MOLD / ASBESTOS
I Found a Mold Problem. How Should it be Addressed?
Any water damage situation (roof leaks, plumbing leaks, improper drainage, heavy condensation) all can lead to the establishment and amplification of mold if not addressed quickly and comprehensively. Once a mold problem has been confirmed, steps need to be taken to arrest the continued mold growth and building damage. The easy question is what NOT to do, which is increase the risks and exposures by opening up wall cavities, pulling back wall paneling or paper or removing flooring materials without proper engineering controls. The EPA web site www.gov.epa/mold
provides a concise breakdown of the critical steps on how to protect your home, your family or employees and your investment. If you retain a professional service, which is recommended if the impacted area is greater than 10 square feet, make sure the guidelines in EPA’s document “Mold Remediation” is followed.
The first obvious step is to stop the water intrusion which may involve repairing the roof or plumbing, redirecting drainage or enhancing structure ventilation. And, prior to any removal of building materials, the impacted areas should also be evaluated for the presence of asbestos. The next step involves removing the impacted materials under negative air controls by workers wearing personal breathing and clothing protection. By building a “containment” and putting the damaged area under filtered negative air controls, the release of mold during material removal has nowhere to go but through the filtration system inside the tented area. This means family members or employees are not put at risk during the repair or clean up activities. The water and mold damaged materials should be double bagged and, unless there are other contaminants such as asbestos, can be disposed as regular municipal waste. The remaining structural framing should be sanded down to fresh wood to dislodge residual mold spores (germinating bodies) and mycelia (vegetative growth of the mold) and finally, if appropriate, fungicide applied to the framing and/or flooring surfaces.
The last critical step to completing the work is post-remediation testing. So many home and commercial building sales have screeched to a halt when a new buyer learns that there was a water claim that was cleaned, but not documented. It is much easier to do the testing before the walls and floors have been replaced to show that the newly cleaned areas match the naturally-occurring background microbial profiles and it can be more reassuring to a family or employees that removing the “containment tent” does not pose a risk to the surrounding indoor air.
There is a misconception that finding mold can be a death sentence for the investment or resale of a structure but the good news is...if the clean up is performed and documented properly, potential health risks can be resolved and the investment can be restored.