WSC Mold Remediation
|Mold remediation is a recent industry in which WSC
personnel have been involved from the beginning, accomplishing numerous
abatement projects from small houses to very large commercial and
|Decontamination Unit to prevent
release of spores
| Water Intrusion causing
| Severe Remediation requires the
of walls and insulation to remove spores
Mold is a tenacious, unwelcome house guest. It
climbs up bathroom walls, invades carpet and infests drywall. According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, six varieties of
household mold are common, and three can produce toxins. The CDC linked one of
them, stachybotrys atra, to 10 cases of lung disorder in infants five years ago
and 100 cases since. Unfortunately, it's impossible for homeowners to
distinguish between toxic and the benign molds - they all look like black or
gray sooty patches.
Stachybotrys atra (pronounced Stack-ee-bot-ris) is an especially lethal mold.
It's part of a family of molds (others are Memnoniella and Aspergillus
versicolor) that produce airborne toxins, called mycotoxins, that can cause
serious breathing difficulties, memory and hearing loss, dizziness, flu like
symptoms, and bleeding in the lungs. In 1996 and 1999 studies by Eckardt
Johanning, M.D., of the Eastern New York Occupational and Environmental Health
Center, people with prolonged exposure to mycotoxins from Stachybotrys and other
fungi experienced chronic fatigue, loss of balance, irritability, memory loss
and difficulty speaking. "These were college graduates who had been functioning
at a high level, and now they can't," Johanning says.
Fortunately, Stachybotrys isn't found in homes as often as milder molds such as
Cladosporium, Penicillium and Alternaria. Those are common, especially in damp
states such as Texas, Louisiana, Florida and Oregon. Yet even they can cause
health problems, including chronic sinus and respiratory infections and asthma.
A 1999 Mayo Clinic study pegged nearly all the chronic sinus infections
afflicting 37 million Americans to molds. Recent studies also have linked molds
to the tripling of the asthma rate over the past 20 years.
How common are these molds? A 1994 Harvard University School of Public Health
study of 10,000 homes in the United States and Canada found half had "conditions
of water damage and mold associated with a 50 to 100% increase in respiratory
symptoms," says Harvard's Jack Spengler.
When molds grow, it's usually in damp places, behind walls and under floors,
above ceiling tiles or behind shower walls -- wherever there are wet cellulose
materials they can feed on, such as wood, ceiling tiles, plasterboard, or
accumulations of organic material inside air-conditioning and heating systems.
Water is the key. Without it, molds can't get started, much less spread. But
when water is left to sit for even 24 hours, common molds can take hold. If
water continues to sit and areas become completely saturated, that's when a more
lethal mold, such as Stachybotrys, can move in.
In Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota in the mid-1980s, thousands of
middle-income families fell ill when their homes developed mold problems. This
year in New York City, 125 families at Henry Phipps Plaza South filed an $8
billion mold lawsuit against their landlord. And four years ago in Cleveland,
Stachybotrys growth from unrepaired storm damage was suspected of causing
pulmonary hemorrhage in 14 children, killing two.
No matter what type of mold is in your home, your safety depends on the size of
the infestation. If there's a mass more than 2 ft. sq., or if the mold has
gotten into the carpet, insulation or drywall, contact WSC in the Northwest.
How to protect your home from unhealthful molds
- Keep water out. Fix any leaks within 24
- Be on the lookout for discoloration of walls,
ceiling, or anything made of wood or paper. Mold growth can be
almost any color: white, black, green, fluorescent.
- Look behind cabinets or pictures on cold
outside walls, where condensation can occur. Keep furniture away
from outside walls.
- Check around air handling units (air
conditioners, furnaces) for stagnant water. Keep these units
serviced with regular cleaning of ducts and air filters.
- Be aware of odors. Mildew has been described
as pungent, or "aromatic."
- Know the symptoms of mold-related illness,
which can range from chronic sinus infections and asthma to
nosebleeds, extreme fatigue, severe headaches, dizziness, rashes
and central nervous system problems. Do the symptoms get better
when you go on vacation and worse when you come home?