Guest Blogger: Bob Pavlik, Certified Master Inspector, Gold Key Home Inspections
Toxic black mold. Toxic mold. Organic growth. The horror stories are all over the news. A family moves into a home, only to have it condemned after they develop serious health issues because of toxic black mold….
If you hear that four-letter word, STOP. Don’t run for the door.
1. According to the CDC, molds are not toxic. Some produce toxins, but they themselves are not toxic or otherwise poisonous. In fact, while there is evidence to support a link between certain respiratory issues and certain molds, the above example is extremely rare.
2. Mold exists everywhere, both indoors and outside. There are good molds and bad molds. Mold grows very quickly – a perfectly healthy environment can become overgrown with mold in as little as 48 hours. Some molds can be easily remedied, and other mold conditions will require remediation by an approved contractor.
The important thing to remember is that the presence of mold can only truly be confirmed through testing by an approved lab. So, if you suspect mold or your home inspector suggests that your new home has “organic growth,” ask to have it tested.
A mold inspector will examine areas in the house that are conducive to water intrusion and look for signs of growth. The inspector will then take air samples and/or swab surfaces and submit the samples to a lab to determine if mold is present and, if so, what kind and at what concentration. Once you have the results in hand indicating elevated mold levels, your next move should be to
1. Determine the cause or source of the mold. Ask your mold inspector if the cause can be easily fixed or if a hygienist will be required to remediate. If the presence of mold is contained to less than 10 square feet, HUD says you can clean it yourself (or hire a contractor to clean the mold). However, if the presence is greater than 10 square feet, you will need to hire a hygienist to write a remediation plan. Remediation will involve finding where the moisture is entering the house or where it’s originating within the house as well as making necessary repairs. It also involves removal and replacement of damaged cellulose materials as well as drying out the damp areas.
2. Take the test results to your doctor or an allergist to determine if the molds found in your house are a potential health issue.
The bottom line is that most mold issues can be remedied. The key is to repair or remove the source of moisture and to clean the mold in a recommended manner to restore a healthy home environment.
· Facts about Stachybotrys chartarum and Other Molds, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/mold/stachy.htm
· Molds and Moisture, Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.epa.gov/mold