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25 Steps for Effective Toxic Mold Removal

Feb. 1, 2005

Toxic mold inspectors provide advice

For safe and effective toxic mold removal, remediation, and abatement, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based DangerBusters™ recommends that homeowners, landlords, property owners, and employers follow 25 steps to kill, remove, and prevent toxic mold.

Toxic molds and fungi are a significant source of airborne volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that create indoor air quality (IAQ) problems. Toxic mold growth produces dangerous mycotoxins and infectious airborne mold spores which often cause serious health problems to residents and workers.

According to DangerBusters, eliminating and preventing toxic mold infestation should include these 25 steps:

1.  Learn the techniques and procedures recommended for safe and successful toxic mold inspection, testing, and remediation – whether the property owner prefers “do it yourself” or to hire a Certified Mold Remediator (CMR). How? Read mold remediation self-help books and visit internet mold advice websites, plus get professional guidance.

2. Locate and fix all sources of mold-causing water intrusion such as recurring flooding, plumbing leaks, leaky roofs or siding, blocked air conditioning condensation drain lines, and high indoor humidity (e.g. above 50 to 60 percent).

3. Inspect and mold test inside, above, and below each water-penetrated ceiling, wall, and floor with a fiber optics inspection device, a hidden moisture meter, do-it-yourself mold test kits, or inspection by a Certified Mold Inspector (CMI), and by cutting out small core dry wall samples from the water-impacted surfaces. Look in the middle and back of each core for visible mold growth.

4. Find and locate all toxic mold infestations (visible and hidden) in the entire home or building by thorough, all-around mold inspection and mold testing (with mold laboratory analysis and mold species identification of collected mold samples).

5. Test the outward airflow from each heating/cooling duct register for elevated levels of airborne mold spores. If there is a serious toxic mold infestation anywhere in a building, airborne mold spores from such mold locations will usually enter and contaminate the heating/cooling equipment and ducts, as well as the rest of the building.

6. Replace toxic mold-infested heating/cooling equipment and ducts if the you can afford to do so. Otherwise, do repeated mold fogging with a mold fogging machine and an EPA-registered fungicide (or an effective mold home remedy) into the return air duct while the system is running on fan ventilation to deliver the fungicide to internal surfaces.

7.  If residents or workers are experiencing any possible toxic mold health symptoms, if there is a strong smell of mold, if there are visible signs of major mold growth anywhere in the building, or if the building tests positive for elevated levels of airborne mold spores, the occupants should move temporarily to a mold-safe place until after successful mold remediation and clearance testing.

8. Occupants moving out should not take any clothing, personal possessions, furnishings, furniture, or equipment until after such items have been effectively mold decontaminated outdoors (or in a clean room built from plastic sheeting) to avoid mold cross contamination of the temporary living or working quarters.

9. Do not paint over mold problems. Mold loves to eat paint as a snack food. Don’t expect to kill mold successfully by using paint containing a mildicide (too mild to kill existing toxic mold infestation) or with a paint primer sold to hide water damage stains. 

10. Before beginning to work in the mold-contaminated areas, contain the moldy work area (and thus contain the toxic mold spores that will be released into the air by opening up mold-infested walls and ceilings) by using wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling plastic sheeting as containment walls.

11. After the installation of air tight mold containment walls, dry the work area (especially if it is still wet from flooding or a now-fixed water leak or roof leak) with one or more large dehumidifiers. Improper fan drying can spread mold spores to cross contaminate an entire building and its heating/cooling system.

12. Inside the mold containment area, use a large fan in the window to exhaust air directly outside on a continuous basis to expel airborne mold spores and remediation-caused dust – or better yet, use an industrial hepa filter to filter out mold, with a flexible hose directly venting the exhaust air flow to the outdoors.

13. While working inside the mold containment area, always wear effective protective gear such as protective biohazard suit ($10 at safety stores); painter's coveralls and booties; or a long sleeve shirt, pants, gloves. Always wear a one-piece, full-face breathing respirator mask with an organic vapor cartridge filtration, available from local safety, hardware, and home improvement stores.

14. Spray or fog visible mold with one or two wet sprayings or foggings of either an EPA-registered mold fungicide or with an effective mold home remedy if the mold remediation funds are low. While spraying or fogging a fungicide no one else should be inside until the spray or fog has dried. 

15.  Do not use chlorine bleach to kill mold or disinfect moldy areas. Bleach is not an effective or lasting killer of toxic mold growth and mold spores on and inside porous, cellulose building materials such as wood timbers, drywall, plasterboard, particleboard, plywood, plywood substitutes, ceiling tiles, and carpeting/padding.

16. After killing all visible surface mold, the next step is to clean off as much surface mold growth as possible. Scrub and clean moldy surfaces and mold growth areas with either Borax laundry detergent (a natural mold cleaner) in warm water or TSP (trisodium phosphate) from a hardware or home improvement store.

17. Except for wood support timbers and building materials to be saved, remove and safely discard all other mold-contaminated building materials in doubled up construction trash bags (double bagging) having a 6-mil thickness.

18. Remove all mold growth from the mold-infested wood surfaces. All wood beams, wall timbers, roof trusses, floor joists, plywood surfaces, and other lumber to be saved need to be totally cleaned of mold growth by using power tools such as a planer, grinder with wire brush attachment, and sander – or replace the moldy timbers.

19. Re-spray twice the cleaned out area with another wet spraying of an EPA-registered mold fungicide or an effective mold home remedy to kill any remaining, living toxic mold spores or mold growths.

20. Spray a protective fungicidal coating on all remediated-surfaces prior to rebuilding and closing in the mold-remediated area. The fungicidal coating helps to protect the wood and other cellulose-based building materials against future mold growth.

21. After the final drying of the fungicidal coat spraying, it would be helpful to spray all cleaned timbers and other wood surfaces with a clear, liquid, plastic coating (available from a local paint dealer or hardware store) to make a hard, impenetrable water barrier (upon drying) to protect the wood from future high humidity and water leaks.

22. After the toxic mold remediation is completed, mold test (clearance testing) all of the remediated surfaces plus the air of each room, attic, basement, crawl space, garage, and the outward air flow from each heating/cooling duct register to find out if those areas are now safe from mold prior to rebuilding the cleaned out areas with new building materials.

23. Remove mold from all personal property, furnishings, furniture, and equipment that have been exposed to building mold by washing the items outdoors or in a plastic-sheet-built clean room with Borax laundry detergent in warm water. In addition, spray a fungicide on all surfaces.

24. Close in the mold-remediated area with new building materials which have been carefully inspected to be mold-growth-free, and which have been pre-treated by spraying with one to two wet coatings of both an EPA-registered mold fungicide and an EPA-registered fungicidal coating.

25. On-going cleaning, building maintenance, mold maintenance, and all-around building inspection on a regular basis (including HVAC equipment and ducts, plumbing, roof, siding, windows, and water supply/sewer lines) are required to help prevent the re-growth of toxic mold infestation problems. A mold-safe building is not a one-time effort. 

For more mold remediation, removal, and abatement information, visit:

How to Prevent Mold in Your Building

Mold’s Relationship to Roof Maintenance

Managing Mold and Moisture

Successfully Eliminate Mold

This information was provided by Vancouver, BC-based Toxic Mold Inspectors, DangerBusters (www.moldinspector.com). To contact DangerBusters, e-mail Phillip Fry, manager, at ([email protected]) or call 63-921-352-1287.

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