Health Problems from Black Mold, Exposure Symptoms, Remediation, and Mold Understanding
Learn How to Prevent It and Fix It, Before It Harms Someone.
Table of Contents:
- An Introduction to Mold
- Anatomy of Mold
- Common Mold Genera
- What is Black Mold?
- Habitat of Black Mold
- The Life Cycle of Black Mold
- Where Can You Expect Black Mold Growth?
- Black Mold Prevention
- The CDC’s 6 Tips for Black Mold Growth Prevention
- What is Black Mold Remediation?
- Black Mold Remediation – Key Steps
- Materials Needed During Black Mold Remediation
- Safety Gear Used During Black Mold Remediation
- The EPA’s Tips and Steps for Black Mold Remediation
- Mold Remediation Resources
- Black Mold Exposure and Your Health
- Exposure to Mold
- Black Mold illness and Potential Health Issues
- The Medical Implications of Black Mold - Research Studies
- Black Mold Illness - Fact or Reality?
- Treatment for Black Mold Illness
An Introduction to Mold
Mold Vs. Mould
In America and Canada the organism, or living thing, “mold” is called “mold.” In other English speaking countries, including the UK, New Zealand, and Australia, the organism is referred to as “mould.”
Biology Kingdoms of Life
In biology, there are six kingdoms to classify living things.
Living things are also referred to as organisms. In the biology kingdoms of life, organisms are classified based on commonalities. The six kingdoms consist of Animalia (animals), Plantae (plants), Fungi, Protista, Archaebacteria (or Archaea), and Eubacteria (or Bacteria).
Fungi is a kingdom with over 300,000 species. Mushrooms, yeasts, and molds have common characteristics and are classified as fungi.
Major Fungi Divisions (or Phylums)
- Ascomycota (also known as sac fungi)
- Basidiomycota (also known as club fungi)
- Deuteromycota (also known as fungi imperfecti)
Video on The Fungi Kingdom from CrashCourse
Zygomycota Zygomycota is frequently seen as bread mold. Zygomycota spores are sexual. Zygomycota is usually seen in the form of bread mold and relative forms of Phycomyces and Rhizopus.
Ascomycota Ascomycota, also referred to as sac fungi, can be sexual or asexual spores. Most yeasts and most molds (including black mold) are in the Ascomycota phylum.
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The Ascomycota group can also be seen in the form of ringworm, truffles, Dutch elm disease, powdery mildew, and morels.
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Basidiomycota, or club fungi, spores reproduce asexually. Examples of Basidiomycotas are: puffballs, mushrooms, toadstools, plant rusts, and plant smuts.
Deuteromycota, also known as fungi imperfecti, can be seen in the form of athletes foot, antibiotic penicillin, in blue cheese, and thrush.
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An in Depth Look at Mold
Mold, from the Ascomycota division of the fungi kingdom, is a type of fungus that develops in the form of spores, germ, hypha, and mature mycelium.
Video on What Does Mold Look Like on Wood The Mold Insider
What Does Mold Look Like on Wood
Spores are reproductive cells. Spores are able to grow into new, single cells without the fusion process occurring with additional reproductive cells. In the case of fungi, spores perform a purpose that is equivalent to the function seeds serve for a plant.
Germinate means to reproduce, grow, or develop. Spores germinate, developing hyphae, under proper conditions of temperature, moisture, and food accessibility.
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Hypha (plural: Hyphae)
Hyphae are multicellular, threadlike, long branching structures. Hyphae are similar to the structure of a straw, they are tubular and have a strong exterior wall. This cell wall is composed of a material called chitin. Hyphae release digestive enzymes to break down the organic surface they are positioned on. The enzymes hyphae release break down the food source so that the nutrients of the food source can be easily absorbed by the hyphae. As the hyphae absorb the nutrients from the food source, they are able to further grow, adding new cells. Through this process the hyphae evolve upward and then branch outward. One spore can develop into an extensive network of hyphae. A hypha will repeatedly branch out, developing more and more hyphae. The large branching network of hyphae is called mycelium.
