ASK THE MILDUDE!
Who is at particular risk from mold exposure? High levels of molds are not healthy for anyone inside of a building. People often at higher risk even at low levels are infants, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems (HIV infection, liver disease, or those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy), pregnant women, and individuals with existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies, multiple chemical sensitivities, and asthma, pneumonia, or bronchitis.
Healthy, active people are less likely to have adverse reactions at first. However, extended exposure to molds can be a health risk to anyone. If you have concerns about your health, you should consult a physician for advice.
Does mold affect everyone the same way? No. Some individuals have a genetic makeup that puts them at risk for developing allergies to mold. People who have an allergy to mold, especially if they also have asthma, can become ill from exposure to even a small amount of mold. Individuals also seem to be quite different in their response to exposure to the toxic chemicals that some molds release. These differences make it difficult to say for sure what the safe limit is for mold exposure.
At Mold and Mildew Solutions LLC, we are often asked our professional opinion about a wide variety of issues about moisture and mold in the home. Here are some of the questions we get asked most often, along with our tested answers and guidance.
Particles 101: (Warning NERD ALERT!) A micron is a millionth of a meter. What does that mean? Particles on furniture and those in a shaft of light are approximately 50 microns or larger. Most harmful particles are 3 microns or fewer in size. Particles of 1 micron or less adhere to surfaces by molecular adhesion. (Translation: Small junk floating in the air are too small to see) Scrubbing is generally the only way to remove them. Larger particles tend to settle out of the atmosphere due to weight. Smaller, "respirable" particles remain virtually suspended in the air until breathed in. Approximately 98-99% of all particles by count are in the size range of 5 microns or less. These particles tend to remain in suspension or settle out so slowly that only quality electronic air cleaners and HEPA air cleaners are effective in removing these particles.
An average person breathes in about 16,000 quarts of air per day. Each quart contains some 70,000 visible and invisible particles. That's over a billion particles per day that our lungs must filter out! An average human red blood cell is approximately 5 microns in diameter. The average diameter of human hair is roughly 0.0035 inches in diameter, equivalent to 75 microns.
Is it possible to completely eliminate mold from the inside of a home or office building? The Mildude’s short answer to that question would be, NO. However, though, the answer depends upon what is meant by “completely eliminate mold.” To keep a building completely free of mold spores requires very efficient air filtration and is only accomplished in special situations like hospital operating rooms and manufacturing “clean rooms.” Remember, mold spores are in the outside air virtually all the time and some of them will get inside buildings.
However, it is possible to keep mold from growing inside a building. Moisture control is the key to controlling mold in interior spaces. Air filtration can contribute to lowering mold spores in the air but is secondary to moisture control.
WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING AN AIR PURIFIER
BEFORE BUYING AN AIR PURIFIER
As people start to pay closer attention to air pollution and the quality of the air they breathe and, air purifiers have become one of the most effective answers to getting rid of the pollutants in our homes. The benefits of using an air purifier can be felt as soon as you start using it.
One of the many benefits is the assurance that air pollutants are being removed from the air in your home. The levels of pollutants (like airborne particles, mold spores, chemicals, gases, and volatile organic compounds) have been found to be higher inside the home than outside.
Air purifier ensures you only breathe clean and fresh air whenever you are at home. It is especially important for babies and people with symptoms of asthma or other health issues. This is so because the effects of poor air quality come in different degrees, depending on the person’s age and health status.
So, if you want to buy an air purifier, what are the factors you should pay attention to?
The Capacity of The Air Purifier
One of the most important things you must quickly check out when buying an air purifier is its cleaning capacity. This is what gives you a sign of the maximum size of a room in which the purifier will operate optimally. It is usually measured in square or cubic meters, showing the surface or the volume of the room respectively.
Any room bigger than that will compromise the result you will get. To ensure you get the best result, ensure that the maximum size of the air purifier you purchase is at least slightly greater than the size of the room in which you are planning on using it.
The Power of The Air Purifier
This is like the capacity of the purifier, but not the same. The power covers how quickly it can clean the air of a room whose maximum size has been indicated when stating the capacity of the purifier.
