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Mold clearance test details: when to schedule an inspection and testing after a mold cleanup project. Here we explain and describe in more detail the post remediation mold clearance procedures and testing that should be used after a mold remediation or mold cleanup project.
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MOLD CLEARANCE TEST TIMING: When to Inspect & Test a Building After a Mold Cleanup / Remediation Project
This article is part of our ACTION GUIDE which provides an easy to understand step-by-step guide for dealing with toxic or allergenic indoor mold and other indoor contaminants: what to do about mold "mildew," moisture, in your house or office, building-related illness, involving your physician, treatment, sick building investigators, reduction of irritants, and special products to help clean buildings and air.
As we noted at MOLD CLEARANCE INSPECTIONS and CLEARANCE PROCEDURES, the inspection and testing of a building to confirm that a mold cleanup project (mold remediation) has been adequately performed should not be scheduled until
CONTACT us to suggest changes or additions to this mold clearance inspection protocol.
Don't Perform Post Mold Remediation Testing Too Soon
24-hours of still air conditions is the minimum time we want to allow for settlement of airborne dust and debris in a buildings before conducting an air or surface dust screening test for mold contamination after a mold cleanup project. Longer dust settlement time is better.
Our photo (left) shows a very clean building basement that has been sealed as well. The air scrubber machine remained in the building but as we asked, it had been turned off prior to our onsite inspection. The containment barriers are not visible in this photo and would need to be verified if only part of the building was being cleaned.
At remediation jobs for which we have been the clearance inspector, we require no less than 24 hours of still air time. The containment is left in place, the air scrubbers are simply turned off. That allows the clearance inspector to evaluate the quality of dust containment that was set up, and if, as sometimes happens, more cleaning is needed, the containment does not have to be put up a second time, thus saving some money.
And allowing settlement time means that if there was poor cleaning, and the air is still contaminated, we can often find that evidence in settled dust - more reliably than may be found by dashing in and simply grabbing a quick "air sample" (We use both methods).
We have rarely encountered a mold remediation company who objected to our clearance protocol - after all, the more confident everyone can be in the quality of the clearance inspection the more all parties are protected, including the mold remediator. In a few cases in which the remediator wanted us to test while their machines were running (and we have done so) once we explain the issues to the client, that has been the end of any debate on time periods.
Don't Perform Post Mold Remediation Testing Too Late
However, to protect the mold remediation company from being blamed for contamination that may have occurred due to subsequent building leaks or events, or from cross-contamination of the mold remediation work area by mold from other building areas that was excluded from the project (not an exclusion that we recommend), we suggest that
Post-Mold-Remedation Procedures that are Specifically NOT Recommended Include
Violating any of the conditions described above at MOLD CLEARANCE TIMING above.
Taking Down the Containment Barriers Too Soon
Our photo (below left) was part of compelling evidence that the mold remediation crew at this New York City apartment cleanup job had been inexperienced to say the least. The plastic containment barrier had been removed when we arrived to inspect the building. But we found a number of troubling conditions including
The plastic containment barrier had been "hung" from the fire sprinkler heads using duct tape strips. Good grief. What if during the project someone pulls that down and sets off the sprinkler system, creating a new building flood? What if there is a fire during the project and the sprinkler heads have been tampered-with or blocked? And why was the ceiling cavity left open to receive dust during demolition, transporting it over other areas of the apartment?
Our second photo (above right) shows that the plastic used to seal around an air scrubber exit port had collapsed - probably not a serious failure at this job.
We understand that it can be costly for a mold remediation company to leave equipment idle at a property while waiting for the post-cleanup inspection, testing, lab work, report, and client approval. But that concern should not extend to early removal of the containment system as well.
The temptation to rip down the building containment system before the inspection and clearance test comes from several thoughts in the remediator's viewpoint:
By premature takedown of the dust containment system risks costs we introduced above.
Leaving the Air Scrubbers Running
Remediators - some - would like you to test while their air machine is running, having the fantasy that even if they didn't remove all the mold they should-have, the scrubber will hide that fact ... until later, after everyone has gone and the remaining mold propagates again.
Sometimes this approach - leaving a scrubber on - allows the remediator to shoot themselves in the foot, especially when the company foolishly did not vent the air machine to the outdoors. In that case if there is problem dust and debris remaining, the machine is simply stirring it up further. You cannot remove an indoor air particle problem by vacuuming the air. As long as the particle source remains there is, in a practical effect, an infinite particle source.
Leaving Building Windows & Doors Open
A second approach that some remediators like is to have the clearance performed while the building is being aggressively ventilated with outdoor air. This too can obscure an in-building remaining mold or particle source problem in or out of the remediation area, and in some conditions can also bring in excessive levels of outdoor pollen or mold. Or moisture, or even rain at an unattended building.
While ventilating a building with outdoor air may work in some cases to help clean up a building interior, it is impossible to distinguish reliably between outdoor conditions and indoor building conditions if the building windows and doors are open 24-hours before or during the clearance inspection.
U.S. EPA Guidance for Mold Clearance Inspection After a Mold Cleanup
Our complete collection of US and international mold standards references are collected at MOLD STANDARDS.
From the US EPA we include this more general advice on the criteria for a mold cleanup job: [Our comments are in brackets]
How Do I Know When the Remediation or Cleanup is Finished?
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