The Fungal Truth: Sorting Fact from Myth in Mold Detection & Removal
If left untreated or undetected, mold and its spores can lead to an unhealthy and potentially hostile living environment for you and your family. You know the old phrase, “out of sight out of mind?” Well, the same principle applies to mold. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. The health and safety of your family are a top priority, and the myths surrounding mold detection and removal can be daunting. Let’s set the facts straight by separating the truth from the fiction when it comes to properly detecting and removing mold in your home.
Mold’s reputation says it can be a complicated matter, but that’s simply not the case. Before we strap our respirator and get our hands dirty, we need to understand a few basic facts of mold remediation.
Before anything can be properly assessed and removed, you must make sure that you have all your safety bases covered. Your goal is to protect not only the occupants of your home but also the workers as well. One of the most common forms of protection would be a respirator, a face mask or breathing filter worn around the mouth and nose. A basic P100 respirator protects against particulates such as dust, mold and spores. P100 refers to the filter inside the respirator and is the absolute minimum when it comes to respiratory protection. Anyone who is going to be inside dealing with the mold directly should wear a respirator at all times.
Whether you are working with harsh chemicals or mold, it is imperative that you wear gloves made of either rubber or nitrite. There are certain species of mold that have been linked to causing dermatitis and nearly all species of mold are capable of causing some type of infection upon contact.
A pair of goggles is also essential to add to your mold safety-tackle box. If you did not invest in a full-face respirator than you’ll to want to wear a pair of goggles. Repeated and excessive exposure to exposed mold can turn eyes red and itchy, possibly leading to infection.
While every step is important when dealing with mold, preventing the possibility of spreading or cross-contamination is a paramount course of action. One part of your home may contain the epicenter of the infestation while the rest of your house seems to be unaffected. It may appear this way, but this is not necessarily the case. Molds are a specific type of fungi that grow in filaments and reproduce by forming spores that travel through the air. The infected area should be sealed off immediately from the rest of the home before any work can begin to avoid its spreading.
Once you start peeling the drywall back and disrupting the peace of the mold behind it, you’re going to send spores flying into the air. These spores travel through the air and land where they may. Depending on the biological conditions, the spores may begin to sprout and grow a new mold colony. This is what we are trying to prevent with contamination control. Polyethylene sheeting is typically hung around the infected area to help prevent the possibility of cross-contamination by keeping the airborne spores contained within the sheeting walls.
So, you found mold, gathered all the proper safety materials needed to properly slay the beast that is the mold infestation in your home, but now what? Thanks to the protection of our safety equipment we can now properly assess the damage and look for entry points. Your goal here is to locate and document all sources where mold has grown; you’re not removing anything yet. You’re simply creating a map of where you need to concentrate your efforts and build a plan on how to best tackle the mold once it comes time for removal.
After a flood, natural disaster or random disrepair at home that leads to your discovery of mold, it is advised to evacuate the area so the remediation can begin almost immediately. Sometimes, however, this will not be the case and you may not have anywhere to go. Situations like this cause people to act on impulse and look for a quick form of remediation by using bleach in an attempt to clean and kill the mold. It should be known that bleach is not a mold killer and should never be used in replacement of one. Bleach is incapable of penetrating the tiny roots of the mold. However, the water in the solution of the bleach can reach the roots and leaves an opportunity for more mold growth in the future.
All visible mold must be removed. It will be difficult removing pieces of drywall while wearing gloves, goggles and a respirator, but your body will thank you for it later. Frequent breaks are encouraged, and you should replace the cartridges in your respirator periodically.
Waterlogged building materials and debris containing mold should be wrapped in polyethylene plastic to prevent infecting any future area the material may come in contact with. Here you can scrub the mold off the walls, floors, and surrounding areas with soap-water and a sponge. Afterward, spray or fog the entire area using an EPA approved fungicide. Two separate applications should be applied to the affected area with proper time for drying in between applications. There are many products available for use that are marketed toward eradicating different types of molds and fungi. If you find yourself curious or in doubt, do not be afraid to check the manufacturer’s website for a list of chemicals that are being used and if they are applicable to your situation.
Once the spraying, fogging or combination of the two has been completed twice, you may then test the air with a mold test kit to ensure that any leftover mold or spores in the air are at a reasonable and healthy level. If the test garners favorable results, you may then apply a fungal sealant to the recently treated areas so the rebuilding process can begin.
This may seem like a lot, but, in the end, you’re going to be saving yourself time and money by doing this yourself. If your home is located in an area or region that is prone to flash flooding or natural disasters, it is advised to keep the aforementioned items on hand and ready in case of emergency. You can easily acquire these items through the fall and winter, just in time for the rains of spring and summer. Time can be your friend or your enemy when it comes to dealing with mold; use it to your advantage.