Mold Remediation: Fact
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
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
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
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