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New update 11/16/2017

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Basic Mold Info

      Mold and fungi are found everywhere inside and outside. They can grow on almost any substance when moisture is present. Molds when they reproduce make 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. Molds are essential to the natural breakdown of organic materials in the environment. Without molds we would be inundated with dead organic matter. It has been estimated that 40 percent of United States homes have some form of mold problem.

Mold is normally found indoors at levels that do not affect most healthy individuals. When these levels become abnormally high as determined by indoor air quality testing or a mold inspection, remediation is recommended to be carried out by a professional remediation company.

Our mold remediation service has successfully addressed many microbe contaminated interior structures such as walls, ceilings, floors and HVAC systems.

A team of professionals will develop a remediation plan detailing the protocol and scope of remediation, which we will follow until clearance is achieved.

Personal and/or business belongings that can be cleaned and restored are itemized, evaluated and removed in a manner which eliminates cross- and re-contamination.

Most mold requires very simple sources to grow and exist. It first requires some type of moisture intrusion, or water condensation. If there has been a plumbing leak or roof leak, there is a strong possibility that mold growth has already started. In many cases, it can take only 24 hours for the process to begin. Just because the source of the moisture has stopped, does not mean that the mold has stopped growing. Mold can survive a very long time with out moisture, thus the need for remediation.

Mold also needs an organic source of food. People might be confused as mold can grow on glass, tile, stainless steel, cookware, etc. but it is generally feeding off of some organic source deposited on this material (oils, films, dirt, dust, skin cells, etc.). The fiberglass insulation people like to say mold does not grow on their product, which is a fairly true statement; however, it loves to grow on the organic debris that becomes trapped in their product. Mold also loves to grow on things such as wood, fabric, leather, gypsum, fiberboard, drywall, stucco, and many fibrous materials. All molds do require some form of moisture to grow, however, like temperature, the amount of moisture varies for different species.

 Some signs of possible mold growth

• If there has been any form of water damage in the dwelling
• If you have or have had a leaky roof or window ceil
• A musty or mildew type of smell
• Black speckles on walls or around any plumbing fixtures
• Water stained walls, ceilings, or ceiling tiles
• Swollen walls or floor boards which may have lifted
• If anybody living inside the dwelling, including pets, appear to be sick or are having respiratory problems
 

Our skill involves assembling the most competent technicians, engineers if needed, and highly trained hygienists to provide complete decontamination services for your entire structure. All areas are treated for mold growth according to protocol and heavily contaminated materials are removed and replaced. All contaminants are properly bagged/sealed for disposal.

There seems to be a great deal of evidence that high levels of molds, its spores and the toxins they produce do indeed affect people’s health. Several remediators have exhibited mild respiratory symptoms including sore throat and cough after briefly examining well ventilated contaminated areas without respiratory protection on.

Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.

Technically molds are not “toxic,” they are toxigenic, which means that under certain circumstances, they may produce toxins. A lot has to do with the sensitivity on the part of the person exposed as well. Children under two years of age, pregnant women, adults over 60, asthmatics and others with respiratory problems can be much more sensitive and easily harmed by overexposure to mold.

The terms “black” and “toxic” mold are often misunderstood by the public. One toxic black mold, Stachybotrys chartarum, formerly known as Stachybotrys atra, is more common and at the root of many mold lawsuits.

Stachybotrys is a greenish-black mold that thrives on water and construction materials, such as wallboard, gypsum board, and cellulose ceiling panels. It is also a deadly neurotoxin that has been linked by medical researchers to a host of illnesses including bleeding lungs, chronic fatigue syndrome, asthma, chronic respiratory ailments. It also produces toxins that cause severe memory loss, disorientation and behavioral changes.

 Mold Symptoms and Medical Problems

A wide variety of symptoms have been attributed to the toxic effects of different molds. The medical problems may be caused by toxic gases produced by the molds or by reactions to the mold particles themselves. Many allergies are also attributable to mold and fungi.

