Terms & Basic Mold Glossary
The following are some basic terms to help better understand the mold issue.
An allergen is a substance that elicits an antibody response and is responsible for producing allergic reactions. Chemicals are released when certain cells come into contact with an allergen. These chemicals can cause injury to surrounding tissue - the visible signs of an allergy. Only a few fungal allergens have been characterized but all fungi are thought to be potentially allergenic. See Allergen Screening.
Allergy is a hypersensitive disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur to normally harmless environmental substances known as allergens; these reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid. Strictly, allergy is one of four forms of hypersensitivity and is called type I (or immediate) hypersensitivity.
Common allergic reactions include eczema, hives, hay fever, asthma attacks, food allergies, and reactions to the venom of stinging insects such as wasps and bees.
Mild allergies like hay fever are highly prevalent in the human population and cause symptoms such as allergic conjunctivitis, itchiness, and runny nose. Allergies can play a major role in conditions such as asthma. In some people, severe allergies to environmental or dietary allergens or to medication may result in life-threatening anaphylactic reactions.
Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
The prevalence of asthma has increased significantly since the 1970s. As of 2009, 300 million people were affected worldwide. In 2009 asthma caused 250,000 deaths globally.
Biocides and fungicides are chemicals that limit the growth of or kill microorganisms such as fungi.
See Toxic Mold below.
The issue that originally caused the mold colonization needs to be addressed and corrected to assure mold colonization will not return.
Certified Water Damage Technicians (WRT)
Personnel who have attended the required education classes and passed the required test to become Certified by the nationally recognized IICRC organization in Water Damage Restoration (S-500)
Certified Applied Microbial Remediation Technicians (AMRT)
Personnel who have attended the required education classes and passed the required test to become Certified by the nationally recognized IICRC organization in Mold Remediation (S-520)
Water vapor from air which naturally condenses on cold surfaces into liquid water is called dew. Water vapor will only condense onto another surface when that surface is cooler than the temperature of the water vapor, or when the water vapor equilibrium in air, i. e. saturation humidity, has been exceeded.
ERMI is the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index - the combination of EPA research, powerful Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology, and a new method to screen homes for mold. Based on recently published data from EPA researchers and the 2006 HUD American Healthy Home Survey, the test has been developed as a tool to evaluate the potential risk of indoor mold growth and associated health effects. See ERMI-PCR Panel for more details.
Dust samples are collected by a sampling vacuum of an area approximately 6'x6' in one room and a 6'x6' area in a bedroom for 5 minutes each with a sampler vacuum fitted with a DustChek ™ cassette.
With the use of commercial foam machine the solution is transformed into a foam which slowly dissolves and penetrates into the soil or substrate killing bacteria, viruses, mold and other toxic organisms.
With a commercial fogging machine produces an aerosolized fog with particulate sizes ranging from 5 to 20 microns. This method is particularly effective in the decontamination of mold-affected areas because it allows the chemical to linger in the air longer and thus is able to decontaminate not only all of the exposed surface areas but all of the air space as well. It bonds with the mold spores which range in size from 5 to 15 microns to more effectively eliminate them. This means all areas are treated at once thus ensuring complete decontamination. The fog droplets penetrate deep into nooks and crannies where other sprays and foams can’t go.
A French drain or land drain is a ditch filled with gravel, rock that redirects surface and ground water away from an area. French drains are common drainage systems, primarily used to prevent ground and surface water from penetrating or damaging building foundations. Alternatively, the French drain technique may be used to distribute water, such as that which flows from the outlet of a typical septic tank sewage treatment system. French drains are also used behind retaining walls to relieve ground water pressure.
Fungi are neither animals nor plants and are classified in a kingdom of their own, the Kingdom of Fungi. Fungi include a very large group of organisms, including molds, yeasts, mushrooms and puffballs.
GPP - Specific Humidity
The weight of water vapor per unit weight of air expressed as grams of water vapor /pound of air or GPP. This method of measuring humidity is much more precise and useful when applying structural drying or trying to identify a humidity issue.
This refers to visible mold growth on building structures that is not easily seen, including the areas above drop ceilings, within a wall cavity (the space between the inner and outer structure of a wall), inside air handlers, or within the ducting of a heating/ventilation system.
