How is containment done in mold remediation and why is it important? Why is it important to place plastic around an area with mold damage? Is it really necessary? Mold remediation is no joke. The issues arises when a customer asks what is “overboard” and what is “needed.” That is a very difficult question to answer…..consider the following examples:
Empty commercial building with 9 SF of mold growth near an exterior roll up door. Most individuals may say, well just clean it off the drywall and be done with it. That could be the case. But what needs to be first addressed outside of the cost is who is going to occupy that building after the remediation is complete? Is there a central HVAC unit and has it been running during the time that mold growth has been present. Is this building to be used by the elderly, young, or immune-deficient? Why is there mold present and how can the issue of it re-occurring be address?
Occupied home with 9 SF of mold growth in a new-borne babies closet near the floor on the drywall. Most individuals would say this is a more serious issue than the above. And they would likely be correct. But how is it addressed? Does everyone move out of the building while remediation is complete? How is the issue of the mold reoccurring address? Is the area of mold contained or is the entire room or the entire house? What areas are “removed” and what areas are “cleaned” without removal? Who is to say the correct method for mold remediation and what is the test to show proper clearance or proper low levels of mold after remediation? When is the drywall replaced? What happens if it is an adjoining wall to another condo unit and that drywall has mold grown on it?
Our procedure for answering the above questions are to make an on-site mold inspection and provide the customer with their options. We can also coordinate a mold test. See below for the mold remediation standards we adhere to when determining these options. When containment is needed or required by the protocol, the first step is to determine the type of containment to use: surface containment (just the area affected), local containment (the area affected and the immediate area), or a full containment (i.e. the entire room or building).
General procedures for local containment:
This type of example would be for an area of mold growth on a wall, for example 20 SF in size.
The first step is to use hard materials to form a frame for 4 mil to 6 mil or greater plastic to form around. Then an air tight containment is setup around the frame using negative pressure and HEPA filtration (air being sucked out of the containment and pushed outside of the building if possible). This cleans the air within and bring fresh air in to make it safe for the workers and minimize mold moving out of the area to other parts of the building. You can also see a decontamination chamber (smaller containment) for cleaning of tools, suites, masks, etc before re-entering the building by the workers.
We ensure that there are access doors to enter and exit the containment have flaps or zipper doors so that mold spore leaving the containment are minimized.
After negative air pressure is setup and proper sealing of the containment is complete, drying using proper dehumidifiers & air movers can be completed. After, in conjuction, or slightly prior to drying, demolition of the mold area occurs and / or cleaning of the hard surfaces with wet wiping takes place. The timing depends on the circumstances. The air flow and air purification using HEPA air filtration is still occurring during all of these steps.
Then all the surfaces are final wet wiped and HEPA vacuumed. At this time a clearance test can be completed after a proper amount of time for HEPA air scrubbing using non-negative air filtration (closed system) to extract the majority of the mold spores in the air. It is typical that there will still be mold in the air but the typical clearance test is to show that the containment samples near the affected area are less than outside of the building samples. If there was a pre-test done it should also be shown that the air samples after remediation are lower than before remediation. Additional, a visual inspection should show no mold growth (possibly reminisce or stains but no growth) and moisture levels of the affected area should be back to normal conditions.
Mold Remediation Standards:
There are a multitude of standards that are used in the mold remediation industry to guide remediation contractors on proper remediation. More detailed mold remedation industry standards can be found on our website. However, as of March, 2013 there are no national guidelines that are set forth. Therefore, it is up to a professional mold remediation and water remediation contractor in conjunction with an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) as needed to properly come up with a plan and proper implementation. Some of the standards include but are not limited to the following:
- New York City Mold Guidelines: Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments (1993, 2000, 2008)
- EPA: Mold Remediation in schools and Commercial Buildings (2001)
- ANSI/IICRC S500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Restoration (1993, 2001, 2006)
- ANSI/IICRC S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation (2001, 2008)
Typically we will consult with the IEP (indoor environmental professional) before proceeding if the customer wants to pay for the IEP to be involved. The IEP can conduct a mold air test. IEP’s are usually involved if the area of mold growth is large, there are sensitivities of the customers or occupants, and / or documentation other than our procedure and invoice is needed by the customer (i.e. they need a clearance test and a 3rd party report verify the area was cleaned). If an IEP is not involved we would give the customer options to move forward and associated costs. Call us to schedule a mold inspection and we will present your options and help locate the issue causing the mold damage.
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