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Old 07-09-2006, 06:33   #1
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Air Quality for Liveaboards

Of the people who live on boats on this board, do any of you notice a difference in your sinuses and/or breathing or throat since moving aboard the boat?

My wife and I both notice a difference. I wake up every day with some sort of stuffiness. She has the same problem. I went to the Dr's the other day after a slip and fall on the deck (no permanent injury!), but they did notice an early stage pneumonia and asked me if I had a cough. I didn't feel a thing.

We have had mold in here, the place looked so dirty when we bought it, you would have thinked we bought it from a cave in Transylvania - spiders everywhere! But, we since cleaned the boat up during refit and washed and bleached out all the visible mold.

Any ideas? This condition happens in any location, from cities to islands out in the fresh air. It mostly comes from sleeping in a closed up boat. I haven't experienced this on other boats.

Does anyone know what I should look at as a cause, or have any experience with this themselves?

It is worse in one stateroom than in the other and/or salon.
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Old 07-09-2006, 09:07   #2
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When in harbour my wife and I use the forecabin to sleep. If its raining then we have to leave the forehatch and side lights closed and this causes some mould to appear if we don't wipe off the condensation off in the morning. However, neither of us has experienced any discomfort and we normally wipe off the condensation and any mould in the morning. When we have a side light or the hatch cracked just a little then there is no problem with either

Maybe you should look at the ventilation in the stateroom and fit an extra hatch to boost it a little.

Generally I have found when living on the boat that its a far healthier atmosphere than ashore and on a long sea passage the usual colds and snuffles don't happen.

Hope that the problem is as simple as opening a hatch a little
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Old 07-09-2006, 09:47   #3
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Thanks, Dunkers. We do have a good breeze in here with all hatches and ports open. We are at anchor, so we always point into the wind and have a good flow. We keep the hatches and ports open, except when it rains (sometimes for a week straight!!), or when it is winter.

In the winter, we have the same issue, although I had wondered if it was from the air being too dry ( we heat with a woodstove on board).

We have no visible mold right now. We washed and bleached it all off about a week ago again. It tends to grow on the interior teak for us.

I just can't figure it out. The strange part is... a few of our charter guests woke up stuffed up as well this summer. I can remember this one Asian artist from Brooklyn. He was sniffling and sneezing a lot, and had no cold. It cleared up after he went up on deck for breakfast.
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Old 07-09-2006, 10:56   #4
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There was a thread on one of the boards last winter warning about the chemical break down of headliners or insulation used in boats. I think the title was something like "is your boat killing you".

Sorry I don't remember more specifics but it might be worth looking for.

John
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Old 07-09-2006, 11:07   #5
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Hi,
I have sometimes noticed the stuffiness you are describing, but we don't have any visible mold in the forward cabin. It hasn't happened lately. I wonder about washing ALL the bedding and moving the cushions into another cabin for a few nights (use air mattresses). It is amazing the microscopic varmints that exist in cushions and bedding. They can have pulmonary consequences. A few nights with new bedding would at least eliminate that variable.
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Old 07-09-2006, 11:22   #6
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Quite often it's in the cushions. I just got all new upholstery for my CS36. As I wheeled all the old stuff down the dock in the dockcart I could smell it!! In the boat it wasn't as noticeable but walking down the dock behind 20 odd pieces of upholstery, ugh! I notice I don't sniffle as much on the boat now. I think once it gets into the foam it's impossible to get rid of. On the boat in FL I hung bags of formaldehyde all over the place. It's supposed to kill everything including mold but you have to give the boat a good airing when you board her. The instructions on the formaldehyde bags said to put bedding etc. in a plactic bag with the formaldehyde for 24 hours and it would come out smelling fresh. I brought some of those formaldehyde bags back with me and will hang them on the boat when she's laid up for the winter. The only place I've seen them for sale is in FL.
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Old 07-09-2006, 11:40   #7
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Sean -
Do a websearch for 'toxic molds' on the US Center of Disease Control (CDC)website.

All the 'nasties' of the mold mildew species are ALWAYS found growing inside boats ... and usually in and under all the inaccessible places: sole, bulkheads, lockers where you cant easily clean/kill them. The molds/mildews themselves arent the problem but its the *spores* that get airborne are the 'real' problem.

