Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Mold in New Jersey
- Do I need to test for mold?
- Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation on the Internet and in print advertisements stating the supposed benefits of mold testing. Often, this misinformation is touted by companies that offer mold testing and, as such, have a financial bias in this matter. The most objective recommendations on the need for and benefits of mold testing are found in the stated positions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), two respected government agencies tasked with implementing and enforcing regulations with the objective of protecting human health and our environment.
The EPA's statement on mold testing is clear and unambiguous: "In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. (Bold font in original.) Since no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building's compliance with federal mold standards."
The position of the CDC, which is concerned about mold issues from a health policy perspective, reinforces the EPA's position counseling against the need for routine mold testing. The CDC's statement: "Generally, it is not necessary to identify the species of mold growing in a residence, and CDC does not recommend routine sampling for molds. Current evidence indicates that allergies are the type of diseases most often associated with molds. Since the susceptibility of individuals can vary greatly either because of the amount or type of mold, sampling and culturing are not reliable in determining your health risk. If you are susceptible to mold and mold is seen or smelled, there is a potential health risk; therefore, no matter what type of mold is present, you should arrange for its removal. Furthermore, reliable sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable or tolerable quantity of mold have not been established."
The positions of the EPA and CDC can be summarized as follow:
- Mold testing is unnecessary if visible mold is present.
- Any information from routine mold sampling is of limited value. Sampling cannot be used to check a building's compliance with federal mold standards because there are no mold standards. As noted by the EPA: "Standards or Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) for airborne concentrations of mold, or mold spores, have not been set. Currently, there are no EPA regulations or standards for airborne mold contaminants. "
- Any level or type of mold is a potential health hazard and should be removed. An occupant of a home who is mold-sensitive may suffer an allergic reaction to elevated concentrations of mold spores.
- If I do have mold, is it necessary to know the type of mold?
- Consistent with the EPA's position on mold testing, the CDC also counsels against routine mold sampling, stating that it is usually unnecessary to identify the particular species of mold. Allergies are the most common health issue arising when mold is in a home, and individual reactions to allergic triggers can vary greatly. Any type of mold and any amount of mold has the potential to cause health issues. There are no harmless types of mold, and mold does not have to be "black mold" in order to cause health issues. As such, sampling and culturing to determine mold type does not help a homeowner decide whether to remove mold. If mold is seen or smelled, no matter the type of mold, it has to be removed. ANY mold, no matter its color, poses a potential health risk for those with mold sensitivities. Mold can be especially harmful to the very young, the elderly, and those with preexisting respiratory problems or compromised immune systems.
- Do I need to test after the MAPS system is completed?
- Absolutely not. You will know that the MAPS system has successfully removed the mold because there will no longer have any signs of mold (you can't see it and you can't smell it), the home occupants are no longer suffering any adverse health effects, and the underlying water or moisture issue has been resolved. Mold testing cannot provide any greater assurance that the mold is gone since there are no objective benchmarks for elevated spore levels. The only way to evaluate a mold removal project is by physical evidence and by good health: The mold is gone when the indoor air is clean and free of that musty mold smell, and everyone in the home is breathing easily with no more lingering runny noses or coughs.
- Does bleach kill mold?
- There is a popular myth regarding bleach and mold that just won't go away: To kill mold, all you need to do is wipe it down with bleach, and like magic, the problem is solved. Like many myths with no basis in fact, this is not only incorrect, but also dangerous, especially if bleach is used in an enclosed, poorly ventilated areas without proper protective equipment. Chlorine gas fumes can cause bloody noses, neurological disorders, even death. According to the EPA's Guide discussing mold in schools and commercial buildings, "the use of a biocide, such as chlorine bleach, is not recommended as a routine practice."
The CDC states that you can use bleach for mold growth on hard (nonporous) surfaces in limited areas of less than 10 square feet. The use of bleach as a mold disinfectant is best left to small clean-up jobs around the home where mold is not a serious problem like kitchen countertops and bathroom tubs and shower glass.
Bleach does NOT work on softer, porous surfaces like drywall and most other materials in your home. On porous surfaces, the embedded mold roots are buried deep into the surface. When you wipe down a porous surface with bleach, the water in the solution seeps deep into the surface, while the pungent bleach compound is left on the surface, gassing off into the home, and into your lungs. So, all you've really done with bleach is "fertilize" the mold beneath the surface by giving it more moisture to grow. Often times the mold returns with a vengeance, creating an even bigger problem. No matter what anyone tells you, using chlorine bleach for mold cleanup on any wood-based building product is not only ineffective, but also potentially dangerous. Anyone who uses bleach on wood or wood products like ceiling tiles or drywall does not understand mold and how it grows, and the limitations and proper use of chlorine bleach.
- Do I need to tear out moldy sheetrock or beams?
- No!!! The beauty of the MAPS system is that it treats and kills mold right where it sits, so it doesn't have a chance to spread. Since mold is a living organism, you need to kill it and make it inert and harmless, so it doesn't have a chance for the spores to relocate and reproduce elsewhere. Traditional mold remediators physically remove mold from the home as if it were asbestos: by tearing out construction material that often has no loss of structural integrity. Needless to say, this "overkill" process dramatically adds to the cost because of extensive renovations needed once the demolition is over. Our approach is a science-based, smart, targeted approach that leaves the construction material in place and resolves the mold problem by actually treating the mold itself. First, we kill the mold, and then coat any material that has mold growth with a patented sealant that prevents the mold from returning. Finally, if there are visible mold stains, we scrub and remove as much of the mold stains as possible. Mold stains cannot be removed from porous material such as dry wall. The mold is gone with better long-term results, and the homeowner has avoided a potentially massive and expensive construction project. Of course, there are cases, such as flooding or other severe water damage, where the building materials have become so water-saturated that they have lost their structural integrity. In those cases, the building materials have to be removed. But when materials are removed, it is because of irreparable water damage, not because of mold.
