How to Pass a Mold Clearance Test

Environmental Issues That Affect Your Projects
  • Health & liability issues such as:
    • Asbestos
    • Lead Based Paint
    • Biological Contaminants
Biological Contaminants
  • PATHOGENS (virus, bacteria, mold)
  • IRRITANTS/ALLERGENS (pollen, cat dander, dust mites, mold)
  • TOXINS (Bacterial Endotoxins, Mold Mycotoxins, Microbial Volatile Organic Chemicals or MVOCs)
Today We Are Focused on Mold
  • Few regulations exist that govern Bioaerosols, and even fewer target mold
  • There is a vast amount of new case law, proposed legislation, company policy, heightened consumer awareness and media hype
  • There are no universally applicable standards for conducting mold investigations and/or remediation. Below are some of the generally accepted publications regarding mold.
    • California Assembly Bill 284 (Jackson), ratified October 7, 2001.
    • California Senate Bill 732 (Ortiz), ratified October 7, 2001.
    • California Department of Health Services (Ca-DHS) Fact Sheet “Mold in My Home, What Do I Do?”, 2001.
    • American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) “Bioaerosols: Assessment and Control” Book, 1999
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings”, EPA 402-K-01-001, March 2001 .
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA “IAQ Tools for Schools”.
    • New York City Department of Health, Bureau of Environmental & Occupational Disease Epidemiology “Guidelines On Assessment & Remediation Of Fungi In Indoor Environments”.
    • Institute of Inspection, Cleaning & Restoration Certification (IICRC) Document S500
    • World Health Organization (WHO) “Health Guidelines on Biological Agents in the Indoor Environment” (DRAFT as of August 4, 2000)
  • Medicine- Penicillin
  • Food Source- Mushrooms, Beer
  • Waste Disposal- Composting
  • Manufacturing- Chemical Farming
Generic Microscopic Mold Diagram

Mold Diagram

Up Close & Personal With Common Indoor Molds





FUSARIUM                  CHAETOMIUM







Three basic requirements for mold growth:

Atmosphere (Temperature, Gasses)
Nutrient Source (Food)
Water (The Key to All Life)

Los Angeles Times

Mold Homeowners at odds with builders and insurers over who should pay to clean up toxic varieties.

By Diane Wedner, Times Staff Writer

December 16, 2002 Real Estate Section

“The name of the game is prevention,”said Derrick Denis, vice president of indoor air quality at Clark Seif Clark, Inc., an environmental consulting and engineering firm in Chatsworth.

“A leaking 30-cent plumbing fixture behind your toilet can cost you thousands and thousands of dollars if you ignore it. Its hardly worth it.”

  • Irritation

Fungi produce volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) during degradation of substrates that cause the “moldy” odor associated with fungal contamination. These compounds can be irritating to mucous membranes, cause headaches and other symptoms.

  • Allergy

Allergy is the most common symptom associated with exposure to elevated levels of fungi. Most fungi produce antigenic proteins that can cause allergic reactions in allergy sensitive individuals including conjunctivitis, rhinitis, bronchitis, asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. The first step in the allergic process is sensitization, which occurs from an initial exposure to an antigen. During the sensitization process there may be no symptoms, however, the body’s immune system produces antibodies to the antigen. Following each additional exposure the antibodies react with the antigen resulting in a release of histamine and other inflammatory response agents. All people produce antibodies, however, certain people with genetic predisposition to allergy, produce significantly greater quantities. Antibody production can continue for years after an encounter with an allergen.

    • Infection

Most fungi are purely saprophytic, using dead or decaying organic matter for food. However, there are approximately 100 species that are known to cause infection in humans. There are three classifications of infection caused by fungi – systemic, opportunistic and dermatophytic.

      • Systemic Infection

The systemic fungal infections include Histoplasmosis, Coccidioidomycosis, Blastomycosis and Paracocidioidomycosis. In most cases infection is initiated when spores are of the fungi that cause these diseases are inhaled. A large majority of these infections are self-limiting and produce minimal or no symptoms. Immune suppressed individuals may develop a chronic localized infection or the disease may disseminate through out the body, which generally proves to be fatal.

      • Opportunistic Infection

Opportunistic infections are generally limited to individuals with impaired immunological defenses, where infection is secondary to a primary disease or condition. The opportunistic fungi are facultative parasites, meaning they can use both living and dead substrates for nutrients. Common opportunistic fungi include species of Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Mucor, Rhizopus and Cryp#tococcus.

