“I can’t say enough good things…”

June 29th, 2009

This company was great.  The owner and her assistant came to my home to do a mold inspection and testing.  They walked through the house with me to check each area I was concerned about.  They were here almost two hours, I didn’t feel they rushed, nor did I feel like it took forever.  I was able to ask questions as we went and they gave lots of advice along the way.  They were very thorough.  The cost was well worth it for the peace of mind that I now have knowing what kind of mold it is and what to do about it (not to mention the education I got about building methods and materials and air quality in general!).  About a week after the inspection, I received a full, detailed report going room by room with their assessment and recommendations.   It’s a very helpful report which made it easy for me to implement the recommendations.  They were professional, friendly, and patient!  Five-star all the way!

 

-H. L. Whitinsville, MA

What is Mold Remediation?

June 29th, 2009

Lately, the term ‘Mold Remediation’ has been making headlines. Toxic mold, mold contamination, killer black mold, people abandoning their homes, and plenty of other sensational headlines have bombarded our televisions, newspapers, and websites. Once  you have had a reputable, qualified company perform a mold inspection to find the potential mold contamination in your home, what do you do? If the inspection company is a good one, you will receive a written report detailing mold remediation steps.  At that point, you will need to hire a mold remdiation firm to do the work.

What is mold remediation? How do you chose a mold remediation company? How do you know if they are qualified? Will they follow standard mold remediation procedures? Do they confidently stand by their work?

Mold remediation is a term used to describe the safe and effective method for removing mold contamination from an indoor environment. Generally, the mold remediation process includes the following steps: setting up appropriate containment barriers separating the moldy areas from otherwise unaffected areas, using negative air machines and/or HEPA filtered air scrubbers to exhaust/capture airborne particulates, removal of moldy materials (personal belongings, Sheetrock, insulation, wood, carpeting, etc.), and finally, cleaning remaining materials/belongings using special techniques. Sometimes abrasive actions are needed such as sanding or dry-ice blasting to remove mold from wood materials. EPA registered chemicals and sealants should be used and only in accordance with their documented application methods.

Choosing a qualified remediation company can be challenging. First, ask for qualifications, certifications, experience in the business, references, and if they strictly follow the ANSI/IICRC document S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation. In the past few years, many new companies have sprouted up so it can be difficult to know which to hire; cost can vary greatly depending on the procedures used.  Standard procedures and guidelines for mold remediation were published in the ANSI/IICRC Document S520; this publication describes in detail the standards for and actions necessary to safely and effectively remove mold contamination. We have experience with companies that do not follow standard procedures or that cut corners to decrease client cost and the result is failed remediation. Mold remediation is expensive but if done correctly the first time, the money was spent wisely. There are gimmicks and trendy methods (ozonation, fogging, one step spraying with a killing agent, covering the mold with a white paint) to ‘get rid of mold’–these do not work.  Old fashioned, labor intensive elbow grease (with some chemicals and equipment) is a must.

GML recommends getting several quotes from mold remediation companies. Their written estimates will detail procedures to be used and the cost of the project. Compare the steps used between companies. There is a good reason why one company would give a quote that is significantly lower than another. If one of the major steps is left out, the cost will be less, but so will the quality of the work. In the end, the mold must be gone, as confirmed by an independent mold inspection company. Sometimes the remaining black discoloration on the wood is called ’staining’, but not mold, by the remediation company , but this is rarely true. Remediation must remove all signs of mold, black staining included.  

Can Mold On Food Be Dangerous?

April 10th, 2009

People often joke about the  moldy bologna in the back of the refrigerator. How about those fuzzier than normal peaches? Blue patches on the top layer of an old sour cream container? Not only are these molds unsightly and annoying because they have spoiled good food, but they can also be potentially harmful to you.

The most common health concern with mold is allergies. Most people are familiar with the runny noses, sneezing, watery  eyes, etc. associated with mold, pollen, and dust mite allergies. But have you heard of mycotoxins? These are chemicals produced by some molds under the right conditions.  Mycotoxins are generally associated with grain and nut crops. Wet hay bales are also a good source of toxins produced by mold. But did you know that mycotoxins can be found in grape juice, on apples and celery, and on other fruits and vegetables?

Molds on food come in a rainbow of colors from white to black and most colors in between. Sometimes, moldy foods must be thrown away. These include soft, fleshy fruits such as peaches, tomatoes, and cucumbers, sliced lunch meats, sour cream, and others that the mold cannot be cut away from. Molds have long, web-like structures that penetrate below the surface of softer foods. Patches of mold can be successfully cut away or removed from harder foods, for example apples, uncut hard salami, and hard cheeses.

