Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

           Depending upon the level, location, use and extent of remediation required, the remediation needs to be done with appropriate levels of protection. Persons handling materials, contents and debris from a mold remediation are exposed to elevated mold levels. Mold can spread just as when you blew on the dandelion that turned white and saw the tiny seeds go everywhere. PPE or “Personal Protective Equipment” needs worn by those exposed to airborne mold during work.

           At a minimum, workers need protected with masks. In higher mold conditions or closed areas, gloves and suits may also be crucial and necessary protective equipment.


            If an area of remediation has disturbed materials, the area being cleaned needs contained from spreading disturbed mold through other areas of the building envelope. Contaminated materials need to be wrapped and carried out of the building while enclosed or wrapped to prevent mold contaminated materials from harming others.


           In areas of significant disturbed mold contaminated materials, the area of work may need protected with an airlock. This is usually simple, overlapping plastic doors that appear like the scene you may remember from the movie "ET the Extraterrestrial. This is called containment.


           In situations where there is concern and risk that disturbed mold may be drawn from the disturbed area into the other areas of the building, the work area needs placed under negative air pressure. That means the air is drawn from that area and sent to the exterior.


           Forced air heating systems are another place that needs professionally considered to avoid moving mold through the rest of the building. Ductwork may need sealed within work areas to avoid the furnace or AC blower pushing mold through the building while the unit is operating.


           Another aspect of the professional mold remediation job is air scrubbing.  Mold spores go into the air. That process is accelerated when mold is disturbed during work.  As that mold is floating in the work area can be collected onto a filter in the piece of equipment called an air scrubber. This is a highly efficient air filter designed to capture the small particles such as mold.


Post Remediation Verification Testing at the End of Remediation
          At the end of the work, you should have proof that the work was effective in removing the mold. This is done by conducting a "clearance test" also known as a PRV, short for "Post-Remediation Verification" Accepted procedure is that clearance testing should not be conducted by the remediator.to avoid the “fox counting the chickens in the chicken coup.”


            Selecting the right professional for your project can be a scary challenge. It is a very important task with the health of occupants of the mold contaminated building depending upon the work of possibly unknown strangers.


For links and additional information about finding help for mold remediation, go to: www.Envirospect.com/FailedRemmediation

Posted by Dan Howard on April 14th, 2020 6:46 PM

            The sad truth is that many mold remediation jobs fail and leave the customer with an empty wallet and a home that is still unhealthy. Mold has often grown back within weeks or months of a treatment. The mold remediators that do not do a good job count on several factors.

             It is shocking to find that after thousands of dollars of treatment many homes still have mold visible in areas such as behind baseboards, behind walls, in ductwork and on contents that were not treated. Those remediators are counting on the customer not recognizing the remaining mold.

What the Bad Mold Remediators Want you to Believe

              We all pretty much trust the claims on the label of Lysol Disinfectant Spray. In bold letters is says that  it has a 99.9% kill rate for germs, bacteria and mold. Heck, they wouldn’t make a false claim, would they?

              Picture that we go into a dirty, dusty room and spray everything with a mist of Lysol. Fast forward two weeks. The dust, dirt and other debris is still there. Maybe we even add a little food debris on the kitchen counter and table.

             Do you for one minute believe that any home will be germ free three weeks after being sprayed? Simply spraying or fogging with a mold product is not enough to make a home or any other building an acceptable level of mold for more than a few days or weeks.

It’s the Preparation That Makes the Difference

             The most economical and healthy approach to mold remediation in a building is to complete remediation of all mold contaminated areas and sources of contamination in the initial project. An independent expert in the building science of mold should do an assessment for two reasons. One reason is the added expertise in finding mold and creating the plan to keep it from coming back. The other is that it will provide a customer the information to know which mold remediators proposal is right for the property. You want enough work done to make sure the property stays mold free and mot more work or expense than is necessary.         

Selecting a Remediator and Treatment System

            Identifying and removing materials and contents that can’t be cleaned is the first step. Deep cleaning of organic debris and dust is critical to success. HEPA cleaning, wiping and disinfection of surfaces is required for most remediations to be successful and lasting. Do not settle for spraying or fogging without preparation.     

            There are numerous mold treatment systems available that encompass a wide range of chemicals of varying toxicity. Some chemicals that have superb effectiveness are very dangerous to health and safety. The goal is selecting a treatment system that can fully kill mold and yet be safe for residents and mold technicians. The additional important criteria are that the residual chemical should have a degree of continued effectiveness and yet be safe for occupant and pet exposure.


           Make sure that product label instructions are followed. The use of an enzyme-based treatment system is often a great choice. In any instance, the chosen treatment system should be applied according to directions by technicians utilizing proper procedures and personal protective equipment. All systems of mold treatment include application of chemical products that should be done by trained professionals to assure both safety and effectiveness.  

           Indoor air humidity and to be less than 40% to 50 %, and all cavities and surfaces free of wetness. All water leaks and events need corrected. The conditions that allow mold growth must be avoided.

