A multi-approach remediation plan was successfully completed to restore the university campus building* after mycotoxin proliferation.
Part 1 of this 2 part series explained the likely cause of the chemical byproduct of mold and its spread into different areas of the building. It also demonstrated how the Building Sciences and EDLab divisions of Pure Air Control Services worked together on the building investigation to identify mycotoxins as the source of occupant complaints. With this knowledge a remediation plan was implemented to ensure the mycotoxins would be neutralized. The scope focused on both the directly affected areas as well as the air conveyance system.
The Scope of Remediation
Mycotoxins are a stubborn chemical substance that cannot simply be “disinfected”. They require a process that fundamentally changes their pH to neutralize their toxicity. The university did not want to remove and replace what was then brand new carpet. So, a specialized cleaning protocol was engineered utilizing dry steam cleaning, a tannic acid solution and HEPA vacuums. Pure Air Control Services also understood that this environmental cleanup would require a high level of efficacy. To that end, EDLab and Building Sciences established an on-site, mobile, laboratory which provided mycotoxin clearance testing during the remediation process.
The project included:
- Safe containment protocols
- PURE-Steam HVAC cleaning
- PURE-Duct cleaning
- PURE-Steam carpet cleaning
- On-site mycotoxin clearance testing
- Topical Cleaning
- PURE-Decon Room Disinfection
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and strict containment specifications were the first step to be undertaken. The Building Remediation Sciences (BRS) team adhered to stringent OHSA 29 C.F.R. regulations including the Respiratory Protection, Confined Space, Hazard Communication and Lock Out/Tag Out programs. This not only protected the remediation technicians but also the prevented cross contamination from the areas in which the procedures were being performed.
HVAC & Duct Cleaning
The nature of the mycotoxin proliferation, specifically how it was spread through the occupied spaces by foot traffic and exhaust from vacuum cleaners dictated that a more thorough approach was needed. Since it appeared that the mycotoxins became airborne, the HVAC units and ductwork for the contaminated areas was cleaned.
The proprietary 15 Point PURE-Steam HVAC cleaning process was performed the Air Handling Unit (AHU) and the Energy Recovery Unit (ERU) that services the affected areas. This Green Clean Institute certified process used a combination of eco-friendly/anti-microbial treatments, deep HEPA vacuuming and high temperature/low pressure steam to restore the units. A dry version of the PURE-Steam process was also used to environmentally clean 27 Variable Air Volume (VAV) boxes located at various points in the supply ductwork from the AHU. PURE-Steam ensured these systems were completely disinfected and also improved operational performance.
Next 2,200 linear feet of associated ductwork was hygienically cleaned with the PURE-Duct process. PURE-Duct is conducted under full containment protocols in accordance with the aforementioned OSHA Confined Spaces Program and the NADCA ACR 2013 Standard for HVAC system cleaning. This method was performed under negative pressure using a combination of a mechanical brush system, HEPA vacuum and compressed air. All supply and return were also cleaned with PURE-Steam.
Topical Cleaning & Decontamination
Once the HVAC system was addressed all of the hard surfaces and products in the affected areas were topically cleaned then decontaminated. This was done in a three-stage process. First everything was vacuumed. Next it was all wiped down with tannic acid and an EPA registered biocide. Then each area was sprayed with our PURE-Decon method. This hydrogen peroxide/silver dry mist permeated to all of the places that topical cleaning alone could not reach.
Environmental Carpet Cleaning
After the affected areas were topically cleaned and decontaminated the focus shifted to the carpet. This is where some of the highest concentrations of mycotoxins were found. BRS adapted their dry PURE-Steam method to accomplish this 15,000 square foot job. The PURE-Steam carpet cleaning process made use of a tannic acid solution, as well as a hot water extraction with an anti-microbial solution. When completed, the entire area was thoroughly dried out with a series of air movers, dehumidifiers and air scrubbers.
Environmental Project Management & Clearance Testing
The number 1 of priority the project was neutralizing the mycotoxins left behind by a previous water/mold event in the building. It was imperative to restore the environment for optimal building health and occupant well-being. That is why EDLab was sent to the jobsite to setup and operate a mobile laboratory during the remediation project. Most other environmental firms do not have this capability. Normally in clearance testing samples between cleanings are collected and sent to an outside laboratory for analysis. Even with overnight shipping or a courier service this can take 3-5 days to see results, which mean the jobsite shuts down until the clearance is confirmed.
The EDLab mobile laboratory provided quick turnaround QA/QC results. Samples were collected after zone was cleaned. EDLab tested the samples and if they came back with above detectable levels for mycotoxins, the zone was re-cleaned until cleared. All of this was managed in coordination with project managers from Building Sciences and BRS.
Finally, after the project’s successful competition a detailed report was provided that included all activity logs, photo documentation and test results.
It all goes to show that sometimes an overlooked or unknown item can linger long after the initial remedial solution was provided. If unchecked, it can lead to more IAQ issues. The best way to deal with those situations is to require a thorough, methodical, investigation and remediation. One that includes all contingencies, technologically advanced remediation and a high level of quality assurance.
Have a persistent IAQ Issue? Don’t wait! Please contact us today or call 1-800-422-7873 to have your building tested or restored.
*University’s name withheld due to confidentiality.