As science progresses and medical professionals begin to accept that various indoor environmental contaminants impact the health of occupants we should consider best assessment practices and treat the built environment in a manner that removes offending organisms and returns the residence or office to a safe haven for occupancy.
All too often, I hear clients ask for an “air test” as the panacea that evaluates their concerns relative to mold issues. Many consumers believe that a simple air sample will provide them with the answer of why they or family members are ill. As IEP’s (Indoor Environmental Professionals) will attest, it’s the indoor environmental assessment that is most important. In other words, the inspection is looking for the source of the problem whereas a sample alone will not provide that answer. The sampling while important provides data that the inspector will consider when rendering an opinion and if needed, the development of a treatment plan, also known as a protocol.
Protocols are inspector recommendations for where, why, and how follow-up remediation should be implemented. Such recommendations are based on observations and analytical data. Understanding why an adverse condition has occurred is critical since poor conditions and poor health will continue until the source(s) are identified and corrected. That said, correcting the source alone is not sufficient as the indoor environment if contaminated must be returned to a normal condition. Various methods will be recommended such as environmental cleaning, source removal (wet building materials), or heavily contaminated flooring, furniture, and personal items, and of great importance the cleaning and sanitizing of the HVAC system.
Once the restoration has been completed a final inspection called a Clearance will be conducted. The clearance inspects the indoor environment, the success of the work, and its adherence to the initial protocol and then collects samples for laboratory analysis to confirm that the residence or place of occupation has returned to a safe and normal indoor environment. When dealing with CIRS patients, the clearance results must be lower than the initial levels of fungi (molds) and not contain elevated levels of molds known to produce mycotoxins.
Each project is unique and has specific requirements. Individuals for example suffering from CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) will require greater attention to advanced environmental restoration as their illness renders them most sensitive to molds, mycotoxins, and bacteria. Simple cleaning for example will likely fail to achieve an acceptable indoor ecology. This is why the training, experience, and knowledge of the inspector in a proper inspection and development of the protocol is essential and why the techniques and attention to detail of the restoration contractor are of utmost importance to the success of the project. At the Mold Pros, various advanced methods are used to remove contaminated materials, settled spores, hyphal fragments, and other by-products of mold growth.
More on these advanced methods in the next Blog.