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A Mold Recovery Blog
Thursday, January 18 2018

By: Guest Blogger: Elliot Wells, MoldBadger.com

Deciding whether to remediate mold or abandon the premises is one of the toughest decisions our clients make. Molds and the mycotoxins they create are nature’s equivalent of chemical weapons. That said, if you own your home, walking away isn’t always an option. This article covers mold testing, mold remediation basics, and the ugly truths of the remediation industry.

Most mold issues are invisible to the human eye and only show themselves with a thorough inspection coupled with proper mold testing.

So maybe you’ve been suffering from various physical symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, red or itchy eyes, headaches, brain-fog, and fatigue; in doing your research you determine mold to be a likely culprit. The next step is to get accurate mold testing.

Not all tests are equal, and the over-the-counter petri-dish tests you get at Lowes are not going to cut it. That’s because mold spores are everywhere in small quantities, and swabbing a surface will of course confirm the presence of mold spores, healthy home or not.

These over-the-counter tests are great for confirming the species of visible mold growth, but Mold Badger’s favorite tests are ERMI testing with a dust cloth, air testing because it shows what you are breathing in and swabs to cover large areas that will give you an estimate of the “moldiness” of a structure. You can learn everything about mold testing here.

A good air test should answer:

  1. How many spores are in the air? How does the indoor air compare to that outside?

  2. What are the species of mold and in what quantities per unit of air?

Professional mold testing is almost always required to quantify the problem and unfortunately to prove to other parties that a problem exists and that you aren’t a hypochondriac. We hear this doubt cast all the time by landlords, friends, and family .

  • Are you sure it’s not a cold?”
  • Are you sure it’s not allergies?”
  • Could you be imagining all these mold symptoms?”

It’s sad, but true. To confront the problem you will need evidence that only proper testing provides.

Furthermore, if you are renting, professional testing is required to break the lease. Mold Badger is not an attorney.  The  Surviving Toxic Mold website has started a page for attorneys who specialize in mold cases. 

A landlord is required to provide a safe and habitable property and, although you may have to go to court to present evidence, the presence of significant mold can be cause to break a lease.

If you own the property, you still need to leave while you figure out how to deal with the problem. Stay with friends, family, or at a hotel or short-term rental if you can afford it. The important thing is to remove yourself from the toxic environment. You will see your symptoms improving almost immediately, although the road to full health is a long one.

The mold remediation industry is still fairly young and filled with professionals of varying degrees of competence. The trick is to know what makes a professional competent and to get multiple quotes to try to get a common assessment of what needs to be remediated and what it will cost .

Indicators of contractor competency:

  1. Make sure they are using PPE (Personal protective equipment) such tyvek suits, full-face respirators, and latex gloves. If they aren’t concerned enough to protect themselves properly, they are not going to protect you and your family.

  2. Proper containment: If you think you have a problem now, wait until you have a remediator remove mold-infested drywall and carry it through your house or until the air from the disturbed area carries spores through your HVAC system into the rest of your house. Any areas where remediation work is going on need to be sealed off from the rest of the house.All materials should be double-bagged and wiped down before being removed. Better yet, remove material via an exterior window if possible. In larger work areas, a negative pressure system is required. That means the air flows into the work space (where it is then vented out) and not the other way around, so you don’t have to worry about spores and mycotoxins wafting into the rest of your home.

  3. Make sure any porous surfaces in affected areas such as carpet, fabrics, and furniture are removed and properly disposed of. It can be tempting to try to clean or shampoo, but given the nature of spores and mycotoxins, these surfaces will never truly be clean. Depending on the scale of the problem, this could be only one room, but we have had clients leave everything they own to try to get away from the mycotoxins. In the end, your body and health are your most important assets.

  4. Chemicals used: The irony of using harsh, poisonous chemicals to deal with toxic molds is not lost on us, but it is the norm. Do not hesitate to ask the contractor for a full list of all chemicals used in their process. We could write a book about all of the various options, but do your research and ask if there is a way to use greener alternatives. The Mold Badger loves Borax-based solutions to treat mold spores and ozonating the environment. Ozone is essentially the oxygen we breathe with an extra oxygen atom, making it highly reactive. It is one of the few treatments that has no known long-term residue and is potent enough to deal with mycotoxins.

  5. Source of the moisture: Mold is all about the moisture. Whether it is from a roof leak, plumbing leak, improper ventilation, or one of the many ways water can enter a home, you must deal with the cause. There is nothing worse than going through a remediation, only to have the moisture return and the problem repeat itself.

 

Just remember, your health is more important than a house. If you suspect a mold issue, get it tested immediately and stay elsewhere if possible. Be careful that any belongings you bring with you aren’t covered in mold. Once you have the issue dealt with professionally, you can sell your house or move back in if you are comfortable with the remediation. If you are renting, consider finding a new place.

 

Best of luck and check out moldbadger.com for more information on the pitfalls of mold testing and remediation.

Posted by: Guest Blogger: Elliot Wells, MoldBadger.com AT 06:40 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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