle into the drain and then down the side of the house into the storm water drain instead of going under the house (see photo below of kids earning their keep by ‘helping’ to build the drain out front). He also recommended another drain system in the laundry to catch any water that does for whatever reason sneak under the house.
I was also advised to get in a ventilation company to advise on how to better ventilate the downstairs of the house to avoid air remaining stagnant. This involved getting a SonAir system in my bedroom which is the next level air-conditioning unit (I don’t like aircon systems as I don’t think they are very healthy). The SonAir is a much smaller slicker system that sits on your wall and sucks air from the outside, purifies it, then pushes it into a room. Much like a water purifier for air. They also installed a series of silent mechanical fans that sit under the house and operate 24/7 that ventilate the subfloor to keep air moving. They added a few more vents outside the house and replaced the bathroom exhaust fans and made sure that the air was being pushed outside the house and not simply recirculating inside.
While I was at it, I also got my retail shop, Broth Bar & Larder, tested by Vince Neil to rule out any issues there. Thankfully all was ok there, other than to replace the MDF shelving units with proper timber and to have the exhaust fan turned on whenever the stove top is being used.
All up Vince came to see me 3 times and held my hand through this process. Each time he retested me, my levels of VOCs dropped considerably as the house was decontaminated.
In terms of our health, the results of my blood test and Marcons test were all normal (other than low zinc which is rapidly absorbed through times of intense stress). Fortunately I do not have the mould sensitivity gene. If I did I would have been affected by the mould in the house at a much earlier point in time. What Dr Norris thinks happened is that I succumbed to a virus which lowered my immunity and that made me susceptible to the mould in the house. Long term exposure to mould can open the way to what is called “Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome” which is a chronic illness due to the toxins produced in a water-damaged building. Fortunately for me and my kids, this is not something we have- as soon as we moved upstairs and quarantined the downstairs area and removed the mould from the house our health immediately returned in a matter of days.
The most potent lessons I have learnt:
I have learnt so much over the passed few months in dealing with this mould issue and recovering from chronic sinusitis that it has unwittingly become kind of like a sub-speciality for me! Here are the most potent things I have learnt.
1. If you see visible signs of mould or smell a musty smell in your house don’t ignore it. And here I’m not talking about a bit of black mould growing in the grouting in your shower recess that everyone has. I’m talking about mould of whatever colour growing in places that you wouldn’t expect to find it (eg ceilings, walls, in cupboard, on clothes, on shoes, back of photos on walls). The reason why we don’t ignore it is because, in the words of integrative GP Dr Kate Norris, “Mould is toxic to everyone”. Inhaling mould spores in sufficient quantities causes health problems. In addition to mould testing equipment used by professionals, nothing beats a visual or smell test- they are your first port of call.
2. If you do discover mould, merely cleaning it up isn’t going to cut it. Firstly cleaning it needs to be done in a certain way otherwise you will spread the mould spores throughout the house far and wide. Secondly you need to find the CAUSE of it. Unless you find WHY it’s growing in the first place, it will simply come back time and again. Closet moisture absorbers that you buy from the supermarket are bandaids and “completely useless” according to Vince Neil of Mycotox. The cause of mould is typically water coming into a building and /or stagnant air pooling in a certain location causing elevated moisture levels. I had both of these things happen simultaneously. I appreciate that many old houses on downhill slopes in Sydney have water flowing under them due to lack of drainage at the front like mine. But that makes it a ripe place for mould to thrive when that water pools in a location under a house that isn’t ventilated. Just because something is common doesn’t mean its something we have to live with especially if it’s causing health issues! I had well meaning friends tell me to just live with it and don’t spend any money fixing it. Living in such a poor state of health is not an option for me. The quality of my life was so severely impacted that I couldn’t work, exercise, run classes or do the things I love doing. And when I tried to do those things I was struggling so much that I wasn’t enjoying them. And worst of all was seeing my kids sick. They deserve vibrant health. We all do.
