Homeowners Ultimate Guide To Mold Inspection And Testing
Mold, similar to most fungi, is dependent on the environment around it. It thrives on any damp or decaying materials around it. It can grow almost anywhere that has the right combination of moisture and organic material. Mold reproduces through small structures called spores, then carried by air currents when released. Spores can travel through air, water, or animals, and they stay there until the environment becomes hospitable.
When the spores encounter a habitable environment, they begin to flourish. Environments suitable for mold growth include bathrooms, window molding, basements, crawl spaces, or anywhere with a water problem. Given the right conditions, expert witnesses say mold spores can germinate in as little as four to twelve hours. With no sunlight, limited airflow, and little disruption, the mold can reproduce tremendously in just one to two days.
There are many different types of mold; all are common in homes and may develop on many other surfaces. The HVAC systems (heating, venting, air conditioning) are notorious for this. Included is black mold or toxic mold, which can be identified by its distinctive, musty smell, toxic spores, and the many possible health risks if exposed. The scent can easily expose mold in these systems.
The necessity of mold inspection becomes apparent when a moldy odor is emitted from the air conditioning or other sources. Although a regular home inspection doesn’t include mold inspection and testing, most home inspectors will mention apparent signs of water damage such as from a roof.
Does Mold Make You Sick
Regardless of the type of discovery, mold exposure is known to cause health problems and should be taken seriously. According to the American Industrial Hygiene Association, some side effects of exposure to toxic mold include watery, itchy eyes, sore throat, runny nose, cough, fatigue, rashes, difficulty breathing, or other serious health issues.
Mold Remediation Guidelines
Concern about indoor exposure to mold has been increasing as the public becomes aware that exposure to mold can cause a variety of health effects and symptoms, including allergic reactions. This document presents guidelines for the remediation/cleanup of mold and moisture problems
Mold can be found almost anywhere; it can grow on virtually any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present. There is mold that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods, and insulation. When excessive moisture accumulates in buildings or on building materials, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed. It is impossible to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment. However, mold growth can be controlled indoors by controlling moisture indoors
Since mold requires water to grow, it is important to prevent moisture problems in buildings. Moisture problems can have many causes, including uncontrolled humidity. Some moisture problems in buildings have been linked to changes in building construction practices during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Some of these changes have resulted in buildings that are tightly sealed, but may lack adequate ventilation, potentially leading to moisture buildup. Building materials, such as drywall, may not allow moisture to escape easily.
Moisture problems may include roof leaks, landscaping or gutters that direct water into or under the building, and unvented combustion appliances. Delayed maintenance or insufficient maintenance are also associated with moisture problems in schools and large buildings. Moisture problems in portable classrooms and other temporary structures have frequently been associated with mold problems.
Fix leaky plumbing and leaks in the building envelope as soon as possible.
Watch for condensation and wet spots. Fix source(s) of moisture problem(s) as soon as possible.
Prevent moisture due to condensation by increasing surface temperature or reducing the moisture level in air (humidity). To increase surface temperature, insulate or increase air circulation. To reduce the moisture level in air, repair leaks, increase ventilation (if outside air is cold and dry), or dehumidify (if outdoor air is warm and humid).
Keep heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) drip pans clean, flowing properly, and unobstructed.
Vent moisture-generating appliances, such as dryers, to the outside where possible.
Maintain low indoor humidity, below 60% relative humidity (RH), ideally 30-50%, if possible.
Perform regular building/HVAC inspections and maintenance as scheduled.
Clean and dry wet or damp spots within 48 hours.
Don’t let foundations stay wet. Provide drainage and slope the ground away from the foundation.
Mold Remediation Guidelines
Before the early 1990s, many people were unaware of the risks to occupant and worker health caused by mold cleanups. Therefore, cleanups were often done without adequate safety precautions. In 1993, a major milestone in changing attitudes came with the issuance
These guidelines were developed by an expert panel that had been convened by the NYC DOH to address health concerns related to mold exposure. Health problems reported by staff of the New Museum of Contemporary Art
One of the difficult challenges facing medical professionals involved with mold-related health problems is establishing a dose-response relationship. Because airborne mold is ubiquitous in indoor and outdoor environments, it is difficult to assess how much mold causes adverse health effects. Adding to this complexity is the fact that health responses and sensitivities vary in the human population and that other stresses can cause health effects similar to mold exposure
Most data on health problems from mold come from animal ingestion studies (such as horses eating moldy hay) or from high doses of human exposure (such as farmers pitching the moldy hay or silage). Less is known about lower dose exposure over time, such as occupants in buildings where mold is contained in wall cavities. Epidemiological studies by occupational physicians in landmark cases (the Polk County Courthouse, for example) have shown links between occupant exposure to higher than normal concentrations of mold and to atypical indoor mold types and development of asthma and other immune-response diseases. However, the dose that causes these problems is not easily determined.
