MOLD A BIG PROBLEM WITH RAINS AND HURRICANES IN THE USA By: Afsaneh Mansoori
With unusual weather patterns the United States has had increased building flooding and this has often been combined with power outages, causing warm humid environments ideal for mold growth.
We have developed a report of action plans that is designed for the business executive. This is in addition to the formal report that is written by the individual licensed mold consultants and remediation consultants. This report is considered an overall summary for a typical business executive, so that he or she can get a quick and practical "handle" on what has been done to cure mold in extensive problem sites.
Below is an example of one such report, that I recently assisted in preparation. Both Federal agencies, and Environmental professionals reviewed this "report of action taken" and were most complimentary.
Report of action taken:
This is to confirm that we have taken the following actions to deal with the results of the weather flooding problem of the XXXXXXXXX facility. On XXXXXXXX(date) we received notice that all buildings had passed by ECS environmental.
Upon arrival XXXXXXXX(date), at the facility, we noted that there was still some water present in a few areas of the building modules. Fans were in place to dry the facilities, and within a day, the water was dried up. This was in accordance with point # 1 of the action plan that was dated xxxxx. An inspection was made of all buildings, with physical samples, and air quality samplings taken.
Visual inspections confirmed that there were spots of mold, primarily along the lower sections within the first 18" to 3 foot of the sheet rock. We suspected that this might be a "harmful" mold and tests confirmed that there was black mold in the facility. Our original action plan regarding the facility is noted, with specific actions:
1. We immediately placed air circulation fans in the facility and dry the facility. Our goal to bring the relative humidity down with open fans, until the facility was completely dry and then to operate the air-conditioning to a level to bring the relative humidity to at or below 50%. This step was to inhibit any future growth of mold.
2. At specific identity of visible mold, a mixture of 5% Clorox Bleach with water, or Forster's 4080, or Microban, was applied, and all surfaces was applied with this mixture, using pressure spray tanks. Treatment was applied to exposed walls, and to inner walls, as well as to air conditioning ducts and vents.
3. In areas where it appeared that the mold had entered a porous surface, a pressure tank with or Foster's 4080, or Microban, or in hard cases, hand scrubbing and removal was used, and these areas were then saturated with chemicals to prevent recurrence.
4. Areas for treatment with these chemical compounds:
a. Porous Sheetrock
b. Bathroom walls, floors, and surfaces prone to water saturation and of a "hard to get" nature
c. Brick, haidite block, or wooden surfaces that are porous
After 30 minutes hand wiped these areas dry. Utilized fans to dry these surfaces thoroughly after the wipe down treatment.
5. On areas where sheet-rock walls indicated (behind the wall) mold, that was determined to be hazardous to health or in violation of environmental regulations, then this sheet rock and insulation was removed.
a. All insulation in these wall areas was sprayed with the 5% Clorox solution, or Forster's 4080, or Microban and then placed in plastic bags and sealed and removed from premises.
b. We sprayed the back of the sheet rock with the 5% Clorox solution or Forster's 4080, or Microban as soon as it was exposed, and the sheet rock was placed in plastic bags, that are sealed and removed from the premises.
c. Workers wore protective gear and face breathing masks to protect against breathing the mold spores.
d. Appropriate shielding and "enclosure" of work area were utilized to assure no spread or migration of pollution.
5-B. The entire facility was mopped or or wiped down with a 5% Clorox/water mixture, mixed with a Lysol "anti sporal" or similar detergent, Forster's 4080, or Microban and all surfaces allowed to completely dry immediately thereafter.
6. All areas that had a humidity level of over 50% were blown and dried by fans, remote circulation fans, and all penetrations that could allow possible water or humidity in the facility were sought out and we advised building construction/repair crews to seal all penetrations after interiors were clean and dry.
7. All air conditioning/heating filters were replaced. We strongly recommended new HEPA filters, because even though a chemical solution was sprayed in the A/C system, HEPA filters can vastly reduce airborne mold particles and work as a preventative. If HEPA filters are not installed, then there is a higher possibility, in our opinion, of mold recurrence.
8. During the remediation another torrential rain hit the area, and we noted some water overflowed into the building. We advised construction crews to put in "French drains" or barriers, and made observations to the interior cavity of the exterior walls. We did not observe active mold there, but in an abundance of caution introduced Clorox and Microban, as a preventative measure. We also advised building repair crews to provide circulation fans to dry the exterior wall cavity to prevent future mold, and to build French drains or build up water barriers.
9. Floors, bed surfaces and wall surfaces were sprayed, mopped, or wiped down, with the 5% solution, or Forster's 4080, or Microban.
10. After a thorough cleaning and purification of the facility, using the Clorox solution, Forster's 4080, or Microban in accordance with appropriate protocol, then air quality tests, and spot testing throughout the facility were conducted to test for a presence of mold in the air system.
