Mold and mildew are common outdoors, but when found indoors, they indicate larger issues. Severe water loss is not the only cause of mold growth, high relative humidity, gaps in wall or ceiling cavities, malfunctioning HVAC systems, and myriad other issues, both large and small, can cause mold growth.
Visible mold growth is not the only cause of concern indoors. Elevated airborne mold levels can also pose several health risks. Even if you do not see visible mold growth, your home or business may still be affected by airborne mold. Sometimes your only clue that your home is affected by airborne mold is allergy-type symptoms including cough, headache, respiratory issues, and fatigue.
Phoenix EnviroCorp offers a wide range of mold inspection and testing services. We have Certified Indoor Environmental Consultants and Certified Indoor Environmentalists on staff, and we are members of the American Indoor Air Quality Association.
We can tailor our inspection and testing services to fit your needs. Our services range from basic, room-by-room air testing, to surface testing of suspect mold growth, to full scale investigations of homes and businesses. We generate remediation protocols that outline specific mold removal and clean up activities. We can even investigate your crawlspace or attic!
What conditions exist to constitute mold?
The east coast and more specifically Wilmington and surrounding areas, is known for long summers and short winters. In other words the mercury is rising more often than falling which is an asset that makes this area so desirable. Unfortunately, with higher temperatures comes higher relative humidity (RH), which is an ideal environment for growing mold. In addition areas closest to the ocean or other large bodies of water will experience higher RH levels than those that are not. In order for mold to grow it needs food (any organic material such as wood, soil, fiber, paper, dust, etc., which can be found within or on the surface of any building material), oxygen, and moisture. Although you can find mold practically everywhere, you can expect to encounter more indoor air quality problems regarding airborne mold spore in the Wilmington area than you might in areas where average RH levels are less than 60%.
If I have a mold problem will it always be apparent?
Mold often grows in places within a structure that are rarely visited or inaccessible. Attics and crawlspaces are common areas for mold growth. You may also have mold growing within wall cavities, on sub-flooring under carpets or other floor covering, behind baseboard and crown molding, etc. Mold colonies may be growing in said areas releasing mold spores that can migrate into the indoor air.
Do I want to buy real estate property where mold has been exposed? What are the health risks?
You can find mold just about anywhere, so just because a property has mold it doesn’t mean that you have a mold problem. In regard to indoor air quality, mold can be a problem when mold spores become airborne at elevated levels. Amplification of airborne mold spores indoors can greatly reduce the quality of the air we breathe and contribute to health effects. Some molds produce mycotoxins, which are harmful to humans, but symptoms may vary depending on individual immune systems and the duration of exposure. Health effects may include allergic reactions, headaches, memory loss, coughing, nosebleeds, runny nose, eye irritation, skin irritation, and lack of energy, while some individuals may not appear to be affected at all. Young children and immunocompromised people, including AIDS patients and individuals with asthma, should be especially cautious, thus exposure to some molds could lead to death in some cases.
Whenever in doubt you should always have your home or office assessed by a Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant, Certified Indoor Environmentalist or Industrial Hygienist.
Can I clean up the mold myself?
If you are in your home and discover mold growing on your wall, your natural reaction may be to clean it up. Is this a good idea? Well, it depends! It depends on a number of factors such as the amount of mold growth, the type of mold, and the make-up of the room, including contents, airflow, building materials, etc. Cleaning mold growth without the proper engineer controls could enhance the problem. Wiping may substantially increase the release of mold spores into the air. These spores can be distributed throughout your home via the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system making the indoor air quality worse than before. If chemicals are used to kill the mold, the dormant spores left behind can still produce mycotoxins, which could affect the health of occupants. The proper way to clean up mold is to get rid of the mold through a combination of cleaning and air filtration. The use of any water based solutions may enhance mold growth if the surface being cleaned is not dried properly within 24 – 48 hours. In some cases cleaning mold, yourself may be a valid option. However, because of the many variables, it is best to consult with a Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant or Certified Indoor Environmentalist first.
If a home inspector finds mold, should I have the problem fixed before having a Certified Indoor Environmentalist to assess the problem?