All molds can cause health problems, since they produce allergens and irritants that cause reactions in humans. Some molds also produce toxins (mycotoxins) as part of their defense mechanisms. What is important to know in dealing with remediation of mold is that it remains allergenic and toxigenic even in a non-viable state. Therefore, it is not enough to kill mold by, for example, applying a biocide like bleach; the mold and the materials on which it is growing need to be removed from the indoor environment. Such removal work must be contained, like asbestos removal, to minimize contamination of other parts of the building. Considering the cost and disruption of such remediation activities, it is easy to see that the best policy is preventing mold in the first place by control of moisture.
Mold Remediation Guide
Do you have a SERIOUS mold problem, that may need Mold Remediation? Then you’re in the right place. There is a dark side to the mold industry that you simply have to know… or you may find yourself in thousands of dollars of debt… or even with a worse mold problem than you originally had!
When referring to a mold removal company and a mold remediation company, both of these terms are used interchangeably. If we are getting technical… They are not the same thing. Mold removal is just one part of the whole remediation process. Not all mold remediation projects will require mold removal as it may involve sanitizing the home only.
As you will learn, later on, the mold remediation process has many moving parts. You may also read terms such as mold extraction or mold abatement. These are other synonyms for mold remediation.
When Is Mold Remediation Necessary?
People can really freak out when they hear that four letter “M” word, but the truth is people tend to make more of it than there needs to be. I am not insinuating that mold can’t be dangerous because it absolutely can.
However… There is usually some mold spores present in most indoor building environments, especially if you live in an area that is hot and humid. Depending upon when mold remediation is necessary may vary from person to person. If somebody has an auto-immune disease or an allergy to a particular species of mold, the home will need to be as close to mold-free as possible. Simple issues that don’t affect the normal person may harm them and sanitization may be necessary for the home.
A Brief Guide to Mold in the Workplace
Concern about indoor exposure to mold has increased along with public awareness that exposure to mold can cause a variety of health effects and symptoms, including allergic reactions. This safety and health information bulletin provides recommendations for the prevention of mold growth and describes measures designed to protect the health of building occupants and workers involved in mold cleanup and prevention
This bulletin is directed primarily at building managers, custodians, and others responsible for building maintenance, but may also be used as a basic reference for those involved in mold remediation. By reading this safety and health information bulletin, individuals with little or no experience with mold remediation may be able to reasonably judge whether mold contamination can be managed in-house or whether outside assistance is required.
The advice of a medical professional should always be sought if there are any emerging health issues. This document will help those responsible for building maintenance in the evaluation of remediation plans. Contractors and other professionals (e.g. industrial hygienists or other environmental health and safety professionals) who respond to mold and moisture situations in buildings, as well as members of the general public, also may find these guidelines helpful.
The information in these guidelines is intended only as a summary of basic procedures and is not intended, nor should it be used, as a detailed guide to mold remediation. These guidelines are subject to change as more information regarding mold contamination and remediation becomes available.
Molds are part of the natural environment. Molds are fungi that can be found anywhere – inside or outside – throughout the year. About 1,000 species of mold can be found in the United States, with more than 100,000 known species worldwide.
Outdoors, molds play an important role in nature by breaking down organic matter such as toppled trees, fallen leaves, and dead animals. We would not have food and medicines, like cheese and penicillin, without mold.
Indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Problems may arise when mold starts eating away at materials, affecting the look, smell, and possibly, with the respect to wood-framed buildings, affecting the structural integrity of the buildings.
Molds can grow on virtually any substance, as long as moisture or water, oxygen, and an organic source are present. Molds reproduce by creating tiny spores (viable seeds) that usually cannot be seen without magnification. Mold spores continually float through the indoor and outdoor air.
Molds are usually not a problem unless mold spores land on a damp spot and begin growing. They digest whatever they land on in order to survive. There are molds that grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods and insulation, while other molds feast on the everyday dust and dirt that gather in the moist regions of a building.
When excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth often will occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains uncorrected. While it is impossible to eliminate all molds and mold spores, controlling moisture can control indoor mold growth.
All molds share the characteristic of being able to grow without sunlight; mold needs only a viable seed (spore), a nutrient source, moisture, and the right temperature to proliferate. This explains why mold infestation is often found in damp, dark, hidden spaces; light and air circulation dry areas out, making them less hospitable for mold.
Molds gradually damage building materials and furnishings. If left unchecked, mold can eventually cause structural damage to a wood framed building, weakening floors and walls as it feeds on moist wooden structural members. If you suspect that mold has damaged building integrity, consult a structural engineer or other professional with the appropriate expertise.
Since mold requires water to grow, it is important to prevent excessive moisture in buildings. Some moisture problems in buildings have been linked to changes in building construction practices since the 1970s, which resulted in tightly sealed buildings with diminished ventilation, contributing to moisture vapor buildup. Other moisture problems may result from roof leaks, landscaping or gutters that direct water into or under a building, or unvented combustion appliance. Delayed or insufficient maintenance may contribute to moisture problems in buildings. Improper maintenance and design of building heating/ventilating/air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, such as insufficient cooling capacity for an air conditioning system, can result in elevated humidity levels in a building.