CERTIFIED Mold Removal - Advice on Types of Mold, Removal & Contents Cleaning. ServiceMaster Advanced Cleaning, The Master of Disaster, Mobile, AL
If you have a mold issue, make certain that you hire a CERTIFIED mold remediation professional. Ask to see their certifications. Ask to see their insurance. Mold can be a serious health hazard, and you shouldn't take a chance with anyone that says it can simply be torn out! The airborne spores left from the removal of affected drywall and contents, are typically the very thing that will cause health problems. If every square inch isn't properly cleaned and the air filtered, the resulting spores can be enough to cause serious health issues. We will not take a chance with your health. We only know one way to do the job - the right way. This involves total elimination and removal of all visible and airborne mold spores. - ServiceMaster Advanced - The Master of Disaster (251) 653-9333, (251) 928-1028.
We are the original ServiceMaster Restore disaster restoration company operating in Mobile and Baldwin County in South Alabama, serving the area for over 30 years. We have handled some of the largest fire damage, water damage and mold remediation cleanup jobs ever performed on the Gulf Coast and we would be honored to serve you. (251) 653-9333, (251) 928-1028 and (866) 653-9333.
On the subject of mold remediation, and mold information in general, it is ServiceMaster Advance's quest to educate our customers and the public as much as possible. There is a lot of information published about mold. We believe the consumer should educate themselves, and obtain information from a variety of sources. We believe that after the consumer has done their homework, they will clearly understand why our approach is one of extreme caution, with the health of the individual as our first and foremost concern. We have posted many articles and videos on our site at: http://www.realmasterofdisaster.com.
Below is an article posted on LinkedIn by Mr. Sanjay Gupta. it is an overview and gives the reader some basic information. Another great site is http://www.epa.gov/mold/. The link to Mr. Gupta's site is: http://www.moldsensitized.com.
Remediating Mold From Painted Surfaces
Article originally published on September 20th, 2015 at www.moldsensitized.com
Understanding Some of the Complexities of Mold Remediation
One of the most difficult things for cleaning and restoration contractors who offermold remediation services to grasp is that such efforts are controlled by a standard of care that requires adherence to a large number of principles while allowing much flexibility in the exact steps that are used to implement those principles. Another interesting aspect of the mold remediation field is that the principles are global in nature while the specific equipment, supplies, and chemicals used to complete the work tend to be national, or even regional, in their market penetration. This leads to a wide variation in work details, yet a strong consensus regarding the work goals and general approach.
These aspects of mold remediation, which can seem confusing and even contradictory to the untrained or inexperienced professional, were on full display in a recent consultation with a contractor in Great Britain. In this particular case the contractor looked at project that had moderate to severe mould (Note 1) growth throughout most of the property. The photos which he provided confirmed his judgment about the severity of the contamination (see photos 1 and 2).
Photo 1: Interior of water-damaged residence where delays in drying and restoration allowed conditions to develop throughout the house which promoted a variety of different types of fungal colonies. Photos such as these are the best motivators to encourage property owners to treat water intrusion incidents as if a fire had occurred – immediate responses are necessary to keep the damage from getting worse in the directly impacted area, as well as limiting the spread of the problem to surrounding rooms and floors.
Photo 2: Diffuse but widespread fungal colonies on upper walls and ceilings are usually an indication of high humidity in a structure for an extended period of time. Warm air carries the water vapor upward where it contacts the surfaces and condenses into droplets. It is this “free water” that allows fungal colonies to develop. This scenario was confirmed by comments from the contractor who indicated that primary water intrusion had occurred on the lower floors of the house.
The contractor understood that the principles of mold remediation require that all porous materials with visible fungal growth must be carefully removed in order to avoid cross-contamination.(Note 2) He knew that the wallpaper, carpet, insulation, and rotted wood have to go. However, the contractor had reservations about gutting all of the:
Plaster walls and ceilings
Square edged floorboards
Fire surround (Note 3)
Skirting boards (Note 4)
Covings (Note 5)
Architraves (Note 6)
Doors and hatch entry
A quick review of the photos verified that the walls under the wallpaper were indeed plaster rather than drywall and that gutting a lot of the architectural finish would make it very expensive to bring the building back to pre-loss condition (see photos 3 and 4).