Caution: when cleaning them be sure to wear a 'respirator'. I use a 1% mixture of 50:50 peracetic acid and hydrogen peroxide to kill them, then use caustics to dissolve them. Once you kill and clean them think about getting caustic detergents in spray bottles and simply spray the caustic on all the hidden surfaces (dont wipe up, just spray and let dry) .... and that will closely equate to the 'white-washing' that our ancestors did to prevent/kill mold/mildew. Forget about clorox, tile-x, etc. as that will only kill the species ... and leave the dead cells there only be used as a nutrient source by subsequent invasions of other molds, etc.; you need CAUSTICS to ***dissolve*** the cells. Good strong caustic detergents that will dissolve such cells are detergents containing sodium silicates, or TriSodiumPhosphate, etc. .... all found in janitorial or 'dairy'/farm supply centers. If you KNOW how to use lye (without blinding yourself or totally destroying your skin and eyeballs) thats the best ... but is *very dangerous* to use if you dont KNOW how to use it.

All those 'teeny' black spots inside your boat are: molds/mildews .... aspergillus, Stochybotrys, etc. ... and if you are 'sensitive' they can kill you.
All that 'black ****' that lives in your freshwater tanks, piping, and VENTS is usually the same stuff (its NOT 'algae' its nasties of the mold/mildew world) - can be quite serious if you have sensitivy, asthma, etc. The sentitivity is 'cumulative' .... you get worse and worse and worse over time until you have a serious (sometimes final) 'reaction'.

Rx: Thoroughy scrub out ALL the inside spaces of your boat with a caustic detergent to kill and DISSOLVE the mold/mildew, flush with water, then spray on the caustic and let dry to form a thin coating. When you leave the boat locked up for long periods consider to get some *paraformaldehyde* crystals,, put them in a chinaware pan/plate, hold your breath and quickly leave the boat. The paraformaldehyde crystals will slowly sublime into a very poisonous gas for molds/mildews ... (and human lung tissue). When you return open the boat so all the gas escapes, hold your breath and go below and open all the hatches, portlights, etc. (while holding your brreath) .... wait about an hour before 'reentering'. Of course you wont be able to find any paraformaldehyde crystals in a "blue" states (CA, OR, WA, FL, NY, NJ, CT, IL, MA, NH, MD, MN) unless you have a 'license'. Sometimes you can find paraformaldehyde crystals in the boat chandleries (usually in "red" states) under the brand name: Mildew-Gaz

If the mold/mildew is so bad that its now growing inside the foam of your cushions/matresses, either replace them or .... :
put the cushion into a large thick 'polybag', put some paraF into the bottom of the polybag, partly close the opening around a vacuum cleaner, and 'suck the cushion foam down into a little 'knot', seal the bag and let sit for a week or two. When done, remove any remaining paraF, pump-down the cushions a few times to remove any remaining 'gas', remove and let sit in the 'air' for a day or so.

hope this helps
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Old 07-09-2006, 11:57   #8
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Sean, try this and let us know how it works.

http://www.mold-kill.com/boatmold.html

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Old 07-09-2006, 13:11   #9
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Deep -
If this were a 'patent' method, it would be used in medical facilities &bio-pharmaceutical industry where the usage of aerosolized and liquid applications of: peracetic acid + hydrogen peroxide, quatinary ammonia compounds, formaldehyde, gluteraldehyde are the only accepted methods for 'disinfection'.
Ozone is gonna EAT all of your rubber and 'plastic' components. Snake Oil !!!
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Old 07-09-2006, 13:40   #10
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Sean-
Richhh touches on most of it. I'd disagree with him about ozone, it can be used as a good kill method because it reaches places you don't or can't reach by other means. I wouldn't like to STAY in the boat with high ozone levels though.
Cleaning the cushions, treating the boat like a biohazard spill and decontaminating it for molds...that's the only real way to go after mold and mildew. There are mildecides and anti-fungal treatments you can apply to help prevent their regrowth, and by all means use them. But keeping it ventilated and dry after you've done the biohazard routine, that's the trick.
Watch out for respiratory problems and allergies to mold and mildew--if you don't get on top of them, they can become lifelong problems.

