How to Detect Mold and Clean Your Environment

Written by
17 August, 2020
· 4 min read
How to Detect Mold and Clean Your Environment

Mold in the air?! Join Wana and Joseph Reiss, air quality expert to learn how to build and maintain a healthy home environment

1. Tell us a bit about yourself: What do you do? How did you get into what you do?

Being in the construction industry now for over 30 years and working in the field on hundreds of projects from start to finish has taught me one thing: Never stop seeking knowledge to help others, share what you have learned and then give back to your community for the benefit of others.

I become a Certified Microbial Investigator and it became even more apparent that the need to educate and bring awareness to the people about their environments is so great. With the right knowledge, they could possibly impact their lives . Over the past few years, I have developed my tradecraft to harness the knowledge that is needed. I'm proud to say that I truly strive daily to make a difference, and I’m honored when I'm called upon for support.

Currently, I'm certified as a CMI (Certified Microbial Investigator), CIEC (Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant), and I’ve held various positions in community programs with other construction industry accolades; (Habitat for Humanity, ICARE Community Support, etc.). I’m also currently enrolled to become a "Building Biologist" to ultimately provide others with a direction on how to build and maintain a healthy home environment.

2. If someone can’t afford to remediate, what are the best alternative steps they can take?

After first knowing what you have to remediate through assessing the areas of concern, you must proceed with the mindset of source removal if possible. If you remove the source you remove the problem. This is not always entirely possible or even feasible at times.

First, assess where the source is and determine what course of action is suitable for you to undertake. Seeking the required knowledge is the key to successful remediation. Each remediation project differs in many ways with many aspects and conditions that are too specific to suggest any alternative steps without understanding what you are dealing with. Once the initial assessment has been finished, I suggest following an industry-standard guideline - the IICRC S520 Standard and Reference Guideline for Professional Mold Remediation.

3. How does one clean their environment and contents inside the affected areas?

Industry-standard guidelines like IICRC 520S explain in great detail step-by-step procedures to handle most cleaning methods both for your environment and contents (check this out).

4. What resources are available to better understand and educate myself about indoor molds and other pathogens?

I would first start within you local and state guidelines, and from there I would recommend reviewing the following literature to grasp a better understanding of microbial growth:

AIHA Guideline 3 – 2004 Assessment, Remediation, and Post-Remediation Verification of Mold in Buildings Fungal Contamination - A Manual for Investigation, Remediation and Control Author by – Hollace S. Bailey.

Indoor Environmental Professionals Panel of Surviving Mold CONSENSUS STATEMENT Medically sound investigation and remediation of water-damaged Buildings in cases of CIRS-WDB - L. Schwartz CIEC, BSME, MBA, G. Weatherman CMC, M. Schrantz CIEC, CMI, BPI-BA/EP, W. Spates CIAQP, CIEC, J. Charlton, ACIEC, AACIEH, K. Berndtson MD, R. Shoemaker MD.

5. What are some tips that you can give to help recognize a potential microbial problem in a home?

I like to use these three simple steps when entering a home:

  1. When you walk into your home how does it smell? If you have a basement, do you notice a difference in the basement climate coming to and from there? Or a moist-enriched environment, can you smell a difference? Also look into crawl spaces, garages, and unconditioned storage areas to name a few.

  2. Next, check under your toilet tank lid. Flip it over - have you have cleaned it before? Most of us haven't. This is a good way to check to see a residual build-up of airborne dust particles has built up over time and could possibly be attracting microbial activity. You see when you flush a toilet it works on gravity. When the water is released in the tank, air pressure is subsequently forcing the water to flow downwards. Within the air, there are airborne particles that could indeed have mold spores among them. Generally speaking, where there is a water source there could be microbial activity. If you notice any suspicious colonizing patterns or discoloration growth on the interior components as well there could be a good chance that you have mold spores in your ambient airflow, which could possibly be facilitated in your ventilation system. Further evaluation would then need to be considered.

  3. Finally, check where the ventilation system is located, and take a look at all of the system components. Check the return grills and supply registers as well as the filters that you change. Is there any excessive building of dust and/or strange colonization that doesn't look like it should be there? If so, then further evaluation is needed within the entire system to determine if there is excessive build-up within the internal components. It is then possible that this could be a source where mold spores could be harboring and spreading.

About Joe Reiss

Joe Reiss is accredited through the American Council for Accredited Certifications as a Certified Microbial Investigator and Certified Indoor Environmental Consultant, North America’s oldest and most prestigious certifying body dedicated to indoor air quality. Joe is also licensed by New York as a Mold Assessor. He has over 30 years in the construction industry and prior to working at Certified Mold Inspections was very hands on in building homes. His expertise and knowledge of the built environment is an integral part of his assessment process. Joe has performed hundreds of mold specific investigations and specializes working with individuals with hypersensitive health issues, including but not limited to Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), Lyme disease and other co-infections, autoimmune disease, and multiple chemical sensitivity.

For more information, visit his site! You can also find him on Facebook (/Moldinspections/) and Instagram (@moldinspections).

Wana does not directly support any claims made within this content. These are the views of the individual/organization represented.

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