Photo 3: Another indication that high humidity levels in the house had persisted for quite some time was the mold growth on the plaster walls underneath the wallpaper. Although the pH of the plaster is not conducive to mold growth, the paste residue is a great nutrient source. Notice also that the doors appear to be solid wood panel doors, even on the interior, something that has long since departed from modern American buildings.
Photo 4: Mold on the crown molding – kind of ironic! Removal and replacement of the textured plaster walls and ceilings, as well as the plaster crown moldings, would indeed be expensive.
Understanding the Details of the Industry Standard of Care
Fortunately, I was able to remind the contractor of two key distinctions in the mold remediation field. Because of the varieties of materials many remediation contractors legitimately classify building materials into three categories rather than just the two choices of porous or non-porous. A third category called semi-porous is often used to describe materials that are somewhat water resistant rather than waterproof, or items that can be successfully cleaned of fungal contamination rather than having to be replaced. Wooden studs, doors, plaster or wood moldings, completely painted or sealed surfaces, and even masonry products are often classified as semi-porous because fungal contamination can be cleaned without damaging the structural integrity of the items.
Another key factor in advising the contractor that many of the mold contaminated surfaces in this house can be saved was the specific information in the IICRC S520 standard for professional mold remediation. This document has a specific section that implies that painted walls can be treated as a non–porous material. Section 12.2.6 notes that:
" small isolated areas of mold growth on a surface layer of condensation on enamel painted walls or other non-porous surfaces, where mold growth has not resulted in concealed areas, usually can be removed by HEPA vacuuming and damp wiping as part of a regular maintenance program"
With this base for the decision making I counseled the contractor that proper cleaning, rather than removal, would be appropriate for many of the impacted surfaces. The painted walls, ceilings, skirting boards, fire surrounds, and window trim and sills can be cleaned and coated with an anti-microbial paint. I even noted that if the doors and hatch were solid wood, particularly hardwood that is varnished or painted, then they could be cleaned and coated unless they were warped or damaged in such a way that necessitated replacement. I did warn him that if the doors were hollow core construction, even if they were painted, that I would replace them rather than take the chance that mold is left inside where it cannot be addressed.
Choosing the Best Approach
So now the question was what is the best method for cleaning the mould in this particular structure? There are several options that could be used, including the HEPA sandwich (Note 7) approach where the damp wiping in the middle of the process is really a wet scrubbing with spray bottles and plastic scratch pads. This is very labor intensive. Another approach would be to use a blaster with a soft media such as sponges to try to remove the paint film and mold from the surfaces without doing significant damage to the underlying substrate. This would not be my first or second choice because of the expense of the media and the setup that would be necessary to control the blast residue. Another option would be to try steam cleaning, but my concern was that the contractor would add so much moisture and heat from the process that he would further damage the plaster.
With those approaches considered and ruled out my best suggestion was to try a foam cleaning system. We have had a number of contractors have great success with this process and find it to be very cost and labor effective – particularly for structures that have a lot of surface area to be addressed. The foam cleaning systems are primarily of two types: activated hydrogen peroxide or standard anti-microbial cleaners that are applied by specialized spray equipment as foam rather than liquid droplets. Although I am not a foe of products that use aggressive oxidizers such as hydrogen peroxide I did not think it would be the best approach for this project because using such chemicals can be dangerous, special training is needed, and it is fairly expensive since there are limited distributors in Great Britain. However, I did offer to put the contractor in touch with the owner of the company who manufactures the best version of those products in the United States if he wanted to try that approach.