It is measured in Air Changes Per Hour(ACH), literally how frequently it can exchange the air in the room in one hour. For someone suffering from asthma or some allergies, it is recommended to go for a purifier with a higher ACH rating.
Filters and Replacements
The type of filter that comes with your air purifier will determine the quality of the air it will produce after filtering the pollutants. For air purifiers, the gold standard is the HEPA filter. This stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air and can remove up to 99% of dust particles from the air we breathe in, this is how you can always have your air as fresh as you can.
Good Quality models have options such as washable pre-filters, Zeolite, or carbon granules to absorb VOC odors.
One other thing to find out is the cost of the filters. You see, just like any filter, after being used for some time, it won’t work as it did while new. So, it will have to be replaced. Find out the cost of the filter and how often you will have to change it.
One annoying problem a few air purifiers have is their noise. It can be hard to concentrate when the noise is too loud, even harder if you want to sleep at night. (However, some prefer the steady sound for sleeping.)
So, checking out the noise level of the purifier is important. While some air purifiers make much noise, others can be very quiet. The best way to find out the level is to ask for a trial demonstration of the purifier before making the purchase.
This, for many people, is perhaps the most important factor of all. Since air purifiers must rely on energy to run and have to be run continuously, they can quickly add up and reflect hugely on the energy bill. Consider this before buying one.
We are the local dealers for Austin Air Machines. This always impressed me when I was working with my clients, I bought one for myself and eventually reached out to become a dealer. In my mind they are the best value out there when you look at the quality of the American made machine, warrantee, and their durability. Some of our customers have had theirs for over 15 years!
In a case where there is a substantial mold growth in the house, air purifiers will not be enough to handle those. In such a case, what you need is a professional mold removal company to get rid of it and restore your home into its clean state. This is what we at Mold and Mildew Solutions LLC are dedicated to, and we will love to help you.
Contact us today at:
Mold and Mildew Solutions LLC
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MOLD SAMPLING
Does your home have mold? Short answer is YES, because it is EVERYWHERE!! Does your home have an ELEVATED amount of mold?? Ah Ha! that my friend is a different question. Mold Sampling is a great tool, but it is not the only or even the best to answer the question. A thorough professional inspection is the better place to start, because if you see Visible Suspect Mold, then chances are you need spend the money on the cure.
There are plenty of reasons to do mold sampling, and this blog cannot address them all, suffice it to say, when you call us, we will truthfully tell you if mold sampling is truly needed and what questions that would answer.
All of us already have two effective mold detectors: our eyes and our noses. If black or green discoloration is noticed that is fuzzy in appearance and is in a location that is damp or had been damp, it is almost certainly mold. It is Visible Suspect Mold) If a building smells musty, there probably is mold somewhere; the mold may be on boxes stored in a basement or in walls or in the crawl space. If you want to find mold, look for the presence of water or a location where water was likely to have been Mold is so small you cannot see it. So, the only accurate way to what is floating in the air do Air Sampling. In a case where there are patches of mold or you are not sure, then swab or tape lift sampling what you need to do. This is not a DIY project, you need to get the right professionals to sample your home for mold.
While there are inspectors who claim that they can visually inspect for mold without taking any form of samples for analysis, understand mold frequently hides in places where they can’t be found easily – places like behind the dishwasher, in the attic, in the crawl space under the house, and in the wall behind a leaky toilet.
Mold sampling is done for several reasons. One is to determine if there are toxic mold particles in a particular environment which can cause different irritations and allergies in certain individuals. (Your doctor may request this) Another reason is to determine the location of the source of the organisms. Another necessary use of sampling is to see if the contamination you see has cross contaminated other parts of the house. Also, to see if an effective remediation has to be carried out.
The truth is that we are always surrounded by a lot of these mold spores and organisms. However, problem arises when the level becomes higher than should be normally expected. By sampling, we can scientifically establish how high the level is, and take the necessary measures.
You need to know is whether mold is seen, and what kind, and the quantity, when the material is examined under the microscope.