Hypha (plural, hyphae)
An individual fungal thread or filament of connected cells; the thread that represents the individual parts of the fungal body. Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs) Fungi produce chemicals as a result of their metabolism. These chemicals, MVOCs, are responsible for the characteristic moldy, musty, or earthy smell of fungi, whether mushrooms or molds. The human nose is very sensitive to mold odors and sometimes more so than current analytical instruments.
Hypersensitivity (also called hypersensitivity reaction) refers to undesirable (damaging, discomfort-producing and sometimes fatal) reactions produced by the normal immune system. Hypersensitivity reactions require a pre-sensitized (immune) state of the host.
An inflammation of the alveoli within the lung caused by hypersensitivity to inhaled organic dusts or molds. Sufferers are commonly exposed to the dust by their occupation, hobbies or can receive a on time high dose of toxic exposure.
Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA)
The is a nonprofit, multi-disciplined organization, dedicated to promoting the exchange of indoor environmental information, through education and research, for the safety and well being of the general public. Learn more at www.iaqa.org
Indoor Environmental Professionals (IEP)
Personnel who is qualified by knowledge, skill, education, training and experience to perform an assessment of the fungal ecology of structures, systems and contents at a property location; create a sampling strategy, sample the indoor environment, evaluate the laboratory data and establish a scope of work necessary to return the property to a healthy condition.
Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)
The IICRC is a nationally recognized Education, Training and Certification Organization. They were instrumental in developing the Standards for both Water Restoration (S-500) and Mold Remediation (S-520).
Learn more at www.iicrc.org
Molds are a group of organisms that belong to the Kingdom of Fungi (see Fungi). Even though the terms mold and fungi had been commonly referred to interchangeably, all molds are fungi, but not all fungi are molds.
Mold as a result of Condensation
These are surface issues as a result of condensation (high levels of humidity condensate on the exterior walls where there is little or no air movement) which could be cleaned up under conventional methods, however, not all the mold present under these conditions maybe visible. Mold spores could be present in the carpeting, soft contents, clothing, etc. and just because the visible area was cleaned up doesn't’t mean the mold will not come back. The causation issue (normally humidity) needs to be addressed to assure it will not return.
Mold as a result of Clutter
Clutter creates microclimates where humidity is higher than the ambient humidity in the room, Mold develops because clutter blocks airflow, thereby elevating the humidity level to where it supports Mold growth.
Mold as a result of Water Intrusion (Leaks)
- Leaks from roofs, windows, plumbing lines or faucets, wax rings on toilets, dishwashers, garbage disposals, faulty grout, etc. all contribute to an environment that supports mold growth.
- All water intrusion issues need to be addressed and corrected or the mold will return after the remediation is completed.
Active mold growth as a result of water leaks, sewer leaks, wet crawl spaces or attics and even high levels of humidity.
A mass of hyphae.
Mycotoxins are compounds produced by some fungi that are toxic to humans or animals. A mycotoxin is a toxic secondary metabolite produced by organisms of the fungus kingdom, commonly known as molds. One mold species may produce many different mycotoxins and/or the same mycotoxin as another species
Negative Air Unit / Air Scrubber
These machines are interchangeable depending on how they are set up. The NAU will extract the air from a workspace and discharge it outside the workspace creating a negative pressure, an AS circulates the air within a workspace, in both cases the air is filtered thru a 3 stage filtration system consisting of a primary, a secondary and a HEPA collectively removing 99.97% of the airborne particles from the air down to 3 microns.
A term used to describe the amount of water vapor that exists in a gaseous mixture of air and water, expressed as a percentage of the maximum amount of water vapor that could be present if the vapor were at its saturation conditions. For example: 70% relative humidity @ 80° means that the air can only hold an additional 30% more water vapor before it reaches its saturation point.
The term “remediate” simply means to fix a problem. Related to mold contamination, remediation includes fixing the water/moisture problem, and the cleaning, removal and/or replacement of damaged or contaminated materials.
A controlled professional activity to physically remove the contamination, clean and treat the surfaces, scrub the air with HEPA filtration devices and to assure that the living environment has been brought back to acceptable healthy levels.
Sample Analytical Evaluation
Air Sampling Interpretation
Assessment of indoor and outdoor air quality specifically associated with microbial environments are complex, dynamic, and transient as sampling results change over time. Air sampling data only represents a specific moment in time. As there are no current state or federal guidelines or regulations to indicate "safe" or "normal" spore levels; an effective industry wide and internationally accepted interpretation is based on the comparison of indoor and outdoor samples. The types and relative percentages of fungi need to be similar with no appreciable presence of mold spore types not normally associated with an indoor environment. This desirable environmental result suggests that the exposure to airborne mold within the interior areas sampled is the same as that on the outside of the building.
