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Mold remediation by ServiceMaster Disaster Cleanup (800) 843-
The key to mold control is moisture control. Solve moisture problems before they become mold problems!
Why is it a problem?
The colored, fuzzy growth on the surface of a wall, floor, ceiling or other indoor surface is obviously very objectionable.
Active mold colonies usually emit a very unpleasant, musty odor.
Because the job of mold is to digest, decay and recycle dead organic matter, it will eventually destroy whatever surface it grows on.
Exposure to mold spores can cause mild to severe allergic reactions, depending on individual sensitivity.
Molds are ubiquitous in nature, and mold spores are a common component of household and workplace dust. However, when spores are present in large quantities, they are a health hazard to humans, potentially causing allergic reactions and respiratory problems.
Some molds also produce mycotoxins that can pose serious health risks to humans and animals. The term "toxic mold" refers to molds that produce mycotoxins, such as , not to all molds.
Exposure to high levels of mycotoxins can lead to neurological problems and in some cases death. Prolonged exposure, e.g. daily workplace exposure, can be particularly harmful.
Symptoms of Mold Exposure
Nasal and sinus congestion, runny nose
Eye irritation, such as itchy, red, watery eyes
Respiratory problems, such as wheezing and difficulty breathing, chest tightness
Skin irritation, such as a rash
Health effects linking to Asthma
Infants may develop respiratory symptoms as a result of exposure to a specific type of fungal mold, called Penicillium. Infants will begin to show respiratory problems if they have a persistent cough and/or wheeze. The number of days that a child will suffer from respiratory symptoms during their first year of life increases by an average of 20% every time the level of Pencicillium increases. The levels are deemed no mold to low level, from low to intermediate, from intermediate to high.
Mold exposures have a variety of health effects depending on the person, some people are more sensitive to mold than others. Exposure to mold can cause a number of health issues such as; throat irritation, nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, cough and wheezing, as well as skin irritation in some cases. People at higher risk for mold allergies are people with chronic lung illnesses, which will result in more severe reactions when exposed to mold. There has been sufficient evidence that damp indoor environments are correlated with upper respiratory tract symptoms such as; coughing, and wheezing in people with asthma.
Causes & growing conditions
Molds are found everywhere inside and outside, and can grow on almost any substance when moisture is present. Molds reproduce by spores, which can be carried by air currents. When these spores land on a moist surface that is suitable for life, they begin to grow. Mold is normally found indoors at levels that do not affect most healthy individuals.
Because common are capable of sustaining mold growth, and mold spores are ubiquitous, mold growth in an indoor environment is typically related to water or moisture indoors. Mold growth may also be caused by incomplete drying of flooring materials such as concrete. Flooding, leaky roofs, building maintenance problems, or indoor problems can lead to mold growth inside.
For significant mold growth to occur, there must be a source of water (which could be invisible humidity), a source of food, and a substrate capable of sustaining growth. Common building materials, such as plywood, drywall, , carpets, and carpet padding are food for molds. In carpet, invisible dust and cellulose are the food sources (see also dust mites). After a single incident of water damage occurs in a building, molds grow inside walls and then become dormant until a subsequent incident of high humidity; this illustrates how mold can appear to be a sudden problem, long after a previous flood or water incident that did not produce such a problem. The right conditions reactivate mold. Studies also show that mycotoxin levels are perceptibly higher in buildings that have once had a water incident
Although this home suffered only minor exterior damage from Hurricane Katrina, small leaks and inadequate air flow permitted this mold infestation.
Spores need three things to grow into mold:
Nutrients: Cellulose is a common food for spores in an indoor environment. It is the part of the cell wall of green plants.
Moisture: Moisture is required to begin the decaying process caused by the mold.
Time: Mold growth begins between 24 hours and 10 days from the provision of the growing conditions. There is no known way to date mold.
Mold colonies can grow inside building structures. The main problem with the presence of mold in buildings is the inhalation of mycotoxins. Molds may produce an identifiable smell. Growth is fostered by moisture. After a flood or major leak, mycotoxin levels are higher in the building even after it has dried out (source: CMHC).