My overseas client was a bit surprised to find that a number of standard antimicrobial cleaners can be turned into foam that will stick to vertical surfaces. Although they have their own manufacturers of such chemicals in Great Britain the ones that our organization has seen used with the most success are Unsmoke products such as QGC and Fiberlock products such as Aftershock. I even provided the contractor with a copy of an article related to the “Pittsburgh Protocol” which explained this foam cleaning process in more detail. (Note 8)
From Generalities to Specifics
Still, adopting a general approach and having specific steps to follow are two different things. Therefore, I outlined what a typical scope of work for such a project would look like:
Determine who is going to conduct post-remediation testing
, explain your process, and make sure you completely understand the criteria that they will use to judge the success of the remediation effort. Adjust the following work steps as necessary to meet their criteria or direction.
Ensure that the original moisture source is corrected.
Isolate the entire structure to prevent cross-contamination of mold spores from the interior to the exterior (particularly important if there are nearby structures).
Establish negative air pressure and maintain it throughout the process to remove spores from the air.
Fog the structure with an anti-microbial to arrest growth and provide some additional safety for the workers.
Remove, bag, and dispose of all porous materials that are contaminated with mold growth such as wallpaper, insulation, carpet, carpet pad, draperies, upholstered furniture, etc.
Make a determination regarding the removal or cleaning of impacted materials such as wood skirting boards, doors, hatches, wood trim around the fireplace, windowsills and trim, etc. This determination should be based on the type of material, amount of damage, and replacement cost.
On a room-by-room basis apply antimicrobial foam; agitate with brushes with medium stiff bristles (plastic scrub brushes, not wire).
Spray with additional antimicrobial cleaner and wipe mold and foam residue from all surfaces until clean. Note that colored staining may still be visible unless foam cleaner includes hydrogen peroxide or bleach. The colored staining does not need to be addressed at this phase of the operation if additional painting will be part of the project. Remember that mold does not have real roots—the mycelial mat sits on the top, a few microns off the surface.
Continue advancing from room to room following the airflow that is created by the negative pressure. It would be beneficial to have an extra negative air machine running as an air scrubber with a diffuser tube on the back of the unit in the room where work is conducted.
Depending on the environmental conditions, the amount of surface area being cleaned at the time, and the amount of moisture in the foam that is applied, dehumidification or other drying procedures may be necessary.
HEPA vacuum all surfaces after they are dry.
Collect air and surface samples
as a part of internal quality control to ensure that the cleaning process was effective. This step can be taken after the first room is completed in order to gauge the effectiveness of the process while the contractor is still working rather than waiting until the end, just in case adjustments need to be made to the process.
After the remediation process has been completed and the structure has met the contractor’s internal quality control standards, call for the independent post-remediation inspection and testing. Remind the investigator that colored staining is not an indication of active mold growth.
After verification of successful post-remediation testing is received apply anti-microbial paint in a professional manner. Depending on the product used, multiple coats may be necessary to cover all stains.
Refinish floors as necessary.
Complete restoration to return the structure to a pre-loss condition.
Working Within the Standard of Care to Find Cost Effective Solutions
Professional mold remediation results from the efforts of individuals who have had enough training to understand the details of the standard of care and yet have the vision to look at each project in a unique and creative way. Protecting the health of the workers, the health of the occupants, and the value of the structure should always be paramount on such projects. Still, there are many cases where effective mold remediation does not have to entail full scale rip and remove practices. And it is just as clear that good approaches to mold remediation can be practiced around the globe regardless of where they originate.
1 Remember, the English and the Canadians put a “u” in the word mold.
2 Specifically, controlled demolition utilizing appropriate engineering controls such as HEPA-filtered negative air machines, construction of isolated work areas and decontamination chambers, bagging and sealing of waste materials that will be transported through non-impacted areas of the structure, and appropriate disposal.
3 English term for the decorative areas around a fireplace.
4 Another cool term from the British Isles for a baseboard (which can also be referred to as mopboard in Canada, floor molding by highfalutin architects, and base molding by clerks at the lumber yard) which covers the lowest part of an interior wall.