      • Dermatophytes

Dermatophytes are a group of fungi that can cause superficial and/or subcutaneous infections of the hair, skin and nails. Infection usually occurs through direct contact with an infected individual or indirectly by sharing clothes, grooming utensils, towels, etc. Some common dermatophytes include toenail fungus, ring worms, athletes foot, thrush, yeast infection.

    • Toxicosis

Most fungi produce toxic metabolites during digestion called mycotoxins. These toxins are believed to be present in the largest quantities in the spores, which need not be viable to contain them. The most widely recognized mycotoxins are aflatoxin, sterigma#tocystin and ochratoxin, produced predominantly by Aspergillus and Penicillium species and T-2 toxin, vomitoxin, fumonisin, zearalenone and other tricothecene mycotoxins produced by Fusarium and Stachybotrys species. There are numerous other mycotoxins produced by a wide variety of fungi, of which the health effects remain unknown. Generally mycotoxins are nonvolatile and inhalation exposure usually occurs only after disturbance of a contaminated source. Symptoms of exposure to mycotoxins include cold and flu like symptoms,

What is Synergy?
  • Severity of reactions depends upon the individual?s sensitivity to each biological contaminant, concentration and duration of exposure.
    • Combinations of biological contaminants working in concert can produce synergistic adverse health effects more sever than the sum of combined individual reactions.
Respiratory System


How Does Mold Reach Your Body?
  • Hand-To-Mouth
  • Inhalation Of Gases
  • Inhalation Of Particulate
How is Mold Detected?
  • Visually
  • Analytically
  • Respirator
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Disposable Coveralls
  • Decontamination Station
  • Aseptic Techniques
  • Common Sense
Common Analytical Devices
  • Surface
    • Swab
    • Tape Lift
    • Bulk
    • Air
Impact SamplerImpact Sampler


Zefon Air-O-Cell Cassette

Viable vs. Non-Viable
  • Dead mold can produce the same health effects as live mold (with one exception; non-viable mold cannot produce a systemic infection
  • Dead mold releases mycotoxins during decomposition
  • Spores dont die with bleach
  • Chemicals that kill spores kill people
  • Mold will regrow in an area of previous mold growth


New Sampling Technology
  • New to the market are methods for the field collection and laboratory detection of detection of Mycotoxins
  • Coming soon: Identification of mold spores by DNA called PCR



Sampling Methods & Equipment

Wall Chek Test


Air Sampling Pump and Stand


Getting Rid of Mold: General Recommendations
  • The water source(s) should be confirmed and repaired.
  • Select a contractor that is knowledgeable and trained in conducting the required work perform all mold related services. The selected contractor should use state of the art engineering controls (pre-cleaning, work area isolation, negative pressure enclosure, HEPA air filtration, decontamination chambers, signage, etc.) and personal protective equipment while performing said services.
  • Work should be in compliance with the most applicable industry standard EPA recommendation “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings” EPA 402-K-01-001 dated March 2001 document.
  • Isolate and negatively pressurize the work area.
  • Install HEPA equipped air scrubbing devices in the work area.
  • Asbestos and Lead Based Paint testing should be performed on those building materials installed before 1980 that are in poor condition or are scheduled for disturbance.
  • Discard visibly mold affected porous contents (i.e. clothes, upholstered furniture, etc.).
  • HEPA vacuum, dust and wet wipe contents in the work area not demonstrating visible mold. Specialty cleaning using HEPA technology is recommended to reduce the number of settled spore on surfaces of porous and nonporous contents not demonstrating the presence of visible mold growth. This includes cleaning couches, clothes, bedding, bookshelves, tables, etc. This does not include items inside tightly sealed boxes or inside drawers. Wet wiping and/or HEPA vacuuming should effectively reduce the settled mold spore count on surfaces to background levels.
  • Until the moisture content of building materials measures below 15%, implement mechanical drying methods (dehumidifiers/drying fans/air exchanges/area isolation/etc.)
  • The residents should not be home during the hours of gross mold abatement and waste bag out.
  • Remove and discard mold-affected porous building products (i.e. drywall, fiberglass, carpet, etc.) supporting the visible growth of mold. The areas visibly affected by mold plus a 2-foot buffer in every direction should be removed and replaced.
  • Scrub visible mold and water staining from structurally un-compromised wooden structural members plus a 2-foot buffer in every direction. Compromised structural should be removed and replaced. Consult with a structural engineer prior to removing any structural member.
  • Wipe clean and disinfect mold growth on surfaces of any non-porous building materials or nonporous contents (i.e. metal, porcelain, etc.).
  • HEPA vacuum, dust and wet wipe building materials in the work area without visible mold growth or staining. Wet wiping and/or HEPA vacuuming should effectively reduce the settled mold spore count on surfaces to background levels. Specialty cleaning using HEPA technology is recommended to reduce the number of settled spore on the horizontal surfaces of porous and nonporous building materials not demonstrating the presence of visible mold growth. This includes cleaning carpet, cabinetry, toilets, etc.
Final clearance testing criteria
  • Final clearance testing, both visual and analytical, should be performed to confirm a return to background environmental conditions. HEPA air filtration and negative air machines should be turned off and covered 12-24 hours prior to clearance testing. Biocide paint or colored growth inhibitor products should not be applied prior to clearance testing.
    • CSC evaluates post mold abatement inspections on four (4) criteria. If all four (4) of these criteria are met the post mold abatement is acceptable (passes). If any of the criteria is not met the post mold abatement is not acceptable (fails).
The Final Four
  • Absence of visible mold and fungus within the containment
  • Absence of visible dust and debris within the containment
  • Moisture content of building materials less than 15% within the containment
  • Balance of airborne spores inside the containment when compared to airborne spores outside the containment based on both the total spore count and the hierarchy of spores detected.
The Tricks of the Trade
    • Read The Report (Have A Copy On Site)

