Mold remediation is taking action to reduce, isolate, or remove contamination from an environment with the goal of preventing further reproduction and spreading of contaminants. Simply stated, remediation is the process of clean up and disinfection.
The overall objective of the mold remediation process is quite simple: to remove all of the contamination. Mold is a microscopic life form found in all parts of the world and is part of the natural decomposition of organic materials.
Requirements For Mold Growth
Mold requires three things to grow: nutrients, moisture, and time. The most common food source indoors is cellulose, which is found in wood and drywall.
Since mold requires oxygen, it cannot grow under water. Mold requires moisture to grow, which means buildings must be kept dry to prevent growth. Mold is spread by tiny particles called “spores” that become airborne and attach to skin, fur, clothing etc.
Mold Remediation Process
Remediation is structural and non-structural measures undertaken to limit the adverse impact of natural hazards, environmental degradation and technological hazards. In other words, help in reducing the cause of problem to prevent further damage.
Applying the appropriate solution will indeed kill mold, but as the mold is being treated (attacked) by the solution, the mold will sporulate (releasing millions of spores) in an attempt to survive. now the surrounding environment is really contaminated.
After killing the mold, the residual hyphae are still present on the surface. The mold may be killed, but the affected area still has to be cleaned (remediated). Mold remediators must remember that anti-microbials/biocides are chemical or physical agents capable of killing or inactivating one or more groups of organisms.
Mold Remediation Goal
The end goal of a mold remediation project is to return the indoor environment to a clean, safe, livable condition: a condition 1 status. What this means in terms of mold contamination, is that the indoor environment, from a sampling basis, would be cleaner or has similar levels and types of mold that are comparable to the outdoor surrounding environment.
One of the goals of mold remediation and the Certified Industrial Hygienist’s sampling is to verify that the mold spore count inside containment is at a similar level, or less than, the spore count outdoors.
Mold Remediation Sampling Methods
Most remediation jobs have two sets of samples taken, one in the beginning to determine what is contaminated and the level of contamination such as condition 1, 2, or 3.
The second set is taken at the end of the remediation project and usually is referred to as clearance testing.
Depending upon the size of the job, there may be occasions in which a third set of samples are taken, in the middle of the job, to be sure proper progress is being made.
There are various sampling methods that can be used to determine if a building is contaminated. The most common types of samples are:
• Air Sampling
• Tape Lift
• Swab Wipes
Major Principles of Mold Remediation
The IICRC outlines five major principles of mold remediation:
1. Make sure safety and health precautions are taken by cleanup professionals and occupants. Mold contaminated buildings can be associated with a number of health problems. Anyone involved in the mold remediation process must be protected from exposure through a combination of practices and controls.
2. A post cleanup assessment by an independent environmental expert. An effective mold remediation job cannot be developed without first determining the extent of the contamination to be removed. To ensure that remediation work is being properly performed, it is highly recommended that appropriate documentation of the remediation process be kept.
3. Control mold before it spreads further. Eliminating mold at the source of contamination is essential. Once mold spores spread through the air, it is much more difficult to remove.
4. Oversee the proper physical removal of the mold. The mold must be physically removed from the structure. Attempts to isolate mold or remove signs of mold on the surface are not adequate. Bleach alone cannot kill mold.
5. Ensure that moisture is controlled to limit future contamination or recontamination. Mold growth is virtually inevitable if moisture is not controlled. Moisture problems must be identified, located and corrected or controlled as soon as possible.
Levels of Antimicrobials
There are three levels of anti-microbials/biocides:
Sanitizers: Products used to reduce, but not totally eliminate, microorganisms from inanimate environments to levels considered safe as determined by public health codes or regulations.
Disinfectants: Products that kill or inactivate more than 99.9% of disease-producing (pathogenic) microorganisms on inanimate objects. Used to destroy or irreversibly inactivate infectious fungi and bacteria but not necessarily spores.
Sterilizers: Products used to destroy or eliminate all forms of microbial life including fungi, viruses, and all forms of bacteria and their spores.
Antimicrobials And Biocides
What everyone is looking for is a chemical solution that can be sprayed on a mold contaminated surface that kills 100% of all molds, bacteria, viruses and other harmful agents and the problem goes away.
The experts hotly debate the use of anti-microbials and/or biocides. Even the guidance documents contain conflicting recommendations both as to whether or not to use chemical solutions, and their effectiveness.
The use of anti-microbials/biocides will not replace a thorough cleaning. Cleaning and thus removing the contamination is always the preferred method of decontamination.
Today there are a wide variety of chemical solutions that are effective in killing mold. However, killing vegetative mold (the actual plant structure, which is called the hyphae) does not remove or eliminate the effects of mold damage on the environment or its potential impact on humans.