5 You would think that as inventors of the mother tongue of our native language the residents of Great Britain would call it cove molding.
6 In a general sense, this Italian derived word refers to the moldings or other elements framing a door, window, or other rectangular opening. For classical architects it has a specific meaning and refers to the lintel that sits on the columns to form the top of a door opening. Personally, in classic architecture I prefer the simplicity of the Tuscan style architrave to the more ornate Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian styles.
7 A term used to describe a three-step cleaning process where HEPA vacuuming is performed as the first and last step with damp wiping or some other form of cleaning as the middle step. Obviously, the terminology refers to the HEPA vacuuming as the two pieces of “bread” on the outside of the sandwich with the damp-wiping as the “meat” of the process. My thanks to friend and professional colleague Rachel Adams for introducing me to this term.
8 Another call-out to my good friend Cliff Zlotnick for his work in developing and publicizing this cost effective cleaning technique. As Cliff says, “It must get wetter before it gets better”.
END OF ARTICLE
About ServiceMaster ADVANCED Cleaning & Restoration, The Master of Disaster.
The owner of ServiceMaster Advanced is certified in mold remediation. It is absolutely imperative that you hire someone who is certified and understands both how to remediate mold, and the health consequences of mold. We have done many many residential and commercial mold remediation jobs and we always get a certified industrial hygienist to provide clearance testing.
Based out of Mobile AL and Foley, AL, we serve the entire local area including Mobile, Citronelle, Saraland, Satsuma, Chickasaw, Prichard, Eight Mile, Semmes, Theodore, Grand Bay, Irvington, Bayou La Batre, Dauphin Island, Bay Minette, Loxley, Stapleton, Spanish Fort, Daphne, Lillian, Fairhope, Silver Hill, Foley, Elberta, Seminole, Magnolia Springs, Orange Beach, Perdido Key, Gulf Shores and every community in Mobile and Baldwin Counties in South Alabama; and Pascagoula, Gulfport, Biloxi and every community in Jackson and Harrison Counties in Mississippi.
We are the original and largest ServiceMaster enterprise operating in the Mobile area. We have been here for over 25 years and have handled some of the largest cleanup jobs ever completed in the Mobile area. From tornado cleanup jobs during the tornadoes of Christmas 2012 in Mobile, and in Hattiesburg, MS in 2013; to hurricane cleanup jobs in Hurricanes Ivan, Katrina, and every Spring rain and flood event to happen in the area in the last quarter century, ServiceMaster Advanced has been there. We didn’t just begin our mitigation company last year, we have been here all along and have steadily grown with the community and helped the parent company innovate and improve the brand. ServiceMaster Advanced Cleaning has performed mitigation jobs for thousands of homeowners and many of Mobile's most well known commercial structures over the years. http://www.realmasterofdisaster.com
Another article from Mr. Gupta, which we believe might be helpful is:
Advice on Mold Contents Cleaning
We have posted many articles and videos on our web site http://www.realmasterofdisaster.com. Also, we have posted an excellent article that details they types of mold and the potential health effects here: http://www.servicemastermobilealabama.com/CERTIFIED-Mold-Remediation-Requires-Training-Knowledge-Mobile-AL.html
Over the years, people have asked us if it is OK to keep and clean mold damaged contents themselves. Obviously, this is a situational issue, but the following article may be of some assistance.
How To Clean Mold Contaminated Contents!
Article originally published on August 22nd, 2015 at www.moldsensitized.com
The Contents Conundrum*
This article was originally published by Contents Industry Review, Your Source for the Latest Contents Restoration News, Trends and Developments. Many thanks to David Gavilanes for his assistance. Image courtesy of Contents Industry Review.
Deciding if contents from structures with mold growth are contaminated, and what to do about them
Too often, contents are the forgotten stepchild of a mold remediation project. Inspectors and Indoor Environmental Professionals often focus on identifying the source of water intrusion and the subsequent fungal contamination with little regard for the furnishings and contents in the areas surrounding the contamination. Many project specifications talk about isolation of contaminated area with brief instructions (or the assumption) for movable contents to be repositioned so that they are not inside the isolated work zone.
