iSi helps companies find mold and confirm its presence. We also help determine the source of the problem and can help remove mold-contaminated materials. Got mold? Contact us today!
It has been a very wet year in many parts of the U.S. With wet weather, the concern for potential mold growth in our facilities should be on the mind of building owners for property damage concerns, and environmental and safety managers for the potential worker health hazards it can cause.
Mold has always been with us. Some mold is expected in even the best kept buildings. Mold spores drift with the wind and are carried into our buildings on our clothing and on the feet of pets and vermin. Mold grows where it can feed and get enough moisture. Cellulose-based building materials like sheetrock, paper, vinyl wallpaper on exterior walls and ceiling tiles are particularly vulnerable to mold growth when they get wet. They will never dry completely enough to be inhospitable to mold once it has started growing.
From our experience, the most common source of mold has come from roof leaks, broken pipes or flooding. Unfortunately, mold spores aren’t always visible. They can be concealed inside wall cavities or behind molding strips and their toxins can still be felt by occupants.
Besides obvious water damage, the following signs may also indicate you have a mold issue.
- Musty smells
- Water stains
- Wet materials
- High humidity
- Dirty ducts, coils, and condensate pans
- Wet duct liners
Control the Moisture
Moisture problems must be fixed to prevent future mold growth. Since there are some mold spores everywhere and since mold grows on any wet organic surface, the only way to prevent mold growth is to keep things dry.
- Control water damage within 24-48 hours and work to dry the impacted area.
- If structural wood pieces, like studs, have stood in water, they need time to dry out.
- Moisture meters will show if the wood is below 15 percent moisture. If it is, you can replace drywall and similar materials.
- Even if the wood feels dry, it may still be too wet for rebuilding.
- Indoor humidity should be 30-60%, so dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and venting bathrooms, areas of cooking and dryers will aid in reducing overall humidity.
A general rule of thumb in assessing contamination is: the mold level in the air inside should be less than the level outside. (Buildings with mechanical ventilation systems typically see significantly lower levels inside.) Sampling and analysis can tell you your level of contamination.
Mold’s effect on health has become a mainstream topic of discussion. One of the effects, an allergic reaction, is fairly easy to spot. Mold-related health effects can also come from a growing list of symptoms caused by mold-produced toxins. Black mold (stachybotrys chartarum) is still considered one of several potentially toxic molds affecting occupants of both commercial buildings and private homes. Others targeted as health concerns by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies include: Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium and Trichoderma.
Cleanup of large areas of mold-damaged materials requires techniques similar to those used by the asbestos industry – personal protection for the workers, air filtration and proper disposal of contaminated materials. Mold, unlike asbestos, can grow back if the remediation is insufficient or done carelessly. It’s a living organism that will continue to reproduce as long as building conditions permit. Improper handling can actually spread the spores, making the problem worse.
The goal of mold remediation is to correct the cause and remove the damaged materials that have supported excessive growth. This will return the building to a level of airborne mold that is consistent with the outside. Perhaps most importantly, allow occupants to work and live without fear of damage to their health.
Do you suspect your facility has a mold or indoor air quality issue? Let iSi conduct an investigation to help you know for sure. Do you need help removing contaminated materials? We do that too! Contact us today!