3. If I was ever in the market to buy a house again I would certainly be mindful of drainage issues. Houses should be waterproof so rain can’t get in, over, around or under them. Modern houses have to have drainage according to building standards but many old houses don’t. Water was simply flowing straight under my house every time it rained or I used the hose out front. I hear time and again that pre-purchase building inspection reports are not worth the paper they are written on (and certainly my lack of drainage was not mentioned on my report when I bought my house 2 years ago!). Instead I would get a good builder to examine the property. Having said that until you live in a house and/or start pulling apart the plaster to see what’s happening behind walls especially after solid rain you don’t really know 100% that’s its properly draining.
4. Keep the house ventilated as much as possible with windows open to allow fresh air to circulate unless it’s teaming with rain. For me this meant installing Crimsafe security grills (and I appreciate that they are NOT cheap!) on all the downstairs windows and doors so I can leave them open 24/7 (unless its raining) and have peace of mind when I’m out of the house.
5. Whenever possible hang clothes on the line to dry in the sunshine instead of using the dryer. The dryer is a huge money sapper (my electricity bill tripled when I was using it instead of the clothesline on a regular basis), has a huge environmental impact and denies clothes the antibacterial properties of the sun. As my holistic osteopath says “each ray of sun is like a nuclear bomb for microbial contaminants”. I used to think hanging clothes on the line was a huge waste of time. “There’s a million things I could be doing in this time” I use to hear myself thinking as I was pegging up the clothes “why don’t I just chuck all these things in the dryer and be done with it because I’m sooooo busy”. But now I see it as a non-negotiable important part of my daily work, no different to cooking nourishing meals, or driving the kids to and from school, or exercising. Whether you like it or not its got to be done. So I do it, and now I do it with gratitude. I’m grateful for the sun that’s hitting my skin and my clothes as I’m hanging them up. I’m grateful that I even have clothes to hang on the line. I’m grateful that I live in a building that even has a clothes line (as many people around the world don’t). For those times when its raining and you can't hang clothes outside on the line, I recommend buying a condenser dryer which do not vent out hot air into the room. Instead they convert the hot air in the dryer into water and that water then drains out from a pipe from the dryer into your laundry sink. I bought mine from Appliances Online. If you don't have a condenser dryer I strongly recommend that you ensure your dryer vents the hot air outside and not into the room.
6. Turn the exhaust fan on every time you are cooking on the stove top to absorb moisture. I never used to do this and to think that I had 6 x 20L stock pots and 10 dehydrators going 24/7! Was it any wonder that the walls showed elevated moisture levels?!? While making bone broth and activated nuts has become my life over the past 10 years I appreciate now that it is not healthy in a residential context to have the stove top and dehydrators going 24/7 when cooking in commercial quantities because even a residential exhaust fan will not cut it. Commercial volumes require commercial exhaust fans. It is now a mandatory requirement of my commercial kitchen that the exhaust fan is on whenever the stove top is used which is typically 24/7.
7. If you have mucous, cutting out mucous-forming foods like grains, dairy, avocado and bananas may help but in my recent experience cutting out these foods didn’t help reduce the mucous while the mould existed in the house. Getting to the root cause of the issue (removing the mould and creating an environment where it did not reappear) was fundamental for improving my symptoms. I kid you not that within merely 1 week of removing the mould from the house, our symptoms completely disappeared and we returned to vibrant health! This is startling given that we had been sick for months! Fortunately because I don’t have the mould sensitivity gene and I have good detoxification pathways, I could completely eliminate all the biotixins from my system so that they didn’t linger. It is as though we had never experienced it (other than a very dismal bank account).
8. If you suffer chronic upper respiratory issues that are not budging after you have nailed all of the other foundations of health, I would consider whether something in your environment that you are breathing in may be causing it. Indeed the quality of the air we breathe is so fundamental that it is one of the 8 foundations of health (along with nutrition, hydration, movement, sleep, stress management, pleasure & connection, and spending time in nature). However I only used to spend a passing reference to the breath (how we breathe and what we breathe in) in my health coaching sessions. This is something that I will be more mindful of with my clients especially in Sydney which has a HUGE mould issue due to our humid climate. Those living in once water basin areas (Paddington, Double Bay) are said to be even more affected. Getting some blood work done and testing if you have the mould sensitivity gene may be worthwhile. If you do have the mould sensitivity gene, then living in damp conditions or in a water damaged building is not an option.
