Mold contamination is usually found in buildings that have been poorly constructed or lack adequate ventilation, or that have not been occupied for extended periods of time. The presence of moisture and mold can result in significant physical damage to the structure, and, in some cases, the types of mold may be toxic and/or allergenic and can cause a variety of medical conditions.
Fungi are classified as one of the five kingdoms of living things. They are different from plants and bacteria. They include a variety of types such as mold, mildews, yeasts, and mushrooms. In general, they are all commonly referred to as “mold”.
There are several ways to address mold on building materials. They are based on the types of materials. There are three types of building materials: porous (examples include wallpaper, carpet, sheetrock, etc.), semi-porous (wood such as framing or flooring), and non-porous (metal or glass).
Over the past ten years, the public has become increasingly concerned about mold. There are thousands of different types of mold. They occur in various colors including, but not limited to; pink, orange, black, brown, white, green, gray, and clear. Mold (or fungi) reproduce in different ways. It grows and produces a mass which can be visible to the naked eye and produces spores which cannot. Mold spores are very light and come in when exterior doors are opened, come in with the makeup air for the HVAC systems, and come in on clothing and shoes. Pets and bugs track them in or spread them.
There are many ways there can be water intrusion into structures. Some of the more common ways are: rising water or flooding from outside, drainage problems outside, plumbing leaks in kitchens or bathrooms, water heater failures, roof leaks, HVAC pans overflowing, poorly designed or poorly operating HVAC systems, toilets, sinks or bathtubs overflowing, or poor design of roofs, windows or walls. In addition, mold can grow without an outside water source if the humidity is around 60%. Once the water or humidity source has been stopped or fixed and water is no longer available, the mold stops growing. It is prudent to have maintenance personnel in commercial buildings or individuals in homes check the drainage outside, height of plants, leaves, and soil next to buildings, automatic irrigation systems next to facilities, the plumbing in bathrooms and kitchens especially in cabinets and icemakers, the tile and fixtures in showers and bathtubs, the roof decking, flooring, insulation, and exhaust vents in attics, pans under water heaters, and HVAC units. A quick inspection once a year can prevent water damage and mold growth.
On May 16, 2004, the State of Texas was one of the first states to regulate mold by adopting the Texas Mold Assessment and Remediation Rules. These rules were promulgated to regulate mold assessors, mold remediators, mold laboratories, and mold training providers in Texas. In general, if mold is present in commercial buildings in an amount greater that 25 contiguous square feet, then a licensed mold consultant must prepare a mold remediation protocol and the remediation must be conducted by a licensed mold remediation contractor.
On a national level, there are other documents such as the EPA’s “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Building”, which are helpful in deciding how to remediate mold damaged materials and provide steps to protect workers and occupants during remediation. The IICRC’s (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration) “Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation” also contains good information on mold remediation.
ECI performs indoor air quality surveys (mold surveys) and tailors the survey to the situation and to the clients’ needs. The surveys can be as simple as a visual inspection or can include obtaining moisture readings in building materials, obtaining humidity readings, taking carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide readings to assess air quality, taking pictures to document findings, and taking bulk, tape lift, or air samples. Once the samples are analyzed, the findings from the inspection along with the laboratory results are evaluated. Sometimes, after water intrusion such as flooding, a plumbing leak, or a roof leak, there can be “hidden” mold inside wall cavities and above ceilings. This is more difficult to identify and sometimes is only found during remediation when building materials are removed.
Once mold has been discovered and the cause of the water intrusion has been fixed, a mold remediation protocol is prepared. It provides a list of what areas need to be remediated, how the remediation should be conducted in each area, and the criteria for determining if the remediation was conducted satisfactorily. The size of the area(s), the types of building materials, the location of the mold growth in the facility, the HVAC system(s), etc. are considered in determining how the work is conducted.
Mold Management Services:
ECI will work with homeowners, apartment complexes, commercial and industrial building owners, tenants/occupants and property management companies in assessing and providing for the remediation protocol of mold contaminated areas, and managing mold abatement (removal) projects. Our licensed Mold Consultants and Industrial Hygienists can assist you with the following services:
Conducting visual inspections to detect areas with high moisture levels, areas impacted by water damage and visible mold growth.
Bulk/surface sampling from areas with visible mold growth.
Air sampling to assess the extent of airborne contamination.
Comprehensive reports detailing the findings and providing the scope of work for remediation activities.
Monitoring of remediation activities.
Clearance inspections subsequent to remediation activities.