An Interview with Michael Rubino, The Mold Medic

Michael Rubino, the Mold Medic, doesn’t just know how to remediate mold, he’s a mold expert who has helped thousands of people with their indoor mold problems. During Mold Awareness Month, Molekule is partnering with Michael to spread the message that mold is serious but treatable and preventable.

Do you have a primary method of mold remediation or does it depend on the situation?

Yes, we have a process that we follow for mold remediation that can be done in any room of a home. We use lab data to rank each part of the project in terms of importance, which helps clients plan out a budget to stick with improvements and create the most impact to their quality of air.

What are your top go-to mold tips for any home?

  1. Mitigate water damage quickly, mold can grow in as little as 24 hours
  2. Never allow even a little bit of mold to grow where it can spread and contaminate HVAC systems, find other sources of moisture inside the home and become more than just a little bit of mold
  3. Control humidity levels during peak seasons when humidity is higher, mold can grow with as little as 60% Relative Humidity
  4. Performing routine annual inspections of homes and buildings to identify if there are any weak points of intrusion (roofing, windows, doors, etc.)

Are there particular people that should be most vigilant about dealing with mold (old, young, sick, etc.)?

Mycotoxins have been linked to a wide range of health concerns, but their risk, particularly when inhaled, is still being studied. Mycotoxins in mold have been linked to infertility, so being vigilant about indoor air quality starts with wanting to conceive. It then follows into youth when it can impact brain development and the likelihood of asthma. Elderly people with impaired immune function tend to be more susceptible to environmental exposures such as mold and mycotoxins.

In the early adult and adult life, indoor air quality has the most drastic effect on individuals with autoimmune conditions.

Are there places where mold is inevitable? How do you help people with mold problems in very humid places?

No, mold is not inevitable. Mold is only inevitable when humidity conditions are not properly controlled and when leaks occur that are not properly mitigated. Failure to maintain a home or building will drastically increase the risk. 

We’ve heard about black mold, but lots of mold is black. Is there actually a mold species that is worse than others or should any mold be taken seriously?

Because different species of mold have the ability to rapidly reproduce and the potential to produce different mycotoxins, asthma triggers, and allergy triggers, all molds should be taken seriously. Too much attention has been paid to “black mold” which typically is referring to Stachybotrys chartarum which is only one species out of 100,000 that we know of today. Many other species such as aspergillus (typically white in color and often played down as “mildew”) are also known to cause serious health risks such as aspergillosis. 

What kinds of health warnings and/or wellness advice about mold do you share with clients?

Studying mold and its exposure is still very much a developing science in the scientific and medical based communities. Sadly, we don’t yet know all the different ways mold can impact our health at this time but one thing is clear- we take on average 20,000 breaths per day and we know that  inhalation is the greatest exposure route. It’s important that we take all the steps we can to improve our indoor environments where we spend the most time.

Do you have any special methods for clients who either have allergies and asthma or are concerned about acquired mold illness or mold toxicity?

No, it’s the same method for each client. It’s actually not a complex topic like most think. A person who is sensitive for one reason or another, will react to an excess of spores and/or toxins. The remediation must encompass not only removing the sources, or the living organisms growing inside the home but also removing these excess spores and toxins that typically continue to circulate inside of their home during traditional mold remediation methods.

Written by

Haldane King is a molecular biologist by education, a statistician by training, and a researcher by nature. He spent 15 years in the market research world helping to grow all types of companies from pharmaceuticals to software to insurance. Haldane has researched the world of air quality, air pollution, and air purifiers at Molekule and now proudly attends to the molekule.com/blog blog.