What is Mold?
We have probably all encountered mold at one time or another. It might have been in the shower, or on a stale piece of bread or wet drywall. Mold is a microscopic life form found in all parts of the world. It is part of the natural decay process of organic materials. There are many different species of mold and while they are diverse, they share some common characteristics:
Molds require an organic food source. One common source is cellulose, which is found in building materials such as drywall.
Molds require oxygen, so they do not grow under water.
Molds require a constant supply of water. To prevent mold, buildings must be kept dry.
Molds are spread by tiny particles called “spores.” A spore can be compared to a seed.
Why is it Harmful?
Mold causes problems for several reasons:
The colored, fuzzy growth on the contaminated surface is obviously very objectionable; Active mold colonies usually emit a very unpleasant, musty odor.
Because the job of mold is to digest, decay and recycle dead organic matter, it destroys whatever surface is its host.
Exposure to mold spores can cause mild to severe allergic reactions, and possibly more serious problems, depending on individual sensitivity.
How to Respond
The best way to deal with mold is to prevent it from happening. If wet building materials are dried within 24 hours (assuming clean water), the chances of preventing mold growth are excellent. If the area remains wet, mold will start to grow. Therefore, addressing and eliminating the moisture problem is the most important first step. But once mold is present, drying is not enough. Moldy materials must be either removed or decontaminated. This process is called “remediation,” which means “to remedy” or “to cure.”
Proper remediation procedures will be determined by the size, scope and nature of the mold contamination.
Three integral principles form the framework for mold remediation: containment, removal and safety. Containment is the practice of sealing or separating the affected area to keep mold spores from spreading and causing mold to grow in previously uncontaminated areas. Temporary walls of plastic or plywood may be erected to separate the affected area from the rest of the building. This area is called the “containment zone.” Air machines equipped with HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters are used to pull outside air into the containment zone and exhaust filtered air to the outside. These machines are sometimes called “air scrubbers” and this process is called “negative air flow.” Removal of mold and mold-contaminated materials must also be done in a manner that prevents further contamination. And most importantly, these procedures must be performed in a way that protects the remediation technicians, as well as the occupants of the building from potentially harmful exposure.
The Remediation Process
The most important part of the mold remediation process is communication — with both the homeowner and the insurance adjuster or representative. We have a professional duty to report our observations to the homeowner and the insurance company, and to protect our employees from unsafe or unnecessary exposure to contaminants. However, we want to do so in a way that does not alarm or scare the homeowner, or create additional or unnecessary liability or cost for the insurance company.
ServiceMaster by Gaudet specialists have undergone thorough mold remediation training. This intensive training program begins by examining how mold grows, how it spreads, and its life cycle. By understanding the process of mold contamination, we know the critical importance of proper containment, removal and safety procedures. We also understand all current and evolving mold remediation standards.
When the extent of mold contamination is isolated and/or less than 10 square feet, a professional restoration company may be equipped to handle the job without the participation of an environmental professional. Unless directed otherwise by the insurance company, ServiceMaster by Gaudet will contain the area, notify the property owner and insurance company and proceed with emergency mitigation services.
When the affected area is widespread and/or greater than 10 square feet, the determination of a specific course of action (remediation plan or protocol) should be made by a competent environmental professional. ServiceMaster by Gaudet will contain the area and immediately provide the insurance company with a detailed report of our findings. The insurance company will make all subsequent decisions regarding the handling of the claim. ServiceMaster by Gaudet will not begin any mold remediation services until directed to do so by the insurance company.
Just how far reaching the effects of mold may be are as yet undetermined. What is clear is that living or working in a moldy home or building is ill advised. The most obvious response is to address water intrusion issues promptly and thoroughly, before mold has a chance to grow. When mold is present in any significant amount (over 10 square feet) only an adequately trained and experienced remediation company should perform remediation, with the involvement of a qualified environmental professional and always with the understanding and authorization of the insurance company.
Contact ServiceMaster by Gaudet today and ensure a safe and mold free home or work environment!