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Mold Remediation Basics


If a mold problem and its cause are very simple and clear cut, then mold remediation may be the first step; however, if the problem is larger or the cause is not 100% clear, then it is best to have an inspection done first and provide the mold removal firm with the mold inspector's report and remediation protocol that outlines in detail the extent or location of the problem, why the mold occurred, and how the mold should be removed.

Mold removal should only be conducted by certified mold removal specialists known as mold remediators. Mold remediators should follow guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency, also known as the EPA, or the New York City Department of Health, or the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification.

Regardless of what state you live in, the above guidelines are the three most relied upon guidelines in the United States and are well thought out and respected and work quite well under most circumstances. But the guidelines and not set in stone and must be adapted to different situations and remediators must go beyond the standards at times. The remediators should also have training in various OSHA standards for worker safety and respiratory protection and have experience and training in mold remediation.

The steps taken by professional mold remediators in order to remove mold growth vary but in general they are as follows:

o   Before they start off the removal process, they enclose the work area in a tightly sealed tent-like enclosure to keep spores from escaping.

o   Workers gear up with protective clothing that protects the workers from head to toe from unwanted contact with the mold.

o   They wear a special respiratory mask, eyewear to protect the eyes, and gloves for the hands to avoid contact with skin. Protective clothes called a Tyvek suit and an N95 respirator, half face respirator, or full face respirator are intended to protect workers from fungal exposure that may trigger allergy, asthma, and rare but deadly fungal infections. This also protects the workers from a flu-like illness known as organic dust toxic syndrome that only occurs if very large amounts of organic dust or mold spores are stirred up. This is not hard to do during mold removal procedures.  Respirators and protective clothing may also protect workers from newly released potential deadly asbestos fibers that the workers may not have even known were present.

o   An air scrubber is typically required to reduce the levels of spores and dust in the work area air. This device is also used to create and maintain negative pressure in the above referenced polyethylene enclosed work  area.

o   Very special HEPA vacuums are used to remove dust and spores.

o   A dehumidifier may also be required to reduce the moisture on the walls and in the air.

o   Also they make sure that various furniture items, if any, in the vicinity of the mold formation are removed or covered with polythene plastic sheets after being cleaned.

o   Porous moldy items are removed and discarded.

o   Semi-porous materials such as wood are sanded in order to remove the visible mold growth entirely, or they remove it by wiping or scrubbing it off the surface.

o   Large areas of semi-porous material contamination such as large wood areas may be blasted with dry ice.

o   EPA approved fungicides may be used. Bleach is not an EPA approved fungicide; it causes rust on metal, is unhealthy for the lungs and should not be used for mold remediation.   

o   A detergent solution should be used to clean non-porous surfaces.

o   After the mold formation has been completely eliminated, a mold testing firm is contacted for testing to verify that the mold has been removed. The firm's air testing procedures will even determine if invisible spore levels in the air are back to normal.

o   Build back of removed drywall and other removed building materials can start as soon as the inspector provides written notification that remediation was satisfactory.

It is most important to make sure that the initial cause and origin of the mold problem was identified, properly diagnosed, and repaired. If the original moisture problem or humidity problem was never repaired, then the mold will return.


Daryl Watters is a certified mold inspector and certified indoor environmentalist providing mold inspections and mold remediation protocols in South Florida. He also provides indoor air quality testing services.