11. A second series of tests were taken on all buildings, and building A and J were found to be within regulated levels, and "cleared" by the licensed consultant. Air born mold spores were identified and the four environmental firms working on this project, Certified Environmental, A & F Environmental, Amex Companies and Enviro Consulting System Inc., agreed that the air ducts should be sanitized and treated by a professional air duct remediation company. xxxxxx was mobilized and sent their team. They wire brushed and wiped the full interiors of the ducts and air conditioning systems down, cleaned coils, replaced filters, and treated the system with an ionization ozone air purification process, using a negative pressure system. They also reviewed "drip condensation pans" treated them with chemicals and notified building maintenance, if any required repair.
12. We then did a full visual and surface inspection, with tests as considered necessary. No visible remaining mold was observed in the facility. Exterior wall cavities were physically inspected in numerous check points, and no visible mold observed.
13. New walls (sheet-rock) were installed and inspected.
13-b In areas where high humidity may be recurrent, local permanent individual circulation fans may be appropriate to provide air circulation, particularly behind or near walls subject to exposure to high humidity.
14. Air conditioning balance and pressure should be monitored and adjusted to assure that the air system prevents moisture from penetrating or entering the facility because of negative pressure.
15. Maintenance crews will be informed that floors and surfaces should be clean and dry except when mopped with a 5% Clorox or other chemical mold preventative.
(Building owners were notified that Air condensation drip-page pan collectors were purified with a Clorox solution, or Forster's 4080, or Microban , and this should be a regular maintenance practice and new pans should be put in place where necessary if there are signs of condensation or dripping.)
16. Rips, torn roofing, ceilings, wall materials were repaired and sealed to assure no further leakage into the facility.
17. Additional ventilation fans, or more powerful ventilation fans, or a higher intensity air conditioning protocol was advised to be utilized, especially to maintain a low humidity level, as needed.
18. Shower walls were replaced with a system with appropriate flashing to assure that moisture flows into drains, not into wall cavities. Also replacement wall materials were "water resistant" or "hardboard".
19. We recommended and confirmed replacement of glues with Silicon or water proof adhesives.
20. During our presence on site , we assured that all interiors of ducts were dry, and a precautionary spray of 5% Clorox or Forster's 4080, or Microban is introduced to interior of air ducts, and also to wall surfaces near the floor where water had previously been observed to be prevalent.
21. Samples and testing of mold with surface tests and air quality tests were performed to determine the type, risk, danger, and concentrations of mold in the facility. Representative chart analysis, indicated substantial reductions in mold concentrations, and substantial eliminations of harmful mold such as Stachy (Black Mold)
22. We noted some indication of dampness in membranes of some inner "insulation" or surfaces. Efforts were made to dry these areas. Also the building contractor built drainage ditches or dikes to push water away form the exterior walls of the structures. We should note that if there was no evidence of mold, and temperature and humidity levels were reduced, that we applied a chemical treatment in accordance to protocol as a preventative for mold or bacteria, so that a friendly environment for mold would not exist.
23. A third series of air tests of all buildings not previously "cleared" was made xxxxxx, with follow up testing on the xxxxx(date).. All results with every test showed vastly decreased mold, with slides showing no Stachi "hits", and the buildings were cleared by the licensed Environmental consultant.
Review of Center for Disease Control Protocol for Remediation (the following direct from CDC with Italics added for our comments):
"How Do You Know When You Have Finished Remediation/Cleanup?
1. You must have completely fixed the water or moisture problem. (Interviews with building officials of Hale Mills assure us that proper steps have been taken)
2. You should complete mold removal. Use professional judgment to
determine if the cleanup is sufficient. Visible mold, mold-damaged
materials, and moldy odors should not be present. (All mold professionals agree
that physical and chemical clean up is sufficient as of September 19th, 2008)
3. If you have sampled, the kinds and concentrations of mold and mold
spores in the building should be similar to those found outside, once
cleanup activities have been completed. (done, mold lab tests confirm)
4. You should revisit the site(s) shortly after remediation, and it should
show no signs of water damage or mold growth. (done, repeated, almost
daily inspections have been made)
5. People should be able to occupy or re-occupy the space without
health complaints or physical symptoms. (done)
6. Ultimately, this is a judgment call; there is no easy answer. (in the judgment of professionals this is done)"
We recommend the following if you wish to achieve continued mold suppression:
1. Air filters on all air conditioning systems be replaced immediately and monthly with HEPA filters. This is basic, and important to prevent a recurrence. Standard Fiberglass filters do not capture mold spores.
2. All surfaces of the interior of the building should be kept dry, and when mopped should be mopped with a 5% Clorox added to the standard Lysol "Anti sporal" floor detergent in water.
3. Humidity must be kept at 55% or lower, through appropriate circulation and air conditioning, and temperatures must be kept at below 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Any water spills, penetrations or floods, should be immediately dried, and Clorox or Microban should be applied to any insulation, walls, Sheetrock or surfaces that might be wet, or might not quickly dry, as a preventative measure.
