Monitoring and Treating Mold Growth in Commercial and Educational Facilities
Mold is a common and usually beneficial living organism with many applications to our everyday lives. It is used to make medicines such as penicillin, as a vital component in the production of bread and cheese, and as a natural cleaner that removes dead and unwanted organic material from the environment around us. In some cases, however, fungi can be an aggravation or, at worst, a significant danger to health. For this reason, mold must be carefully monitored and controlled in areas where substantial numbers of people come and go, such as schools, hospitals and commercial facilities. If mold occurs in these areas, it must be treated immediately before it can affect the people who may come in contact with it.
Effects of Mold
Health: Mold and mold spores can have significant effects on the respiratory system. These substances can trigger allergies or asthma attacks, which can be even worse for persons whose health or immune systems are already compromised. Some types of molds can produce irritants that affect the respiratory system, while others are toxic and can have catastrophic effects on health.
Property: Mold can cause damage to almost any item in your home, particularly material that the mold can use as a food source. Mold can attack carpets, insulation, wallboard and wood. Mold can ruin food and cause serious damage to books, papers, clothing and similar material.
Mold requires two conditions for growth: moisture and a source of food. Mold reproduces by producing spores. These spores travel on air currents. If they land on a spot that is favorable to them, they will start to grow.
It can be monitored using a variety of techniques and types of equipment.
Visually check for mold growth: Mold often appears as a dark splotch or roughly circular area of growth. Most molds are black, gray or green in color. Usually there will be more than one spot of mold in any given area.
Use monitoring and sensing equipment: Check the conditions in your facility, using instruments designed to detect the conditions favorable for mold growth. These include moisture meters that measure overall levels in building materials, humidity gauges that detect levels of moisture in the air, and humidistats that sense humidity and activate HVAC equipment for dehumidification.
Be aware of potential conditions: If there has been a flood, leak or significant fluid spill in your facility, it could create conditions favorable for mold growth. Watch carefully for the presence of mold even after these problems have been cleaned up, especially in hidden areas that could have gotten wet.
Use sampling, if needed: Sampling involves taking physical samples of potentially mold-contaminated materials for testing. Sampling should be performed only by qualified professionals.
Planning and Conducting Mold Remediation
- Treating and removing mold, also known as remediation, is a process designed to eliminate mold and help prevent its return.
- Consult with a professional and carefully plan the mold treatment process. Select appropriate personnel for the job, and ensure they are equipped with the proper personal protection equipment. Choose cleanup techniques and methods of containing mold to prevent its spread.
- Mold treatment should be conducted only by trained and qualified professionals.
- Remove source of moisture. Fix leaks, clean up floodwater, improve indoor dehumidification or take other action to get rid of moisture.
- Dry wet items for at least 48 hours. The process can include moisture extraction or using fans to help speed drying.
- Clean up any existing mold: Remove mold or moldy items that cannot be salvaged, particularly porous substances.
- If needed or recommended by your professional, apply chemical treatments that will prevent mold growth from recurring.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial and Residential settings. For more information on mold control and remediation in commercial and educational facilities, or to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!