Surface Lift Sampling Interpretation
The purpose for collecting tape lift samples is to confirm the presence of mold growth and to identify the genera of visible growth on a surface. Analysis is conducted at the laboratory by direct microscopic examination.
Sampling Methods and Materials
Bio-reveal Swabs – This is a real time biological and ATP microbial detection system the measures the ATP [adenosine tri phosphate] molecule, which is found in all living organisms such as mold, bacteria, plant and animal cells. Biological contaminants and bio-film residues contain ATP, which can be collected, tested and quantified using the bio-reveal system.
The system is designed to provide instant results for bio-contamination testing on surfaces or in liquids. bio-reveal provide users with the instant capability of testing for mold and bacteria on surfaces as part of water damage loss evaluations (IICRC S500 and S520), IAQ and industrial hygiene evaluations, bacteria outbreak investigations and for performing Post Remediation Verification Testing (PRVT) for mold and bacteria remediation projects. bio-reveal is an extremely sensitive detection system and can indicate the presence of not only dangerous mold and bacterial organisms but somatic materials and bio-films as well, which are also problematic and are not addressed or detected through traditional environmental testing methods, such as using culturing or air sampling techniques.
Delmhorst’s Navigator Pro Moisture Meter is a multi-function meter that is used for a variety of Restoration and building inspection applications:
- Check moisture in drywall, insulation, wood, concrete, and plaster.
- Provide temperature, humidity, dew point and GPP readings.
- Perform ASTM F2170 relative humidity test in concrete flooring.
- Trace leaks and find exterior moisture, and locate dry rot.
Spore-Trap Ambient Air Sampling
Viable and Non-viable sampling is conducted using a Zefon BioAire pump and Zefon Air-O-Cell cassettes. A total of 15 liters of air, per cassette, is passed over a culture medium which collects the spores on its adhesive surface.
The cassettes are transported to an EMLab P & K Certified laboratory under chain of custody, where they undergo microscopic evaluation. EMLab P & K is an AIHA and ISO accredited laboratory.
General a term for the reproductive structure in fungi, bacteria and some plants. In fungi, the spore is the structure which may be used for dissemination and may be resistant to adverse environmental conditions.
Stachybotrys is a genus that includes approximately 10 species. These species occur mainly on dead plant materials.
Of these, Stachybotrys chartarum is the most common. In the indoor environment, it is commonly found on cellulose materials including paper, canvas and jute which are wetted to a water activity > 0.98. This is a toxigenic mold.
Toxic or Black Mold
Toxic mold or Black Mold is a misnomer, yet it is commonly referred by consumers who use these terms to identify what it is they are trying to describe. Mold can be any color and usually takes on the color of the food source it is digesting. Stachybotrys is one of the mold spores that are associated with the “toxic or black mold” terms. One of the reasons is Stachybotrys takes longer to cultivate and needs a higher concentration of moisture over a longer period of time so it can look gooey and black.
Attacking mold contamination with a bottle of Clorox (or any disinfectant) will do more harm than good. Consider a dandelion flower when you blow on it the seeds fly away and your left with the stem, spraying Clorox on a mold colony will get some of the spores and the stem structure but the majority of the spores just drift off to settle in other areas. The relocated spores do not die just become dormant, they reactivate when inhaled into the respiratory system.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary, room-temperature conditions. In other words these compounds, though solid slowly turn to vapor and get into the air where they can be breathed, the action is called Off-Gassing. This off-gassing results from a low boiling point, which causes large numbers of molecules to evaporate or sublimate from the liquid or solid form of the compound and enter the surrounding air.
Many VOCs are dangerous to human health or cause harm to the environment. VOCs are numerous, varied, and ubiquitous. They include both man-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds. VOCs are typically not acutely toxic, but instead have compounding long-term health effects.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found concentrations of VOCs in indoor air to be 2 to 5 times greater than in outdoor air and sometimes far greater.
VOC concentration in an indoor environment during winter is three to four times higher than the VOC concentrations during the summer. High indoor VOC levels are attributed to the low rates of air exchange between the indoor and outdoor environment as a result of tight-shut windows and the increasing use of humidifiers.
Wipe hard surfaces with a micro fibre wipe wetted with decontaminate solution.
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