Home buyers are often justifiably concerned about the presence of mold in a home they might buy. And in today's housing market, with all the short sales and foreclosures of neglected or abused homes, mold is frequently an issue. Therefore, I asked Joe Cascone of Mold Pro to provide some perspective on mold issues. I'm certainly not an authority on the subject (though I am an authority on an incredibly vast array of topics).
How can you have a mold free home? Simply put.... You Can't! Mold is in every home, every workplace and every school. The reason it is in virtually every building structure in the world is that it is in all outdoor environments on the planet. It is estimated that 25% of the earth's biomass is fungi. That is exactly what mold is.... Fungus!
The outdoor air we breathe has many different types of mold spores, so anytime we open a door to walk in or out of a building we let in mold. Every time we open a window to let in some fresh air, various species of fungus make their way into our living space. So, the presence of molds is inevitable. The real problem occurs when we allow our homes, schools and workplaces to be environments that are conducive to mold growth, or colonization.
Mold is alive, moving and consuming. Fungus needs a food source. Any carbon-based material can be a meal. As we know, stale bread, old fruit, wood and paper drywall are all favorite food sources of most molds. But most fungi we find within the building envelope require an elevated level of water to colonize. Mold reproduces and spreads when there is sufficient moisture. Some molds give off that unique musty odor when colonizing. That is why Mold Pro uses four criteria to detect the presence of mold in buildings:
- History of Water Intrusion and/or High Humidity (50%+Rh or 15% moisture content)
- Those Distinct Odors (Old wet building materials, clothes or food)
- Residents, Employees or Students Having Allergy and/or Respiratory Symptoms
- Visible, Blotchy, Circular Discoloration of ANY Color
One of the above would justify lab testing. If you have any combination of two of the above, remediation is necessary. That means that a remedy to kill, remove and prevent future mold growth is in order. It is very important to keep in mind that a Mold-Free Environment is NOT the objective, nor is it even possible to sustain. The objective is "Acceptable Fungal Ecology." Now that is achievable and sustainable!
Elements of Effective Mold Remediation
- Personal Protective Equipment
- HEPA Filtration and Negative Air Pressure
- Misting Fungicide to Kill and Suspend Mold Spores
- Bagging, Removal and Disposal of Porous Materials
- Dehumidification, Abrasive Scouring, and HEPA Vacuuming
- Application of Products that Protect Building Surfaces From Future Mold Growth
- Installation of Building Materials that are Not Organic
- Preventing Water Intrusion and Relative Humidity Levels Above 50%
FYI - Mildew is just another word for mold or fungus. HEPA means High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance