Do You Know the Five Levels of Mold Growth

Mold GrowthThe standard of infestation can be gauged by the NFPA standards basic on the area of mold growth.  Though not a perfect measure, the size of the mold contamination does provide a way to quickly assess the potential mold threat.  There are Five Levels of Mold Remediation according to the NFPA.

Surface mold, like you see on a painted bathroom wall, may be cleaned with a mold-killing product.  The real concern is a mold infestation that has gone into the material and get larger over time.  

And the public should know that bleach is not an aqequate mold treatment because it does not penetrate to kill the mold roots. And, experience has proven that the mold that you see can be much smaller than the mold you cannot see.  Never assume that mold on any surface is the actual threat.  Mold thrives in dark, wet/moist areas that are often behind the wall.  A serious evaluation and treatment must always address the recessed areas where mold can be found.

It is best to get a professional opinion from a Mold Inspection Service

    Level I (10 square feet or less)

    Smaller infestations categorized in level I is mostly found on ceilings or baseboards. Level I mold contamination may be cleaned without hiring a mold remediator, but there are several important safety precautions that you need to know :

    1. Do not attempt cleaning mold if you suffer from asthma, allergies, or immune disorders

    2. Wear gloves, eye protection, and an N95 disposable respirator

    3. Vacate from your work area any infants less than 12 months old, individuals recovering from recent surgery, anyone with a suppressed immune system, or people with chronic lung diseases such as asthma, sever allergies, emphysema, etc.

    4. Contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned should be removed from your home in a sealed plastic bag to prevent an infestation in another part of your home.

    5. Clean your work area when you’re done with a damp cloth or mop.

    6. Make sure all areas are left dry and visibly free of mold contamination.

      Level II (10-30 square feet)

      To remove mold from an area category the size of level II (probably one wall panel), the same precautions used in level I should be taken as well as the following :

      1. Moldy materials should be covered with plastic sheets and sealed with tape before any handling or removal of materials. This will contain dust and debris. It may be wise to double wrap in plastic before escorting the moldy material from your home.

      2. WHen the mold removal is finished, vacuum the work area with a HEPA vacuum. Clean the area with a damp cloth or mop.

        Level III (30-100 square feet)

        Mold contamination this size (patches of mold on several wall panels), should still be handled with the same precautions as level I and II as well as the following added measures :

        1. Seal ventilation ducts/grills in the work area and areas directly adjacent with plastic sheeting.

        2. Vacate everyone from your work area until work is completed. Further vacate adjacent work areas of any infants less than 12 months old, individuals recovering from recent surgery, anyone with a suppressed immune system, or people with chronic lung diseases such as astma, sever allergies, emphysema, etc.

          Level IV (greater than 100 square feet)

          An infestation depending on how much greater than 100 square feet may require the assistance of a mold remediator. If not, the same requirements should be followed as were needed in levels I, II, and III along with the following :

          1. Every worker must be trained in the handling of hazardous materials and equipped with full face respirators with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cartridges, with disposable protective clothing covering both head and shoes.

          2. Make sure workers completely isolate hteir work area from the rest of your home with sheeting sealed with duct tape, including ventilation ducts/grills, fixtures, and any other openings.

          3. Make sure workers set up and use a “decontamination room,” or a chamber taped off with plastic sheeting. The outside of sealed bags containing contaminated material should be wiped down with a damp cloth or HEPA vacuumed in the decontamination chamber prior to their removal.

          4. Air monitoring should be conducted prior to moving back into your home to determine if it is fit to reoccupy.

            Level V (Air Conditioners and HVAC Systems)

            If there is a small area of mold growth beneath your air conditioning system it would be safe to apply precautions from levels I and II to remediate the mold contamination. However, all remediation procedures for air conditioning units and HVAC systems should be left to professionals. Procedures for level V remediation for areas larger than 10 square feet are the same for all previous levels with the following precautionary measures added :

            1. Shut down the HVAC system prior to remediation.

            2. Growth-supporting materials that are contaminated, such as the paper on the insulation of interior lined ducts and filters, should be removed and sealed in plastic bags.

            3. A variety of biocides – broad spectrum antimicrobial agents designed to prevent the growth of microorganisms – are recommended by HVAC manufacturers for use with HVAC components, such as cooling coils and condensation pans. HVAC manufacturers should be consulted for the prodcuts they recommend for use in their systems.

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