Commonly reported symptoms include runny noses, eye irritation, congestion, aggravation of asthma, headaches, dizziness and fatigue. More severe symptoms may include reports of profusely bloody runny noses, the coughing up of blood, severe headaches, fibrous growth in the lungs and - at least in one reported instance - cognitive dysfunction and loss of memory.                                                                                                                        
 

The problems with mold usually stem from the symptoms and health effects resulting from indoor mold exposure. There is public awareness that exposure to mold can cause adverse health effects, symptoms, and possible allergic reactions. Health professionals are often tasked with the investigation and/or assessment of these health effects on employees and/or the public.Assessment

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 the need for sampling for specific species of mold is unnecessary.

Another assessment method is to determine if the premise smells of mold, often described as an earthy or musty odor. However, not all molds produce the telltale mold odors.

These methods are considered to be non-intrusive and only visible and odor causing molds will be found. Sometimes more intrusive methods are needed to assess the level of mold contamination. This would include moving furniture, lifting and/or removing carpets, checking behind wallpaper or paneling, checking in ventilation duct work, opening and exposing wall cavities, etc.

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.

The basic goals of any mold investigation are always twofold: 1) find the locations of mold growth, and 2) determine the sources of the moisture. If these can be answered by simpler or more cost-effective methods, mold testing is probably not a wise use of resources.

The key to mold control is moisture control. It is important to dry water damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. If mold is a problem in your home, clean up the mold and get rid of the excess water or moisture. Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water. Wash mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. Absorbent materials (such as ceiling tiles & carpet) that become moldy may have to be replaced.

Mold Inspections should be performed by a party certified as a Council-certified Indoor Environmentalist or Council-certified Microbial Investigator by the American Indoor Air Quality Council. In the state of Texas there is legislation dictating who can and cannot perform investigation. There are several other organizations who claim to certify, however the IAQ Council is the CESB standard for the mold practice

Four steps of professional mold remediation

  • Containment: Technicians isolate the area of contamination to minimize the spread of mold spores to other areas of the home.
  • Filtration: HEPA air filters and negative air machines run continuously throughout the project. Mold spores, dust, MVOCs, gaseous compounds (i.e. Radon), and other airborne debris are removed from the air.
  • Removal and Cleanup: Contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned are removed according to mold remediation standards. Sheetrock, carpet, furniture, and other damaged materials will have to be replaced to prevent mold from returning.
  • Structural Repair, Replacement and Modification: If moisture is still present, no level of remediation effort will be successful. The source and cause of the moisture must be eliminated. This can be a very costly step, as it involves structural repair/replacement (e.g. roof or foundation repairs), and/or structural modifications (e.g. water pumps, new ventilation systems).

Cleanup and removal methods

The purpose of the clean-up process is to eliminate the mold and fungal growth and to remove contaminated materials. As a general rule, simply killing the mold with a biocide is not enough. The mold must be removed since the chemicals and proteins, which cause a reaction in humans, are still present even in dead mold.

Vacuum

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

Damp wipe is the removal of mold from non-porous surfaces by wiping or scrubbing with water and a detergent. Care must be exercised to make sure the material is allowed to quickly dry to discourage any further mold growth.

HEPA vacuum

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.

Equipment

Several types of equipment may be used in the remediation process and may include:

  • Moisture meter: a tool that measures the moisture level in building materials. It can also be used to measure the progress of the drying of damaged materials. Moisture meters have a small probe that is inserted into the material, or pressed directly against the material's surface. Moisture meters can be used on carpet, wallboard, woods, brick, and other masonry.
  • Humidity gauge: measures the amount of humidity in the indoor environment. Often gauges are paired with a thermometer to measure the temperature.
  • Borescope: a hand-held tool that allows the user to see potential mold problems inside walls, ceilings, crawl spaces, and other tight spaces. It consists of a camera on the end of a flexible “snake”. No major drilling or cutting of dry wall is required.
  • Digital camera: used to document findings during assessment.
  • PPE: includes respirators, gloves, impervious suit, and eye protection. These items can be used during the assessment and remediation processes.

Protection levels

During the remediation process, the level of contamination dictates the level of protection for the remediation workers. The levels of contamination are described as Levels I, II, and III. Each has specific requirements for worker safety. The levels are as follows:

Level I

Small Isolated Areas (10 sq. ft or less) for example, ceiling tiles, small areas on walls.

