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Indoor Air Quality - What is mold?

Certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins (mycotoxins), but the molds themselves are not toxic, or poisonous. Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins, such as Stachybotrys chartarum, should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house or workplace. Contradicting indoor air quality research results exist regarding whether toxigenic mold found indoors causes unique or rare health conditions such as bleeding in the lungs. Research is ongoing in this area.

Dampness and Mold Assessment Tool for Schools and General Buildings

The health of those who live, attend school, or work in damp buildings has been a growing concern through the years due to a broad range of reported building-related symptoms and illnesses. Research has found that people who spend time in damp buildings are more likely to report health problems such as these:

  • Respiratory symptoms (such as in nose, throat, lungs)
  • Development or worsening of asthma
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (a rare lung disease caused by an immune system response to repeated inhalation of sensitizing substances such as bacteria, fungi, organic dusts, and chemicals)
  • Respiratory infections Allergic rhinitis (often called “hay fever”)
  • Bronchitis Eczema


Investigating and Remediating Mold

If mold can be seen or smelled, it is a concern. However, every school contains some mold. So do our homes, offices and the outdoor air. When live mold spores encounter moisture from building problems such as flooding, water intrusion, an ongoing leak, or even high relative humidity, they may be able to grow. Once mold is established, the amount of mold may increase quickly and colonies can spread if enough moisture is available. Moisture control is the key to preventing and controlling mold problems. People most likely to be susceptible to some of the health effects of mold include those with respiratory problems such as allergies or asthma, a compromised immune system, or the elderly and the very young. MDH recommends that anyone who is concerned that they may have health problems due to mold, see a medical professional experienced in such matters.

Mold Respiratory Issues

Levels of household mold associated with respiratory symptoms in the first year of life in a cohort at risk for asthma.

Building Construction to Prevent Mold Growth

Well-designed, well-constructed, well-maintained building envelopes are critical to the prevention and control of excess moisture and microbial growth , as they prevent thermal bridges and the entry of liquid or vapour-phase water. Management of moisture requires proper control of temperatures and ventilation to avoid excess humidity, condensation on surfaces and excess moisture in materials. Ventilation should be distributed effectively throughout spaces, and stagnant air zones should be avoided. Building owners are responsible for providing a healthy workplace or living environment free of excess moisture and mould, by ensuring proper building construction and maintenance. The occupants are responsible for managing the use of water, heating, ventilation and appliances in a manner that does not lead to dampness and mould growth. Local recommendations for different climatic regions should be updated to control dampness-mediated microbial growth in buildings and to ensure desirable indoor air quality.

Warm Air is a Moisture Conduit

It is not the outside conditions such as the wind, but interior heat that is the conduit that carries with it most of the harmful moisture within residential dwellings. The sources of the most damaging moisture are not rain or snow or ice from the outside, but the very every day activities that produce water vapor within the home. This vapor is picked up and carried by warm air. Whatever the humidity level within a home during the winter, warm moisture laden air escapes the living area of the dwelling. Just as your breath immediately will fog the inside of your cold automobile’s windshield in the winter, so will warm attic air carry moisture up to the back side of the cold roof deck and there, drop its moisture. The nails of the installed roofing system, transfer cold right into the attic space. Frost can often be seen inside the attic, especially forming on the nail shanks. The attic can then take on a terrarium effect and actual rain-like precipitation begins to fall onto the attic floor.

Many cases of “Siding Leaks” are not as they may seem. Many times interior moisture migrates through the wall and at the dew point condensation occurs. This cooling of warm air will always result in the dropping of moisture. As your breath fogs on the cold windshield of an automobile in the winter, this condensing of air compresses the molecules closer together, squeezing the air like a sponge

How does mold grow in the Home?

Mold spores are everywhere in our outdoor environment, so naturally they end up in our home, contained in our dust. However, you never want to have mold growing in our home. When mold grows indoors it’s an indication of a moisture issue, Mold also grows best in warm temperatures, 77 to 86 °F (25 to 30 °C), although growth may occur between 32 and 95 °F (0 and 35 °C). All mold types require water or moisture grow. The key to controlling mold growth in the home is by controlling moisture.

Development of an Environmental Relative Moldiness Index for US Homes

As part of the Housing and Urban Development's American Healthy Homes Survey, dust samples were collected by vacuuming 2 m2 in the bedrooms plus 2 m2 in the living rooms from a nationally representative 1096 homes in the United States using the Mitest sampler. Five milligrams of sieved (300 μm pore, nylon mesh) dust was analyzed by mold-specific quantitative polymerase chain reaction for the 36 indicator species in 1096 samples. On the basis of this standardized national sampling and analysis, an “Environmental Relative Moldiness Index” was created with values ranging from about −10 to 20 or above (lowest to highest).

What is black mold removal & remeidation?

  • Sealing the infected area off from the rest of the house
  • Wetting visible mold growth with a MOLD KILLING SOLUTION
  • Use a wet/dry HEPA vacuum to remove the bulk of visible growth
  • Remove and seal in bags, any material that can not be properly cleaned such as carpet and drywall
  • Ensure that all infected areas have been treated and allowed to dry
  • Put everything back together again: drywall, paint, etc. after mold remediation.

Cleaning Methods for Black Mold

Here are a few guidelines for cleaning methods: Non-porous materials (e.g. metals, glass, and hard plastics) can almost always be cleaned. Semiporous and porous structural materials, such as wood and concrete can be cleaned if they are structurally sound. Porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and insulation, and wallboards (with more than a small area of mold growth) should be removed and discarded. Wallboard should be cleaned or removed at least six inches beyond visually assessed mold growth (including hidden areas, see Visual Inspection) or wet or water-damaged areas.24 A professional restoration consultant should be contacted to restore valuable items that have been damaged.

Protection Levels For Mold Removal

  • Level I. In areas that are small, usually 10 square feet or less, the mold remediation can often be performed by anyone trained in mold removal using OSHA standards. The infected area should be unoccupied except by those performing the remediation. Workers should use temporary respirators, gloves and eye protection, plus equipment should be cleaned or removed from the area in sealed containers. Before beginning, misting the area to deter dust is recommended. The area should be cleaned after mold is removed using Antimicrobial product, removing all debris on floors and wiping down of floors and horizontal flat surface.
  • Level II. For slightly larger areas than level I, usually up to 30 square feet, similar protection should be used as Level I. This is often a wall or ceiling area that has not spread to the rest of the room. It is recommended to use polyethylene sheeting to contain the area and protect other areas nearby. In addition, the area should be HEPA vacuumed before wiping or mopping the area
  • Level III. In mold=infested areas between 30-100 square feet, remediation should be performed by a professionally trained mold remediation specialist. This will require that the full area be sealed off from the rest of the building, plus it is recommended that no one occupy the adjacent areas while the work is being performed. All precautions used for Levels I and II should also be followed.
  • Level IV. For heavy mold infestations or areas larger than 100 square feet, mold remediation should only be performed by a trained professional. The workers should be wearing protective gear, including full HEPA respirators. The area will need full containment, with an airlock and the use of negative pressure using exhaust fans. Workers will need a decontamination area to remove protective gear and clean equipment if walking or entering into a clean area. Any contaminated gear or equipment that cannot be cleaned in this area needs to be removed in sealed bags or containers.