Posted by Dan Howard on April 14th, 2020 6:42 PM

                In thousands of homes and on social media posts across the land, you saw the annual notice heralding the end of summer vacation: “Summer is over and the kids are back in school”. Some will cry, some will cheer, some will only shrug their shoulders. No matter what we do or say, every school year, the emotion, and the back to school sales come to an end and attention shifts to the students actually being in school.  

 Click Here to Download a Copy of Published Article

             That is “all as it should be” with each new school year. The sad news is that the “welcome back student” message has been accompanied with too many news stories about mold being found in our nation’s schools. It is not an accident that “National Mold Awareness Month” is September.

               The bottom line on this is that parents DO NOT want their child sick because they go to school. Our schools that have mold are like the “Jaws” movies. Just when you think it is safe to return, we find out that it is “not so safe.”

When we experience any school environmental issue such as mold, it can be front page headlines, TV, talk show fodder and Facebook news feed material. 

Environmental issues in schools are not “just another student health issue”. These problems are a public relations nightmare, a staff human relations mine field, a facility management challenge, a budget buster, a political fiasco and a liability time bomb.

Signs of Mold in School

               If a school is flooded or has leaks that are not quickly cleaned up, there will be mold. Whether it is a roof leak, plumbing leak or any other area of wet surfaces, you can count on mold growing. 

               Parents should take a look around their child’s school. Water stains are the target to look for. Fuzzy or splotchy areas are the bullseye in the search for suspected mold. These can be in almost any area of a building anywhere from the highest ceiling to the lowest floor. In addition to the visual indicators of mold presence, odor can be indicator. When the odor of mold is in the school or on a child’s clothes, books, papers or possessions, mold should be investigated as a source of the offensive smell.  

             Sewage backups, leaks and all floods also have a host of water borne diseases and contaminants. When these occur, a professionally conducted disinfection must be conducted even when mold is not visible. Even a little dust left in an obscure corner after the flood is gone can enter through a cut in a student’s hand or their lungs long after the water is gone if the areas has not been disinfected.   

Mold is a Science Project

           Though not part of the approved school curriculum, mold that is found in the school is really a science experiment. Anywhere on earth that there is food and water, something will grow.  It can be the deepest ocean or highest mountain. It can be the north pole or south pole or anywhere in between. That scientific fact is that books, paper, wood floors, drywall, dust, or any other material or any other substrate that can grow mold will grow mold within 48 hours of leaks or high moisture occurring.  

 The most common sources of mold problems in a school are:
  • Roof, wall foundation or other leaks from the exterior
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Malfunctioning or poorly designed HVAC Systems
  • Condensation issues caused by improper temperatures and humidity being maintained
  • Floods

           The first step in preventing recurrence of mold is determining the conditions that were mold conducive. If mold grew in a school over the summer because the air conditioning was not run, or there are roof leaks, or any other reason, it will return if the cause of mold is not corrected. 

            Failure to correct the underlying cause of environmental hazards as well as the hazard itself, is a waste of money, and serves to mislead parents, administration and faculty into believing that the school mold environment is safe. In school we learned to consider both cause and effect. The same applies in the process of creating healthy indoor air quality.          

Schools Can Get Help to Keep our Children Safe from Mold

            The EPA provides great online tools available to learn the issues and solutions to mold problems.  These are great general guidelines, but can’t address individual conditions. Mold problems are often complicated by being the result of several underlying conditions that require expertise in multiple construction fields. 

              Unfortunately, learning to use and to then implement these tools is often much tougher than obtaining them.  Professional assistance is a good option to get an environmental awareness and mold prevention program up and running properly. Once established, existing staff can usually keep the program running.

              Usually an indoor air quality (IAQ) program process starts with an initial site assessment, or information gathering session. The environmental risks are evaluated and appropriate tests then conducted. These could include mold and allergen testing. If there was flooding or sewage backups, testing for a number of common infectious diseases should be added. 

             An educational staff can’t be expected to have the full knowledge to implement a program, but often, once in place, the good health of school occupants can be maintained through the corrections and adjustments made in the facility. There are several companies that have assessment and monitoring programs that include a yearly Indoor Air Quality Certificate for posting after the assessment and completion of any appropriate testing and corrections.

               School district participation in an environmental awareness and preventive care program can pay for itself in lower medical costs, lower property repair costs and better long term health of students and staff. The other benefit is “peace of mind” for parents, particularly in schools that have had prior mold problems.
Posted by Dan Howard on September 26th, 2019 6:37 PM

  The fourth lawsuit was filed in the deaths of patients from mold exposure. Two of the cases have settled already for 1.3 million each. Another case is pending in addition to this new case.

         You may need a brief history. It was back in September of 2015 that the entire UPMC Transplant Program was shut down as mold was discovered in a specialized area of the hospital for transplant patients….and…. the mold was, more importantly inside of the patients.

         This is a world renowned program with reportedly a waiting list of over 1,000 patients. This was a BIG deal. A “life and death” deal.

            That background makes the story you read and hear in the news both interesting and scary. It is not the REAL story here. The real story is that transplant patients are at a very high risk of serious infection particularly for 6 months after receiving the transplant.


