Indoor Mold Contamination Emergency?
What to Do & When to Hire a Professional
DEFINITION of MOLD EMERGENCY - CONTENTS: how do I know if the mold in my building should be handled as an emergency? What difference does that make?
POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to decide if a mold, odor or other indoor air emergency exists, what to do in an emergency, and how to determine if professional mold inspection & testing are needed
How to Identify a Building Mold Emergency, Odor Emergency, or Indoor Air Quality Emergency
Watch out: because individual health risks and site conditions vary widely, no publication can always identify nor solve all problems caused by indoor air contamination.
If you believe that an indoor air quality or contamination emergency exists, get out of the building and seek professional help from emergency services such as dialing 911 from a telephone outside of and away from the building. See IAQ EMERGENCY STEPS for four key actions to take.
But here we provide assistance that will help in identifying an emergency and more assistance that will help determine when you need to hire a professional.
Even a non-emergency situation may require expert professional advice on diagnosis of problem causes and procedures to clean up mold or to remedy other IAQ issues.
At page top and above left we show examples of severe indoor mold contamination. In the extremely mold-contaminated building shown at page top there is no question that if this building had been occupied, it should not be. In an interesting technical experiment the author tested every surface of every different type of building material found inside the structure. The results were interesting: different mold genera/species had strong preferences for different materials (no surprise). These variations underscore the importance of strategic sample location selection when screening less obviously contaminated buildings for mold. For example I found completely different mold genera/species growing on the surface of a hollow-core luan interior door than on its edges.
Definition of Mold Emergency: Five Conditions Indicating an Indoor Mold, Odor, or Gas Emergency
The US EPA identifies five conditions that require immediate or "emergency" response [we have added a few items]: 
Breathing difficulties that are widespread among building occupants, such as shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, or respiratory irritation. [An individual with breathing difficulties is an individual emergency but may not represent a building emergency.] Also see MOLD RELATED ILLNESS SYMPTOMS
Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms: sounding of a CO detector alarm, or [apparently building-related] headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea and combustion odors from heating equipment such as a heating boiler, furnace, or a fireplace, coalstove, or woodstove.
Flooded or water-damaged carpeting. [Note that the "emergency" here is the need for quick response to prevent a more costly mold contamination problem in the building.] Also see CARPET MOLD CONTAMINATION and FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP. [If you see a large area of mold in the building, more than 30 square feet of contiguous mold such as the black mold on drywall in a flooded basement shown in our photo (above left), you will need a professional to evaluate and another to correct the problem.]
Obvious life-threatening emergencies such as [a sounding smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, or other evidence of a carbon monoxide danger or an actual fire in the building], hazardous material spills, [or warnings by officials of an earthquake, tsunami, flooding, or similar disaster that is imminent]
Watch out: a mold-related indoor IAQ emergency condition may exist but may be less obvious, as we explain below.
In the moldy book photo shown at above-left we illustrate a more subtle but serious indoor mold condition. In an in-use basement library area we found books that from a distance just looked "a little moldy". But the air disturbance caused by merely walking past these books sent visible clouds of green Aspergillus sp. mold spores into the air in extemely high concentrations - a condition we verified in our laboratory
Worse, when the remediators installed rapid dehumidifying equipment, the sudden plummet in indoor humidity so excited the Aspergillus that it sent still much higher levels or spores into building air. Proper dust and mold containment measures were very important at this building to avoid jeapordizing people occupying the in-use upper floors.
If you are not sure if a mold emergency exists
Additional information helpful in deciding if an emergency condition exists can be read at
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 Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. (727) 595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com Technical review, text clarification, 03/31/2009
 "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
 US EPA - Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Building [ copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Mold_Remediation_in_Schools.pdf ] - US EPA
 "Indoor Air Quality Problem Solving Wheel", U.S. EPA (included in  above. EPA Telephone for IAQ information & publications: 800-438-4318 S/N 055-000-00390-4
Allergens: Testing for the level of exposure to animal allergens is discussed at http://www.animalhealthchannel.com/animalallergy/diagnosis.shtml (lab animal exposure study is interesting because it involves a higher exposure level in some cases
Allergens: WebMD discusses allergy tests for humans at webmd.com/allergies/allergy-tests
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
"Disease Prevention in Home Vegetable Gardens," Patricia Donald, Department of Plant Microbiology and Pathology, Lewis Jett
Department of Horticulture, University of Missouri Extension - extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G6202
"IgG Food Allergy Testing by ELISA/EIA, What do they really tell us?" Sheryl B. Miller, MT (ASCP), PhD, Clinical Laboratory Director, Bastyr University Natural Health Clinic - ELISA testing accuracy: Here is an example of Miller's critique of ELISA http://www.betterhealthusa.com/public/282.cfm - Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients
The critique included in that article raises compelling questions about IgG testing assays, which prompts our interest in actually screening for the presence of high levels of particles that could carry allergens - dog dander or cat dander in the case at hand.
http://www.tldp.com/issue/174/IgG%20Food%20Allergy.html contains similar criticism in another venue but interestingly by the same author, Sheryl Miller. Sheryl Miller, MT (ASCP), PhD, is an Immunologist and Associate Professor of Basic and Medical Sciences at Bastyr University in Bothell, Washington. She is also the Laboratory Director of the Bastyr Natural Health Clinic Laboratory.
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
"Management of Powdery Mildew, Leveillula taurica, in Greenhouse Peppers," Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, British Columbia - Original source: www.agf.gov.bc.ca/cropprot/peppermildew.htm
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.
MOLD in BUILDINGS Procedure: what mold is often found where in buildings - simple technical presentation
Rot concerns in buildings-some building mold such as Meruliporia incrassata "Poria" risks serious or Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo [Copy on file as /sickhouse/EPA_Moho_Guia_sp.pdf Una Breva Guia a Moho - Hongo - en Espanol
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
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.
Or choose the The Home Reference eBook for PCs, Macs, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or Android Smart Phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAEHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.