The Facts and Fiction on Mold and Its Remediation
By Gene Walshaw, Owner, Best Choice Inspections
As an Indoor Air Quality Consultant for over 25 years, I get a lot of questions about mold and how to remove it. I no longer perform mold remediation, but focus my time on its investigation, inspection, and sampling. Therefore, the public can receive the unbiased answers they deserve to know. Here are a few of the most common questions I am asked.
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE ABOUT MOLD AND MOLD REMEDIATION?
Mold remediation, a fancy name for removal & treatment, has such a variety of techniques and opinions that is it no wonder the lay person is confused. There are two major sources of reliable consumer information: First; a respected national association for remediation, example: The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration, and Certification at www.iicrc.org. Second; a government source such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at www.epa.gov/mold. It is my opinion the least reliable source of information and remediation is a company that offers “free mold inspections” and “free mold testing”. In many cases the price of these “free” services are built into the remediation costs. Many government agencies and legislatures are considering rules or laws prohibiting mold inspectors from also doing remediation work. Florida has passed such a law. Best Choice Inspections only does inspecting and consulting work, never the remediation.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MOLD AND MOLD SPORES?
Think of mold like a dandelion. It’s fluffy seeds blow off the dandelion and ride with the wind to reproduce the plant somewhere else. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores (“seeds”) that are invisible to the naked eye. They move easily through the air and can be breathed deeply into the lungs. Because of this, it is usually not safe to live in a house with high mold levels (spore counts). Prolonged exposure to high spore levels can cause the development of an allergy to mold.
HOW CAN SOMETHING SO SMALL BE SO HARMFUL?
Most mold spores contain substances that cause people with sensitivities to react as if a cold virus has entered their body (sinus blockage, headaches, fatigue, etc.). Other mold spores produce minute poisons (called mycotoxins) that help it fight off competing mold species. Unfortunately, these mycotoxins can also cause severe reactions in people such as memory loss, trigger asthma attacks, and pneumonia.
Mold growth is usually characterized by a musty odor. Dead mold may not have any odor. Dead mold spores still contain the same allergens and mycotoxins that can cause poor health in sensitive individuals. Because mold spores are microscopic they can move from inside a wall or crawl space through electric outlets or small gaps and into the house. This happens when your house depressurizes, such as when the central air conditioner turns on.
HOW DO I FIND AND ELIMINATE MOLD SPORES?
Best Choice Inspections will help you. Using investigative techniques and lab analysis (only when needed), we locate unseen mold growth then provide you a plan to eliminate the mold, its spores, and cause of growth. Because we are an impartial, investigative company only, you can trust we have no motive for recommending expensive remedies. If the mold type is mildly allergenic with a small colony, and you are in good health, we can explain how to remediate it yourself. If the amount is large or toxic and you appear mold sensitized, we will refer you to several qualified mold remediation companies that can professionally eliminate it.
For other questions about mold, please call Best Choice Inspections call 865-804-2422. You can also visit epa.gov/mold.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gene has an extensive background in mold removal, IAQ (indoor air quality) investigation, and mold sampling for laboratory analysis. In the last 25 years he worked 17 years of those as a water damage restoration contractor specializing in mold removal and treatment. Since 2003 he has focused his time on mold and IAQ investigations. “Find the cause, not just treat the symptom” is his motto. Hundreds of Gene’s clients are now breathing healthy. Gene holds a Certification for Mold Inspection from the University of Tennessee. He is a member of the Indoor Air Quality Association, which requires strict ethical behavior for its members. He is a past-president of the Home Inspectors of Tennessee Association (HITA). He is both a HITA Certified Master Inspector and is a Certified Master Inspector in the National Association of Certified Inspectors (InterNACHI). His company, Best Choice Inspections, is a also a 100% complaint-free, accredited business with the Better Business Bureau.