Word of Caution:
Air sampling was developed to help identify the location of a hidden reservoir of mold. If the source of mold is already identified, air sampling does not provide additional meaningful information. Furthermore, safe, or toxic levels of airborne mold have not been established. An individual air sample for mold provides a “snapshot” of what was in the air during the few minutes of sampling. The results may not be indicative of the amount of mold that is in the air during most of the day.
Air sampling for mold should be done either to obtain an answer to a question that cannot be answered without the air sampling or to obtain data as part of a research project. The Center for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists do not recommend routine air testing for mold as the only indicator or whether the area is moldy or not.
DIY kits petri dishes you see in the big box store or online are nearly worthless to help you figure out what is going on in your home!!! They are best for scaring you!! Why?
As mentioned earlier, there are millions mold spores in all areas of our life and some WILL fall in that petri dish and start to grow. Does that that tell you if that is normal or abnormal? Nope.
There are several professional sampling methods that can be used, but we’ll briefly look at two of them.
Surface sampling is the most basic way of sampling mold. If there is mold visible in your house, part of it can be taken as sample for analysis to determine if it is toxic or not. This sample can be taken using a number of techniques.
One method (Tape lift) is to stick a Microscope slide with sticky media to the surface and peel it off, taking some of it in the process and dropping the tape in a plastic bag to be analyzed. Another method is to swab the area with a Specialized, sterilized long Q-Tip look swab, and swab a defined area, (i.e. 1 square inch) and send them samples in the bag for inspection.
Air sampling is another way to check for mold problems. It answers different questions. Because mold is not always visible to the eyes, air sampling allows the inspector to take samples and detect mold even in places the eyes can’t easily reach.
It also helps to reveal the amount of mold spores that are already airborne in the house. This is very effective because it is only when air volumes are sampled, and the results of surveys expressed in terms of volumetric measurements that scientific comparisons could be made, usually one square meter).
An effective way to carry this out is for the professional to take an air sample outside the home right in the open. Remember we said there are mold spores everywhere. By taking an outdoor air sample, you’ll be able to establish what you will take as your baseline, what the normal level of mold should be like in that area.
After this, the air inside the house will also be sampled. By comparing both the samples outdoors and the ones done indoors, we will know if the level of the mold indoors is normal or higher than the normal baseline. If the latter is the case, the next step is to solve the problem early.
At Mold and Mildew Solutions LLC, we know how important it is to get rid of mold while its effects haven’t become so damaging. That is why we use advanced equipment to take the most accurate samples in your home. We look forward to working with you.
If you are not in our service area, and you are an adamant Do It Yourselfer; Call Me at the office and I will share the only Home Mold test kit that I recommend. It more closely follows the methodology that IEP’s use. I sometime recommend it to those that are not on my service area and It helps them get a sense of what may be going on. You do have to follow the directions to a tee, if you want accurate results. They even have staff that can direct you to a professional if you need one.
Contact us today at:
Mold and Mildew Solutions LLC
TESTING YOUR HOUSE FOR MOLDS
Does your house have molds?
Are you feeling a bit ill? Before you dismiss it as common cold, it may interest you to know that many cold-like symptoms we show have now been found out to be caused by various kinds mold at home. For the small size mold, when we breathe in its airborne spores and it finds its way deep into our lungs, it can bring about various damaging effects. Many Mold types such as Stachybotrys (known to the media as “Black Mold”) can give off gases (Mycotoxins) which even in small does can trigger a reaction from a sensitized person or affect nearly everyone in larger doses.
The big issue here is that, it is difficult to suspect these symptoms to be caused by molds. Because molds are also usually hiding in places that are tough to get to, it can be difficult to find. There are those who can detect the odor by smell, but most of us don’t, until the molds have grown and spread to a dangerous level.
Therefore, is it important for you to run a test on your home and get a mold lab report? Mold Inspection and possible testing is now considered an important safety measure that helps you to accurately find out how pure the air you and the rest of your family breathe at home is.
By inspecting for and testing for molds in your home we can identify the growth and spread of mold in your home and hopefully swing in before the illnesses start taking over. This is becoming more popular because numbers of people with one mold allergy or another is now increasing.
Most families that are suffering from the toxicity caused by molds usually don’t know molds are the culprit. It is only when various diseases sets in and things start getting out of hand that an alarm is raised. As you already know, prevention is better than cure.
