Mold in our home and work environment has become an increasing hazard as our buildings get older and tighter. First of all, it is important to understand that mold spores are found everywhere and you will never get rid of mold spores completely. Mold is an essential micro-organism that is needed for life to flourish. Mold eats and degrades dead organic matter in the outdoor environment and is critical to the decomposition process. That being said, “mold growth” is never acceptable in a living or work space. Mold can become a problem whenever moisture levels or humidity levels become high enough to support development which can be as low as 16% moisture content or 60% humidity depending on the type of mold.
If you have or suspect mold in your work or living space, the first step is to determine a proper work scope. A mold inspector or remediation company in Maine can inspect the damage to determine the best course of action however it is typically best to consult a 3rd party industrial hygienist (IH) for testing and assessment of potential health hazards. It is NEVER acceptable to have the company proposing remediation (mold removal) to also conduct the testing services. This is a serious conflict of interest and is illegal in many states and frowned upon in the rest. An industrial hygienist has at least a Bachelor’s degree and is certified by the board of industrial hygiene to conduct proper testing, provide a full work scope and to identify safety and health hazards. The “IH” works for you the property owner and oversees the remediation work to ensure a proper outcome. Many home inspectors and mold removal contractors try to take over this task without the proper credentials. A home inspector or mold contractor is qualified to identify mold and to identify causes, but once the inspection takes place it should be turned over to an IH for proper handling. An IH can also certify that based on the results of post mold remediation testing that no health risks are anticipated; an inspector or remediator can not determine this.
Once a mold problem has been identified and a work plan has been established, the remediation firm must then follow the steps outlined by the industrial hygienist. These steps can vary depending on the type of damages however the eight step process that should be followed are:
- Proper identification & work scope;
- containment / engineering controls;
- controlled demolition & or abrasive removal;
- secondary hygienic cleaning;
- treating /sealcoating salvageable framing if applicable;
- final inspection of work area; and
- 3rd party post testing to verify cleaning efficacy.
These steps will work every time if followed properly. In the next articles we will discuss these eight steps in detail and break down the process of remediation. We will also discuss short cuts that are often taken by remediation firms that you should look out for. Health and safety hazards are plentiful when mold problems are confirmed; be sure that you are getting your project handled correctly!