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Mould sensitivity  RSS feed

 
Patricia Hope
Posts: 6
Location: England (the old one, not the new)
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I have developed a sensitivity to mould and am having great trouble finding somewhere to live in England that does not make me debilitated.

Mould needs moisture and cellulose to grow. There is lots of moisture in the air in England, especially in Autumn and winter. I love wood but the people who also have my condition say it's impossible to have wood in a building that won't get mouldy eventually. (Dust can also be a medium in which mould grows lol).

It's been a dream of mine to one day live in a cob house.

In your experience, is it possible to have a mould free cob house? I would steer clear of a straw bale sandwich. I can't see the straw that's in the structure of the cob, being mould free, but are the mould spores (and resultant mycotoxins) trapped within the clay?

I also love the idea of an aga in the kitchen. I think the constant heat in the cold months would dry any moisture from washing and cooking etc. I'm sure it would get too hot and so I would want to have windows open, which is recommended for the circulation of air.

What are your thoughts please?
 
Chris Wells
Posts: 68
Location: Zone 2b, Canadian Rockies
3
forest garden hugelkultur solar
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Mold is inherent to organic soil. It's one of the many natural mechanisms by which the biomass is processed. I do not believe it realistic to create a cob house devoid of spore.

Are you certain mild mold concentration is your fundamental issue? I lived in the city for most of my earlier years. I suffered with hay fever from spring to fall and experienced many other related discomforts. Three years ago I moved to a small mountain community and I'm now symptom free. I have returned to the cities a few times since, and issues resume within a week or so. My issue appears to be pollution; is the air in your area pristine, or do you have a nearby factory or similar development that could be aggravating your respiratory system, as seems to be my case?

 
Patricia Hope
Posts: 6
Location: England (the old one, not the new)
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Hi Chris, thank you for your reply. I agree that many bodily reactions are caused by pollution. People who are sensitive to mould get a higher reaction when in the presence of chemical toxins. It is estimated that 25% of the population have a gene mutation MTHFR that inhibits the body's ability to detoxify toxins and so results in them being susceptible to becoming sensitive to mould, their mycotoxins and other chemical toxins.

My reaction to mould is not respiratory unless I encounter Stachybotrys and it's mycotoxins which tend to burn the lungs.
My reaction is an inflammation of other parts of the body.

Most outdoor moulds do not produce mycotoxins. It is mainly indoor moulds that are toxic on their own even without the addition of chemicals. However, I have encountered Stachybotrys in a bale of straw.

I live in a rural area. So I am pretty sure that it's the mould in dwelling places that is causing the inflammation.
 
Ardilla Esch
Posts: 225
Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
6
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I built a light straw-clay house (and am allergic to mold).  I have to say living in that house is better than most stick frame houses I've rented in the past.  We did take great care to ensure the walls dried and stayed dry and the house is in the high desert.  So I guess my main point is that you can have a house that has a lot of straw and not have any noticeable mold issue.

There was a strawbale house I visited in Arizona that had pueblo-style parapet walls.  I could sense the mold within a few minutes of being inside.  So even though it was in a drier desert then we are in, they had a mold problem.  So much depends on the construction details...  ...and climate.

I think you are correct to be cautious with cob in the U.K., but you have a long history of cob building there. The long history means successes and failures. With a good stem wall foundation (get the cob above any rain splash), substantial roof overhangs, and decent plasters/renders you could probably do better with cob than standard construction materials with respect to mold.  Hopefully, you can visit a bunch of cob homes there and learn from them.
 
Patricia Hope
Posts: 6
Location: England (the old one, not the new)
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Thanks Ardilla
I not sure what you mean by a stem wall foundation. Please forgive my ignorance. Would you explain?
 
Ardilla Esch
Posts: 225
Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
6
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I meant that the foundation walls from the footer to well above the ground level outside (and probably inside floor elevation) should be made of masonry or some material that can withstand moisture.  The aim is to get the cob above any rain splash or accidental floods/leaks inside.

Cob can withstand wetting/drying cycles, but you are much better off preventing the wetting in the first place - especially if you have mold sensitivity.
 
Patricia Hope
Posts: 6
Location: England (the old one, not the new)
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I meant that the foundation walls from the footer to well above the ground level outside (and probably inside floor elevation) should be made of masonry or some material that can withstand moisture.


I wonder if that would create condensation at ground level because it would not be the same temperature as the higher wall. How would this be prevented?
 
R Scott
Posts: 3349
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
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Dave Asprey (bulletproof coffee guy) had a serious mold issue, solving it was what put him down the biohacking path.  One of the things he sells is a probiotics spray for the house.  It is beneficial bacteria that helps fight mold from forming in a home, spray it occasionally around the house and it is supposed to reduce toxin issues. 

It helps, but will not overcome a systemic failure.  You need to make sure you have ventilation and heat to keep the interior dry.
 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
Posts: 1246
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
125
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I'd like to point out that cob, rammed earth, and other earth building methods can work just fine without any straw or other organic matter. In our area there's almost no biomass waste products, so we built lots of buildings of rammed earth, adobe bricks, and cob-like rammed earth that maybe should be called packed cob, all with no straw or other organic matter. You just have to experiment with your clay and soil ratios until you find on that holds together well and doesn't crack too much on drying, and then it's no problem.
 
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