Marlyville / Fontainebleau / Broadmoor Preservation
post-Katrina and beyond...



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mold remediation

Revised 17 August 2006

Mold Remediation: Fact vs Fiction

Mold remediation may consist of any form of mold removal and disinfection.  The simplest form of mold remediation consists of spraying a weak solution of chlorine bleach plus or minus a surfactant onto mold-infected surfaces.   The most expensive and elegant form is to seal the area and fill it with chlorine gas which kills the mold and leaves most materials relatively intact.  Demolition with removal of wet materials followed by drying and superficial disinfection is an effective solution.

Mold is not harmful to humans despite all the hype UNLESS you ingest large amounts of it (e.g., eat it.) The spores of the mold may have toxins in them, but the spores do not remain airborne. They are so heavy that they fall directly to the ground. There is probably NO cause and effect relationship between mold and "sick building syndrome."

Why are there mold remediation companies? There's money to be made - to some extent preying on people's ignorance and fear.

Why is mold so villanized? It's ugly, and it indicates the presence of moisture which IS harmful to structures. Moisture also attracts termites.


1. Airborne mold spores are not an issue unless demolition is underway. After demolition the area is safe to breath even though some residual mold is present. Wear a N95 mask when in doubt at all times, especially when any dust is raised. Other things in dust may be more problematic than mold, e.g., lead, household pesticides, etc.

2. Demolish mold infested areas to remove most of the mold.

3. Bleach is 100% effective against mold if the bleach comes into contact with the mold and remains in contact long enough. Usually you can see the mold disappear with adequate application. Reapply disinfection if mold is still visible or if in doubt. Hit all surfaces - even those that are not visible - beneath floors, behind studs in the wall, etc.

4. Use a surfactant with the bleach to allow the bleach to penetrate better and to lower the concentration of bleach necessary to kill the mold. This is also less toxic to the person applying the disinfection.

5. Bleach is more toxic than mold to humans. Wear protective equipment including goggles, N95 mask or better, gloves, and protective clothing (eg rubber) when applying the disinfection. This is critical.

6. Drying is more important than disinfection. If the structure remains wet, it will get reinfected. Also, residual moisture is worse for the structure than the mold is.

7. Hire a mold remediation expert if in doubt about any of the above. However, if you protect yourself from the disinfection process, the average person can save a few bucks.

Remember that our environment is full of mold and fungus especially the soil. If mold was as toxic as some people say, South Louisiana would be uninhabitable (perhaps it is?).

How can I be sure of this information?

1. I am an Infectious Diseases subspecialist, and I have heard an excellent scientifically-sound presentation on this matter by two top scientists at LSU before Katrina. Dealing with fungus infections is a major part of my profession.
2. I eliminated the mold from my flooded house using the steps above.

For more information consult the EPA:

Here's an authoritative statement on the issue from The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine:

"Mold spores are present in all indoor environments and cannot be eliminated from them. Normal building materials and furnishings provide ample nutrition for many species of molds, but they can grow and amplify indoors only when there is an adequate supply of moisture. Where mold grows indoors there is an inappropriate source of water that must be corrected before remediation of the mold colonization can succeed. Mold growth in the home, school, or office environment should not be tolerated because mold physically destroys the building materials on which it grows, mold growth is unsightly and may produce offensive odors, and mold is likely to sensitize and produce allergic responses in allergic individuals. Except for persons with severely impaired immune systems, indoor mold is not a source of fungal infections. Current scientific evidence does not support the proposition that human health has been adversely affected by inhaled mycotoxins in home, school, or office environments."



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