Maintaining relative humidity above 65% and a temperature of 25°C-27°C is considered optimal for a majority of mold to grow in today’s buildings.
Tampa, FL — Mold is a symptom produced by certain filamentous fungi which belong to a heterotrophic group of microorganisms. It appears as rough or smooth patches of various colors, shape and dimensions on substrata/host surfaces and it can be observed under the microscope as a filamentous structure of varying extent. It may also possess some special structures such as conidia, spores, fruiting bodies, etc. Mold growth in today’s buildings is not an unusual phenomenon. However, depending on the nature of mold, they may be problematic to dwellers. The impact of these microorganisms on the occupants is influenced by the surrounding conditions and other factors, including the host’s immunity. These conditions include moisture, availability of organic and inorganic nutrients, temperature and dampness besides others. Maintaining relative humidity above 65% and a temperature of 25°C-27°C is considered optimal for a majority of mold to grow in today’s buildings.
Vulnerabilities of Today’s Buildings:
Mold growth in vulnerable, today’s buildings is observed due to mechanical, environmental and manmade issues.
• Mechanical: Failed air-conditioning, improper ventilation, filtration, building envelop design and frequent use of opening and closing of building access, etc. are often seen as common reasons that may support the growth of mold.
• Environmental: Air or surface-borne pollutants, building materials, excessive moisture migration in dwellings, stagnant water sources in the surroundings, microbial decomposition of materials and dampness may lead or carry mold to grow in buildings.
• Man Made: Poor or inadequate housekeeping, water use and its disposal, solid-waste management, food storage and sanitation are examples that can encourage mold in vulnerable, residential dwellings.
Investigating Mold in Today’s Buildings:
Mold investigation in Today’s Buildings is a challenging task. Visual inspection by a simple walkthrough, as well as testing of suspected material and interpretation of findings, is amongst the initial steps for mold exploration in residential buildings.
Walkthrough: A thorough walkthrough inspection reveals a number of important indications and significant leads for finding mold in a residential building. The common sense approach (see and smell) are helpful for determining any oddities. History of a building, construction-engineering, mechanical function, uses and health and hygienic conditions are significant parameters for mold reporting in theses settings. This step is significant in proactive mold evaluation as it is helpful in identifying potential sources or contributors of mold. While responding to mold problems in a residential building, it helps and provides important clues in source-causation relationships, healthiness of the property, need for testing and other appropriate information.
Sample Collection: Environmental samples collected in and around these structures are valuable for determining mold problems, if any. Air, surface and liquid samples are useful matrices for testing. These samples may be collected by using appropriate techniques.
Laboratory Testing: Collected samples should be submitted to the diagnostic laboratory as soon as possible. These samples are analyzed for mold depending on the need. A sample microscopic evaluation of test material can detect mold proliferation; however, mold in these samples can also be tested by microbiological culture preparation or other advance mechanisms of testing such as molecular diagnostics/Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), etc.
Interpretation: An interpretation of the collected data and laboratory test results provides the information on mold, if any. This evaluation is also helpful in understanding the mold both qualitatively as well as quantitatively. This step also yields valuable indications for preventive and corrective actions for mold in residential dwellings.
Mold Management in Today’s Buildings:
Mold management is an integral part of a comprehensive plan designed to minimize or completely eliminate problems that occur due to mold in a building. The goal of this plan is to outline actions appropriate for reducing the vulnerabilities of today’s buildings which are suitable for the growth of mold. To deal with the mold, it is appropriate to minimize the effect created due to mechanical, environmental and man made interference. It may be a two-fold approach including preventive and corrective actions.
Preventive Actions: These actions are recommended to avoid situations which promote the growth of mold. It is believed that moisture/water support mold growth; therefore, controlling the moisture (maintaining low, indoor humidity at ideally 30-60%) is the key to mold control. Any problem associated with moisture migration, like condensation, malfunctioning of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, faulty humidifiers, busted water lines, water flooding and other such causes must be fixed as quickly as possible to prevent mold growth. Periodical housekeeping, scheduled maintenance of HVAC, sealing of leaky building envelops, drying wet spots, fixing damaged plumbing systems, designing drainage and slopes away from the foundation, and proper disposal of solid-waste are important steps besides others for avoiding mold problems.
Corrective Action: The goal of corrective action should be minimizing loss, as well as restoring a satisfactory condition, to make a healthy dwelling. Hidden mold growth, hard to reach places, contaminated materials around today’s buildings, mold in the air conveyance and HVAC, etc. must be removed and physically restored. A number of techniques are available for mold removal. An appropriate technique is a key factor for success, the selection of mold removal techniques are based on the extent of mold, area of mold contamination, nature of material (porous vs. non-porous), suitability of application and cost economics. The modern green remedial process is preferable over the traditional chemical or mechanical methods. A post remediation testing must be taken to verify the effectiveness of the process.
To discuss a proactive environmental monitoring program for your building call the credentialed professional indoor environmental consultants at Pure Air Control Services – Building Sciences team at 800-422-7873, ext. 802. For additional information on laboratory services call EDLab at Pure Air Control Services 1-800-422-7873 ext 303 or visit the web site at www.Edlab.org and ask for Dr Rajiv Sahay.
About Pure Air Control Services:
Alan Wozniak founded Pure Air Control Services, Inc. in 1984 as a mechanical contracting firm. Today, the firm sets the industry standard for indoor environmental quality diagnosis, lab and remediation. Pure Air Control Services nationally performed IAQ services include: Building Sciences Evaluation; Building Health Check; EDLab an Environmental Microbiology Laboratory; Environmental Project Management; PURE-Steam Coil Cleaning and HVAC System Cleaning & Mold Remediation Services, among other indoor environmental services.
The company’s expanding client roster includes the FAA, Georgia Tech (GT), University of Georgia (UGA), Florida State University (FSU), Northrop Grumman, General Services Administration (GSA); Allstate Insurance; USPS, CBRE, TRANE, Siemens, JCI, Carrier Air Conditioning; NAVFAC, DOT, USACE, US Army, and many other Fortune 500 companies, school boards, and city, state, and county governments, making Pure Air Control Services the reliable industry leader.
For more information on Pure Air Control Services, Inc. please contact Alan Wozniak or Jeff Nack at (800) 422-7873 ext 802 or 804 respectively, or visit www.pureaircontrols.com.