Levels of Mold Remediation
What Are the Levels of Mold Damage?
Most people are well aware that mold growth in the home is a dangerous condition that can easily result in extensive structural damage and various health hazards. It is also well known that the only way to prevent such troubles is to take quick and efficient measures at the first signs of a mold problem in the house.
What the majority of people don’t know, however, is how to determine the extent of the damage and decide whether professional help is necessary or not. In some cases – when the contaminated area is small and the affected materials are easy to clean – the homeowner may be able to take care of the problem on their own. In others, professional mold removal and remediation is the only viable option.
Containment of Mold Contaminated Areas
Before any mold is removed from a building, it is important to assess the mold contamination area. How severe the infestation is, along with the area affected, will determine whether limited or full containment must be used during the removal process. The standard way to determine what level of containment is needed is by size; the larger the area affected, the higher the chance of exposure. Also the exposure to other areas of the home or commercial building. However, even if the area is small, if the mold infestation is severe, it could warrant full containment measures.
- Limited. In most cases, areas smaller than 100 square feet require only limited containment before removal of the mold can begin. All vents and outside airways must also be sealed.
- Full. In larger areas or cases of heavy mold growth, full containment is needed. This includes using a double layer of polyethylene sheeting. There should be an airlock space between the mold removal area and the clean area of the building where workers enter or leave the space. Negative pressure using exhaust fans should be used, creating a sealed area that retards mold spores from escaping.
5 Levels of Mold Remediation
- Level I (10 square feet or less)
Smaller infestations categorized in level I is mostly found on ceilings or baseboards. Level I mold contamination may be cleaned without hiring a mold remediator, but there are several important safety precautions that you need to know :
- Do not attempt cleaning mold if you suffer from asthma, allergies, or immune disorders
- Wear gloves, eye protection, and an N95 disposable respirator
- Vacate from your work area any infants less than 12 months old, individuals recovering from recent surgery, anyone with a suppressed immune system, or people with chronic lung diseases such as asthma, sever allergies, emphysema, etc.
- Contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned should be removed from your home in a sealed plastic bag to prevent an infestation in another part of your home.
- Clean your work area when you’re done with a damp cloth or mop.
- Make sure all areas are left dry and visibly free of mold contamination.
- Level II (10-30 square feet)
To remove mold from an area category the size of level II (probably one wall panel), the same precautions used in level I should be taken as well as the following :
- Moldy materials should be covered with plastic sheets and sealed with tape before any handling or removal of materials. This will contain dust and debris. It may be wise to double wrap in plastic before escorting the moldy material from your home.
- WHen the mold removal is finished, vacuum the work area with a HEPA vacujum. Clean the area with a damp cloth or mop.
- Level III (30-100 square feet)
Mold contamination this size (patches of mold on several wall panels), should still be handled with the same precautions as level I and II as well as the following added measures :
- Seal ventilation ducts/grills in the work area and areas directly adjacent with plastic sheeting.
- Vacate everyone from your work area until work is completed. Further vacate adjacent work areas of any infants less than 12 months old, individuals recovering from recent surgery, anyone with a suppressed immune system, or people with chronic lung diseases such as astma, sever allergies, emphysema, etc.
- Level IV (greater than 100 square feet)
An infestation depending on how much greater than 100 square feet may require the assistance of a mold remediator. If not, the same requirements should be followed as were needed in levels I, II, and III along with the following :
- Every worker must be trained in the handling of hazardous materials and equipped with full face respirators with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cartridges, with disposable protective clothing covering both head and shoes.
- Make sure workers completely isolate hteir work area from the rest of your home with sheeting sealed with duct tape, including ventilation ducts/grills, fixtures, and any other openings.
- Make sure workers set up and use a “decontamination room,” or a chamber taped off with plastic sheeting. The outside of sealed bags containing contaminated material should be wiped down with a damp cloth or HEPA vacuumed in the decontamination chamber prior to their removal.
- Air monitoring should be conducted prior to moving back into your home to determine if it is fit to reoccupy.
- Level V (Air Conditioners and HVAC Systems)
If there is a small area of mold growth beneath your air conditioning system it would be safe to apply precautions from levels I and II to remediate the mold contamination. However, all remediation procedures for air conditioning units and HVAC systems should be left to professionals. Procedures for level V remediation for areas larger than 10 square feet are the same for all previous levels with the following precautionary measures added :
- Shut down the HVAC system prior to remediation.
- Growth-supporting materials that are contaminated, such as the patper on the insulation of interior lined ducts and filters, should be removed and sealed in plastic bags.
- A variety of biocides – broad spectrum antimicrobial agents designed to prevent the growth of microorganisms – are recommended by HVAC manufacturers for use with HVAC components, such as cooling coils and condensation pans. HVAC manufacturers should be consulted for the prodcuts they recommend for use in their systems.
5 Steps to Proper Mold Removal
Mold has had its 15 minutes of fame over the last few years. Though the hype has died down, mold—and mold remediation—in homes is still an important issue. Customer complaints require home builders to have a fast action plan, both to clean up the mold problem and to show customers that a quality home builder (you) is looking out for their health and safety and the durability of their home.
There are two important things to remember about mold:
- Prevent it by doing things right the first time
- When you do face mold, take care of it immediately.
The following steps, which can be adapted to fit within your company’s policy, serve as a basic process for quickly remediating mold problems.
Step 1: Learn about moisture
Step 2: Document the mold problem and create a remediation plan
Step 3: Calculate the extent of the mold contamination
Step 4: Remediate mold contamination
Step 5: Determine if cleanup has been successful
Concern about indoor exposure to mold has been increasing as the public becomes aware that exposure to mold can cause a variety of health effects and symptoms, including allergic reactions. This document presents guidelines for the remediation/cleanup of mold and moisture problems in schools and commercial buildings; these guidelines include measures designed to protect the health of building occupants and remediators. It has been designed primarily for:
- Building managers
- Others who are responsible for commercial building and school maintenance
It should serve as a reference for potential mold and moisture remediators. Using this document, individuals with little or no experience with mold remediation should be able to make a reasonable judgment as to whether the situation can be handled in-house. It will help those in charge of maintenance to evaluate an in-house remediation plan or a remediation plan submitted by an outside contractor1. Contractors and other professionals who respond to mold and moisture situations in commercial buildings and schools may also want to refer to these guidelines.