Mold Is a Complicated Issue. But There Is Help Out There!
Working in the business of mold remediation, it is amazing to hear the amount of urban legend, myth, out-dated methods, and outright lies that exist regarding how to properly take care of mold damage in your home. Some of it is well intention, in that it comes from family members, friends, or from news sources. Others make their own assumptions, but when I ask them questions, they seem to have no basis for having their opinions about mold. Another common response is “we’ve always done it this other way.” Mold research is ongoing, and staying up to date is very important. The more scientists learn about the effects of mold on people, the more questions are being created. There has been no simple answer as to cause and effect between mold and mold sickness in humans. In this vacuum of knowledge, and in the absence of laws (as opposed to asbestos or lead-based paint, which are federally regulated), unscrupulous business owners are free to sell whatever people are willing to pay for.
There are some key components of mold removal that all experts agree on: 1) Mold must be physically removed; there is no product that can be sprayed on or fogged on or applied that will ‘kill’ the mold and neutralize it’s effects while saving the material itself. This refers to everything except the structure, i.e. the framing and subfloor. All other materials, like sheetrock, trim, baseboards, flooring, etc that are contaminated with mold should be removed. 2) During the removal or disturbance of mold, proper engineering controls should be in place. This may sound easy, but it is far more than just putting plastic over the door in the room you are working in. Mold spores are microscopic, and mother nature designed them well! They are adept at staying airborne and can easily spread if proper controls are not put in place. In addition to containment barriers, using a HEPA-rated air filter to create negative air pressure inside the containment will help keep mold spores contained to the affected area. 3) Anyone working around mold, regardless of the type of mold present, should wear proper PPE (personal protective equipment). This includes HEPA-rated respirators, TYVEK suits, heavy duty gloves and the like. 4) Finally, the area should be thoroughly cleaned before taking down the containment barriers. I use what I refer to as a ‘white-glove’ test. Essentially, you want all horizontal surfaces where mold spores could settle to be completely dust free.
The four points I make above are all included in standards or guidelines provided by the EPA, OSHA, Air Canada, and several restoration industry groups. There is no magic dust to sprinkle on mold that they are aware of yet (we haven’t found it yet either, but stay tuned for more blog posts!) If you find a company that doesn’t agree with the 4 above points, be very wary! Within each of those points, you will find different methods to accomplish the same goals. Our company stresses testing, before and after the job, to document mold levels before and after our work. Again, because mold is microscopic, just because a job looks clean doesn’t mean that is the case. Whatever your needs are, be sure to work with mold professionals that are licensed and trained to do the necessary work. Taking the cheapest bid initially could end up costing you a lot more later, in addition to putting the health of all of those in your home at risk.