When buying a home I highly recommend that you hire a home inspector. If the home inspector finds mold or suspects mold you should immediately contact a Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC), Certified Indoor Environmentalist (CIE) or Industrial Hygienist (IH) to further assess the conditions.
The CIEC, CIE or IH can identify the types and levels of molds to determine if there is a problem. If a problem is found the CIEC, CIE or IH can prepare written recommendations and guidelines to correct the problem. If corrective actions are taken before a proper assessment, unnecessary work may be performed and additional work may be required. To ensure unbiased opinions, the person performing the assessment should not be affiliated in any way with the company responsible for correcting the problem. The CIEC, CIE or IH should be a third-party consultant whose sole focus is on assessing the conditions and providing recommendations and guidelines. If mold is an issue, an independent CIEC, CIE or IH should always be consulted.
Who should I call if I am concerned about mold or indoor air quality?
Molds have been around for as far back as we can trace. They are key to biodegradation and they are used in the production of foods, beverages, and prescription drugs. In recent years people have become more aware of mold and how it can affect your health. The mold industry is growing rapidly and many are jumping aboard just for the money. There are several certifications one can obtain to single out his or her specific expertise. If you are concerned about mold or indoor air quality (IAQ) you should contact a Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC) or Certified Indoor Environmentalist (CIE). A CIEC is the highest certification granted by the American Indoor Air Quality Council. Requirements for a Council-certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC) include but are not limited to demonstrating the flowing knowledge through a combination of experience, and education and the successful completion of an examination process.
- Knowledge of IAQ Contaminants and Health Effects
- Knowledge of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) principles, components and standards as they relate to indoor environmental problems.
- Knowledge of equipment used during an environmental investigation and interpretation of data.
- Knowledge of Guidelines, Regulations and Standards
- Knowledge of remediation and corrective actions regarding an indoor environmental problem.
The role and knowledge of a CIE are very similar to that of a CIEC. A CIEC or a CIE can help you with any IAQ problem including mold. These individuals can assess the problem, and assist you throughout the duration of the project, including the selection of a remediation contractor and post-remediation verification. An Industrial Hygienist may also be of assistance, but be sure that he or she has at least three years of experience in indoor environmental related work. Most importantly, make sure the person you choose is a third party independent consultant with the experience and knowledge suitable for the job at hand. Whenever in doubt you should always consult a CIEC or CIE.
How do you resolve a mold problem?
If mold is exposed in your home or office it is not the end of the world. In most cases, it can be corrected at an equitable cost. Many problems can be assessed and resolved for under $500.00. To ensure that the problem is handled correctly, you should first contact a Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC) or Certified Indoor Environmentalist (CIE) who can make recommendations and provide a written remediation design when necessary. In many cases, the insurance company and/or the manufacturer of remediation products require resolution documents (remediation design, post-remediation testing, etc.) from a CIEC, CIE, or Industrial Hygienist as a part of their agreement with the remediation contractor. Resolution documents would also provide legal recourse in case of negligence.
To control mold growth and prevent it from returning after a mold remediation you must control the moisture within your home or office. Prior to the commencement of any remediation activities, the source of all water intrusions and leaks, if any, should be repaired. Mold can be expected to return if such repairs or any other moisture problems are not remedied.
When should I request a Mold Investigation or IAQ Survey?
If you answer yes to any of the following questions you should contact a Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant (CIEC) or Certified Indoor Environmentalist (CIE) to request a Mold Investigation or Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Survey.
- Are you experiencing coughing, nose bleeds, runny nose; swelling, itching, or irritated eyes, nose or throat; headaches, nausea, drowsiness or dizziness that appear to be related to a specific room or building?
- Have you detected an unknown lingering odor in the crawlspace, attic, or interior of your home or office?
- Has the building sustained water damage?
- Have you observed stains on walls or ceilings?
- Have you observed condensation around heating, ventilation, and air conditioning registers or vents?
- Have you observed standing water, condensation, or wet soil in your crawlspace?
- Have you observed mold growth on any surface within the crawlspace, attic or interior of the building?
- Are you purchasing a home or business and have concerns about mold or indoor air quality?