By the way, when we mention mold report, what we are referring to is the report of the mold situation of your home that you get when you consult a certified mold inspection company to help you check your home out.
Some people prefer to ignore this option and opt for home mold testing kits. You will often see them being advertised and sold on TV and the internet. They are simple to use and less expensive. They can usually be bought at rates less than $100. When you buy one, you would get the necessary instructions on the steps you should follow when using it. The best thing they do is scare you.
If you detect a mold problem, some decide to then call a random mold removal company (most people choose the cheapest). However, we do not recommend this option. This is because of how inaccurate and misleading home mold testing kits can be. For example, they can easily give false positive report.
If you take one of the DIY home mold test kits into a clean house, you will still get fungi to grow in the petri dish collection media. Remember there are molds everywhere. Microbial mold spores are airborne. So, they can be found literally everywhere.
So, whether the house is clean or not, there would still be some mold spores growing in it. The level could be different, but they are still there, no matter what. If these kits pick any up, a false positive will be generated.
Instead of wasting money while trying to save some, the advisable thing to do is to call up a qualified professional to check your home out. The result you will get will give you a truer picture of the mold situation of your home and give you a more educated option of what needs to be done next.
When a certified mold inspector comes into your home for checking, they come with more than just a simple instrument. They will come in with more sophisticated instruments that will help you detect, not just the presence, but also the level of spores in the air and possible sources, and more important, what needs to be done to prevent re-occurrence.
You will quickly get an indication of how bad your mold problem is, and you can know what you are up against, so that the cleanup can get started. With these lab results and inspectors observations and readings, you can get an accurate mold report from the readings and samples taken.
The samples taken are sent to the laboratory to quickly get you a mold lab report. The inspector, who has also had the chance to see your house in person, will help you interpret the report. The mold report is an important tool that helps the inspector to know what must be done about the mold problem in your house. That is where the solution lies.
Remember that black mold, mildew, and many different types of fungi can be found everywhere. Seeing them in your yard isn’t uncommon. They are also inside the home. The thing that should concern you the most is how you can keep the mold levels in your home down to the barest minimum possible.
It is recommended to clean up any mold problem you find in your home as soon as you detect it. Don’t let it stick around. Also, remember if you see visible suspect mold, there is probably more. The safety of your family is paramount and should not be taken lightly.
The hidden danger is living in a home that has elevated levels of mold and fungi indoors. Look out for places with moisture. That is where they usually breed and thrive. One thing to remember is if the moisture level is well controlled, you would have reduced their chances of mold breeding in your home.
Look out for water leakages around the home. Monthly inspection of water damage is important for every homeowner. All your appliances and fixtures that use water must be checked regularly. With this routine check, you will greatly reduce any form of microbial growth in your home.
When you bring in a professional to inspect and test your home, you will have reduced the damage mold could have on your house, and the health of your family. When testing your home, you can rely upon us to conduct intensive tests and get you an accurate result. We look forward to hearing from you.
Contact us today at:Mold and Mildew Solutions LLC
What Is Toxic Mold?
Ask ten people about toxic mold, and it won’t be surprising to get ten different responses. No matter who you ask, though, one of the things they would agree on is that toxic mold is not the most desirable thing they would want to have around – and for good reasons. But the question lingers: What are toxic mold?
Toxic mold, also known by the name black mold, is actually a name given by lawyers and the media to Stachybotrys chartarum, also called Stachybotrys atra, Stachybotrys alternans. For simplicity, we’ll just stick to the media name.
This mold is known as black mold for its black appearance. It is one of the over 100,000 species of mold that those who study molds (mycologists) have identified and described so far. Many believe there are much more, with estimates going as high as 1.5 million.
Mold is not an evil alien creature with the sole purpose of destroying your life and everything you love. Actually, it is not even a plant or an animal at all. It is a very small organism from the fungi kingdom which acts like the nature’s garbage disposal. Its purpose is to dissolve all organic material that falls to the earth.
Without the help of mold and bacteria, every organic material that drops down, from leaves and branches to dead animal bodies, would pile up. Within a short period the whole earth would be a mess without them. It is organisms like mold that help break them down and dissolve them.
Through their work, many other living organisms can get access to what they need to survive. For example, by breaking down dead leaves and animal bodies, the living plants get access to compost that supplies them with essential nutrients to keep growing. Molds are essential part of life. As you can see, they are just doing their jobs.
Unfortunately, not all fungi are safe for human. And molds are not always man’s best friend. This unfriendly mold is called toxic mold, and can be hazardous to health. Just like other molds, it secretes compounds known as mycotoxins. These toxins can be toxic to humans and other organisms.
Mycologists believe these toxins are produced as a protection against competing organisms. The problem is, humans have to bear the brunt of this defense mechanism. Some of these mycotoxins are so hazardous; mycologists have advised humans to reduce their exposure to it to the barest minimum possible.
People with allergies, asthma and other lung diseases or similar health issues usually find themselves at an increased risk of being adversely affected by the effects of mycotoxins. Even for those who are otherwise healthy but sensitive to mycotoxins, they may also develop symptoms of upper-respiratory tract problems.
Even if you yourself seem unaffected, you cannot speak for your family members. Because our immune systems are different, the ways they respond vary as well. What one person’s immune system might successfully ward off might breach someone else’s immune system walls, breaking into the body and bringing about various damages.
The hazard can range from allergic reactions to irritation in the mucous membranes. It could even be life threatening. Because the behaviors of this organism vary and its effects differ from one individual together, it is so easy to mistake its symptoms for those noticed during many other health conditions.
Apart from respiratory difficulties like wheezing, other symptoms they can cause include headaches, fever, sore throat, skin problems, nasal congestion and chronic fatigue. They can also be responsible for more serious allergic reactions.
Take, for example, Aspergillosis (also called Farmers Lung) This is a potentially fatal lung disease that toxics mold can cause. The symptoms are cough, chest pain fever. It is easy to dismiss the symptoms as just some other condition, until it becomes more serious. This is why it is important to kill their growth in our homes and wherever we are.
Molds are found everywhere, but they can be effectively controlled. The solution is simple, really, keep your house “Clean and Dry” So the most important things to note if you want to keep the growth and spread of toxic molds in check is to have the adequate knowledge of the conditions that aid its growth.
Below are four elements that all mold needs to survive and even thrive in the house. If these elements are taken care of, you can greatly inhibit the growth and spread of toxic mold.
If these four elements are well managed, you can greatly increase your chance of inhibiting the growth of toxic molds. But then, it is always easier said than done. Toxic molds can be tough to remove if you as a homeowner want to do it yourself. The good news is, you don’t have to.
At Alabama mold, we help you get rid of toxic molds and restore your house to its beautiful, healthy state. We are not just experienced professionals with proven scientific procedures for getting our job done, we are also humans and do care about you and your home.
Feel free to place a call across to us and let’s discuss how to make your home safe again.
Mold and Mildew Solutions LLC
MOLD REMEDIATION PROCESS
When mold is detected in a house, it is always recommended that the homeowner informs a professional mold removal company. This is because there are usually a good number of steps that have to be taken, to make sure the mold is completely removed and the cause fixed.
When a mold removal company is invited to inspect a house, the experts come in with the necessary equipment for thorough inspection. For example, the inspector may come with an infrared camera with several different kinds of moisture meters.
While a flashlight would only detect a sign of moisture if it is visible on the outside part of the wall, this equipment can even see if there's water in a wall, even though it's dry to the touch. Air sampling can be done as well, if necessary.
After the initial Inspection, if the home is found to be contaminated by mold, a protocol is written and all involved parties informed about the sequence of events, the expected results and an estimated cost. With these out of the way, the mold remediation can begin.
The next step would be to set up containment. This is done so that the contaminated area is isolated from unaffected areas. Also the containment is used so that a negative air pressure system can be set up. Air scrubbers and HEPA filters are used to accomplish this air pressure system. HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate arrestor. This air exchanges 4x‟s per hour.
This Negative Air Pressure is important for two areas (1) The air exchange through the HEPA filters helps clean the air of the mold spores (2) The negative air system helps the mold spores from spreading through openings or through entrances and exits. This system stays in place for the duration of the mold remediation.
