Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tough on Mildew!

Back when I was in college, a friend and I used to joke about verses in the Bible that struck us as being very funny. For example:

After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.(Matthew 4:2, NIV)

Really? He was hungry? After 40 days of fasting? You don't say!

How about this one:

And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked (Mark 14:51-52, ESV).

Now that must have been a sight to see! Here's one that my friend pointed out to me:

The LORD will smite you with consumption and with fever and with inflammation and with fiery heat and with the sword and with blight and with mildew, and they will pursue you until you perish (Deuteronomy 28:22, NASB).

This one was very funny to us. The verse almost reads like something from a Monty Python skit. My friend was walking around the room and speaking in a deep, authoritative voice saying, "I will smite thee with MILDEW!!" Somehow, after being smote with fiery heat and the sword, mildew does not seem very daunting.

Although we had a few chuckles over the verse, it did get me wondering. I knew God did not put anything in the Bible without reason, so I decided to do a little research on mildew. What I found was pretty . . . daunting.

Video: Powdery Mildew Cleistothecia, (mildew growing on cherries):



Mildew, as with mold and dust mites, is a biological pollutant, as well as a contaminant. Once something in your home is contaminated with mold or mildew, it is very difficult to control. If you simply google "mildew" you will get 7,770,000 results, and if you google the phrase "health hazards of mildew," you can narrow it down to 167,000 results. Some of the health hazards I found while surfing the net include watery eyes, runny nose and sneezing, nasal congestion, itching, coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing, headache, dizziness and fatigue.

Okay, so maybe that is still not as bad as being smote with fiery heat and the sword, but imagine in those days the agony of a chronic allergy or sinus condition without any over the counter aid such as Claritin. Most of the websites I found all say to kill mildew with bleach. What was used to kill mildew in Old Testament times? There was no Clorox back then. Everything pretty much had to be burned.

Even in modern times, mold and mildew are not that easy to control. Yang (1994) notes that there are health risks associated with mold and mildew that are extremely toxic, resulting in far more serious health conditions if left unchecked:

The earliest known toxigenic molds, primarily Claviceps purpurea, produce the substance ergot. The ergot molds infect rye, grains and other grasses. Ingestion of ergot contaminated rye or other cereals causes ergotism. There are two types of ergotism recognized clinically: gangrenous and convulsive. Gangrenous ergotism affects the extremities as well as causes gastrointestinal symptoms. Convulsive ergotism affects the nerve system causing brain and spinal lesions which can lead to death or permanent mental impairment. (Yang, 1994)

He lists more health risks as follows:

Mycotoxins may cause a variety of short-term as well as long-term adverse health effects. This ranges from immediate toxic response and immune-suppression to the potential long-term carcinogenic effect. Symptoms due to mycotoxins or toxins-containing airborne spores (particularly those of Stachybotrys chartarum) include dermatitis, recurring cold and flu-like symptoms, burning sore throat, headaches and excessive fatigue, diarrhea, and impaired or altered immune function. The ability of the body to fight off infectious diseases may be weakened resulting in opportunistic infections. Certain mycotoxins, such as zearalenone (F2 toxin), can cause infertility and stillbirths in pigs. (Yang, 1994)

Wow. Who knew mold and mildew could be that detrimental?

Among the modern day damage that has been caused by mold and mildew, Yang cites that in the early 1990's, several courthouses in Florida were shut down for decontamination, a process which costs more than the building itself. And in Canada, an entire school was so infested, the whole building had to be burned.

It is interesting how a majority of television commercials featuring household cleansing products feature women. This is because the traditionally biblical role for women is to manage the home. It is not a meaningless lifestyle, as some feminist philosophers would have you think. Biblically, being the manager of a home is a vital part of fulfilling the helper role.

Many of these television commercials do not just discuss how to clean a shower that may have a bit of mildew. Instead, the commercials use vocabulary such as "fight," "kill," and "destroy" when it comes to mold and mildew. These are combative terms. It shows that there is a legitimate need right in the home to stand guard and offer protection against an intruder. I have discussed in a previous post that the object of love is to protect and provide. Consider the very noble act of protecting one's family in this fashion: to keep the home clean and free of dangerous pollutants and other biological hazards.

The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood takes the position that men and women are equal, but different. We have an equal responsibility to serve God, however, God has given us very different roles to play in how we are to serve Him. When we start to confuse these roles, or assert that one role is less honorable than the other, we upset the order God has established for a perfect partnership. Managing a home involves the same responsibility to protect and provide as going out to work everyday. It just fulfills that responsibility differently.

As a single woman who is solely responsible for putting a roof over my own head, I can fully appreciate the role of a stay-at-home wife and/or mother. When I come home from work, I am tired. I just want to relax! However, I do not have a lovely wife to take care of my house for me while I'm away at work. (And that's why my bathtub often looks like a giant petri dish.) So I can see how valuable the traditional, domestic role of a woman is to a man who is the sole bread winner of the family.

The domestic role which has been biblically prescribed for a woman is not a punishment from God, but a divine responsibility. It is a privilege to be entrusted with such a responsibility. A woman who is diligent in keeping the home clean and orderly is protecting her family against illness, disease, parasitic infestation, and possibly (if you live in Florida) a necessary torching. Therefore, let us not look down upon our prescribed domestic role. Instead, let us fight these intruders to our homes with all diligence as a divine mission from the Creator. Our families will be happier and healthier for it.



Reference:


Yang, C.M. (1994, September). Toxic effects of mildew and mold. Enviros, The Healthy Building Newsletter, 4(9), Retrieved November 25, 2007 from: http://www.mdsdog.com/articles/Effects%20of%20Mildew%20and%20Mold.pdf

2 comments:

Kurt said...

Interesting. Thanks for the background info on the hazards of mildew. Guess I had better get some cleaning done. :-)

Faery said...

It's interesting readin about mildew like this, it sounds quite plaguelike, I guess in our cultures we don't see mildew as something so uncontrollable or threatening now that we have so many cleaning products! I'll keep my dettox to hand I think...