Mold assessment and Mold remediation are techniques used in occupational health: mold assessment is the process of identifying the location and extent of the mold hazard in a structure, and mold remediation is the process of removal and/or cleanup of mold from an indoor environment.
It has been estimated that 40 percent of United States homes have some form of mold problem.
The problems with mold usually stem from the symptoms and health effects resulting from indoor mold exposure. There is public awareness that exposure to mold can cause adverse health effects, symptoms, and possible allergic reactions. Health professionals are often tasked with the investigation and/or assessment of these health effects on employees and/or the public.
Molds and fungi are found everywhere inside and outside, and can grow on almost any substance when moisture is present. Molds when they reproduce make spores, which can be carried by air currents. When these spores land on a moist surface that is suitable for life, they begin to grow. Molds are essential to the natural breakdown of organic materials in the environment. Mold is normally found indoors at levels that do not affect most healthy individuals. When these levels become abnormally high as determined by indoor air quality testing or a mold inspection, remediation is recommended to be carried out by a professional remediation company.
The first step in an assessment is to determine if mold is present. This is done by visually examining the premises. If mold is growing and visible this helps determine the level of remediation that is necessary. If mold is actively growing and is visibly confirmed the need for sampling for specific species of mold is unnecessary.
Three types of air sampling include but are not limited to:
- Air sampling: the most common form of sampling to asses the level of mold. Sampling of the inside and outdoor air is conducted and the results to the level of mold spores inside the premises and outside are compared. Often, air sampling will provide positive identification of the existence of non-visible mold.
- Surface samples: sampling the amount of mold spores deposited on indoor surfaces (swab, tape, and dust samples)
- Bulk samples: the removal of materials from the contaminated area to identify and determine the concentration of mold in the sample.
Improper methods for cleaning mold include exposure to high heat, dry air, sunlight (particularly UV light), ozone, and application of fungicides. These methods may render the mold non-viable, however, the mold and its by-products can still elicit health effects. As noted in following sections, the only proper way to clean mold is to use detergent solutions that physically remove mold. Many commercially available detergents marketed for mold clean-up also include an anti-fungal agent. The most effective way at this point is formal Mold Remediation.
The purpose of the clean-up process is to eliminate the mold and fungal growth and to remove contaminated materials. As a general rule, simply killing the mold with a biocide is not enough. The mold must be removed since the chemicals and proteins, which cause a reaction in humans, are still present even in dead mold.
During the remediation process, the level of contamination dictates the level of protection for the remediation workers. The levels of contamination are described as Levels I, II, and III. Each has specific requirements for worker safety.
For More Information: Controlling Mold Growth
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