After the containment is built and the negative air system is in place, the next process in deconstruction. This includes removing anything that may block easy access to the surface of the building – things like sheet rock, carpet, carpet pads, and baseboards. In most cases what is left after this process is only the subsurface, the basic structure material.
Contents that are unsalvageable or more cost effective to replace are to be thrown away. The salvageable contents are then removed to a containment space to be held to clean till the rest of the home is clean. Material that is removed during this process is placed in large plastic bags and treated as hazardous material. Special precaution is used when removing this material from the house so that cross-contamination does not occur.
After all layers are removed the new surface is special HEPA vacuum. We HEPA vacuum all surfaces. A HEPA vacuum contains a filter the remove 99.97% of particulate 0.3 micrometers or larger in size. A normal vacuum cleaner can remove down to about 35 microns or larger in size.
One of the final steps of remediation will be treatment. After all contaminants are removed the antimicrobial mold inhibitor is applied. Another factor to be considered in this stage is to make sure there in not an excess of moisture. Sometimes it might be necessary at this stage to bring in dehumidifiers and fans.
The final step could be to use an encapsulant with is a prevention step in mold growth. Also called mold sealant or mold paint, encapsulation is the process of treating mold with a product that “glues” the mold in place so it cannot release any spores – rendering the mold powerless. This works to some extent, but encapsulation is not completely effective and should never be the sole means of remediation.
After this whole process, a clearance testing from a third party, such as Certified Industrial Hygienist, may ensure that the mold remediation is successful. This is known as post remediation verification, and is quite important because you're dealing with such microscopic mold spores.
Mold spores are so little that you can't see them. If you take a pen and make a dot on a piece of paper now, between seven and ten thousand mold spores could be on that one dot. They are that small. Mold spores are between 1 and 20 microns, (a micron is a millionth of a meter). They're so small that you can't just look at a surface and see if it is clean or not. It has to be tested.
Since it is an added expense many people who are not involved with litigation, or dealing with severe illness may forgo a third party inspection that may run into the thousands. Many will be happy with a visual inspection, or for extra insurance lab testing done by the remediator.
Remember, it is not possible to get rid of all mold and mold spores in the world. Some mold spores will always be found floating through the air and in house dust. Rest assured. The mold spores will not grow if moisture is not present.
Indoor mold growth can and should be prevented or controlled by controlling moisture indoors. If there is mold growth in your home, you must clean up the mold and fix the water problem. If you clean up the mold, but don’t fix the water problem, then most likely, the mold problem will come back.
An important thing to remember is that if mold is disturbed it can spread. Mold has to be carefully handled. If handled carelessly, mold spores would spread from the mold throughout the room, thereby negating the earlier work. The idea is to bring the level to the lowest possible. This is one of the reasons why it is safer when the job is handled by a professional mold removal company.
One other thing they do is that they help dispose of the mold materials. You see, even dead mold can still be really toxic, and it is all some people need to develop allergies. A professional mold removal company will help to dispose them far away from the home.
At Mold and Mildew Solutions LLC, we are totally dedicated to keeping your home as mold free and safe as possible for your health and that of your family. Feel free to reach us anytime. We are eager to be of help.
Contact us at
Mold and Mildew Solutions LLC
Lee Ramey with Mold & Mildew Solutions wants to share his latest podcast with everyone. It is 50 mins long and answers the most common questions about mold and the health of your home.
Call us at 205-252-9506 if you have additional questions.
We hope this podcast is educational for you. Enjoy
Come to the 2018 Home Building & Remodeling Showcase 2/9 2/10 or 2/11
to have the chance to win an Austin Air Healthmate Plus, given away by Mold & Mildew Solutions.
Mold & Mildew Solutions are the experts in Birmingham, AL for cleaning, fixing and preventing smelly crawlsaces'. Some crawl spaces are more difficult than others and some have been a problem for a long time. We follow steps to fixing a crawl space where a musty smell may occur.
Here is a list of our top things to check & to do for each crawl space:
If odors persist, here are more extreme measures to take to try to eliminate them:
AKA the #Mildude, Lee has for decades