Mold contamination continues to receive increased attention in the media and is a rapidly growing concern for homeowners, property managers, insurance providers and restoration companies. Mold can grow in as little as 48 hours any time excessive moisture is present indoors, whether the moisture is the result of a flood, a slow leak, a broken pipe, or just high humidity. Indoor mold contamination has been identified as a major contributor to allergies and poor indoor air quality. Despite the rapidly growing body of knowledge about mold, it remains the subject of a lot of confusion. We hope that this information will help you to make better decisions.
What is mold?
We have probably all encountered mold at one time or another. It might have been in the shower, or on a stale piece of bread or wet drywall. Mold is a microscopic life form found in all parts of the world. It is part of the natural decay process of organic materials. There are many different species of mold, and while they are diverse, they share some common characteristics:
Molds require an organic food source. The most common food source indoors is cellulose, which is found in building materials such as wood and drywall.
- Molds require oxygen, so they do not grow under water.
- Molds require moisture. To prevent mold, buildings must be kept dry.
- Molds are spread by tiny particles called "spores."
- The colored, fuzzy growth on the surface of a wall, floor, ceiling or other indoor surface is obviously very objectionable.
- Active mold colonies usually emit a very unpleasant, musty odor.
- Because the job of mold is to digest, decay and recycle dead organic matter, it will eventually destroy whatever surface it grows on.
- Exposure to mold spores can cause mild to severe allergic reactions, depending on individual sensitivity.
What is a reasonable and safe response?
The best way to deal with mold is to prevent it from happening. If the drying of wet building materials is commenced within 24 hours (assuming clean water), the chances of preventing mold growth are excellent. If building materials remain wet, it is inevitable that mold will start to grow. Therefore, addressing and eliminating moisture problems is the critical first step. Simply put, "Got Moisture? Got Mold!"
However, once mold is present, drying is not enough. Moldy materials must be either removed or decontaminated. This process is called remediation, which means "to remedy" or "to cure." Proper remediation procedures will be determined by the size, scope and nature of the mold contamination.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a helpful guidebook for homeowners about the cleanup and prevention of mold problems in homes. This booklet, entitled A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home, can help you decide when you can handle mold cleanup yourself and when you should call a professional. The booklet is available on the EPA website at www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/moldguide.html .
In the midst of all the hype and hysteria about mold, ServiceMaster Clean is committed to maintaining a reasonable, prudent and responsible position.
All ServiceMaster Clean Quality Restoration Vendors have completed intensive mold remediation training and received instruction in the proper procedures for handling mold claims. All are prepared to handle small (10 square feet or less) and isolated areas affected by mold that may be encountered in the course of normal water damage mitigation services. In addition, a large number of our franchises are trained and certified to perform larger mold remediation projects.