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Safety procedures for mold contamination investigators. Here we cite the importance of using good safety procedures when looking for mold or when cleaning up mold in buildings and we provide links to mold inspection, testing, and
Mold Safety Warnings for Do-It-Yourself'ers & for Occupants of Moldy Buildings
Serious Mold Inspection or Cleanup Mistakes
Here are the most common and most serious mistakes that we encounter when reviewing mold inspection and mold cleanup or "remediation" jobs.
Failure to protect the inspector, worker or occupants from toxic or allergenic mold that may be disturbed and brought to
elevated levels in the building during inspection and testing.
These errors include failure to wear proper protective equipment during
inspection and remediation work, and failure to establish and maintain adequate dust control measures during a mold remediation project.
The second example often results in an extended and unnecessarily costly mold cleanup job, while the first example can lead to temporary
or even more serious illness of the inspector or occupants.
Failure to find and remove the problem mold in a building. Too often, incomplete inspection, incompetent testing, or
hasty "magic bullet" approaches to mold remediation result in incomplete work, and often they even result in removing materials
that were not the mold problem while leaving the problem mold in place.
We have reviewed too many projects for which the building
owners have paid a high fee for work that did little or nothing to remove the mold problem.
Mold Cleanup Project Containment Failures: perhaps the most common mold remediation project failure after failing to properly and thoroughly inspect and diagnose the locations and causes of mold reservoirs prior to starting work, is failure to properly control dust and debris caused by demolition and removal of moldy materials such as carpeting, drywall, or plaster.
Reliance on shortcuts for mold inspection, mold testing, and mold remediation.
Examples are sole reliance on
infra-red inspection or mold sniffing dogs or air tests to find mold in buildings, inadequate dryout methods after flooding in
buildings, and use of bleach or fungicides as a substitute for actual cleaning or removal of problem mold.
Such measures are
ineffective and in some cases, they can be dangerous for building occupants.
are allergic, asthmatic, infant, elderly, immune-impaired, etc., should not disturb mold and should
not be in the area where mold remediation is being performed. Consult with your doctor, health
department or other professional before tackling this job yourself.
Reader Question: is it safe to be in a building during mold restoration? Is raw sewage safe to live around?
Hi: I have three questions:
1. During mold restoration, can I be present in my home or is it considered condemned until all mold is removed?
2. Raw sewage has been dripping in between my walls, ruining cabinets and floors from the unit above me toilet. Is this raw sewage okay to live around along with the mold it caused?
Thank you for a well-informed website.
It was discovered last week that the unit above where I live the sewer pipe has a crack which causes liquids from the toilet to spray when flushed. This spraying has saturated (interior) side of the walls. I cannot tell you how long this has been going on but I know it has been over several months. Initially (during the warmer weather) I smelled like a dead mouse or rat had died but I could never find any remains of an animal.
When a plumber busted open the walls, the walls were saturated and showing clear signs of cluster of black mold in numerous spots. It was just everywhere. The liquid has seeped through the dry wall, under my floors, baseboard, cabinets, and behind the tile walls in my bathroom. My floors were seeping liquid through the seams.
To make things worse, every time I am home I feel nauseated, confused, and I feel like I have the flu or the onset of a terrible cold. I never I had any breathing problems my entire life but recently I was diagnosed with Bronchitis twice within six months. I am really wondering if these damages are causing my health problems. To make matters worse I have black flies which I Goggled and these flies are called sewer flies.
The flies were my biggest indication that I had major problems. Can people live around such bacteria without problems? Are my health problems for real? If I ever get a restoration clean-up for the mold can I still live there while the mold is being treated? - Y.D. 12/2/2013
Reply: maybe but in some cases no, and no.
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that would permit a more accurate, complete, and authoritative answer than we can give by email alone. You will find additional depth and detail in articles at our website.
That said I offer these comments:
1. Can you remain in your home during mold cleanup?
No one can reliably and honestly answer your first question as posed because the email contains not a shred of information about the mold conditions in your home.
But a *general* answer is that a small mold cleanup project (less than 30 sq.ft.) is typically performed by a homeowner or handyman without special precautions.
Larger areas of mold remediation that require professional attention almost always must also include steps to isolate the contaminated work area from the rest of the building, if for no other reason than to avoid spreading moldy dust throughout the building thus causing a still-larger cleanup project.
In a perfect world of perfect dust containment, negative air in the work area and similar measures, and in a perfect world where nobody accidentally turns off a fan or knocks down a plastic barrier, the remainder of the building should be safe for normal occupants.
