Mold Removal Guide:
Step 3 - Secure the Area of Mold Remediation
After a professional inspection to determine any areas that are affected by mold, the next step, the important 3rd step, is to secure and contain all affected areas prior to beginning any mold removal efforts. Mold spores are easily disturbed and will become airborne. It then becomes possible for residents and workers to inhale them, which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states may result in many different adverse health affects. In addition, when mold spores become airborne, those spores have the potential to contaminate previously unaffected areas or rooms of the building. Our mold remediation specialists from Mold KO will always begin our remediation process by establishing the appropriate containment of the mold-affected area so that the mold is secured and completely isolated from the rest of your home or building.
Four Reasons to Isolate Areas Before Mold Removal
The goal of any containment measure is to limit the spread of mold throughout the building, while at the same time minimizing the possible exposure to occupants and remediation workers. The most important reasons for efficient containment are as follows:
- Reason #1: EPA compliance requires containment. Containment is described as either limited or full, depending upon sound professional judgment of the situation at hand.
- Reason #2: Containment will limit the spread of mold and mold spores. During removal, mold spores are disturbed and become airborne. Once in the air they can travel through the air or HVAC systems to areas of the building that were previously unaffected.
- Reason #3: Secures occupants health due to mold exposure. Airborne mold spores can enter the body through breathing, skin absorption, and ingestion, as well as through contact with open wounds.
- Reason #4: Containment establishes a safe working environment. Workers are just as much at risk to mold exposure as building occupants, and actually more so.
The Mold Containment Process
The first step in mold containment involves placing HEPA-filtered, negative air machines in the affected area. These machines are often times vented to the outside of the structure so that they create negative air pressure in the confined spaces affected by mold. Because they contain HEPA filters, these machines will continuously clean any air that passes through them. Because of the negative air pressure they create, air constantly attempts to flow into the confined area, preventing the escape of any airborne mold spores.
For limited mold containment areas, those with areas consisting of between 10 and 100 square feet, we use 6-mil fire-retardant polyethylene sheeting and duct tape. For full containment, areas of over 100 square feet, or areas where mold contamination is extensive, we use a double layer of 6-mil fire-retardant polyethylene sheeting and duct tape.
Once the area is under containment, we erect an airlock entrance/exit. This airlock is erected inside a smaller contained area that will act as a "clean room" between the contaminated area and an unaffected area. The entryways are slits in the polyethylene sheeting and are covered on each side by secondary polyethylene sheets. This "clean room" is an area where workers can don and remove personal protective equipment before entering or exiting the containment.
Next, all air supply and return vents, doors, windows, and pipe chases inside the contained area must be sealed. This will be done with 6-mil polyethylene sheeting and tape. Sealing these vents and openings will help to maintain the negative air pressure within the containment. It is recommended that a manometer, a specialized meter that measures air pressure differentials, be used to ensure the integrity of the negative air pressure inside the containment, as well as the level of negative pressure being produced. Too much negative pressure can lead to the influx of harmful pollutants into the chamber that can put workers and building occupants at risk.
Once containment work has been completed, it will be safe to begin the removal of any affected property and structural components affected by the mold. Anything that can't be cleaned at a reasonable cost, should be removed and properly discarded.
Once the remediation process is completed, and before removing any containment, all HVAC system filters, along with filters in negative air machines and dehumidifiers used by the remediation company, need to be bagged for disposal and replaced. Also, clearance testing should be done at this time to certify that the mold has been completely removed and it is safe for repairs to be started and for occupants to reenter the area.
Protective Equipment Our Techs Are Required to Use During Mold Removal
Personal protective equipment is a must when remediating mold. At the minimum our techs wear the following OSHA-recommended PPE:
- Non-vented goggles for eye protection
- Rubber or latex gloves to prevent mold contact with the skin
- Disposable coveralls
- Half-face or full-face N-95 respirator
For large-scale mold concentrations our techs will wear all of the above but will wear disposable full-body coveralls that cover both the head and feet. The respirators used will be equipped with OSHA-recommended N-95 or P-100 cartridges (OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.134).
What Can Happen If We DO NOT Secure the Area of Mold Remediation?
Containment is the fundamental part of any mold remediation. Containment ensures that any mold found in the affected areas does not spread into other areas of a building. Improper containment can have a multitude of adverse effects:
- Risk of contaminating areas previously unaffected by mold.
- Cross-contamination can lead to additional time-consuming cleanup efforts and greater out-of-pocket expenses.
- Additional damage to personal property and furnishings.
- According to the Mayo Clinic, uncontained mold spores can cause numerous adverse health effects on occupants. Those groups most at risk to mold exposure include infants and small children, the elderly, pregnant women, and immune suppressed individuals, such as cancer patients, people who have received organ transplants, people with HIV, etc. Adverse health effects can include: runny nose, scratchy throat, nausea, itchy irritated eyes, skin rashes, allergic reactions, the onset of asthma episodes
Why Use Professional Mold Removal Services Instead of DIY?
One of the most commonly overlooked aspects of mold remediation is the importance of establishing secure containment before beginning the mold's removal. Simply stirring the air by slowly and gently waving your hand, one time, near an active mold colony can cause mold spores to become airborne and spread throughout a home or building. Many homeowners aren't aware of the respiratory issues that can be involved and the health consequences if the mold is not contained and removed in a manner that meets stringent EPA standards. Depending on the type of mold present, and in some cases the result of any mold exposure can be life threatening. Reactions can be sudden, or can worsen due to the length of time of the exposure.
DIY individuals, often in the hope of saving money, think that all they need for protection to remove mold is a pair of gloves and a dust mask. By not completely sealing off of affected areas from unaffected ones, sealing off HVAC systems, and monitoring air pressure differentials, These DIYers run the risk of unwittingly spreading the mold throughout the home and exposing themselves and their families to further mold exposure and contamination.
Why Use Mold KO's Professional Mold Containment and Removal Services?
With our professional services, you can rest assured that there will be no harm to you and your family's health, and no further damages to your possessions or property. We are a licensed and certified mold remediation company. Our technicians receive continuous training in the importance and the proper techniques required for successful mold containment and remediation.
If you want the mold to be completely contained and safely removed, you need the experienced pros from Mold KO.