Speaking of cheese, did you know that molds are intstrumental in manufacturing some cheeses? A mold called Penicillium roqueforti is used to make roquefort and gorganzola cheese. That white layer surrounding a wedge of brie cheese is also mold. These molds are safe to eat as long as you don’t have an existing sensitivity to mold.

So how do you prevent mold from growing on food in the refrigerator? Short turn around time. Mold spores are everywhere and all they need is a food source and sufficient moisture to grow so even though the refrigerator is cold, molds can begin devouring the prize tomatoes grown in your garden relatively quickly. The shorter amount of time foods spend in the refrigerator, the better chances they have of not becoming moldy. Several steps can help. Make sure the fridge is clean; spilled foods and liquids that remain on the bottom shelf are mold breeding grounds. Discarding food with visible mold can minimize the spread of mold to other foods. Clean moldy refrigerator gaskets. Cover foods. Transfer foods out of their original containers into storage containers with covers. Cut out visible mold that develops on hard cheeses that will remain in the fridge. Overall, eating foods in a time frame that doesn’t allow mold to take over is your best defense. 

And finally, eating a small amount of mold on food before you realize it is moldy is generally not enough to cause serious harm. We eat mold every day without knowing it so don’t panic if you see a fuzzy green spot on the peach you just began eating.  Throw it out and take another one, but be sure to inspect it before taking the first juicy bite!

Deborah Gordon, Gordon Mycology Laboratory, Inc. 2009

Snow Mold

April 10th, 2009

‘Tis the Season – Snow Mold comes to New England

The end of winter is here.  We are excited about longer days, blooming flowers, and shout a long awaited hello to the warm sunshine. 

Unfortunately, this is the time of year snow mold rears its ugly head in our dormant lawns.  The UMass Extension and Rhode Island Cooperative Extension explain the symptoms of, and how to conquer, this menace so we can get our lawns ready for wigglin’ toes and puppy dog noses.

You’ll see the first insidious sign as small circular patches on the lawn in sizes of 3 – 12 inches in diameter.  Sometimes, if the mold takes hold, patches blend together to cover large sections of the lawn.  These molds are active in the colder, wetter times of the year, surviving and even thriving beneath the snow.  Visually, “…web-like mycelium of pink snow mold (Microdochium nivale) may initially look white and mature to a faint pink to salmon color.  Gray snow mold (Typhula spp.) is white to gray in color.” 

As temperatures rise, the snow melts, and the sun beats down on awakening lawns, New Englanders rejoice.  However, with spring weather patterns, snow molds become increasingly unhappy.  Most of the time, the normal emergence of warmer, sunnier weather is enough to kill snow molds.  Yard clean up, among other steps, is your best bet for snow mold deterrence and lush lawns. 

What to do next if you have snow mold?  Determine the type of mold, either pink or gray, that has infected your lawn.  The gray mold doesn’t do extensive damage, and typically the grass recovers quickly.   Pink snow mold gets to the heart of the grass crowns and roots causing, sometimes, irreparable damage.  Often times, both types of snow molds can be found in our lawns.  An essential step for snow mold prevention is taking away its comfortable home — rake up dead leaves and clean debris from lawns.  A good choice of seed for replanting in areas that need to be cleaned out is Kentucky bluegrass, which is less susceptible to snow mold infection.  

Visit the following site for more details, photos, and prevention/eradication tips.

http://www.uri.edu/ce/factsheets/sheets/snowmolds.html

Happy Spring to you and your families. 

D. A. Boss, Gordon Mycology Laboratory, Inc. 2009

Mold Inspection Journal: 4-1-09

April 1st, 2009

Case Study 09036: Successful Attic Mold Remediation

Facts/History/Observations:

An initial inspection by GML revealed that the mold Cladosporium was actively growing on plywood roof sheathing and on both gable ends in the attic.  A professional mold remediation company was hired to clean all surfaces in attic under environmental controls and using standard mold remediation procedures.  After the work was completed, we re-inspected the attic to determine if remediation was successful. 

Attic insulation was removed, leaving the topside of the second floor ceiling Sheetrock exposed. Among several other important steps, the plywood sheathing was dry-ice blasted (similar to sand blasting except dry ice pellets were used as the abrasive agent).  Visual evidence of mold was no longer present.

Successfully Remediated Plywood Roof Sheathing

Successfully Remediated Roof Sheathing

Inspection Strategy:

  • Visual inspection of attic
  • Surface swab sampling from several representative areas of the previously moldy plywood sheathing

Lab Results:

  • Lab results describe a negligible amount of mold spores
  • The current level of mold on wood materials in the attic is normal
  • Remediation was completely successful

Recommendations:

  • Maintain a dry and well ventilated attic
  • Re-install insulation