Mycelium (plural: mycelia)
A network, mass, or group of hyphae is referred to as a mycelium. A single spore will germinate into multiple hyphae branches and thus into a mycelium. This extensive network of hyphae has a large surface area, allowing more digestive enzymes to be released, resulting in more absorption of nutrients. This process allows the mold to rapidly grow.
As mold grows, the mycelium, or groups of hyphae, form colonies. Mold colonies can be microscopic or visible to the human eye. It generally takes 3 days for a mold spore to grow large enough to be visible to the naked eye.
As mycelia mature, the total mass, energy stocks, and environmental signals can activate the growth of specialized hyphae. These specialized hyphae are called different things depending on the type of mold structure it is. The specialized hyphae are spore-producing structures. The spores produced by the specialized hyphae can be released into the air to repeat the life cycle of the mold.
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Common Mold Genera
Mold is an organism that needs oxygen for metabolism, absorbs nutrients through osmosis, and can reproduce sexually (through meiosis) or asexually (through mitosis). Mold reproduces by generating a multitude of tiny spores.
Common mold genera include:
Video on The Different Types of Indoor Mold from Jackson Kung'u
Specific Terminology for the Characteristics of 4 Common Molds:
Specialized Hyphae are called: conidiophores
Spores are called: conidia
Specialized Hyphae are called: stolen
Spores are called: sporangia
Specialized Hyphae are called conidiophores.
These conidiophores are spore-producing structures.
Spores are called conidia. The spores, or conidia, are produced by the conidiophores and can be released into the air.
Specialized Hyphae are called: sporangiophores
Spores are called: Sporangia
Each genus of mold has many different species.
Stachybotrys (Stak-ē-bot′ris), a common genus of mold, has about 26 different Stachybotrys species.
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List of the Stachybotrys Species:
- Stachybotrys albipes (Berk. & Broome) - discovered by S.C. Jong & Davis in 1976.
- Stachybotrys alternans - discovered by Bonord in 1851.
- Stachybotrys breviuscula - discovered by McKenzie in 1991.
- Stachybotrys chartarum (Ehrenb.) - discovered by S. Hughes in 1958.
- Stachybotrys chlorohalonata - discovered by B. Andersen & Thrane in 2003.
- Stachybotrys cylindrospora - discovered by C.N. Jensen in 1912.
- Stachybotrys dichroa - discovered by Grove in 1886.
- Stachybotrys elegans (Pidopl.) - discovered by W. Gams in 1980.
- Stachybotrys eucylindrospora - discovered by D.W. Li in 2007.
- Stachybotrys freycinetiae - discovered by McKenzie in 1991.
- Stachybotrys kampalensis - discovered by Hansf. in 1943.
- Stachybotrys kapiti - discovered by Whitton, McKenzie & K.D. Hyde in 2001.
- Stachybotrys longispora - discovered by Matsush. in 1975.
- Stachybotrys mangiferae - discovered by P.C. Misra & S.K. Srivast. in 1982.
- Stachybotrys microspora (B.L. Mathur & Sankhla) - discovered by S.C. Jong & E.E. Davis in 1976.
- Stachybotrys nephrodes - discovered by McKenzie in 1991.
- Stachybotrys nephrospora - discovered by Hansf. in 1943.
- Stachybotrys nilagirica - discovered by Subram. in 1957.
- Stachybotrys oenanthes - discovered by M.B. Ellis in 1971.
- Stachybotrys parvispora - discovered by S. Hughes in 1952.
- Stachybotrys ruwenzoriensis - discovered by Matsush. in 1985.
- Stachybotrys sansevieriae - discovered by G.P. Agarwal & N.D. Sharma in 1974.
- Stachybotrys sinuatophora - discovered by Matsush. in 1971.
- Stachybotrys suthepensis - discovered by Photita, P. Lumyong, K.D. Hyde & McKenzie in 2003.