9. After being sick for so many months and having come out of it I now fully appreciate the exquisite feeling of being 100% healthy. While I never took my health for granted, I now have an even greater appreciation of what it means to have vibrant health. Without good health, getting through day to day life is an uphill battle. If you have good health though, you have the mental and physical fortitude to better deal with whatever life throws at you. In addition, I feel that I can now better relate to my clients, customers and all those around me who are unwell. When you fighting fit 100% of the time its harder to empathise with those who are not.
10. If you are feeling overwhelmed or sick for an extended period of time, do not be afraid to reach out for support from trusted practitioners, family and close friends. I honestly would not have be able to get this through this nightmarish episode without the support of my naturopath Anthia Koullouros, and intergrative GPs Dr Min Yeo and Dr Kate Norris. For all their supportive texts, emails, phone calls, consultations and words of assurance I am forever indebted. And the biggest thanks goes to my family especially my sister who flew down in a heartbeat from Qld and helped me clean up my house and contents. Having a family member or a close friend to lean on in times of need makes the battle less confronting. This whole experience shows me the power of community and reminds me to not be afraid on lean on others in times of need. If I had my time again I would definitely have reached out much sooner and not waited 2 months. My naturopath reminded me that if you are otherwise healthy, you should be able to budge a run of the mill cold in a few days. If it is not clearing after that time then it is time for support! And if things don’t shift after 1-2 consultations with trusted practitioners, then some serious consideration needs to be given to what is really going on – perhaps there is something out of left field that is causing the issue. Reaching out for support is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that you take your physical and mental health so seriously that it is time for action.
11. We need to balance our energies among our house, our health, and our work. I had been so focused on my business for months on end that all my energies were going there and I had neglected the health of my house. Well the universe gave me a big slap on the wrists and a reminder about that! While I had cleaners coming every fortnight there is really no substitute for opening up cupboards and wardrobes every now and again and having a good clean out to keep on top of any potential issues. And to that end, the less stuff we own the better!
The purpose of this article is not to scare people or be dramatic. It is simply to share my experience in the hope that others may find it helpful and if so my ordeal was not all in vain. For those who have spotted mould in their house and don’t know what to do about it or even where to begin I hope that this article is a good start. I felt so lost and afraid when I first realised that I had a massive mould issue and that it was the cause of my and my kids’ health issues. I didn’t know who to contact to get the problem fixed as it was not something I had ever experienced before. I’d hate for others to go through that sense of panic and confusion.
If you do have mould in your house and you or a family member also suffer any upper respiratory issues then perhaps the association between the 2 is worthy of investigation. I am not insensitive to the cost of addressing mould issues but if the alternative is ill health then you really don’t have an option. It’s either “fix it or move” as my dad bluntly put it. Despite the fact that I feel financially guttered, I can rest assured that when my kids and I are at home we are breathing clean air and I have done all that I can to create a healthy and clean environment for my family.
Set out below is my list of contacts who I used. When you have a tricky mould issue like I did, sadly it is not just one or 2 people who can fix it but an army of people required to investigate, decontaminate, remediate, and sometimes rebuild a section of your house:
1. Vince Neil*, Investigative Microbial Assessor, 0418 491 507
2. Scott Whitton, mould remediation consultant, 0475 959 421
3. Aquasearch, leaky pipe detection, Travis, 0417 246 749
4. Roof Tiler and Repairer, Frank Delaney, 0438 006 478
5. Comfort Zone, ventilation experts (bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans, vents, mechanical subfloor ventilation, SonAir unit), Wayne Gavson, 1300 668 202
6. There was a team of tradesmen I used eg carpenter, builder, electrician, plasterer, floor sander/polisher, painter.
7. Chris Kresser podcast “How to test your home for Mold” with Mike Schrantz
8. Natural Bedding Company, 122 Percival Road Stanmore, 02 9269 4834
9. Natural latex pillows from above company or from Eastern Suburbs Osteopathy.
10. Air purifier, Air Oasis, Julian 0419 030 103.
11. Dave Asprey’s Moldy Documentary is worth a watch for those sceptical about the link between mould and health. Ditto this website: www.survivingmold.com.
If you rent rather than own your place, obviously one solution is to simply move premises if your landlord is not going to fix the building.
To all my readers and followers, I am here if you need me and pleased to say that there is light at the end of the (mouldy) tunnel. Remember that everything is fixable. Both house and health.