<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Mold Misery - Vacuum Cleaners, Filters, Ultraviolet Light, and Ozone - Cinnamon Oil






Since it is believed that 80% of all mold grows on dust, a good vacuum cleaner, with HEPA filtration, is a must. 

Vacuum Cleaners and Filters

I mentioned previously that I bought a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filtration, a Miele.  I am not necessarily recommending this brand, but it was a bit more affordable than some Swedish machines with a higher rating.  Still, it's not in a normal budget range for a vacuum cleaner.  Mary has been using this machine, but the air filter in the return used to clog every few days.  Sometimes, it had to be replaced after only one day of use and once in a while, a filter lasted 2-3 weeks, but this is really rare.

Despite a monumental amount of effort, vacuuming and HEPA filtration have not eliminated either dust or mold.  The filters one buys at places such as Home Depot have stupendous claims about their capacity to remove everything from pet dander to mold.  I had two of these filters tested by laboratories when the air quality tests were run in my house.  The comment of one of the technicians was that if there are objects on both sides of the filter, the filter is not doing its job.  These filters are generally rated to last "up to 90 days."  Would it were true.  Nine days would be a miracle!

Ultraviolet Light  

As you know, I have a Sanuvox UV filtration system inside the ducts, with air filters at the return as well as right after the UV light before the air is warmed and recirculated. Despite the ultraviolet lights in the duct, in the Sharper Image unit, and in a new unit I bought about a month ago, mold is obviously still sporulating and decomposing organic materials.

I am merely saying this because I hear advertisements on the radio for various filtration devices, ozone machines, ultraviolet lights, etc., etc., etc. and while I am totally convinced that these devices reduce the burden on occupants, I do not believe they eliminate mold.  I wish they did, but this simply isn't true.  The reason it isn't true is that the amount of ultraviolet light required to clean a house and the volume of air that would have to pause in front of the bulb before recirculating is astronomically greater than the capacity of the home use devices marketed.  In my not so humble opinion, this does not mean that one should not operate such units if one can afford to buy them; it merely means that if you really want full protection, you absolutely have to remediate the property and this means eliminating moisture and removing contaminated materials.


The Sharper Image air filtration device produces some ozone as does the new model I bought.  I have also used several other ozone machines.  I have even put the machines inside closets and under the enclosed stairwell in an effort to destroy mold.  The first person who explained the operation of his device said that ozone rips the spores so they become non-viable.  That's unfortunately only half the battle because the dead spores are toxic and still need to be removed.  Also, I am not sure that when people make such statements that they are clear about the differences between bacteria and mold.  It's possible that some studies are performed on bacteria and extrapolated to cover "other" pathogens.  However, mold spores are hardy.  They endure thousands of years because they have a protective outer layer composed of chitin, a substance high in calcium that is similar to the shell of oysters.  You can actually see nutritional information on oyster mushrooms that refer to calcium benefits.

There are safe levels of ozone and dangerous levels.  One has to be very careful not to exceed the safety guidelines.  Moreover, ozone plays havoc with some high tech equipment, like computers!


In the part of this site that tells my story, I describe the cleaning of the ducts in my house. There are pictures of the process on a newly posted page.   Normally, ducts in this part of the world are cleaned every ten years.  This is considered to be responsible maintenance.  I have had the ducts cleaned three times because they are full of a powder that I have been told would be very expensive to analyze.  Given the cost of the mold tests, "more expensive" sounds "very expensive" indeed. 

After trying every suggestion and what would almost seem to be every filtration method imaginable, the house was still a nightmare.  So, I had another idea.  This time I took some felt pads, the type used in aromatherapy.  I saturated them with essential oil of cinnamon and affixed the pad to the filter in the return.  It was so intense that I had to remove it after about 20 minutes, but it helped!  It wasn't a total solution, but it made things a little better , and guess what?  The filter hasn't clogged since I did this!


I do not think any of the measures I have employed were worthless; they simply have not eliminated the problems.  If contamination is minor, it is very likely that a portable air filtration device will remove a considerable amount of odor and possibly also particulate matter, but when all is said and done, remediation is the only solution.  In the next two weeks, I am going to "eliminate" all moisture in the crawl space using something called the CleanSpace system . . . and there will be a report on the efficacy of this when the project is completed.


Ingrid Naiman
1 November 2005

Updated 22 October 2006

Blue cheese



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