Unfortunately, improperly assessed or addressed contents can be a source of significant cross-contamination to areas where considerable effort and expense has been expended to deal with mold contamination. This is an especially crucial issue if any of the occupants aresensitized to mold (or have Lyme disease or chemical sensitivity, either of which can result in cross sensitivities to mold). Therefore, regardless of whether the contents are addressed in the work plan of a third-party, cleaning and restoration contractors need to have some basic guidelines for attending to them when dealing with water damage and mold remediation projects.
The Initial Assessment
Even if contents are only being moved from one area to another as part of the setup for a mold remediation project, close attention should be paid to each and every item. Any material that has visible fungal growth (or anything that resembles fungal growth), a musty odor, or a “light fuzz” that could be dust deposition or mildew should immediately be segregated from the other materials. Of the items with visible contamination, nonporous materials can generally be cleaned satisfactorily. In contrast, the current standard of care calls for the disposal and replacement of soft, porous contents that are supporting fungal colonies.
Even if the contents do not have visible growth on them, they could still be reservoirs of fungal contaminants like spores, hyphae, and mycotoxins (chemical poisons that can be released from some fungal types). This microscopic contamination is characterized as Condition 2 by the IICRC’s S520 standard related to professional mold remediation. The S520 notes that dust from impacted items does not reflect the “normal fungal ecology” in terms of fungal types present and amounts. However, the good news is that the S520 document explains that contents contaminated by deposition of spores from adjacent growth can be cleaned.
Standard of Care versus the Doctor’s Recommendation
While many professionals in the cleaning and restoration industry are used to cleaning contents that at first glance seem to be unsalvageable, the reverse thinking often takes hold of occupants who are dealing with a mold contamination situation. Even in cases where the contents do not have visible fungal growth, they are concerned that the materials cannot be thoroughly decontaminated. Indeed, we have talked to several individuals, diagnosed with mold sensitivities, who were told by their doctors that the contents of their homes could never be cleaned well enough. The medical professional basically told them that all of those items needed to be disposed of.
In contrast, our research and experience confirm that contents acting as a reservoir for fungal contamination generally can be cleaned. However, from a practical and financial standpoint the general rule of thumb that we use when offering advice to clients is that the more contents that can be removed from the house, the more thorough the cleaning of both contents and the structure can be. Nevertheless, there are practical limitations. Large bureaus, beds, couches, and appliances are difficult to move, even to a cleaning station in the garage. Large pieces that are left in the house need to be thoroughly cleaned and then moved multiple times during the process of cleaning the structure. We do not recommend that they be covered and left in place because this hinders the proper cleaning of all surfaces.
Another important consideration is that the more consistent the occupant and cleaning contractor can be with surfaces and contents, the better the result for sensitized individuals.For both surfaces and contents, the process should begin with a HEPA sandwich method of cleaning. Additional activities for both the structure and any remaining contents can include air scrubbing, air washing, and fogging.
Using a Logical Process
As most cleaning and restoration contractors understand, once the decision has been made to undertake cleaning of some or all of the contents, a number of other questions come into play.Probably the biggest variable that needs to be determined is where and how the content cleaning will be accomplished. There are a few options:
1. Clean them on the way out of the house. This typically involves setting up a cleaning station in the garage or other area where contaminated contents from the house are staged, cleaned, and packed in clean containers. Although we prefer that plastic tubs with tightfitting lids be used as storage containers, cardboard boxes can be used as long as they are lined with plastic to protect the contents from moisture. Generally, the packing containers used on the way out of the house are not an issue—even old grocery boxes can be used, but after the items have been cleaned they should be stored and moved around in new boxes or plastic containers.
Some clients have even gone so far as to set up a washer and dryer in the garage with temporary water and power sources so that methodical cleaning can be conducted. We recommend, however, that any soft contents being saved be cleaned using the Esporta Wash System rather than regular washers and dryers. This is because that is the only system that we are aware of that has published data on the efficacy of cleaning mold reservoirs (as well as actual visible contamination) from soft goods.