- How should I evaluate bids for mold removal?
- When evaluating bids, there is more to consider than the reputation of the contractor and the quoted bid, although that is certainly an important start. What really matters is that the mold issue is definitively resolved with a long-term solution, not a quick short-term fix. To evaluate the effectiveness of the mold removal process, you need to know how the contractor will be removing the mold and that the moisture or water issues are identified, addressed and resolved. If you are considering traditional mold remediation, it is also important to know the scope of the job and how much materials are expected to be removed. After the mold remediator is finished, you are left with a partial demolition of the house. You will need to hire a contractor for any rebuilding. Also factor in the cost of temporary relocation if the home is temporarily uninhabitable. Consider whether the building materials are structurally damaged or simply have mold growth. There is a big difference: perfectly good materials with only mold growth can be treated without the need for an extensive tear out. Also, the homeowner should evaluate the length and coverage of any guarantee, if one is offered, should the mold return. You want the peace of mind that you are covered if mold does return.
- What is meant by sanitizing and hepa-vacuuming mold spores?
- There are various devices that "sanitize" the home's indoor air by removing mold spores and other particles. The EPA offers an extensive analysis of residential air cleaners in its October 2008 Report "Evaluation of In-Room Particulate Matter Air Filtration Devices." (EPA/600/R-08/012. Available as pdf download.) The EPA concluded that, while these devices can reduce the levels of airborne particles, there is no scientific evidence that shows air cleaning devices to be consistently and highly effective in reducing adverse health effects from indoor pollutants. For examples large particles, which include some mold spores, settle rapidly before they can be removed by filtration. Air-cleaning devices that use mechanical air filters such as high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are ineffective in removing particles that do not remain airborne. Ozone generators sold as air cleaners are not recommended because they produce ozone, which is a dangerous lung irritant.
In short, the most effective way to reduce elevated levels of mold spores in an enclosed space is by attacking the source itself - rendering the mold inert and harmless so it no longer generates mold spores. Air-cleaning devices do provide some value, but they should not be relied upon as the sole way to protect the health of a home's occupants.
- How long does the MAPS process take?
- The scope of every job is different depending on how widespread the mold growth is in the home and the accessibility of the mold. However, most jobs are completed in less than a day, and the family can move right back in with no waiting period.
- Do I have to move out of my home or vacate my business?
- For the vast majority of our jobs, home relocation is unnecessary and businesses will have negligible business interruption. If there no loss of structural integrity of the building materials, or if material must be removed, it is not in the home's living spaces, then relocation is unnecessary. A major difference between the SMART mold treatment and prevention system and traditional remediation is that with the unique, patented process, extensive tear out and renovations are usually unnecessary.
- How should I compare different mold remediation/removal companies?
- Like any construction-related service, you should know something about the owners and their reputation. Are they local? How long have they been in business? Do they have a contractor's license, or if applying chemicals, a pest control license? Is there bid reasonable or too good to be true? Do they guarantee their work? Ask for recommendations. A good company has an established track record.
- Does Mold Solutions by Cowleys offer a warranty to protect homeowners in the event of returning mold?
- Of course. We stand by our mold treatment service and our representations of what we can accomplish to resolve a mold problem for the long-term. With our mold treatment service comes a one year "Mold Treatment and Prevention Warranty" that can be extended annually up to five (5) full years of coverage with installation of our commercial-grade dehumidifier and an annual service contract. As far as we know, that's the longest, most comprehensive warranty in the mold removal business.
- Why may I need to install a dehumidifier?
- While mold is often a consequence of a water intrusion problem, it can also thrive in homes that have high humidity levels, especially in basements and crawl spaces. Controlling your home's moisture is key for maintaining a dry home and inhibiting mold growth. You can reduce indoor humidity by venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside, by increasing ventilation, and by using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning. However, for homes with a mold problem, these steps are often not enough to reduce indoor humidity to acceptable levels. The only foolproof way to keep humidity levels down is by installing a whole-house, commercial grade dehumidifier. Mold Solutions offers the SaniDry® dehumidifier, which is specifically designed to work in cold or damp environments such as basements and crawl spaces. With features and specifications not found on standard models such as jumbo-sized cooling coils, electronic controls, and particulate filters, these ENERGY STAR®-rated dehumidifiers work automatically. They turn on when humidity levels start creeping up, and once the air is dried out, they shut off. There are no pans of water to empty because they discharge any excess water into a french drain, sump pump or directly outdoors with a condensate pump. A dehumidifier is the single best way to prevent mold growth and ensure clean indoor air for your family.
- Does treating mold with an antimicrobial help to prevent against future mold growth?
- No. Treating mold with an antimicrobial is an important part of our 4-step process. To get rid of mold, the first step is to kill the mold that's there. The use of an antimicrobial is an important part of the MAPS system. However, that is its limitation. Dead mold can be as toxic and allergenic as live mold. An antimicrobial treatment, in itself, will not prevent future mold growth if a water or moisture problem resurfaces. Only our patented moisture-intelligent sealant responds and reactivates to prevent future mold growth. And this is what distinguishes our system from any other mold removal system on the market.
- Can anyone offer the MAPS SMART polymer?
- No. Our SMART polymer is a proprietary product that is distributed only to selective applicators of the MAPS system. Since our system involves the use of chemical applications inside structures, the system and its unique mold-destroying polymer is available in NJ to trusted businesses with a pest control applicators license.
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