- Stachybotrys theobromae - discovered by Hansf. in 1943.
- Stachybotrys waitakere - discovered by Whitton, McKenzie & K.D. Hyde in 2001.
What is Black Mold
Black Mold Defined
Two of the Stachybotrys species, Stachybotrys chartarum and Stachybotrys chlorohalonata, are also known as “black mold.” The species of mold are sometimes referred to as “toxic black mold.”
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Scientific Classification of Black Mold
The domain that black mold comes from is Eukaryota. Eukaryotic organisms are the organisms that have cells which, enclosed in a membrane, include a nucleus and other organelles.
The kingdom of black mold is Fungi.
The division of black mold is Ascomycota.
The class that black mold belongs in is Sordariomycetes.
The order that black mold comes from is Hypocreales.
The family of black mold is Stachybotryaceae.
The genus of black mold is Stachybotrys.
The species of black mold are S. chartarum and S. chlorohalonata.
A video with Professor Bonner’s Microbiology Films of Slime Molds
Stachybotrys chartarum Vs. Stachybotrys chlorohalonata
Stachybotrys chartarum is abbreviated as S. chartarum. S. chartarum was formerly referred to as Stachybotrys atra. S. chartarum is also called Stachybotrys alternans and Stilbospora chartarum. S. chartarum is a mold that appears greenish-black in color. S. chartarum produces its spores in slime heads, as opposed to dry chains. During sporulation, S. chartarum can appear slimy, powdery, or wet.
Stachybotrys chlorohalonata is abbreviated as S. chlorohalonata.
Until recently, S. chartarum was the only species that was referred to as black mold. The organic material that was referred to as black mold was studied further. Upon further findings, what used to be called S. chartarum was divided into 2 species. We now have black mold caused by the species Stachybotrys chartarum and black mold caused by the species Stachybotrys chlorohalonata.
How are the Two Black Mold Species Different?
The differences between the two species, Stachybotrys chartarum and Stachybotrys chlorohalonata, were found in the growth, the morphology, and the metabolite production of the species. Unlike Stachybotrys chartarum, Stachybotrys chlorohalonata produces smooth conidia and also produces more restricted colonies. Stachybotrys chlorohalonata develops an extracellular pigment that is green in color. Also, portions of the two species’ gene fragments are different.
Habitat of Black Mold
Stachybotrys molecules are hydrophilic, meaning attracted to moisture. Black mold thrives in a habitat that is wet and rich in materials containing cellulous. Examples of these materials are paper, grain, soil, seaweed, fabric, wood pulp, drywall, wallpaper, and sometimes hay.
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The Life Cycle of Black Mold
The life cycle of mold can follow different patters. A common, 4 step, life cycle for mold is: Spore, Germ, Hypha, and Mature Mycelium.
1. Spore: Spores are released from mature mycelia through spore liberation, the process by which spores break off, or detach, from the structure that germinated the spores. Spores are abundant in our air. After liberation, spore dispersal takes place. This is movement of the spore prior to landing on a surface. Spores can travel through air and water.
A video of What Happens if You Breathe Mold Spores by Life Noggin
2. Germ (or Spore Germination): Spores will go through four phases of development: maturation, dormancy, activation, and germination. This collective process is called germination. A spore can remain dormant until it lands in the correct environment. The correct environment will be a moist, warm, place with nutrients. The correct environment activates the spore and it will start to germinate, or grow germ tubes. The water makes the spore swell. As it swells, the wall of the spore will enlarge through the germ pore, or germ tube (a preexisting weak spot in the spore). This creates a balloon like bulge.
3. Hypha (or Hyphae Growth): The balloon like bulge, formed through the germ tube, is called a hypha. As long as the environment maintains ideal conditions (warm, moist, with an available food source) the hyphae will continue to release digestive enzymes to break down the food source, absorb the nutrients, and then continue to grow by extending the tips of the hyphae and/or branch out forming new hyphae tips. As the hyphae grow in numbers they are collectively referred to as mycelium.
