The EPA’s Guidelines For Mold Remediation
If you have a mold problem in your home, it’s important to hire an experienced professional to test and clean it. They should be familiar with the EPA’s guidelines for mold remediation.
Remediation plans vary by the size and complexity of the contamination. They should include steps to fix the water or moisture problem, so that mold problems don’t reoccur.
Identifying the Problem
Mold can grow on or in nearly any surface, so it is important to carefully inspect all areas where a mold problem might exist. For example, investigators should check behind drywall where a leak might have occurred. Using a borescope, an optical probe, allows investigators to inspect the back side of drywall without causing extensive damage. Humidity gauges and moisture meters also may be useful tools.
In addition, air sampling may be used to help identify the types of mold spores present. But remember that air sampling only provides information about what was in the air at the time the sample was taken, not how long the spores have been there.
Generally, it is best to fix the water or moisture problem before attempting any cleanup. Mold damage will get worse the longer it is allowed to continue. If a significant area is affected, consult the EPA publication on Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings for guidance.
Identifying the Source of the Water
It is possible to clean up mold and eliminate the smell, but unless you also fix the source of the water, it will most likely return. Mold spores are ubiquitous and float in the air, but they can only grow where moisture is present.
A common cause of water damage in homes is leaking pipes. It is easy to miss this problem because the leaks are often hidden behind walls and ceilings. However, if you notice a stain on the wall or a musty odor, this may indicate a leak.
If you suspect a leak, be sure to check the crawl spaces and pipe chases of older buildings. These areas can contain toxic materials and may require special cleanup techniques. If you enter these areas, it is important to wear PPE and use a decontamination chamber or airlock to prevent the movement of mold spores between contaminated and uncontaminated areas. Oxygen testing should be used to ensure that there is an adequate supply of oxygen in confined spaces.
Cleaning Up the Water Damage
If you have a lot of mold or damp building materials, it’s important to act quickly. Mold damages whatever it grows on, and the longer it remains, the more damage it can cause.
It’s best to hire a professional mold remediation company that follows EPA guidelines. They will do air and surface tests to make sure that all of the mold is gone before you reoccupy your home.
The EPA’s mold remediation guidelines are designed to help mold remediators select appropriate methods and containment procedures for various situations. Remediators should always use professional judgment to adapt these guidelines to their particular circumstances. It’s also essential to protect remediators and building occupants from exposure to mold by using personal protective equipment. These should include an N-95 respirator, goggles and protective gloves. They should also monitor the area for air quality by using an electronic dust meter. If the meter indicates high levels of spores, they should consider performing additional air sampling and consulting a health professional.
Getting Rid of the Mold
The last step in mold remediation is to kill the spores. This is done by using a special type of bleach solution. It’s important to remember that the bleach will not remove the cosmetic stain discoloration from surface mold, but it will kill the spores so they can’t grow back.
Before beginning any cleanup activities, consult the EPA guide Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings or other guidelines from professional or government organizations. A variety of methods for cleanup are available, depending on the size of the affected area and the type of contaminated materials.
The most important factor in preventing mold growth is moisture control. Scrub moldy surfaces and dry them thoroughly as soon as possible. Repair leaky plumbing and dry all items within 24 hours to discourage further mold growth and prevent a water-mold cycle. Wear rubber gloves, a respirator and goggles when cleaning. Obtain air sampling and mold testing services from a trained professional to assess the level of contamination in your home and to determine the best cleanup procedures.