Follow ALL the recommendations set forth in the initial inspection report. If you fail to read it, you will fail inspection.

    • Exclude Unaffected From Your Scope of Work

If it is surrounded by plastic sheeting, you have to clean it. If you want to exclude something from the inspection or from your scope of work, then design your containment to include only those items you wish to have cleaned and inspected.

    • Do Your Own Visual Inspection (floors, walls, poly).

If it is visually unclean, dusty or debris laden do not call for the final inspection.

    • Keep Other Trades Out

Many a clean work area has failed visual inspection due to an anxious carpenter or plumber performing work in an area before the visual inspection. Don?t let clean saw dust cause you to fail a visual inspection.

    • Follow The Buffer Zone Recommendations

If you don?t go far enough you will fail. Go the extra 2 feet even if it causes the demolition of a cabinet, removal ofr fancy molding or work in an adjacent suite. It is always cheaper and faster in the long run.

    • When In Doubt Rip It Out (or call the consultant for clarification)

If you see staining that could be misconstrued for mold, clean it or remove it. Liability, time and failed inspections are not your friend.

    • Understand Dry Down Dehumidifiers and negative pressure enclosures do not work together.

One or the other is okay, or running and AFD in scrub mode with a dehumidifier is okay.

    • Test Your Own Moisture

No sense in ever failing a clearance inspection based on moisture. If you do, it is your own fault. Buy a moisture

    • Control Your Make Up Air

All you have to do is balance the air inside your containment with the air outside the containment. Your make up air must be as clean or cleaner than the outside air. If you have reason to believe mold exists outside of your work area, but upstream of your make up air, then exclude that airway.

    • Filter Your Make Up Air

HEPA filtered make up air is much cleaned than outdoor background levels.

    • Cover Your Air Filtration Device (AFD)

Unit Backflow of air through a deactivated AFD or bumping of the unit causes particles trapped on the filter to become airborne. A visually clean area with backflow can produce spore counts upwards of 50,000 spores per cubic meter. Cover the unit, sever and cover the exhaust hose and dont? jar the unit.

    • Destructive Testing

If you suspect mold behind a wall or structure, open it up.

    • Keep The Bag-Out Process

Clean Don?t disrespect your elegant engineering controls by walking out of a containment with unbagged mold covered materials.

    • Where Disposable Clothing Correctly

Any time you enter a controlled area put on a clean suit and when you leave, take it off in the decon dirty room. Cross contamination will cost you an entire house cleaning. Suits are $1.50 to $3.50 each.

you an entire house cleaning. Suits are $1.50 to $3.50 each.



contamination will cost you an entire house cleaning. Suits are $1.50 to $3.50 each.