Breaking the Mold: A Fresh Perspective on Mold Testing & Remediation
Halosil Blog

Timely insights on whole room disinfection.

Restoration & RemediationAugust 5, 2019

Breaking the Mold: A Fresh Perspective on Mold Testing & Remediation

With summer storms comes summer mold, and with that, comes mold-related illnesses like sick building syndrome (SBS), building related illness (BRI), and mold allergies. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), SBS is characterized by acute discomfort, such as headaches, eye, nose, or throat irritation, dry coughs, dry or itchy skin, dizziness, and nausea. BRI is characterized by more severe symptoms, such as coughing, fever and chills, chest tightness, and muscle aches that are clinically defined. Similarly, a mold allergy can be characterized by allergic rhinitis (hay fever), which is an unpleasant combination of runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, itching, congestion, and coughing.

These health conditions are more common than one might think. According to the documentary MOLDY, more than 50 percent of U.S. houses have issues with mold, and just over one in four people are genetically predisposed to mold-related health issues. Mold is often identified and addressed in the midst of real estate transactions, but for Americans with mold sensitivities, living with mold is simply not an option. How does a homeowner know if they are living with mold, and what can be done to eliminate mold from the living environment?

With over 30 years of experience providing mold, mycotoxin, and air quality investigations for homeowners and businesses, Joe Riley of AirTestCo Environmental Services provided us front line insight on addressing mold problems of all severities.

Insight 1: Visual Inspections & Air Quality Tests Don’t Show the Whole Picture

The first step in any remediation effort is to investigate and test the building for mold via an inspection and appropriate air tests. An initial walkthrough of the environment should be conducted to identify obvious signs like damp walls, foul odors, and musty smells that point directly to mold. However, just because an initial walkthrough may not reveal obvious evidence of mold doesn’t mean it isn’t present. For instance, a musty smell is sometimes hard to isolate, or mold itself can be odorless while still causing health issues for a homeowner. For these reasons, it is also important to take an air sampling for common household molds like Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Stachybotrys chartarum (black mold). With an air sampling test, the individual species of mold can be quickly identified, a critical prerequisite to effective remediation.

At the same time, the EPA notes that air sampling for mold does not necessarily provide information about its root cause since measurements like temperature, relative humidity, CO₂, and air movement merely provide a “snapshot” of current building conditions—not a full picture. Contextual information on other factors, such as a comprehensive understanding of how the building operates and the nature of mold complaints, should form the basis of the hypothesis in tandem with the sampling strategy. For instance, other basic factors that should be assessed include the occupants and their usage of the space, the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, possible pollutant pathways, and potential contaminant sources that influence indoor air quality.

Insight 2: Remediation is in Vain Unless the Root Cause is Addressed

Once a mold issue has been identified, time is of the essence. It is important to promptly devise and execute a mold remediation resolution that eliminates dangerous pathogens that can cause SBS and BRI. The first and most obvious step of the remediation process is to repair the water issue causing the mold. Without addressing the root cause, even the most effective remediation effort will simply require another remediation down the line.

In addition, it is critical to fully isolate the contaminated area. This requires closing all doors and windows that connect to other areas of the structure and sealing off open doorways with sheeting. Wet and moldy materials should also be removed from the environment and disposed of accordingly. Completing these steps prior to treatment ensures that remediation efforts will not be in vain.

Insight 3: Mold Sensitive People are Often Equally Sensitive to Bleach & Scented Products

Although bleach and other biocides are frequently used as a multi-purpose killer of mold, they are often not the best remediation option—especially when an area is inhabited by a mold sensitive individual. Aside from not being effective against all strains of mold, bleach can pose health risks with its strongly corrosive properties, such as skin itching and burning. In extreme cases, bleach can permanently damage tissue or vision if left on the skin too long or splashed in eyes, which can pose real dangers to vulnerable populations like children and pets.

In addition, bleach and other biocides can further aggravate respiratory symptoms that are associated with SBS, RBI, or mold allergies. Similarly, other remediation agents with strong scents are not ideal, since mold sensitive individuals are often sensitive to scented products. It is therefore optimal to use a non-bleach, odorless disinfectant effective against mold, such as Halosil’s proprietary HaloMist formula.

Insight 4: HaloMist is the Disinfectant of Choice for Several Reasons

EPA-registered to kill Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Aspergillus niger, HaloMist is an effective disinfectant solution against mold spores and other odor-causing agents in complex spaces. In addition, HaloMist is an odorless, non-corrosive, and bleach-free solution that decomposes into environmentally friendly byproducts—water, oxygen, and non-toxic silver complexes—making it the ideal disinfectant for individuals who have sensitivities to scented solutions. Finally, HaloMist is highly cost effective, making it a preferred solution for price sensitive homeowners and buyers.

Ready to break the mold with a differentiated solution? Contact Halosil today.

Tags: ,