Your Guide to Mold Remediation
mold remediation

Indoor spaces impact our health every single day, even if we don’t always include them in the wellness equation. As the EPA states, the average individual spends approximately 90% of their time indoors, “where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.” Exposure to these pollutants can cause a range of adverse health reactions, so it’s essential to create and maintain a space that supports your wellness. One of the main contaminants that lead to the development of a toxic environment is mold. All homeowners should have a well-rounded understanding of mold remediation and how to properly handle microbial growth, should it be present.

Unfortunately, figuring out the order of operations for eliminating microbial growth can be difficult. The lack of awareness around the world, coupled with the absence of industry standards, can make handling the problem both stressful and confusing, and not to mention EXPENSIVE. To avoid issues that could lead to contamination continuing to exist in the home, it’s crucial to know what steps to take and what to expect from the professionals you hire.

That way, you can have peace of mind knowing that your home will safeguard your overall health rather than negatively impact it. As an added bonus, you will also save money by avoiding repeat inspections or remediation projects.

Why Is Mold Remediation So Important?

Mold is an environmental toxin that has the potential to create adverse health reactions when left unattended.

As mold grows, it reproduces by creating and releasing microscopic spores into the surrounding area. Some species of mold also release toxins called mycotoxins when threatened. The longer a mold colony is alive in a building, the more spores it will release into that indoor environment. This lowers indoor air quality and contaminates the surfaces within.

Anytime an individual spends time in this contaminated environment, it introduces an opportunity for these particles to make their way into the body through inhalation. Over time, this can lead to our bodies’ inability to handle the toxic burden and the exposed individual developing chronic symptoms and/or disease.

It’s important to note that all mold has the ability to impact our health, even if it’s not Stachybotrys chartarum or better known as the infamous “toxic black mold.” And it’s not just allergic reactions that can develop. Some individuals experience symptoms that disrupt their ability to live their daily lives. Mold toxicity can have a multisystemic effect, resulting in a variety of health symptoms that are unique to each person who is exposed. Additionally, dead mold can also cause issues and may even be more harmful than living mold. This is why “killing” the mold is not a good idea. Mold should always be eliminated completely.

If you suspect mold in your home or have recently discovered it, here are the steps you should take to ensure that it’s handled correctly so that you have a safe environment to heal.

1. Hire a Qualified Mold Inspector

Hiring the right inspector is key to ensuring you have a successful mold inspection and can locate all sources of mold growth. It’s essential that you find a mold inspector who is independent of the mold remediation company so that there’s no conflict of interest. The mold inspector’s job is to evaluate the home and write up a “recipe” for the mold remediation process. If a company does both, there’s an opportunity for negligence and dishonesty.

Make sure to spend time vetting companies so that you select the best individual for a job. Don’t be afraid to ask questions like, “What are mycotoxins, and will you test for them in my home?”

By the way, the answer should sound something like this: “Mycotoxins are biotoxins produced by certain species of molds that are meant to kill living organisms. They’re created as a defense mechanism to protect themselves and are produced when the mold colony feels threatened. So yes, I will absolutely test for mycotoxins.”

The inspector you choose will come to the home and locate the sources of growth throughout the structure. A good mold inspector will use a combination of tools in addition to a thorough visual inspection to identify the hidden locations, such as testing (air sampling, swab sampling, tape lifts, cavity sampling, ERMI, and pathway testing), moisture meters, and thermal imaging cameras. The best route to success is to find someone who is familiar with all testing types and/or has a background in building science and can identify the building errors causing the issues in the first place.

2. Obtain a Mold Remediation Protocol

Once the inspection is finished, the inspector will write out the remediation protocol based on all of the data that they collected. Creating the protocol is an invaluable step because it offers the foundation needed for the remediation team to come in and properly decontaminate the home.

This part of the process is why it’s crucial to choose an individual who is qualified for the task. In fact, while interviewing potential inspector candidates, one of the questions you should ask is, “Will you be able to provide me with a written remediation protocol?”

They should be fluent in remediation procedures so that they are able to outline exactly what the remediator should do to resolve the issue. Otherwise, sources or proper steps could be missed, allowing the contamination to continue existing within the home.

3. Assess Personal Belongings

At this point, it’s time to determine which items will stay in the home and which ones will need to go. As mentioned previously, when microbial growth existed in the home, it released microscopic particles into the surrounding environment. Unfortunately, this contaminated the surfaces within, including the belongings that were present. If items are brought into a new, healthier indoor space but are covered in contaminants like mold spores, mycotoxins, and bacteria, exposure to these microscopic particles will continue. The longer the exposure goes on, the more these particles will enter the body and can continue to trigger adverse health reactions.