  • Remediation should always be conducted by professionals trained on proper clean-up methods, personal protection, and potential hazards.
  • Respiratory protection (for example, N-95 disposable respirator) is recommended. Respirators must be used in accordance with the OSHA respiratory protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134). Gloves and eye protection should also be worn.
  • The contaminated area should be unoccupied. Removing people from spaces adjacent to the area is not necessary, but is recommended for infants (less than 12 months old), persons recovering from recent surgery, immune-suppressed, or people with respiratory diseases.
  • Containment of the affected area is not necessary. However, misting and dust suppression is recommended.
  • Contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned should be removed from the building in sealed impermeable plastic bags and disposed of as ordinary waste.
  • The contaminated area/areas used by people for access/egress should be cleaned with a damp cloth or mop and a detergent.
  • All areas should be left dry and visibly free of from contamination and debris.

Level II

Mid-sized Isolated Areas (10-30 sq. ft) – for example, individual wallboard panels.

  • Respiratory protection, occupation of the work and adjacent areas, and handling of contaminated materials are the same as for Level I.
  • Surfaces in the contaminated area that could become contaminated should be covered with sheet(s) of plastic that are secured in place. This should be done prior to any remediation process to prevent further contamination.
  • Dust suppression methods, such as misting (not soaking) surface prior to remediation, are recommended.
  • The affected area/areas used by people for access/egress should be HEPA vacuumed and cleaned with a damp cloth or mop and a detergent.
  • As with Level I, all areas should be left dry and visibly free from contamination and debris.

Level III

Large Isolated Areas (30-100 sq. ft) – e.g., several wallboard panels

  • Industrial hygienists or other environmental health and safety professionals with experience performing microbial investigations and/or mold remediation should be consulted prior to remediation activities to provide oversight for the project.
  • It is recommended that a company be trained in the handling of hazardous materials and equipped with respiratory protection (N-95 disposable respirator). Respirators must be used in accordance with OSHA respiratory protection standard(29 CFR 1910.134) Gloves and eye protection should also be worn.
  • Surfaces in the affected area and areas directly adjacent that could become decontaminated should be covered with a secured plastics sheet(s) before remediation to contain dust/debris and prevent further contamination.
  • Seal ventilation ducts/grills in the work area and areas directly adjacent with plastic sheeting.
  • The contaminated area and areas directly adjacent should be unoccupied. Removing people from spaces adjacent to the affected area is not necessary, but is recommended for infants (less than 12 month old), persons recovering from recent surgery, immune-suppressed or people with respiratory diseases.
  • Dust suppression methods, such as misting (not soaking) surface prior to remediation, are recommended.
  • Contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned should be removed from the building in sealed impermeable plastic bags and disposed of as ordinary waste.
  • The affected area/areas used by workers for access/egress should be HEPA vacuumed and cleaned with a damp cloth or mop and a detergent.
  • All areas should be left dry and visibly free from contamination and debris.

Level IV

Extensive Contamination (greater than 100 contiguous sq. ft in an area).

  • Personnel trained in handling of hazardous materials and equipped with:
    • Full face respirators with HEPA cartridges
    • Disposable protective clothing covering the entire body including the head, shoes and hands
  • Containment of the affected area:
    • Complete isolation of the work area from occupied spaces using plastic sheeting sealed with duct tape ( including ventilation duct/grills, fixtures, and other openings
  • The use of an exhaust fan with a HEPA filter to generate negative pressurization, a decontamination room, and airlocks
  • Contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned should be removed from the building in sealed impermeable plastic bags and disposed of as ordinary waste.
  • The contained area and decontamination room should be HEPA vacuumed and cleaned with a damp cloth or mopped with a detergent solution and be visibly clean prior to the removal of any isolation barrier.

In conclusion, after the moisture source has been eliminated and the mold growth removed, the premises should be revisited and the reevaluated to ensure the mold growth and the remediation process was successful. The premises should be free of any moldy smells or visible growth.

Ancient Methods of Mold Remediation

Mold growth in buildings has been recognized as a health hazard since the earliest days of recorded history. The ancient Israelites, for example, had written procedures for purifying and inspecting buildings that were contaminated with mold. These procedures included removing contaminated bricks and disposing them in a dump. In extreme cases, the entire building was demolished and the refuse similarly disposed of in a dump. See Leviticus 14:33-14:53

Environmental Protection Agency - Mold Homepage

American Indoor Air Quality Council

Water Damage Repair and Mold Repair