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Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS - INSPECT, TEST, REMEDY
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE to TEST CLEAN PREVENT
ACTIVITY of MOLD in BUILDINGS
AGE of MOLD - Old is the Mold?
AIR CLEANER PURIFIER TYPES
AIR FILTERS for HVAC SYSTEMS
AIR TEST SAMPLING CASSETTE STUDY
AIRBORNE MOLD COUNT NUMBER GUIDE
AIRBORNE PARTICLE ANALYSIS METHODS
ALLERGEN TESTS for BUILDINGS
BROWN HAIRY BATHROOM MOLD
BIBLIOGAPHY for ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH, MOLD, IAQ
BLACK MOLD, HARMLESS COSMETIC
BLACK MOLD, TOXIC & ALLERGENIC
BLEACHING MOLD, Advice about
BOOK MOLD, Moldy Book Cleaning
BOOKSTORE - ENVIRONMENTAL
CACTUS FUNGI / MOLD
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPET DUST IDENTIFICATION
CARPET PADDING ASBESTOS, MOLD, ODORS
CARPET FUNGICIDAL SPRAY
CARPET STAIN DIAGNOSIS
CARPET & other STAIN TESTS
CARPET TEST PROCEDURE
CARPETING & INDOOR AIR QUALITY
CHAIN OF CUSTODY - TEST SAMPLE
CLEARANCE INSPECTIONS - MOLD CLEANUP
DIRECTORY of MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERTS
DIRT FLOOR MOLD CONTAMINATION
DISINFECTANTS & SANITIZERS, SOURCES
DISINFECTING BUILDINGS with BLEACH
DO-IT-YOURSELF MOLD CLEANUP WARNINGS
DUST ANALYSIS for FIBERGLASS
DUST, HVAC CONTAMINATION STUDY
EFFLORESCENCE, Salts & White / Brown Deposits
FEAR of MOLD - MYCOPHOBIA
Fiberboard Insulation Sheathing Mold
FIBERGLASS INSULATION MOLD
FIND MOLD, ESSENTIAL STEPS
MOLD in BUILDINGS
FIRE DAMAGE vs MOLD DAMAGE
FLOODS IN BUILDINGS-mold
FOXING STAINS on books & papers
FUNGICIDAL SPRAY & SEALANT USE GUIDE
GAS DETECTION INSTRUMENTS
GAS EXPOSURE EFFECTS, TOXIC
GAS EXPOSURE LIMITS & STANDARDS
GAS TEST PROCEDURES
HOUSE DUST ANALYSIS
HOUSE DUST COMPONENTS
HUMIDITY CONTROL & TARGETS INDOORS
LAB PROCEDURES MICROSCOPE TECHNIQUES
LIGHT, GUIDE to FORENSIC USE
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MICROSCOPE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MEDIA BLASTING for MOLD REMOVAL
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MICROSCOPE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
MILDEW ERRORS, IT's MOLD
MILDEW REMOVAL & PREVENTION
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO MOLD
MOLD EXPERT, WHEN TO HIRE
MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
MYCOPHOBIA, STAINS MISTAKEN for MOLD
MYCOTOXIN EFFECTS of MOLD EXPOSURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
RENTERS GUIDE TO MOLD & IAQ
ROBIGUS & Wheat Rust Fungus
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
STAINS on & in BUILDINGS, CAUSES & CURES
THERMAL IMAGING MOLD SCANS
TRAPPED MOLD BETWEEN WOOD SURFACES
UV LIGHT BLACK LIGHT USES
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
VOCs VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS
WATER ENTRY in buildings
Mold cleanup job mistakes: cross contamination. Here we explain how an cross contamination by moldy dust or relying just on "mold sprays and paints" can end up costing unnecessarily when hiring a mold cleaning company. This section of our "How to Clean Mold" article describes common mistakes people make when attempting to clean up mold. Avoiding these mold cleanup errors can save you money and may also avoid dangerous side effects of bleach, mold chemicals, or ozone when improperly applied. Photo at page top courtesy of Anabec systems.
We also discuss common errors made when cleaning wood surfaces, such as relying on bleach or performing expensive and unnecessary cleaning on cosmetic black mold on wood surfaces.
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CROSS CONTAMINATION of MOLD - Be sure to protect from mold spore cross contamination of other building areas when cleaning up mold
Small mold cleanup projects (less than 30 sq.ft.) can normally be handled as a simple building cleaning or renovation project and without expensive negative air and dust containment barriers.
But during a "small project" you should remain alert for the discovery of a previously unrecognized large area of contaminated materials. If the small project discovers that it has become a large one, work should stop to permit set-up of proper dust and particle containment.
When a large building area (more than 30 sq.ft. of contiguous moldy material) is to be cleaned, use of negative air and dust containment are appropriate.
Our photo shows a typical use of plastic pipe frames to support a 6-mil poly dust barrier giving a passage through a building into the mold cleanup area. Our page top photo shows a typical two-barrier air-lock that provides entry and exit into the work area through the containment.