Food sources for molds in buildings include cellulose-
If there are mold problems in a house only during certain times of the year, then it is probably either too air-
Removing one of the three requirements for mold reduces or eliminates the new growth of mold. These three requirements are 1) Moisture, 2) Food source for the mold spores (dust, dander, etc.), and 3) Warmth (mold generally does not grow in cold environments).
systems can create all three requirements for significant mold growth. The A/C system creates a difference in temperature that allows/causes condensation to occur. The high rate of dusty air movement through an HVAC system may create ample sources of food for the mold. And finally, since the A/C system is not always running -
Because the HVAC system circulates air contaminated with mold spores and sometimes toxins, it is vital to prevent any three of the environments required for mold growth. A) Highly effective return air filtration systems are available that eliminate up to 99.9% of dust accumulation (as compared to 5% elimination by typical HVAC air filters). These newer filtration systems usually require modification to existing HVAC systems to allow for the larger size of electrostatic 99.9% filters. However, thorough cleaning of the HVAC system is required before usage of high efficiency filtration systems will help. Once mold is established, the mold growth and dust accumulation must be removed. B) Insulation of supply air ducts helps to reduce or eliminate the condensation that ultimately creates the moisture required for mold growth. This insulation should be placed externally on the air ducts, because internal insulation provides a dust capture and breeding ground for mold.
The first step in an assessment is to determine if mold is present. This is done by visually examining the premises. If mold is growing and visible this helps determine the level of remediation that is necessary. If mold is actively growing and is visibly confirmed, sampling for specific species of mold is unnecessary.
These methods, considered non-
Careful detailed visual inspection and recognition of moldy odors should be used to find problems needing correction. Efforts should focus on areas where there are signs of liquid moisture or water vapor (humidity) or where moisture problems are suspected. The investigation goals should be to locate indoor mold growth to determine how to correct the moisture problem and remove contamination safely and effectively.
In general the EPA does not recommend sampling unless an occupant of the space is symptomatic. When sampling is necessary it should be performed by a trained professional who has specific experience in designing mold-
The sampling and analysis should follow the recommendations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). Most importantly, when a sample is taken the proper chain of custody should be adhered to. The AIHA offers lists of accredited laboratories that submit to required quarterly proficiency testing.
Three types of sampling include but are not limited to::
Air sampling: the most common form of sampling to assess the level of mold. Sampling of the inside and outdoor air is conducted and the results to the level of mold spores inside the premises and outside are compared. Often, air sampling will provide positive identification of the existence of non-
Surface samples: sampling the amount of mold spores deposited on indoor surfaces (tape, and dust samples)
Bulk samples: the removal of materials from the contaminated area to identify and determine the concentration of mold in the sample.
When sampling is conducted, all three types are recommended by the AIHA, as each sample method alone has specific limitations. For example, air samples will not provide proof of a hidden source of mold. Nor would a tape sample provide the level of contamination in the air.
Though it may not be recommended, air sampling following mold remediation is usually the best way to ascertain efficacy of remediation, when conducted by a qualified third party.
The first step in solving an indoor mold problem is stopping the source of moisture. Next is to remove the mold growth. Common remedies for small occurrences of mold include:
There are many ways to prevent mold growth; see heating, ventilating, improved insulation and air conditioning, and dry fog. New technology allows some mold remediation companies to fill a room with a dry fog that kills mold and stops its growth. This fog uses a chemical that is EPA approved and does not harm or damage the physical well being of persons or animals. There are also cleaning companies that specialize in fabric restoration -
Improper methods for cleaning mold include exposure to high heat, dry air, sunlight (particularly UV light), ozone, and application of fungicides. These methods may render the mold non-
Significant mold growth may require professional mold remediation to remove the affected building materials and eradicate the source of excess moisture. In extreme cases of mold growth in buildings, it may be more cost-
The goal of remediation is to remove or clean contaminated materials in a way that prevents the emission of fungi and dust contaminated with fungi from leaving a work area and entering an occupied or non-
Cleanup and removal methods
The purpose of the clean-
Evaluating Mold Exposures
Before beginning mold remediation you should make sure you assess the area infected with mold to ensure safety, you clean up the entire moldy area, and properly approach the mold.
