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Mold Pollution Remediation Solutions for Commercial Buildings

As people return to work, workplaces must be free from mold contamination. Where mold contamination has occurred, mold remediation or mold abatement can be applied to eradicate it.
By Nick Nelson
August 9, 2021
Topics
Markets

Many people are returning to their workplaces after working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while working from home, most buildings were not maintained as far as the conditioning of the space. The lack of running the HVAC could lead to excess humidity and cause mold development.

The common molds found in commercial and residential buildings are Alternaria, Cladosporium, Aspergillus, Penicillium and Stachybotrys. These mold types can be hazardous for the business structure's integrity and employees' health. This results in business interruptions caused by sickness, rehabilitation of threatening commercial place structural integrity and high costs associated with repairs. Therefore, there is a need for mold remediation for commercial establishments before resuming work.

When someone suspects there may be an indoor air quality problem, the first step is to select an Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP) or mold accessor to conduct an inspection and take samples to determine the extent of contamination. The IEP will write a protocol to be followed during remediation. After completion, post sampling can be conducted to verify the environment has returned to normal fungal ecology.

Common Material Susceptible To Mold

Materials susceptible to mold growth are influenced by the level of moisture, light exposure, porosity of the material and ventilation. These factors influence the rate at which molds, which are living organisms, feed off the materials. Moreover, mold commonly grows on organic materials such as paper.

Mold growth is supported by moisture. Therefore, wet, damp, and humid conditions from a moisture source such as loose plumb fitting or leaking roofs will promote mold growth. Common materials susceptible to mold include the following.

Wood
Wood is a common building material that becomes vulnerable to mold when exposed to water because it becomes a moisture and food source. This will lead to the eventual destruction of wood surfaces as the mold feeds on the nutrients.

Drywall
Drywall is susceptible to mold growth because of its porous and high cellulose content. Thus, making it a common material where mold grows when it contains humid air pockets and its glue a food source. Drywalls contaminated with mold need to be urgently replaced because mold cannot be removed from them.

Cinder Block and Concrete Walls
Cinder and concrete block walls are resistant and durable against wind and rain elements; however, they are susceptible to mold when dust, moisture, and dirt settle on their surfaces, causing mold to grow.

Effects of Mold Growth in Commercial Places

Mold growth causes commercial places to have poor air quality, musty smells and unpleasant appearance. This is because mold forms black spots on contaminated surfaces, and high contamination leads to mold spores increasing in the air causing musty smells and poor air quality.

Mold growth causes damage to building structural integrity. Mold feeds off organic building materials such as dry walls for nutrients. Therefore, increased mold contamination means increased destruction of the building materials.

Mold growth leads to adverse health consequences for individuals. Some mold types cultivate irritants and allergens, with some having been established to be toxic to humans and animals, such as Stachybotrys. Increased mold contamination results in respiratory system diseases such as pneumonia and asthma, neurological complications such as sinuses, muscle aches, laryngitis, in addition to irritation to skin and eyes.

How to Eliminate Mold Safely in Commercial Places

Commercial places should regularly take measures to prevent mold growth; however, where mold growth has occurred, there are ways through which mold can be eliminated. Mold growth can be dealt with through mold remediation or mold abatement.

Commercial places can prevent mold growth by dealing with leaks, using a dehumidifier, especially commercial dehumidifiers, ensuring that the humidity is maintained until 50%, ensuring proper ventilation by keeping vents and filters clean, as well as dealing with flooding to avoid water from seeping into building materials.

In cases where mold growth has occurred, mold abatement is employed. First, ensure to protect yourself from mold spores by wearing a respirator, such as the N-95 respirator and protective suit. Mold abatement involves identifying and removing water sources and damaged building materials. Next, calling a professional to handle the clean-up according to the Environmental Protection Agency guidelines depends on the mold contamination size.

The contaminated areas are then thoroughly disinfected and cleaned while being careful to avoid cross-contamination. Finally, the cleaned and disinfected site is monitored and tested to confirm that the mold has been eradicated to prevent chances of regrowth.

While people return to their workplaces, their workplaces must be free from mold contamination. This is because building materials are susceptible to mold growth caused by exposure to moisture, leading to potential adverse effects on individuals and the workplace structure. Where mold contamination has occurred, mold remediation or mold abatement can be applied to eradicate it.

by Nick Nelson
Nick Nelson is a 14-year veteran to the mold industry leading the mold removal division of ‘58 Foundations. He holds certifications and training certificates from HAZWOPER–OSHA, Environmental Solutions Association, The Home Inspection Training Center and the IICRC. Nick has been a certified mold inspector and remediator since 2008 and has been involved in well over 5000 mold and indoor air quality related projects.

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