2. Pack them and have them cleaned at a separate facility. The benefit to this approach is that the contents can then be cleaned utilizing a wide variety of specialized decontamination processes. In particular, this allows materials to be moved to a facility that has specialized laundry equipment, ultrasonic cleaning tanks, proper cleaning equipment for electronic components, and even areas for specialty cleaning of papers and books. Also available at some facilities, household contents can be subjected to other cleaning and decontamination procedures as appropriate, such as controlled exposure to ozone or hydroxyl radicals.
3. Pack the contents, store them until remediation has been completed, and then clean them on-site as they are moved back into the clean residence. While this approach has the benefit of the items being cleaned immediately before their reentry into the remediated structure, it does limit the cleaning methods that can be used. The biggest drawback to this approach is that many of the specialized cleaning procedures mentioned in the previous option are not practical at temporary locations.
Once a decision has been made as to how and where the contents will be cleaned, it is much easier to proceed with packing. In all cases, it is best to view this situation as an opportunity for the clients to de-clutter their lives. Content cleaning gets progressively more expensive as the number of items increases. Also, it is important to educate the client that, from a mold perspective, paper goods are the most difficult to clean properly and, therefore, are the most expensive. But for almost everything else, studies have shown that cleaning contaminated items costs only 20–25% as much as replacing them.
Selection of Cleaning Products/Processes
Regardless of whether it is hard goods or soft goods, a decision needs to be made about the particular cleaning agents that will be employed. While a good HEPA vacuum should always be used to remove loose particles from contents, a damp or wet cleaning method is also recommended for materials from a mold-contaminated structure. One of the primary reasons for this washing is the debate in the industry about what role residual mycotoxins play in the development of adverse health symptoms. Research over the past seven years has shown that some of the more noxious mycotoxins can not only be spread through the air, but when they settle on surfaces they tend to cling to that surface until the attraction is broken through chemical and physical methods. (This means that if there are sporting goods, such as a croquet set, in a mold-contaminated environment you could have a real sticky wicket on your hands!**)
For this reason antimicrobials that are formulated from quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) are often recommended for cleaning contents and surfaces in mold contamination situations. Quats are recommended for mold work because some research suggests that they are better than regular cleaners at removing mycotoxins from surfaces. Nevertheless, the oxidation potential of hydrogen peroxide based cleaners would, theoretically, also work to break that sticky bond between the mycotoxins and the surfaces.
Essential oil cleaners are another frequent choice for mold work. While their effectiveness against microorganisms is well documented, there is little available evidence about their ability to remove mycotoxins. Another class of cleaning products being used for mold remediation are salt-based products. However, once again, there is little available evidence about their ability to remove mycotoxins.
Cleaning Contents May Not Be a “Do It Yourself” Proposition
People who are considering cleaning household contents related to mold contamination situations for the first time rarely think that there is any sort of conundrum associated with the work. The reality is that cleaning these contents can pose a variety of unexpected difficulties and needs to be well thought out.
While this article contains a lot of information to digest, it also points out that the cleaning and restoration industry is blessed with a great variety of good products that work well in specific aspects of the mold remediation business. Contractors and occupants just have to choose wisely based on their particular situation. For sensitized individuals, this may mean that what at first appears to be a simple task of cleaning dust and fungal reservoirs from contents is actually something that they should leave to the professionals.
Remember that YOU AND YOU ALONE, decide who works in your home or business. YOU decide who handles your most precious of possessions! Tell your insurance provider that you want SERVICEMASTER ADVANCED or call us directly. Make sure that there is no confusion. There are other mitigation companies, and even others with similar sounding names. We are ServiceMaster Advanced, The Master of Disaster. "WE WOULD BE HONORED TO SERVE YOU." (251) 653-9333 or (251) 928-1028. www.servicemastermobilealabama.com