That Weird Smell in Your House Might Be Mold. Here’s How to Check

Like climate change leads to an increase in more severe floods and frosts, additional moisture and humidity make more homes and businesses susceptible to mold growth. Mold can cause a variety of diseases, ranging from asthma and upper respiratory tract symptoms to organ damage and cognitive impairment. Michael Berg, technical director of Eurofins Environment Testing America, a company that does environmental testing for mold and other potential hazards, cited a research study that found the economic cost to society of diseases caused by exposure to moisture and mold exceeds $ 22 billion.

With the Atlantic hurricane season beginning in June, consumers need to know how to deal with water intrusion and mold in their homes. Since mold can start to grow within 24 to 48 hours, you should respond quickly to water intrusion by immediately removing damp materials (gypsum boards, carpets, padding, etc.), using fans and dehumidifiers to drying your home and opening up trapped areas. humidity in the air flow. Some lucky residents will not have mold, but those who sniff it, see it, or develop disease need to know what steps to consider, and that starts with an assessment of mold.

The importance of proper assessment

Because there are no national standards on mold evaluation and correction, standards vary from state to state. Only a handful of states have indoor air quality (IAQ) laws that focus on mold, leaving uneducated consumers at a disadvantage when faced with water intrusion. Doug Hoffman, executive director of the National Organization of Mold Remedies and Inspectors (NORMI), says NORMI has helped draft mold legislation in several states. Hoffman said consumers should think of the “mold consultant as the architect” in charge of designing the scope and steps of the repair project, while the “remediator is the contractor who does the work.” Hoffman says consumers should not try to save money on testing because testing dictates correction, and incomplete testing can lead to incomplete repair.

Mike Marshall, chief operating officer of Texas Mold Inspection Sciences and president of the Texas Mold Appraisers and Remedies Association, agreed, saying “insufficient assessments and testing can lead to insufficient repair.” you can fix what is not identified. I can endorse the need for a thorough professional evaluation of the mold. Cleaning and repair took 20 months after my house exploded with toxic mold two decades ago. Part of the extended timeline was due to insufficient testing leading to gradual repairs.

However, discarding uncontaminated materials can also lead to unnecessary expense. Marshall estimates that the correction can cost 15 to 20 times the cost of testing, so accurate testing can save customers a lot of money through targeted correction. Berg said mold testing is not necessary in cases where there is a clear path to address the problem (such as after a flood or a broken pipe), but it is very useful when there is a hidden growth of mold or when there are insurance claims or disputes. In our extreme mold experience, logic did not dictate a precise repair plan, so thorough testing was required. As the mold explosion began in our shower, testing of tape samples revealed toxic mold throughout the house – the three bathrooms, the kitchen, the laundry room and more.

What happens during a mold evaluation

Marshall says the best way to prepare is for consumers to understand what happens during a mold evaluation. He says consumers often ask for mold tests because they smell or see something that looks funny, or because someone is sick and they don’t know why. In many cases this happens after a recent water intrusion.

This is how an assessment works in Texas, where I live. After a telephone inspection, a Texas state-authorized mold inspector arrives for an in-depth conversation with the owner. The inspector then conducts an exterior inspection of the home to determine possible water entry points: a faulty roof, foundation issues, gardening or mulch issues, window caulking, and so on. The inspector then walks through each room with an infrared camera to see recent moisture events hidden behind walls or ceilings. If the infrared detects areas of lower temperature accumulation, a humidity meter is used to see if water has accumulated. They also test common areas for moisture intrusion, such as around windows, doors, and areas that contain plumbing lines.

Depending on the size of the room, the inspector will collect one or more air samples if he discovers conditions conducive to mold growth. According to Marshall, the industry standard is to draw 75 liters of air for five minutes through a bio-pump with an air sampling cassette attached. The air sampling cassette captures cells (mold, skin, pieces of carpet, etc.) on a sticky surface in a microscope slide. The cassette is removed from the pump, sealed, and sent to an independent laboratory not affiliated with the testing company under a strict chain of custody (COC) procedure for testing. A chain of custody documents the transfer of the sample from the point of collection to delivery to the laboratory, including the date, time and signatures for each time the sample changes hands.

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