I'm not sure where you've hidden your boat this month <G> but I'd bet there's a local college or library where you can learn how to take swabs from around the boat and culture them in petri dishes. Easy enough to find out what you've really got on board, and where it is coming from. Your doctor (yeah, doctors) SHOULD be able to tell you if you are breathing something, or it is dust mites in the bedding, or what's happening. If not...get another doc!
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Old 07-09-2006, 13:48   #11
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Very interesting. I'm surprised, given that mold grows in *every* boat, that we haven't had this discussion before on this board - espeically with respect to boats and healthy living.

I'd say this mold is very unhealthy. I'm sure it's growing in places I cannot reach at all, like behind bulkheads. I like the idea of washing things out, and had actually considered some type of "bomb" to blow off and spend the night in a hotel or our car or something.

The formaldehyde would work like that. I wonder if it would ruin our food though.

The O3 generator looks really cool! I'd like to fire that up and leave it for a day all locked up. I wonder if that would damage electronics?

Either way, I have to do something about this stuff. Especially now that I've read the stuff about it being a cumulative exposure situation. We've been living with it for over a year already. It's probably time to try and kill it off.

Thanks for the great advice.
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Old 07-09-2006, 13:52   #12
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And of course, there were a couple posts while I was replying... thanks hellosailor and Richh. I really would prefer a "bomb" type approach where we leave the boat. However, since we live here, we have electronics, food, toothbrushes, and everything you can imagine a home would have. Would any of the bomb type approaches damage our food, electronics, or settle on things that could poison us?

Bombs seems like the way to go, since they wouldn't involve a week of cleaning and would probably do a better job than me getting into places where I can't reach.
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Old 07-09-2006, 14:15   #13
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Some of the antifungals (like Lomasil for toenail fungus) are indeed toxins and they don't work unless you come close to the toxic dose for humans. Take that stuff and your doctor needs to run liver tests on you, it is that close.

I don't think that's an issue with the *topical* mildecides though. The idea is to apply them, not ingest them. Washing the plates and toothbrush form time to time, might be a good idea in any case.<G>

The biohazard faciltiies use...what is it, phosgene gas for a total kill? Of course, if you try to use that on your boat, these days there will be a bunch of black DHS SWAT guys crawling down your rigging before you can blink.<G>

Old fashioned steam cleaning and bleach still remain awfully effective, at least for getting the bulk of it out of the boat. A steam genny isn't going to be at any local rental places, you'd need a farm supply to find one.
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Old 07-09-2006, 14:21   #14
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Originally Posted by hellosailor
Some of the antifungals (like Lomasil for toenail fungus) are indeed toxins and they don't work unless you come close to the toxic dose for humans. Take that stuff and your doctor needs to run liver tests on you, it is that close.

I don't think that's an issue with the *topical* mildecides though. The idea is to apply them, not ingest them. Washing the plates and toothbrush form time to time, might be a good idea in any case.<G>

The biohazard faciltiies use...what is it, phosgene gas for a total kill? Of course, if you try to use that on your boat, these days there will be a bunch of black DHS SWAT guys crawling down your rigging before you can blink.<G>

Old fashioned steam cleaning and bleach still remain awfully effective, at least for getting the bulk of it out of the boat. A steam genny isn't going to be at any local rental places, you'd need a farm supply to find one.
I'm pretty confident that my little sniffles and health issues will clear up without any trouble. It's not affecting us greatly, but when you are living in it 24/7... it's something to think about you know?

What I do want to do is get rid of any and all mold in the boat, including places I have no hope of reaching (under my cabin sole pan liner, behind bulkheads, inside cushions, etc... etc...

We have already steam cleaned and bleached. It seems there is hidden mold. Is there an over-the-counter total kill gas I can set off and come back in 24 hours for complete mold removal? The ozone thing seems kind of expensive right now for a first whack at the mold. The wife will KILL me if I buy that.
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Old 07-09-2006, 14:25   #15
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"Bombs seems like the way to go, since they wouldn't involve a week of cleaning and would probably do a better job than me getting into places where I can't reach".

"Bombs" do not result in a 'clean-up'. Hygiene / cleanliness (scrubbing) is far more important than 'killing'. If you dont somehow remove or dissolve the dead cells, they simply become a food source for 'other' species. Its the 'spores' living or dead that do most of the 'damage'. After you have a hygienic condition then 'bombs' can be used to keep any new growth under control and from happening.

BTW never clean up a mold/mildew that is 'dry'; always WET (spray) the mold so that the least amount of spores get into the air. ;-)
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