4. Mature Mycelium (or Spore Formation/Production): As the mycelium grow larger, and into the organic material, it weakens and eventually abolishes the organic structure. If the environment remains ideal long enough, specialized hyphae may grow to produce new spores at their tips. These new spores may be released back into the air. This allows the mold life cycle to continue.
A Video on the Life Cycle of Stachybotrys Chartarum
Where Can You Expect Black Mold Growth?
Unless something is done to prevent it, you can expect to see black mold growth:
- In structures that were damaged by fire
- Around areas that were damaged/inundated by moisture
- In structures that were flooded
- Around or in food, especially in the agricultural industry
- In structures where there is a buildup of lot of moisture
Black Mold Prevention
Black mold growth can be prevented. On their site, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (The CDC - a sector of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) gives tips to prevent black mold from developing.
The CDC’s 6 Tips for Black Mold Growth Prevention
1. Control Humidity
Humidity levels should remain as low as possible. They offer that a dehumidifier or air conditioner can help keep the humidity level lowered. The CDC suggests that the humidity, at any given point, should not rise above 50%.
Keep your home well ventilated. The CDC suggests that kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans are utilized when possible. Exhaust fans carry air from inside the home or establishment to outside the home or establishment.
Be sure to repair plumbing, walls, and roofs so there are not any leaks that allow moisture to seep in. Mold can thrive in these damp regions.
4. Rapidly Clean
If there is a flood, rapidly clean and dry the building, home, or establishment. This would ideally be done within the first 24 to 48 hours after a flood has occurred.
5. Mold Inhibitors
The CDC suggests that people “add mold inhibitors to paints before painting.”
6. Replace Items
After a floods or water damages, tear out and replace any items that were unable to be quickly dried. Carpet can hold moisture.
7. Carpet Use Tips
The CDC suggests that carpet is not utilized in areas, like basements and bathrooms, where moisture it prevalent.
Black Mold Remediation
Video on Black Mold Remediation from Jimmy Solano
What is Black Mold Remediation?
To remediate means to improve or correct something that is damaged or incorrect. Black mold remediation means to get rid of unwanted black mold growth.
Black Mold Remediation – Key Steps
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The key procedure points to get rid of black mold are to:
- Get the required materials and equipment needed to do the job.
- Get the required safety gear.
- Stop and repair the source of the moisture.
- Contain the mold-infested areas.
- Decontaminate the areas.
Video on Major Mold Damage and Remediation from #1 MOLD REMOVAL NATIONWIDE
Get the Materials Needed During Black Mold Remediation
Materials needed to complete a mold remediation project can vary depending on the cause, location, and size of the mold-affected areas. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a department in the United States Department of Labor, recommends that the correct materials be used when cleaning up environments damaged by mold.
OSHA states that workers can clean items that have the ability to be fully cleaned, dried, and then reused. This process may utilize blowers, biocides, and manual scrubbing. OSHA goes on to state that items that cannot be completely cleaned and dried must be removed. The items that OSHA recommends for mold remediation include, but are not limited to:
Plastic Sheets and/or Bags
Plastic sheets or bags are needed to wrap the mold-infested items that are being thrown away. This will minimize the spread of spores.
A trashcan is needed to dispose of the water-damaged materials including, but not limited to: carpet, drywall, and insulation. The trashcan may need to be large or small. The size of the trashcan depends on the size of the job.
Wet vacuums may be needed to help collect the water from floors and other hard surfaces covered in water.
Non-porous, hard materials should be cleaned with a detergent.
A biocide can be a synthetic or natural chemical or microorganism. It is a molecule that destroys or controls the growth of a bacteria or fungal. According the EPA, or the US Environmental Protection Agency, biocides kill microrganisms. Bleach is an example of a biocide. After the surface of a hard and non-porous item is cleaned with a detergent (and washed off), if disinfecting is needed, a biocide can be used to disinfect the area. Biocides are harmful to humans, animals, and mold. Biocides are not always needed during mold remediation. Precautions should be taken when suing biocides.