        If mold exposure can be a cause of death in a hospital, it can be a cause of death anywhere a patient may go.

         If you have someone you care about with the modern day miracle of an organ transplant, have the home or other place they spent time checked to assure the mold level is safe in the area.

         This story goes beyond organ transplant patients. Those patients on chemotherapy, auto-immune disease, elderly, very young, and many other at risk patients can become seriously ill as a result of mold exposure.

For a full article with more information on organ transplant and other immunosuppressed patients and mold exposure go to: https://goo.gl/RKnhZh

Posted by Dan Howard on November 2nd, 2016 10:37 PM

Myth #1:              Toxic Black Mold is the only dangerous mold

Truth: #1:            It is true that Stacybotrys chartarum, also known as “Toxic Black Mold” can be very dangerous. It is also true that there are many molds that can affect health. Common molds such as Aspergillus, Penicillium and Cladosporium can trigger respiratory problems. There are some that are highly allergenic and others that can trigger neurological problems. Testing can identify which molds are present. Then, if needed, your medical professional can evaluate the possibility of particular health issues can be determined based upon the type and amount of mold.


Myth #2:              If you can’t see or smell any mold, it can’t be a problem.

Truth #2:             Mold can and does live behind walls, under floors, in french drain systems and in furnishings as well as many other hidden areas. Though you may not see the visible mold, the small particles that can affect health called endotoxins and mycotoxins can affect the health of some individuals. When mold is suspected, it is important to test for mold, even when it is not visible to the naked eye.


Myth #3               Mold is everywhere and does not need remediated.

Truth #3               Though mold is everywhere, all molds are not everywhere in the same amount and type. Most city water contains traces of Arsenic, known as a toxin. Our bodies can handle small amounts of this and almost every environmental exposure. It is the quantity of the total exposure that can create serious health problems. Too much Arsenic and we can become ill or die. Every day we are in the sun we have some exposure to radiation with little consequence. If we walk into a nuclear reactor, or have too much sun over our lifetime, we can have serious health consequences.  Mold exposure is cumulative with each person having an exposure level that can result in sickness.


Myth #4               If only one person living in a home is sick, it must be something other than mold.  

Truth #4               Each person has a level of exposure that can be unhealthy that is unique to them. Some of the factors affecting the level include prior exposures, genetics, the time spent in the area where the mold exposure is located, quality of the immune system of each person, stress levels, diseases affecting the immune system and general health.


Myth #5               A Clean House or New Home Can’t Get Mold.

Truth #5               Even the cleanest or newest of homes can have mold. You have read about some of the cleanest transplant centers in hospitals can have hidden mold. It is true that dirt will support the growth of mold, but a sterile environment can have mold hiding behind a wall or other hidden area.

Posted in:Mold Myths and tagged: Black moldmyths
Posted by Dan Howard on September 17th, 2016 10:05 PM

                The scientists use the phrase “mold is ubiquitous”, meaning it is everywhere.  Mold occurs naturally everywhere on earth where there is food and water for it.  As an example, some molds are Mother Nature’s recycling plant. There are molds that grow on the dead trees in the woods and turns them into topsoil so that new trees and plants can grow. Mold has many uses essential to the grand plan of the universe.

                Some types of mold can be very beneficial. Without mold we would not have cheese, antibiotics, wine and many other important products of everyday life. On the other hand we have some potentially toxic molds such as Stacybotrys also known as "toxic black mold"

                Mold travels through a number of methods. It can be carried by moving air or water. Mold can hitch a ride on an object, person or animal. Furniture, firewood or clothing can each carry mold from one location to another.

                If a spore lands on an object that is food for that mold and there is sufficient water for it to grow, it will create Colony Forming Units (CFUs).  These CFUs are the fuzzy splotches that you recognize as typical of mold growth.

                In our homes, if mold spores find a suitable food source such as drywall paper, wood or dirt, they will grow. This is no different than when Johnny Appleseed (whose real name was John Chapman) traveled through Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana with apple seeds. He dropped apple seeds in the soil and left a legacy of apple trees.    

                The lesson learned from how mold starts to grow is that the underlying conditions of high moisture and a mold food source need changed after treatment for mold is complete.  If the old conditions continue, new spores will land and the mold problem will return. 

                The use of enzyme treatment systems such as Oceanic is an effective way to eliminate mold with a treatment system that is safe and healthy for building occupants. Enzymes differ from most mold treatments by digesting the mold rendering it inert. This differs from the bulk of treatment products that poison the mold and can harm pets and family members if exposed. 

                Moisture control can be achieved by dehumidification, correction of leaks or changes in the heating systems and vapor barriers. There are times that building materials can be changed to materials less favorable to mold growth. Changing how contents are stored can be the difference that keeps a healthy home free from mold. 

                Understanding mold is building science. Solutions to mold problems require professionals that understand the science behind mold problems. Your  Envirospect professional is trained and dedicated to making your home, business, school or office a healthy environment. Envirospect is a Testall approved company                

Posted by Dan Howard on September 14th, 2016 10:47 PM



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