Mold Inspection, Testing, Evaluation, Removal, Remediation
The Straight Facts on Indoor Mold, Including Black Mold in Southeastern Michigan
Mold is found everywhere: indoors (100,000 spores per gram in carpet dust), outdoors (75,000 spores per cubic meter in summer air), and especially on the Web. Black mold (Stachybotrys) gets all the press, but it is by no means the most dangerous of the frequently found molds.
Truly Useful Information on Mold Testing and Remediation (Removal)
Here, and in the pages listed in the left panel, is our version of "All You Really Need To Know About Inspection, Evaluation and Removal of Indoor Mold:"
- A "mold-free" building is an unnatural state and an impossible goal. Every breeze, draft or visitor brings a variety of molds in. The objective should be a normal indoor environment, without conditions that are unusually hospitable to the growth of naturally occurring molds.
- Today mold X, tomorrow Y. Or here X, there (somewhere) Y. One must not read too much into snapshots of an ecology, as would be shown by either bulk or air samples. The air is a soup of different mold spores, and whichever one happens to land on a favorable spot will colonize it. Others that land nearby may fight for the same territory; it's always a contest as long as the conditions for growth are favorable.
- The existence of any visible mold -- no matter what kind -- inside a home is an indication of something wrong, i.e. an existing or prior moisture problem that should be corrected along with any decontamination.
- No variety of mold can be said to have zero adverse health effects in all people.
- Stachybotrys ("Black Mold") is not the most dangerous of the frequently found molds.
- Stachy needs a constant source of moisture. It loves wet drywall, but is seldom found on wood.
- Its claim to fame is the toxins in its body, and if you ate enough of them (some say one square inch) you could be dead in a hurry.
- However, nobody -- NOBODY -- has ever died from breathing Stachy spores.
- It is incapable of growing in the human body, but is equally toxic whether dead or alive.
- Infectious organisms (such as some varieties of Aspergillus) may have sheaths that are less toxic, but they are capable of colonizing the lungs and then migrating to (for example) the brain. People have died from these molds.
- Remediation/removal procedures are the same no matter what the organism. While it's nice to have a Latin name to attach to the organism, it's not especially helpful.
- This was not always so; this guidance is per the last revision to the "New York Guidelines" which are generally considered to be the most authoritative source.
- Small areas of contamination can easily be handled by a homeowner following the New York Guidelines. Even with extensive contamination, removal or sand/soda blasting of wood ("Tear off the roof!) is almost never necessary.
- Preventing mold: No moisture problem, no mold problem.
When we conduct a remediation (removal)
Our contract says that we will:
- Kill what's there,
- Clean it up without contaminating the rest of the space,
- Ensure that the underlying moisture and/or venting problems are corrected,
- Contain any residue from spreading [Remember- some molds are as dangerous dead as alive], and
- Guarantee against regrowth of ANY KIND of mold for five years (not all remediations qualify for the five year warranty, see your contract for details).
For what it may be worth, we have been hired to rescue homes where it appears that other contractors turned a mid-size water/mold problem into a massive asbestos decontamination. Prime concerns are plasters, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, mastics. Lead paint residue may also be an issue, but that contamination would not spread nearly as far.
Moral: Make sure that your consultant and contractor are versed in all aspects of indoor environments and building performance. A white lab coat does not an expert make, nor does experience in carpet cleaning. Nor do arcane 3-letter acronyms on a business card. Our people do have them, but we consider these certifications to be helpful, and neither necessary nor sufficient.