Scrub brushes to help remove mold from salvageable surfaces.
Construction Tools and Materials
Where the mold contamination is will determine the extra tools and materials that will be needed. Tools may be needed to remove drywall, replace drywall, remove carpet, replace carpet, etc.
Air is needed during mold remediation. If natural exhaust ventilation is unavailable at the scene of contamination, exhaust ventilation must be provided.
Blowers will help dry out the moisture-ridden areas.
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air. A vacuum with a HEPA air filter will filter the air before it recirculates. A top HEPA filter may trap 99.97 % of particles that are .3 microns in diameter. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter will help.
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Safety Gear Used During Black Mold Remediation
Safety gear is also referred to as personal protective equipment (or PPE).
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PPE is needed to complete mold remediation without the worker sustaining harm.
Thank you Tony Verner
PPE for the Hands
Gloves When Working on Mold:
The EPA recommends wearing long gloves that come up to at least the middle of the forearm. They suggest that ordinary rubber gloves be worn if one is only using a mild detergent. However, in cases where a chlorine bleach (or another biocide), a potent cleaning chemical, or another disinfectant are being utilized, the EPA recommends that workers wear PVC gloves, neoprene gloves, nitrile gloves, polyurethane gloves, or even natural rubber gloves.
Types of Gloves
PVC is the abbreviation for polyvinyl chloride. It is a plastic polymer. PVC is synthetic and can be flexible or inflexible. PVC has been around since 1872. PVC gloves protect against many oil based products, basis, alcohols, acids, and caustics.
Like PVS, Neoprene rubber is synthetic. Neoprene is made up of polymerized chloroprene. Neoprene gloves can protect against grease, cold, liquid, acids, solvents, oils, and caustics.
Any organic compound with the function group of −C≡N is a nitrile. Nitrile is used in super glue and rubber gloves. Nitrile rubber is latex free and known as Nitrile butadiene rubber. Nitrile rubber gloves can protect people from grease, paint, oil, and certain acids and chemicals.
Polyurethane is a plastic material. It is commonly formed when poly or diisocyanate and polyol react with each other.
Natural Rubber Gloves
Natural rubber has a high ratio of stretch, is very waterproof, and has high resilience. Natural rubber is also known as caoutchouc or India Rubber. Natural rubber is produced from isoprene polymers. Natural rubber is many times harvested in the form of a milk like, sticky colloid. This sticky fluid is called latex. Latex is refined into rubber. Natural rubber gloves are resistant to things such as ketones, animal oils, veggie oils, acids, and bases. If someone is allergic to latex they should avoid natural rubber gloves.
Butyl Rubber Gloves
Butyl is a four-carbon group that is alkyl radical. In organic chemistry, the chemical formula for Butyl is -C4H9. Butyl rubber is a synthetic, or manmade, rubber (aka elastomer). Butyl rubber is also referred to as isobutylene-isoprene rubber, or IIR. Butyl rubber is not a porous and is harder than other elastomers (like silicone and natural rubber). The rubber has enough elasticity to be able to form airtight seals. Butyl rubber gloves will deteriorate when exposed to things such as ammonia but the deterioration occurs much more slowly compared to other elastomers. Butyl rubber gloves are resistant to bases, aldehydes, glycol ethers, ketones, alcohols, esters, amines, amides, nitro compounds, and acids.
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PPE for the Skin
Protection Suits When Working on Mold:
In the epidemiology section of their site, the North Carolina Health and Human Services site suggests that protective clothing be worn during mold remediation. They suggest that the protective clothing be of a material that can be washed or thrown out after the remediation is over.
Types of Protection Suits
There are different levels of protection suits one can buy. OSHA created descriptions of the different levels of protection needed when enduring different situations, level A through level D. When choosing the correct protection suit it is important to understand what elements you will be exposed to while working.
