Mold abatement, also known as mold removal, has become a major concern in the United States in the last few decades. Prior to that, mold abatement was hardly a thought in most commercial property managers and homeowner minds.
Mold abatement in the early 1900’s was comprised of taking a rag and some household cleaner and wiping the walls down. If the mold came back, the clean-up process was repeated. People were not concerned and mold based lawsuits were practically nonexistent. The earliest cases of mold-related illnesses were in the 1800’s in Prague, where there was mold covered hay that affected the health of farm animals and in the 1930’s in Russia, again with mold covered hay.
However, in the 1980’s mold was connected to major health issues (nasal congestion, skin rashes, asthma, headaches, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, etc.), creating a need for performing mold abatement correctly and effectively to prevent the mold from spreading.
There are over 1,000 different types of mold. Mold occurs naturally in our environment and is the earth’s organic recyclers. However, when mold is able to grow indoors, problems can occur. The biggest issue when performing mold abatement is spores. Mold releases spores to reproduce. The spores are what cause illness. These spores become airborne and are able to grow on any organic substance if they are introduced to optimal conditions. Mold releases spores whenever it feels threatened (this is its way of ensuring its own survival!) Mold feels threatened and releases spores whenever it is disturbed in any way (mainly by trying to cut-out and clean-up the mold!).
The key to performing effective mold abatement is to prevent the spreading of mold spores. Although there are few national guidelines for mold abatement, almost all require containment. Containment, as it sounds, is the process of containing the work area that the mold is in to prevent the spores from leaving the contained area and affecting the outside areas.
Although that may sound simple in theory, mold spores are so small that unless the containment is secure, the mold spores can easily escape. To ensure that the contained area prevents the spores from leaving, certain procedures must happen.
Here are the standard mold abatement procedures to ensure that the contained area is secure:
- Plastic walls must surround the mold affected area using 6 mil plastic.
- An entrance way is created by securing a specially designed zipper on one (1) wall.
- A negative air machine creates constant suction in the room removing any spores that will be created when the mold abatement is being performed. (The negative air machine is a powerful vacuum-like machine with a HEPA filter attached and a plastic tube leaving the containment. The tube leaving the containment temporary plastic wall leads to the outside of the house or commercial property.)
Once this process has been set up, the chances of mold spores leaving the work area are very minimal.
Now, the actual mold abatement can be performed. When the work is finished, the negative air machine stays on for a few days to ensure that the mold abatement and the equipment have been successful. Please be aware that a visual inspection of the removal process may not be enough. A qualified mold testing company should be hired to determine if the mold and mold spores are at a safe level.