To ensure that this contamination does not transfer into your newly decontaminated environment, it’s important to know what can be cleansed and what will have to be replaced. No one wants to take steps and spend money transitioning to a healthier home only to continue to be bogged down by chronic illness due to exposure.

This process will be based on your sensitivity, the type of surface, and the contamination level present.

4. Mold Remediation

Once the inspection is completed and the protocol is drafted, it’s time to begin removing the contamination from the home. Like the inspector, it’s essential to hire a qualified remediation company to come in and handle the issue.

Once again, don’t be afraid to ask a long list of questions while interviewing potential companies. For example, one thing you should be looking to know is if they’re experienced in working with individuals suffering from mold toxicity and how many of those individuals were able to return to their homes without feeling any adverse health reactions after the remediation project.

Why inquire about this? The industry standard was not made with sensitive individuals in mind. You want to make sure that the person performing the work has done more than one or two homes for an individual experiencing adverse health reactions.

Once you choose the right remediation company, the team will start by removing or cleaning any contaminated ductwork. If they opt to clean the system, it will be sealed up after that process is complete.

Next is to remove all of the sources of contaminants within the home using negative pressure containment. This process is essential because if you don’t contain that space, then you’ll be trying to create negative pressure on an entire house instead of just one room, and one machine inside a room won’t draw enough air negatively to produce negative pressure. In a nutshell, it means that the mold that’s released into the air from that one room will cross-contaminate the rest of the house. This can lead to an increased risk of another source developing and require thorough decontamination to get rid of the high level of particles.

5. Conduct a Whole-home Cleaning

Cleaning after remediation is crucial to ensuring that your environment is as healthy and decontaminated as possible. Again, microscopic particles were released into your environment while the sources were present. These particles will have ridden the air current and made their way throughout the indoor space, not just the area where the growth was present.

That means that unwanted contamination exists on surfaces throughout the home. This needs to be dealt with so that exposure does not continue. Cleaning the home from top to bottom using proper cleaning products and procedures is key to ensuring your home becomes the awakened space you’ve worked so hard for.

You can sign up for the Awakened Homeowner for a complete guide to ongoing home maintenance to ensure your indoor environment remains healthy.

6. Post-Mold Remediation Clearance Testing

After the sources have been dealt with and the area has been decontaminated by the remediation team, a clearance test should be conducted to ensure that the remediation was successful. Again, the individual who conducts this testing should not work for the company that completed the remediation. A good idea is to have the same inspector who conducted the initial inspection come back to complete the clearance testing.

If high levels of contamination are present, steps should be taken to address them and determine what led to the issue. If the results show that the protocol was successful, you can jump into the next phase of the process.

Once the home has been cleaned and cleared via post-remediation clearance testing by the inspector who wrote the report, then it’s time to install the new ductwork or unseal the cleaned HVAC system. These could have entered the system during remediation or cleaning if they were not sealed or replaced.

The result will be contamination blowing all throughout the home as soon as the unit is turned back on. Leaving this step until after everything is complete will ensure that the system is in good condition and ready to support the health of your home and indoor air quality.

7. Begin to Rebuild Your Space

After this extensive process, you probably want to make sure that your home is protected against future issues, right?! While we can’t put a protective bubble around our home, there are many things we can do to safeguard it. Rebuilding with health in mind is a key component of creating an awakened space that promotes your ongoing wellness.

Creating a safe space after remediation includes considerations such as choosing healthier materials, implementing moisture management designs, ensuring proper construction techniques are used, and more. All of these steps will come together to create an environment that supports your body and protects against indoor contamination.

Click here to schedule a clarity call to learn more about how we can support you in building back your home after remediation.

You’ve Got This

This process may seem daunting, but it’s a journey you can conquer. At the end of the day, this dark time will end and your home will be the safe haven you envision. Just remember to take time throughout the process to focus on your mental and emotional health and nourish your nervous system as much as possible. You’ll get through this!

Ashley Realm

Ashley · @AwakeningSpaces

Awakening Spaces is a full service interior design and consulting firm that support health conscious individuals and those who have been impacted by mold, chemicals, and EMFs create safe nurturing spaces.

Whether you’re renovating, building new, or looking to improve your existing space, we’re here to help you navigate the massive project you’re taking on by looking at your environment holistically and outlining the steps you need to take so that you can feel confident that your home is supporting your health and you can get back to your life.

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