Whether in new construction, or in existing buildings, you've likely run into similar conditions at properties.  How to you handle these types of situations?

Tags: IAQ, Indoor, air, environment, mold, quality

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OK Group--

Who has had an experience with suspected mold in a property you were called to work on?  Let's get a little discussion going about how you dealt with the situation!

Hire an expert in mold-remediation or and environmental consultant and follow their advice.

Proper protocol should involve something along the lines of:

1) Mold sampling to verify types of mold present.
2) Protection of employees working on site.
3) Elimination of the moisture source.
4) Elimination of the visible mold.
5) Treatment to inhibit further growth.
6) Mold sampling to verify success of Remediation efforts.

Methods for elimination of visible mold will vary depending on the affected materials) There are products for the lumber that can be spray applied. Party wall likely needs panels replaced. On fire jobs this sometimes involves opening the roof for access.

If you don't deal with this proactively you expose yourself to serious legal risks. New owner: "What's that musty smell? Why are my kids sick? Why is there mold in my brand new home/apartment? Honey! Call the lawyer!!"

How much mold would you have to see to trigger the protocol you outlined?

Good question Richard.   

Since the mold industry is not federally regulated, the emphasis in unregulated cities and states has been on acceptable industry standards of care.  That industry SOC is drawn somewhat vaguely from various sources, such as the NYC Guideline, EPA, OSHA, IICRC S520, etc. There are states such as Texas and Florida that have their own state guidelines, so I suppose I should have inquired as to the location of the project.   


According the the NYC 2008 Guidelines, "Small Isolated Areas (less than 10 square feet) – e.g. ceiling tiles, small areas on walls (a) Remediation can be conducted by trained building maintenance staff. Such persons should receive training on proper cleaning methods, personal protection, and potential health hazards associated with mold exposure. This training can be performed as part of a program to comply with the requirements of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200)."  

That figure (<10 SF) has been implemented by several other agencies such as the EPA, however it was never based on any scientific data.   It was a political compromise between city officials and large landlords who wanted to limit their exposure to cleanup costs.  Lab testing has shown that a 1 SF area of mold growth on drywall in a 10x10x8 room, disturbed without proper cleanup, can spike mold spore levels to over 1,000,000 spores per cubic meter of air.    


Regardless of the location of the project, with what I see in the photos, I would personally want to play it safe rather than gambling with occupant health and liability risks.  

I think the first order of the day is to inform the homeowner. Take photos and inform the owner in writing. Also make sure its safe for you or your crew to work in that environment. Looks like they had a flood in that basement already! If the homeowner assigns you to fix the situation, then seek out professional help. Depending on your trade and background, you may be able to determine if the source of moisture is still present or has been remedied.

Good thought, though if you're a subcontractor it probably would be wise to go to the builder first.  Looks like a multi-family unit so there may be no 'homeowner' yet.  

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