But even in the best of cases, if a building is occupied by elderly, infant, asthmatic, immune-impaired or similarly vulnerable people, anybody with an ounce of sense will ask that they be out of the building before, during and even after the mold cleanup project until the building has passed a successful post-remediation inspection and test.
Consult your doctor: given your description of the contamination in your home and of your building-related health complaints, it would make sense to consult your own doctor for advice as soon as you can.
Small areas of mold, if that's all you've got, say less than 30 sqft of contiguous moldy material, are usually handled as a normal cleanup job without heroic efforts, For a small or DIY mold cleanup project see
Larger areas of mold contamination, or if a larger area is discovered in cleaning the small one, do indeed merit professional cleaning. When a professional mold cleanup job seems to be needed, these articles will be helpful
Again I have not a shred of information about the location nor extent of sewage contamination so I can only answer in very general terms: raw sewage contamination in a building is a source of pathogens that can cause serious illness in occupants.
It may not be obvious, but bacterial and viral pathogens can, for example, become airborne as microdroplets or even as attached to fine airborne dust during building cleanup.
In sum, from your follow-up notes expanding your description it sounds as if the home suffered substantial water leakage, mold contamination is likely to be widespread, and sewage contamination is present. If so there are likely to be significant health hazards present.
Watch out: on moving contents out of a water, mold or sewage contaminated building that you do not simply carry contaminants along somewhere else;
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The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
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Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, have provided us with (and we recommend) Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates' Technical Reference Guide to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
Kansas State University, department of plant pathology, extension plant pathology web page on wheat rust fungus: see http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/path-ext/factSheets/Wheat/Wheat%20Leaf%20Rust.asp
"A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home",
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency US EPA - includes basic advice for building owners, occupants, and mold cleanup operations. See http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.htm
US EPA - Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Building [Copy on file at /sickhouse/EPA_Mold_Remediation_in_Schools.pdf ] - US EPA
US EPA - Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo [Copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Moho_Guia_sp.pdf - en Espanol
Associations: Sick House, Sick Building, SBS - Air Quality, Government, Private Associations and Information Resources
Atlas of Clinical Fungi, 2nd Ed., GS deHoog, J Guarro, J Gene, & MJ Figueras, Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures, Universitat Rovira I Virgili, 2000, ISBN 90-70351-43-9 (you can buy this book at Amazon) - The Atlas of Clinical Fungi is also available on CD ROM
"A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home", U.S. Environmental Protection Agency US EPA - includes basic advice for building owners, occupants, and mold cleanup operations. See http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.htm
"Disease Prevention in Home Vegetable Gardens,"
Department of Plant Microbiology and Pathology,
Department of Horticulture, University of Missouri Extension - extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G6202
Fifth Kingdom, Bryce Kendrick, ISBN13: 9781585100224, is available from the InspectAPedia online bookstore - we recommend the CD-ROM version of this book. This 3rd/edition is a compact but comprehensive encyclopedia of all things mycological. Every aspect of the fungi, from aflatoxin to zppspores, with an accessible blend of verve and wit. The 24 chapters are filled with up-to-date information of classification, yeast, lichens, spore dispersal, allergies, ecology, genetics, plant pathology, predatory fungi, biological control, mutualistic symbioses with animals and plants, fungi as food, food spoilage and mycotoxins.
Ozone Warnings - Use of Ozone as a "mold" remedy is ineffective and may be dangerous.
Rot concerns in buildings-some building mold such as Meruliporia incrassata "Poria" risks serious rot and hidden structural damage
US EPA: Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo [Copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Moho_Guia_sp.pdf - en Espanol
OTHER IAQ ISSUES: How To Find and Address Other Indoor Air or Indoor Environment Contaminants Besides Mold
Mold or allergens may not be the only or even the main indoor environmental contaminant. Don't let media attention to mold
cause so much enviro-scare fear that other, possibly more urgent hazards go un-addressed.
Rodents, Mice, Squirrel Control - I find high levels of mouse and rodent dander, fecal dust, and urine-contaminated dust in some buildings,
and high levels of these materials in building insulation in those locations. If you have a mouse problem, particularly if mice and their waste (fecals or urine) are contaminating
the building HVAC or building insulation, may need both steps to clean up or remove infected materials and steps to stop an ongoing
rodent problem. If squirrels are a problem, the cleanup needs to include closing off entry openings into the building. Get some
help from a licensed pest control expert.