If you are going to be exposed to life threatening chemicals or biohazards a level A protection suit should be worn. Level A protection suits are the most protective and must be vapor and gas tight. These suits must be splash proof. They can deter harm from chemical and biological dangers. The suits are completely encapsulated.
Level B and Level C
Level B and C demand the same level of protection. They PPE suits for level B and level C will protect people form chemical splashed. PPE suits in level B and level C do not protect you from gas or vapors. These suits do not need to be fully encapsulated.
Level D suits can be utilized as normal work uniforms. Level D suits might be disposable and should only be used when there is not a chemical hazard.
PPE for the Eyes
Goggles When Working on Mold
The EPA warns not to get mold or spores from mold into your eyes. It suggested that workers wear goggles without holes for ventilation.
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Types of Goggles
Perforated goggles, also known as vented goggles, give protection but also allow airflow.
Non-vented goggles are just what the name reveals, goggles without vents. These goggles are ideal for mold remediation because they protect eyes from spores floating in the air.
Many goggle manufacturers offer anti-fog lenses. Goggles with anti-fog capabilities are treated to prevent fogging. This is especially vital for non-vented goggles.
PPE for the Respiratory System
Respirators When Working on Mold:
Mold particles and mold spores can be present in the air. Workers should take caution to prevent breathing in mold spores and mold.
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There are different respirator rating letters and numbers to help classify the type of respirator.
Respirator Rating Letters
N: The letter N means that the respirator is not oil resistant.
R: The letter R means that the respirator is resistant to oil.
P: The letter P means that the respirator is oil proof.
Respirator Rating Numbers
95: A 95 means that 95% of particles (that are at least .3 microns in diameter) are removed with this respirators filter system.
99: A 99 means that 99% of particles, at least .3 microns in diameter, are removed with the filter on this respirator.
100: A 100 means that 99.97% of particles, measuring a diameter of .3 microns or larger, are removed with this respirators HE or HEPA filter system.
Types of Respirators
These respirators cover your mouth and nose.
The respirators cover your whole face.
Different types of filters are available to filter out 95% to 99.97% of particles that are bigger than .3 microns in diameter.
Different respirators are available with different oil resistance ratings. They range from not resistant to oil to completely oil proof.
OSHA and Respirators:
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (or OSHA), a department in the United States Department of Labor, requires very specific guidelines be followed when utilizing respirators.
OSHA Protection Levels
OSHA has determined different levels of personal protection equipment needed for handling different levels of hazards.
Video on OSHA Compliant Personal Protective Equipment from Federal Safety Solutions
You need level A PPE when the highest level of protection is necessary for your skin, you respiratory system, and your eyes.
Level B PPE is needed when you still need the highest level of protection for your respiratory system but you do not need the highest level of skin protection.
Level C PPE is okay when the types of substances that are airborne are known and you are meeting the guidelines for using respirators that purify the air.
Level D PPE is appropriate when there are no known hazards. Level D PPE provides marginal protection.
PPE Protection Level for Mold Remediation in Different Sized Mold Infested Areas According to OSHA.
Video on Supplies for Mold Remediation from SBP
Isolated Areas that are Small
A small isolated area is defined as visible mold growth that is isolated to 10 square feet.
Normally half-face or full-face P, R, or N 95 respirator will work. If the area is contaminated with heavy mold growth or a significant amount of dust is produced when cleaning, full-face respirators with P, N, or R 100 filters are needed.
Non-vented goggles are necessary.
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A protective suit or coverall is recommended to cover your body. This suit can be disposable. In small isolated areas of contamination full body suits, that cover your head and feet, are not required.
Long gloves, made of a material that will protect the person from the chemicals being utilized, are needed during mold remediation.
Isolated Areas that are Mid-Sized
A mid-sized isolated area is defined as visible mold growth that is isolated to 10 to 30 square feet.
Respirator requirements are the same as the requirements for small isolated areas.
Goggles that are not vented are essential.
A protective suit that covers your body is recommended. In mid-sized isolated areas, it is not necessary for the protective suit to cover your head or feet.
