Testing and/or Sampling for Mold and Humidity
Sampling for mold and humidity should be performed prior to restoring your flood damaged floors, walls, cabinets, etc. Sampling for mold and humidity should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in mold sampling, humidity testing protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations.
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Toxic Mold - The Bad Mold...
The definition of “toxic mold” or “black mold” is a term coined by the media. Certain types of molds emit chemical mycotoxin poisons that can cause serious human health diseases. Toxic mold doesn't cause health problems in all people. If two people are exposed to the same mold in the same space, one might have negative health effects while the other person has none. That's what makes mold such a mystery and consequently makes it hard to develop standards for mold.
If you have had water intrusion in your home or building that went unnoticed or untreated for a period of time, or if humidity is to too high, mold is very likely to grow in the affected areas. Once the water problem has been corrected there's a good chance mold is present - now what?
Be calm and EDUCATE yourself before you do anything - even before calling your Insurance Agent or contractor - keep reading!
Follow the Guidelines Although there are no standards to remove mold, there ARE guidelines you can refer to. You should refer to them before you let just anyone remove the mold or let anyone tell you that you do or do not have a mold problem. The best source of information is the IICRC S520 Proposed Standards on Mold Remediation. A copy of this may be obtained through the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) or on the web at http://www.iaqa.org/ or at www.IICRC.com.
It's taken quite a bit of research to get a simplified answer to “What are Mycotoxins?” So let me try this analogy. Mycotoxins are the scent the mold produces on the food it is eating to keep other molds from invading its food source. For example, one species of mold is enjoying a left over hamburger and it doesn't want to share the hamburger with other molds so the mold will emit (or inject) its mycotoxin(s) into the hamburger to keep other molds from joining in on its feast. But if another, stronger strain of mold invades the food it too can emit mycotoxins and start to grow on the food sources as well. Now, picture this, you've just cut off that piece of moldy cheese or bread and are making a delectable sandwich, but your delectable ingredients (bread/cheese) is infected with a mycotoxin - Will you get sick from eating the infected cheese? Who knows, it depends on how susceptible you are to the mycotoxin.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's) - that's what. When you smell that “musty-moldy” odor, it's the VOC's you smell. VOC's are often considered irritants to mucus membranes; however, they are also capable of both short-term and long-term adverse health effects. If you do smell these odors, it's a sure sign mold is growing somewhere. However, some molds like Aspergillious-Penicillium produce off-gassing (VOC's) all the time. You can call Bernhardt's for an assessment of the problem and recommendations to remove the problem.
Mold reproduces by making spores. Like the dandelion, when mold is disturbed either by spraying it, wiping it off, brushing against it, etc., mold spores become airborne and will hover in the air until they find a food source. Once the spores find a food source they will begin to colonize (grow).
The Bottom Line: The bottom line is, if you think you have a mold problem in your living or working environment, you have the potential of experiencing negative health effects. According to the EPA and CDC, mold can be especially harmful to infants, elderly, people with asthma or mold allergies or immuno-compromised people. The EPA also states that: All molds have the potential to cause health effects.
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