Assess the area infected with mold, checking for any hidden mold
Fix moisture problems before you remove and clean up the moldy area to prevent future mold growth issues
If the area of mold is large you should get a remediation manager to properly dispose of the mold
Be sure to identify the source of water or moisture that caused the mold growth to begin with
Check all air ducts, ventilation systems and air handling units so that the mold problems do not persist in the indoor environment
Consult a qualified professional if you have any problems or if you are not confident that you can properly remove all mold or sources of mold growth
First, make sure to remove any object near the insulation system that may have been contaminated from floodwater. Properly dispose of the contaminated materials according to your local, State, and Federal regulations.
Make sure to remove the contaminated HVAC filter media to ensure your HVAC system is not bringing in contaminated air. Make sure to dispose of it reading the same regulations listed above.
Remove any debris and insulation; clean all components of the HVAC system to ensure nothing becomes contaminated and/or more contaminated from floodwater. Use a HEPA-
Disinfect all components of the HVAC system after turning off the HVAC system. To clean use 1 cup of normal household chlorine bleach mixed with a gallon of water, do not mix this with cleaning products containing ammonia.
Be sure to use fans to create filtration by blowing the contaminated air outdoors, to protect the health of the workers.
After cleaning all components with bleach rinse with clean water to eliminate the potent bleach smells.
IMPORTANT: You must remove and properly discard the HVAC components that are contaminated with floodwater to prevent the growth of mold if it cannot be cleaned, and replace them with new components.
After the HVAC has been properly cleaned and disinfected, replace the insulation in the HVAC system with an external, smooth-
· To ensure safety have you HVAC system tested by a qualified professional before you begin using your HVAC system again.
What to wear when removing Mold
When cleaning up mold it is important to avoid breathing in mold or mold spores, as this can cause health implications. To avoid airborne mold exposure you should wear a respirator, which can be purchased from any hardware store. The type you should try to get is the N-
Dry ice blasting
Recently, some companies have begun using dry ice blasting to remove mold from suitable surfaces, such as wood and cement.
Wet vacuum cleaners are designed to remove water from floors, carpets and other hard surfaces where water has accumulated. Wet vacuuming should only be used on wet materials, as spores may be exhausted into the indoor environment if insufficient liquid is present. After use this equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and dried as spores can adhere to the inner surfaces of the tank, hoses, and other attachments.
Damp wipe is the removal of mold from non-
High Efficiency Particulate Air filtered vacuum cleaners are used in the final cleanup of remediation areas after materials have been thoroughly dried and all contaminated materials have been removed. HEPA vacuum cleaners are recommended for the cleanup of the outside areas surrounding the remediation area. During this process the workers wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent exposure to mold and other contaminants. The collected debris and dust should be stored in impervious bags or containers in a manner to prevent any release of debris.
Disposal of debris and damaged materials
Building materials and furnishings contaminated with mold should be placed into impervious bags or closed containers while in the remediation area. These materials can usually be discarded as regular construction waste.
Mold Prevention and Control
In order to avoid mold from growing in your home you should do the following:
Clean and repair roof gutters on a regular basis so that moisture will not seep into your house from the gutters
If you are using an air conditioning machine you should make sure to keep drip pans clean, also make sure the drain lines are not being obstructed by anything so that it can flow properly
Humidity in the indoor environment is a major problem that can lead to mold growth if it is not kept below sixty percent. If you are not sure what the humidity level is in your home you can purchase a humidity meter at any hardware store.
If you see any moisture or condensation, act quickly by drying the wet surface and find the water source so it can be avoided in the future.
After a major storm or flood you should look out for any signs of hidden mold growth. You can detect mold by the smell and any sign of water damage on the walls or ceiling. Mold can grow in many places that are not visible to the human eye in the indoor environment. Mold is often found behind wallpaper or paneling, the topside of ceiling tiles, back side of dry wall, or the underside of carpets or carpet padding. Piping inside the walls may also be a source of mold growth since pipes often leak and cause moisture and condensation. Also be sure to check in roof materials above ceiling tiles since roofs often leak and water collects inside the walls and insulation. If you are suspicious about mold growth you should investigate with caution so that you are not exposed to mold.
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