The What, the How, and the Who of Mold

Growing mold– that’s the easy part! Knowing the what, the how, and the who- now that’s another matter. Here are some facts provided by the EPA that will help you understand mold:

• Mold can grow pretty much anywhere there is a water or moisture source. Eliminating all mold and mold spores indoors is almost impossible, but controlling indoor moisture will control the growth of indoor mold.

• Some molds prefer cooler temperatures like growing on fruits and bread in a refrigerator. Which proves in most cases, temperature is not an issue. 

• Moisture problems have been tied to building construction. Buildings that are tightly sealed lack competent ventilation. 

• Humidifiers, steam radiators, dryers, stoves, cooking, and showering can raise indoor humidity levels. 

• If the insulation on the side of the HVAC system’s air ducts becomes wet or moldy it is recommended to be replaced because the material cannot be cleaned. 

• Preventing mold growth prevents damage to furnishings and building materials because mold gradually destroys whatever it is growing on.

• Crawl spaces with bare earth flooring are common sites for hidden mold due to their high humidity levels. The moisture can pass to other parts of a building leading to mold growth.

• Leaks into carpets, paneling, and drywalls need to be checked for water damage or mold growth. Drying items 24-48 hours after moisture contact can prevent mold growth.

• If there is a leak in a ventilation pipe it may become contaminated with mold spores which can spread throughout a building. This is considered a high priority for investigation and repair. 

• Individuals investigating mold growth should wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Wearing PPE avoids inhaling mold, mold spores, and coming into contact with the skin and eyes.

• Sampling mold is unnecessary if it can be seen. Remediating it and fixing the underlining problems is necessary.

• Water damaged belongings and building furnishing such as, cellulose and fiberglass insulation, drywall and gypsum board, books, and paper may have to be discarded. To avoid this, consult a restoration, water damage, or remediation expert. 

• The extent of the mold problem and any continuing moisture problems should be assessed before making a remediation effort. Remediation plans can be small (less than 10 sqft of mold), medium (10-100 sqft of mold), and large (more than 100 sqft of mold).

• The remediation plan should include: whether containment will be required; what level of PPE will be used; how the water or moisture problem will be fixed so the mold does not recur; and how the moldy building materials will be removed to avoid spreading mold.

• Building occupants are less likely to be affected if you schedule a remediation during off-hours. 

• Trained professionals using equipment approved by OSHA are the only qualified individuals to work in confined spaces with the inherent dangers in this type of environment. 

• Essential for a successful mold remediation, communication with building occupants is key. Communicate the status of the building investigation, remediation, and any information known or suspected health risks.