You need gloves made from materials that specifically hold up against the chemicals being used during that mold remediation. The gloves should be long.
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Isolated Areas that are Large
A large-sized isolated area is defined as visible mold growth that is isolated to 30 to 100 square feet.
Respirator requirements are the same as the requirements for mid-sized isolated areas.
Goggles that do not have vents are needed.
Protective suits that cover your body are recommended. At this level, the suit does not need to cover your head.
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Long gloves are needed during mold remediation. You need gloves that will withstand the type of chemical being used to clean the mold.
Isolated Areas that are Considered Extensive Contamination
An extensive contamination area is defined as visible mold growth that is greater than 100 square feet.
If an area over 100 square feet is contaminated with mold, a full-face respirator with P, N, or R 100 filters are necessary.
Non-Vented goggles are required.
Protective suits that cover your body, head and feet are required.
Short gloves are not okay. Long gloves need to be purchased. The type of gloves purchased will vary depending on the type of chemicals being used.
Discarding PPE After Back Mold Remediation
Disposable personal protection equipment should be thrown away after use. The personal protection equipment should be put into an impermeable bag of some kind. This will eliminate contaminating other areas. This bag can normally be thrown out as normal trash.
Repair the Source of the Moisture
It is imperative that the moisture source for the mold-infestation be corrected. If you do not correct the moisture source but, for example, pull out old drywall and put up new drywall, you can expect that the mold situation will recur. This is because the atmosphere that the mold thrived in will continue, thus aiding mold to regrow in the area. If there is a plumbing issue, it needs to be rectified. If it is a leak in the roof, the roof needs to be fixed.
Video on Removing Mold and Getting Rid of Moisture from Steve Maxwell
Contain the Mold-Infested Areas
Care should be taken in order to eliminate contaminating areas outside of the area affected by the mold growth.
Shut down the HVAC system that services the mold infested area. This will prevent mold contamination from traveling through the HVAC system to other parts of a building.
Isolate the mold-infested areas with plastic sheeting. Duct tape should be used to seal the plastic sheeting. Any ducts, grills, or vents should be covered as well.
Exhaust fans can be used to handle negative pressure issues. HEPA filters should be utilized to filter out the mold contaminates.
Decontamination of the Mold-Infested Areas
Materials that can be cleaned should be cleaned utilizing a detergent or soap. There may be materials that were contaminated by mold that cannot be salvaged. These items should be sealed in plastic. The outside of the bags should also then be cleaned with soap so that the outsides of the bags do not contaminate the area the bags are taken to.
Thank you to flickr.com for the use of their image:
The EPA’s Tips and Steps for Black Mold Remediation
The EPA, or the United States Environmental Protection Agency, suggests that if a mold infested area is larger than 3 feet by 3 feet you might be able to handle it yourself following strict guidelines but you may want to consult with and potentially hire a contractor.
The EPA offers these black mold remediation steps and tips:
- During this process, make sure to avoid exposing yourself and others to mold.
- You should first illuminate the water source. Repair plumbing issues or the other source of the moisture.
- Dry all items and surfaces completely.
- With water and a detergent, scrub mold off of all solid surfaces. Be sure to again, get everything completely dry.
- There may be some porous or absorbent materials that cannot be remediated and must be thrown away. Examples of such materials may be: carpet, ceilings, drywall, and wallpaper.
- The EPA warns to not apply caulk or paint over a surface infested with mold. This can lead to the paint peeling off of the moldy surface.
- When you are unsure of what to do, the EPA recommends consulting a specialist.
The EPA’s PDF on Mold Remediation:
< href="https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-08/documents/moldremediation.pdf">Mold Remediation PDF
Mold Remediation Resources:
The EPA provides a “Checklist for Mold Remediation”
Should you have your air ducts cleaned?
