Indoor Air Quality & Mold

Mold and Indoor Air Quality Health Effects and Standards

What Are Molds?

Molds are present virtually every-where indoors and outdoors. They are needed to breakdown dead material and recycle nutrients in the environment.

For molds to grow and reproduce, they need only an organic food source (such as leaves, wood, paper, or soil) and moisture. Because molds grow by digesting the organic material, they gradually destroy whatever they grow on. Sometimes, new mold will grow on old mold colonies.

Mold growth on surfaces can be seen in the form of discoloration, which is frequently green, gray, brown, or black but also white and other colors. Molds release countless tiny, light-weight spores, which travel through the air.

Microscopic close-up of Aspergillus niger fruiting structure

mold

Health Effects

Molds produce health effects through inflammation, allergy, or infection. Allergic reactions (often referred to as hay fever) are most common following mold exposure. Typical symptoms that mold-exposed persons report (alone or in combination) include:

  • Respiratory problems, such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, and shortness of breath.
  • Nasal and sinus congestions.
  • Eye irritation.
  • Dry hacking cough
  • Nose or throat irritation
  • Skin rashes or skin irritation.

Headaches, memory problems, mood swings, nosebleeds, body aches and pains, and fevers are occassionally reported in mold cases, but their cause is not understood. CSC recommends that you consult with a medical physician if you suspect that mold exposure has affected

Stachybotrys chartarum on growth medium

mold

Assessment & Remediation

Although there are no current regulations that address the assessment and remediation of mold, the industry has adopted several unofficial standards to assess and clean up mold contaminated buildings. The following are a few simple steps aimed at the assessment and remediation of mold contamination:

  • Identify and eliminate the source of water.
  • Dry all affected surfaces.
  • Remove and dispose of all moldy porous items, such as rugs, carpeting, drywall, etc.
  • Disinfect non-porous items such as glassware by using a solution of detergent and water.
  • Perform a post-mold remediation evaluation to determine if remediation has been effective in removing the mold contamination.

Most remediation practices are conducted in negative pressure enclosures to prevent the migration of mold spores to unaffected areas of the building. Contractors are encouraged to use proper protective equipment during mold remediation projects.

Post-Remediation Evaluation

Currently there are no remediation standards or set Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) for exposure to mold spores. For that reason, it is extremely difficult to determine whether an indoor environment is safe to live in after the completion of a mold remediation project. CSC has developed four criteria for conducting an effective post-mold remediation evaluation without exerting a great economical hardship on the building owner:

  • The work area undergoing remedial work must be clean from construction dust and debris, which may contain mold spores.
  • The work area must be free of visible mold growth.
  • The affected building materials must exhibit a moisture content less than 15% to prevent further mold growth.
  • The indoor mold spore con-centration must be lower than the outdoor spore concentration, and the types of mold found indoors must be generally similar to the types found outdoors.

Our Team of Experts

CSC has assembled a highly qualified team of experts to assist our clients with their mold problems. Our employees are highly educated in areas of industrial hygiene, environmental sciences, and in conducting indoor air quality investigations related to microbial contamination and mold. The following is a partial list of the qualifications in CSC?s Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Department.

  • Professional Engineers (PE)
  • Doctorates in Toxicology and Chemistry (PhD)
  • Certified Industrial Hygienists
  • Certified Microbial Consultants
  • Certified Indoor Air Quality Technicians and Professionals
  • Industrial Hygienists

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