5. Alternative for your consideration: Ionization (periodic Ozone treatment of the interior of the facilities will tend to reduce and eliminate air particulates. If possible to vacate the buildings for a 2 hour treatment), on a periodic basis. This is a good alternative ongoing treatment process, and the ozone can even be blown into wall cavities with hoses to eliminate development of particulate matter in the air. This can be an optional regular maintenance to improve air quality.
6. Vents to be installed to allow circulation of exterior wall cavities, near top of roof and on lower areas to allow flow of air from lower levels with chimney effect to upper part of building.
7. Condensation traps should be installed near A/C ducts to catch condensation due to humid conditions of the area near the gulf coast. The areas around A/C exterior units should be periodically treated with Microban or Clorox, to suppress potential growth of molds in these areas. Suggest continued periodic review of exterior wall cavities to be sure they are clean and dry.
We should note, that in any building, if there is lingering moisture, or dampness, with continual temperatures of 78 degrees or higher, and constant high humidity, the chances of recurrence of mold is highly possible. We cannot over-emphasize the importance of the buildings to be kept clean, dry and free of leaks or water penetrations. Buildings that had repeated flooding from storms such as may require attention to assure no further moisture enters the premises. But we are pleased to report that even these buildings indicated no "Stachi" on xxxxx(date). We noted on one early test result, total particulate matter exceeded 23,280 on one slide, and this (including pollen, lint, smudge) reduced particulates to XXXXX(number), (with "0" stachi") in the test of xxxxx(date). The professional cleared the buildings as of xxxx(date). Furthermore, we were pleased when final tests indicated no black mold on test results. We again stress, the 7 recommendations cited above to avoid recurrence.
The above actions and recommendations have been approved and certified by A& F Environmental, and signed off by Enviro Consulting (both licensed by the State of Texas). We enclose copies of other information, photos and exhibits in the body of this report. We appreciate the opportunity to have been of service.
Certified Environmental Inspectors, (Environmental Solutions)
Associate and on site Project Mgr: xxxxxxxxxx(NAME), Senior Mold Consultant, Texas License MACO322 exp: 2/21/2010
Contractor: XXXXX(NAME), Environmental Mold Remediation Contractor: Texas License MRCO316 exp: 11/16/08
Mold Remediation Sub-Contractor xxxxx(NAME), Texas Licensed, from Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
It should be noted that levels of cladosporium, was high, but this is considered a harmless mold, offering no evidence of mortal danger. This mold is present in every house, garden, yard and building. Every human breathes this mold constantly. It is also called "Sheet rock" mold or "Garden mold" because it is found on the paper covering of sheet rock, or naturally in most gardens and flower beds.
Penicillium and Aspergillus, are white and sometimes dark molds, related to the mold that some medicines are derived from. These also are considered "less offensive" molds by research. Penicillium is also called the "cheese worker's mold" since those who work in cheese plants often get colds or allergies from the mold that grows on cheeses. There are those who have a high allergy, or sensitivity to these molds, and can become ill from these molds, but normally (in the mainstream population) it is among individuals who already have a immune system problem. There is no guarantee, or no way to protect humans, or buildings from every and all mold spores, and levels of mold constantly change in every environment. Therefore science must combined with judgment to evaluate mold issues.
Note these comments from the Center for Disease Control:
(From Centers for Disease Control, CDC)
What is Aspergillus?
Aspergillus is a fungus (or mold) that is very common in the environment. It is found in soil, on plants and in decaying plant matter. It is also found in household dust, building materials, and even in spices and some food items. There are lots of different types of Aspergillus, but the most common ones are Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus flavus. Some others are Aspergillus terreus, Aspergillus nidulans, and Aspergillus niger.
How is Aspergillus spread?
Since Aspergillus is so common in the environment, most people breathe in Aspergillus spores every day. It is probably impossible to completely avoid breathing in some Aspergillus spores. For people with healthy immune systems, this does not cause harm, and the immune system is able to get rid of the spores. But for people with compromised immune systems, breathing in Aspergillus spores, especially breathing in a lot of spores (such as in a very dusty environment) can lead to infection. Studies have shown that invasive aspergillosis can occur during building renovation or construction. Outbreaks of Aspergillus skin infections have been traced to contaminated biomedical devices.
One example of mold reduction levels that has to be considered is the overall particulate matter (which includes pollen, lint, smut) and the total particulate matter includes all spores (living and dead) and includes harmless cladosporium as well
as all other particulates such as pollen and smut counted in the laboratory. This is an example of one test.
Total particulates decreased from 23,282, to xxxxx. Of these, most were cladosporium, 0 were Stachi.
In addition to this data, photographs, maps, and other back up research data was included in the report. We have found this format to be most appreciated by business executives dealing with mold and flooding issues. If we can be of help to you, on mold or health issues, let us hear from you. 817 738 9595
Degree in Radiology
Assistant, and Consulting in Health Issues on Environmental Projects