The EPA provides a list of “10 Things You Should Know about Mold”
The EPA Provides Mold Resources for Health Professionals
Black Mold Exposure and Your Health
Exposure to Mold
Mold exposure can happen anywhere at any time. This is due to their ability to grow in warm, damp, and humid conditions which is essentially found everywhere. Mold reproduces by making spores; these spores are spread through various means; air, water, and even people. They are also known to survive climates that normally don’t support mold growth.
Mold itself is non-toxic, but there are a few species that can be toxic to humans. People who are sensitive to mold experience reactions that are similar to allergies; nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, and skin irritation but are not limited to these. In severe reactions to mold people can develop fever along with shortness of breath. These reactions occur when people have immunosuppression or a decrease in vital capacity and have been known to be more prone to getting fungal infections than those who don’t.
Common molds that people can be exposed to include:
- Cladosporium- has green, brown, or dark colonies that seem to branch out.
- Penicillium- green; branched out with colorless hyphae
- Alternaria- green, black, or gray thick colonies
- Aspergillus- green, brown, and yellow in fur-like colonies
Black Mold illness and Potential Health Issues
Video on How Mold Effects Your Body from moldguys
Black Mold, also known as Stachybotrys chartarum, is toxic to humans. This is because it produces toxins called mycotoxins, which work with one’s genetics, diet, and interactions of other toxins to create a varying degree of reactions.
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Mycotoxins are also known to enter the body through the bloodstream and prevent protein synthesis, damage macrophage systems, and make it difficult to gather oxygen in the lungs.
Video on Mycotoxins effects on the body from Bulletproof
Micro fungi produce these mycotoxins after its initial growth phase and as it begins to develop spores. Fungi that go through these processes are called filamentous fungi. These fungi are rivaled by only two other systems that can produce a large variety of natural products or secondary metabolites: actinomycetes and plants.
Protein synthesis is the process of bringing molecules together through chemical reactions to form chemical bonds. In this case, chemical bonds form between adjacent amino acids at the same time as amino acids break their bonds to form tRNA.
In certain molds, protein synthesis reacts differently due to their environment. For example: sporangia in the water mold Achlya cannot differentiate if there aren’t enough nutrients. Since this mold actively synthesizes protein, there could be a change in the rate of radioactive amino uptake.
Exposure to mold causes the alveoli regions of the lungs to be embed with mold particles. The human body’s natural response to taking down foreign bodies is through the use of macrophages which are densely packed into the alveolar walls. In order to absorb or digest foreign bodies, macrophages go through a process called phagocytosis which engulfs or ingests the particles by the macrophages. Then if the particles are able to be digested they are passed through the lymph.
Molds can produce many substances that can be harmful to humans, but only if in excessive amounts. These substances fall into two major classes: Secondary products of metabolism (mycotoxins) and structural components.
Damage Oxygen intake through Lungs:
Mold can cause a variety of different reactions; fever, shortness of breath, and skin irritation. For the lungs, mold exposure has been known to cause inflammation and mold growth within the lungs, greatly reducing the amount of oxygen that can be taken in. This can also lead, but not limited, to these conditions: Stachybotryotoxicosis, Reye’s syndrome, and hepatocellular carcinoma.
Stachybotrys chartarum, unlike common molds, have a gelatinous greenish-black mold with a slimy layer of water on top of it. If anything were to happen to this layer, the mold will dry out and appear to be dry and powdery. The only way to find out if one has been in contact with black mold is to have a mold expert examine it under a microscope.
The Medical Implications of Black Mold - Research Studies
- Mold 101: Effects on Human Health – National Capital Poison Center
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- official report
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- basic mold information
Black Mold Illness - Fact or Reality?
Video on Mold Myths from Mold Removal
Insight into black mold illness:
Video with the Belief that Black Mold Illness is Not Real from Clevelandmarko
Treatment for Black Mold Illness
The best treatment for mold symptoms is to avoid the mold, take medications, or get shots. If someone is allergic or has a sensitivity to mold, the best option is to consult a doctor or an allergist. There is no cure for mold sensitivity, but taking allergy reducing medicine can help prevent unwanted symptoms.