Indoor area after a mold remediation that looked good but was not successful Mold Clearance Procedures After Mold Cleanup

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Mold clearance inspection & test procedure details. Here we explain and describe in more detail the post remediation mold clearance procedures and testing that should be used after a mold remediation or mold cleanup project.

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CLEARANCE PROCEDURES: to be Used After a Mold Cleanup / Remediation Project

Mold cleanup and seal - nice (C) Daniel FriedmanThis article is part of our series: the Mold Action Guide which provides an easy to understand step-by-step guide for dealing with toxic or allergenic indoor mold and other indoor contaminants: what to do about mold "mildew," moisture, in your house or office, building-related illness, involving your physician, treatment, sick building investigators, reduction of irritants, and special products to help clean buildings and air.

Our page top photo shows a rather pro-forma application of fungicidal sealant paint at a mold remediation project. Given the evidence of half-hearted work during the relatively easy paint job we wondered about the care that had been taken during the more difficult physical cleaning of building surfaces.

Our next mold cleanup job photo (above-left) shows an immaculately and professionally cleaned section of building framing that had also been treated with a sealant spray.

There are no single accepted "pass-fail" criteria for clearance inspections.

  • An expert performing a mold clearance inspection and "test" will examine remediated areas for mold or other allergens and
  • S/he will also inspect other building areas for evidence of spread of contaminated demolition debris or inadequate cleaning if cleaning was recommended for those areas.

A professional onsite post-mold-remediation project clearance inspection and test combines a visual inspection of the extent of removal and cleaning of infected materials/areas with a microscopic examination of surface, dust, air, and/or vacuum samples collected at the property.

Visual Inspection for Demolition & Cleaning Completeness

A visual inspection is performed of both the cleaned area and other building areas. Also see MOLD CLEARANCE TIMING. In the clean-up area we want to know that demolition has been sufficient - that no moldy materials remain, and that all surfaces appear to have been physically cleaned. If a fungicidal sealant was to be applied, we want to see that it was not simply sprayed atop mold and dirt or debris instead of first cleaning those surfaces.

Mold Screening Tests for Effective Cleaning in the Work Area

The clearance inspector will collect mold clearance inspection test samples of physical surfaces which appear to still be moldy or dirty; if all surfaces are clean we will collect at least one settled dust sample from a representative cleaned surface in each major area. We may also collect other screening samples by using air or vacuum sampling methods. But beware; air sampling alone is not a reliable means of screening a building for problems.

Mold Screening Tests for Cross Contamination Outside of the Work Area

Outside of the remediation area we will collect screening samples of suspect surfaces, settled dust, vacuum and/or air samples of representative areas in the building, paying special attention to areas (or equipment such as HVAC systems) which are at particular risk of having been cross-contaminated by inadequate dust containment measures during the cleanup.

General Property Condition

The clearance inspector should also report ongoing conditions which continue to put the building at extra risk of a new mold problem, such as failure to correct various causes of leaks, water entry, and high moisture.

Lab Processing of Mold Clearance Test Samples

Test samples from the site examined in a qualified aerobiology, forensic, or environmental test laboratory using appropriate chemical/stain preparations and a light microscope at magnifications up to 1000X.

Our opinion and that of other microbiologists or aerobiologists regarding the level of cleanliness reflected by fungal samples is based on several existing studies of building contamination, a comparison with the original contamination levels, and our field and laboratory experience examining properties before and after remediation.

U.S. EPA Guidance for Mold Clearance Inspection After a Mold Cleanup

From the US EPA we include this more general advice on the criteria for a mold cleanup job: [Our comments are in brackets]

How Do I Know When the Remediation or Cleanup is Finished?

  • You must have completely fixed the water or moisture problem before the cleanup or remediation can be considered finished. [See MOLD PREVENTION GUIDE]
  • You should have completed mold removal.  Visible mold and moldy odors should not be present.  Please note that mold may cause staining and cosmetic damage.  [See MOLD CLEANUP, VISUAL CHARACTERISTICS and see ACCEPTABLE MOLD LEVEL. Remember that no building is mold-free except perhaps inside of a manufacturing "clean room" - mold exists in air everywhere and small amounts of molds will be found in settled dust just about everywhere - don't set a target of "zero mold".]
  • You should have revisited the site(s) shortly after cleanup and it should show no signs of water damage or mold growth.  See MOLD CLEARANCE TIMING.
  • People should have been able to occupy or re-occupy the area without health complaints or physical symptoms.  [See MOLD RELATED ILLNESS GUIDE.]
  • Ultimately, this is a judgment call [and must include an understanding of the original location, extent, type, and cause of mold contamination that was to be removed as well as the chances of other mold contamination in the building that was not addressed]; there is no easy answer. If you have concerns or questions consult our Frequently Asked Questions database and ask a question [or Contact Us directly at] if you don't find what you need.

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