Mold is often associated with excessive moisture in
the indoor environment. Water and musty odors must be
addressed immediately. The source of the moisture must
be stopped and corrected to prevent microbial growth
from occurring. Mold can grow on any surface as long
as moisture and a food source is present. A restoration
professional will understand this principle and be able
to assure that the drying of the structure is performed
Once mold has established a foothold, however, there
are guidelines or standards for the appropriate remediation
of such growth. The EPA guide, "A Brief Guide to
Mold, Moisture, and Your Home," the NYC department
of Health, "Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation
of Fungi in Indoor Environments," and the "IICRC
S520" from the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning
and Restoration Certification are the industry accepted
guidelines or standards to follow for the proper remediation
of mold. A professional restoration specialist will
have the necessary training and understanding of all
of theses guidelines.
Because the internet is now so accessible to the average
homeowner, a great deal of personal investigation is
being performed. It is unfortunate that there is also
a lot of misinformation regarding mold. Some of the
information found "floating around" indicates
that products are available for application that implies
they will completely" destroy mold and prevent
it from ever recurring! The average homeowner does not
understand the complexities that are usually necessary
for the proper remediation of mold. Many people think
there is an all-inclusive product available for the
application to mold that will result in its sudden removal.
It is often thought by homeowners that bleach will kill
mold; it will kill living mold if properly applied,
but will not prevent immediate reappearance.) Effective
biocides are also available but do pose a number of
limitations in their use.
The standards of mold remediation state that the application
of biocides is not recommended in the restoration of
a mold-damaged, indoor environment. A restoration professional
knows the correct techniques to promote rapid drying,
and the proper steps to follow for mold remediation
to be effective are the complete removal of contaminated
materials in a controlled manner.
Information can also be found stating that that the
use of Ozone or Ultra Violet (UV) light will destroy
mold. This is a myth. The fact is that the EPA conducted
studies and concluded that Ozone cannot be generated
in sufficient concentration to kill or suppress microbial
growth on most structural materials. It also notes that
if those necessary levels of Ozone were achieved, they
would be harmful to all life, including humans! Ultra
Violet light is not practical due to the inability to
create enough intensity of the light or allow for a
sufficient dwell time, both of which are essential for
UV to affect microbial growth.
Promises are also made by manufacturers that by applying
certain encapsulants or sealants, mold can be avoided
or prevented. According to the labels of these products
prior to application, the surface must be clean and
dry. New or continued moisture infiltration may result
in failure of the product, and the result would be further
growth of mold. The application of these products can
also change the permeability of the materials and, may
in fact, trap water that results from condensation.
This could potentially cause further deterioration of
the structural members as a result of this trapped moisture.
Some information indicates there are ways to "control"
the mold in the indoor environment that entail the use
of very high heat drying. The building is subjected
to hours of high heat in the range of 140 to 160+ degrees
F. The claim is that this will kill not only the mold,
but also their associated spores. The mold is then left
in place and encapsulated. Even if this were true, the
secondary damage as a result of the high heat could
be astronomical. Wood furniture could be over dried
causing checking and cracking. As a result, plastics
could melt, and indoor houseplants may not be able to
survive the high heat. The potential downfalls are endless,
not to mention that the mold is still in the environment.
It takes temperatures in excess of 212 degrees F to
destroy mold spores; and even if the mold growth is
stopped, any toxins are still present in the cellular
structure of the mold material even though it is dead!
There is also a mold resistant drywall available. It
is designed and guaranteed by the manufacturer to inhibit
the growth of mold if installed according to their instructions.
Their instructions include the following cautions: avoid
high heat (not fire-rated); avoid exposure to excessive
or continuous moisture; it is not for use in high moisture
areas; and the drywall is non-load bearing. The new
mold resistant drywall does replace the paper facings
and backings with other material that is not a food
source for the mold. The problem is that mold will grow
on anything as long as the right conditions exist; therefore,
the mold could easily grow in dust or dirt that is ON
the new material. Moisture causes these conditions.
Mold resistant does not mean mold proof.
A professional restoration specialist will know that
when mold is active in an indoor environment, a homeowner
has three options, all with different risk levels. The
first option having the highest risk level is to do
nothing-ignore it. The second option is to dilute the
problem. This may involve a partial remediation or a
removal process that does not adequately protect the
environment or the individuals in it. The third and
safest solution is for the homeowner to hire a qualified
restoration professional that possesses the training
and skill to remediate the structure appropriately,
while protecting the unaffected areas of the home and
occupants during the remediation process.