Protect the building areas outside or around the one being cleaned from mold contamination by following published mold remediation guidelines such as the NY City Mold Cleanup guidelines.
For large products (more than 30 sq.ft. of contaminated contiguous surface), the procedure involves tenting or sealing off the work area using plastic barriers, combined with establishing negative air pressure inside the work area so that particles and dust do not tend to escape the work area.
It is important that the mold contractor protect workers performing remediation using appropriate masks, clothing, etc. Occupants, particularly people at extra risk of mold-related illness should not perform nor be present during this work. We sometimes meet mold cleanup crews who do not understand English, have been given no instruction, and have not been giving any protective gear.
Don't spray or power-wash moldy wood or other moldy surfaces without proper containment as you may be simply spreading mold spores around the indoor environment where you will infect other materials.
Do not take down the mold demolition dust containment barrier before the building has successfully passed a mold remediation clearance inspection and test. If the cleanup was not complete, properly performed, and successful, early dust barrier removal risks cross-contamination into other building areas.
Very troublesome has been our observation of frequent complete failures of "mold dust containment" systems set up by un-trained workers.
The result is invariably an increase in the ultimate mold remediation project cost when additional wiping and HEPA vacuuming have to be performed in areas not previously contaminated with mold.
Containment and Negative Air Errors at mold remediation projects include improper containment barrier construction that leaves holes and leaks, collapsing containment systems that simply don't stay in place, combined with workers who simply keep on with demolition even though the containment barrier has collapsed.
It's not too difficult to spot incompetent mold containment barriers (photo at left).
At a New York City mold remediation project we found that the low-budget mold remediation company selected by our client hung plastic up like a shower curtain, (not reaching the ceiling) by suspending it using duct tape strips tied around the fire sprinkler heads along the ceiling!
Not only had the remediator taken down the containment barrier before the project had successfully passed a mold clearance inspection and test, they had left their duct tape plastic strips tied to the fire sprinklers (photo at left).
Luckily no one stumbled into the "shower curtain" containment system or the building would have had a new shower of its own, with new mold problems.
And luckily the building had not caught on fire - we don't know how the duct tape might have interfered with proper functioning of the sprinkler heads in the event of a fire.
Also ineffective is simply "air scrubbing", running power dryers, or power dehumidifiers in a moldy dusty area, without also performing the cleanup and fixing any ongoing water entry problems or water leaks.
Turning on a large air filtration machine with no ducting to outdoors. The result may stir up and remove dust that is airborne, but an air scrubber is completely incapable of removing mold from building surfaces nor can it pick up debris on the floor across the room, any more than you can vacuum your living room carpet by standing in the kitchen and waving your vacuum cleaner wand in the air.
Our photo (left) shows a "post mold remediation" condition we observed while inspecting a property for a large homeowners' insurance provider. Things didn't look quite right:
Bleach, diluted bleach, or bleach sprays used in cleaning may be appealing but they are unnecessary, potentially dangerous (if you get bleach in your eyes), and the use of bleach tends to lead to improper and inadequate cleaning - if you substitute "spraying bleach" for actually cleaning or removing the mold your cleanup will not be successful.
Leaks at the window (photo at left) led to mold growth behind wallpaper as well as in the wall cavity. Surface cleaning of the wall was ineffective and occupant complaints continued in this building.
The object of mold remediation is to clean, or remove, the majority of the mold particles (spores, conidiophores, hyphae, mycelia) from the target surface. The operative word to fix in mind is to "clean" or "remove" the problem mold.
"Killing" the mold is not the object - first of all because our lab work shows that you're unlikely to kill all of the mold on a surface using bleach, unless you use it at a concentration and duration which is so strong that you're likely to completely destroy the "bleached" material, and second of all because even if you could "kill" every mold spore, you are at risk of leaving toxic or allergenic particles in place - they may be dead but still toxic.
Our photo (left) shows nice healthy black Stachybotrys chartarum spores collected from a "mold-killing bleach" treated surface in a building.
Finally, "mold removal" only works if you're cleaning a relatively hard, non-porous surface such as finished wood, painted metal, or plastic.
Soft materials like Sheetrock™ or drywall which have become moldy generally should be removed, the exposed surfaces cleaned, and then new drywall can be installed (after you've also corrected the reason for the mold growth in the first place).
Spraying anything if spraying of fungicides or sealants is to be used in place of actual cleaning or removal of mold is an improper and inadequate practice which risks leaving a reservoir of toxic or allergenic particles in the building.
See MOLD CLEANUP with BLEACH for details about using bleach to clean up or treat moldy surfaces.
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Technical Reviewers & References
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Mold Contamination Testing, Cleanup, Prevention: references & products
OTHER IAQ ISSUES: How To Find and Address Other Indoor Air or Indoor Environment Contaminants Besides Mold
Mold or allergens may not be the only or even the main indoor environmental contaminant. Don't let media attention to mold cause so much enviro-scare fear that other, possibly more urgent hazards go un-addressed.