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Concern about indoor exposure to mold has been increasing as the public becomes aware that exposure to mold can cause a variety of health effects and symptoms, including allergic reactions. This article presents guidelines for the remediation/cleanup of mold and moisture problems in schools and commercial buildings; these guidelines include measures designed to protect the health of building occupants and remediators. It has been designed primarily for building managers, custodians, and others who are responsible for commercial building and school maintenance. It should serve as a reference for potential mold and moisture remediators.
Using this document, individuals with little or no experience with mold remediation should be able to make a reasonable judgment as to whether the situation can be handled in-house.
It will help those in charge of maintenance to evaluate an in-house remediation plan or a remediation plan submitted by an outside contractor. Contractors and other professionals who respond to mold and moisture situations in commercial buildings and schools may also want to refer to these guidelines.
Mold Inspection & Investigation
Visual inspection including roof, crawl spaces, walls, basements, attic, cupboard, cabinet, closets, maintenance areas, and other hidden areas.
- Visual inspection around building envelope exterior.
- Moisture meter measurements on suspected areas.
- Sampling Methods: Air Sample, Bulk Sample, Tape Sample, Wall Check or Carpet Check.
- Digital photos of any detected mold.
- Acquisition of bulk or surface samples if visible mold is detected.
- Management of sample handling and analysis.
- Verbal interpretation of results.
- Written preliminary lab results.
- Written interpretation report. (E-mailed to you and send by regular mail)
- Questions about the properties maintenance and damage history.
Moisture Control is the Key to Mold Control
Moisture control is the key to mold control especially those involving large areas of contamination, the remediation plan may include temporary relocation of some or all of the building occupants. The decision to relocate occupants should be considered regarding the size and type of the area affected by mold growth, the type and extent of health effects reported by the occupants, the potential health risks that could be associated with debris, and the amount of disruption likely to be caused by remediation activities. If possible, remediation activities should be scheduled during off-hours when building occupants are less likely to be affected.
Remediators, particularly those with health-related concerns, may wish to check with their doctors or health care professionals before working on mold remediation or investigating potentially moldy areas. If you have any doubts or questions, you should consult a health professional before beginning a remediation project.
Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold. If you suspect that it may be contaminated (it is part of an identified moisture problem, for instance, or there is mold growth near the intake to the system), consult EPA's guide Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? before taking further action.
In some cases, indoor mold growth may not be obvious. It is possible that mold may
be growing on hidden surfaces, such as the backside of dry wall, wallpaper, or paneling,
the top of ceiling tiles, the underside of carpets and pads, etc. Possible locations of
hidden mold can include pipe chases and utility tunnels (with leaking or condensing pipes), walls behind furniture (where condensation forms), condensate drain pans inside
air handling units, porous thermal or acoustic liners inside ductwork, or roof materials above ceiling tiles (due to roof leaks or insufficient insulation). Some building materials, such as dry wall with vinyl wallpaper over it or wood paneling, may act as vapor barriers, trapping moisture underneath their surfaces and thereby providing a moist environment where mold can grow. You may suspect hidden mold if a building smells moldy, but you cannot see the source, or if you know there has been water damage and building occupants are reporting health problems. Investigating hidden mold problems may be difficult and will require caution when the investigation involves disturbing potential sites of mold growth-make sure to use PPE. For
example, removal of wallpaper can lead to a massive release of spores from mold growing on the underside of the paper. If you believe that you may have a hidden mold problem, you may want to consider hiring an experienced professional. If you discover hidden mold, you should revise your remediation plan to account for the total area affected by mold growth.
The remediation plan should include steps to fix the water or moisture problem, or the problem may reoccur. The plan should cover the use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and include steps to carefully contain and remove moldy building materials to avoid spreading the mold. A remediation plan may vary greatly depending on the size and complexity of the job, and may require revision if circumstances change or new facts are discovered.
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