Mold That Cross Contaminates: A Growing Problem
Unhealthy indoor mold spores are microscopic, and when disturbed, travel quickly and easily through the air, landing wherever the current takes them. That’s the problem with indoor mold. First, mold spores form colonies and grow quickly. Second, they spread easily and can cross contaminate “clean” spaces if not properly handled. Once mold spores spread, your problems grow – literally.
How Does Cross Contamination Occur?
Cross contamination occurs in a variety of ways:
- Mold spores are microscopic, so HVAC units can easily spread clusters of spores through ductwork. Mold spores in a basement can be propelled through HVAC ducts and contaminate clean spaces, even on another floor!
- There are terrific remediation companies that do great work. And, there are some remediation companies that don’t properly train their employees, leading to sloppiness and carelessness. If your contractor did not properly contain areas where mold was being removed, they may have inadvertently released the spores into the air and contaminated other parts of your living space. Less-than-reputable contractors may look to take advantage of homeowners who want to quickly fix a mold concern following a major storm or hurricane.
Forgetting to remove contaminated clothing
- Mold spores are frequent travelers. Spores can adhere to your shoes or clothing, which can carry them from one room to another. It’s important to remove shoes and clothing and clean them after you’ve been in an area that is contaminated by mold.
Moving contaminated objects around
- Moving objects and contents from a contaminated area to other parts of your home or office can also pose a threat of cross contamination. Ask an expert like RTK before removing items from a room where you can see mold. It’s a simple question that could save you thousands in additional remediation.
How Will I Know If I Have Mold Cross Contamination?
The only way to know if mold has spread to other areas of your home or office is to have it tested by an independent mold testing company like RTK. A complete mold inspection involves testing in other areas where mold may not be visible. Our trained and licensed inspectors take air samples in multiple rooms to pinpoint all the mold contamination. A few extra samples at the beginning can save you a lot of money later in cleanup costs, protect your health, and document which rooms were and were not contaminated before remediation.
What Can I Do to Avoid Cross Contamination?
The first thing to do is to check for mold. During a mold inspection, additional mold samples may be taken to assess potential cross contamination into other areas of the property. Once you know where the mold problem is, it can be properly contained and removed.
An independent testing company will identify contaminated areas and provide a “blueprint” for remediation. Then, make sure you are working with an experienced, professional mold remediation company who will follow proper procedures to remove mold contamination without the risk of cross contamination.
Remember, a reputable company will only remediate and will not test for mold because that is a clear conflict of interest (and illegal in New York State). Here’s what a reputable remediation company will do:
- Wear proper safety gear
- Seal off the work area using plastic sheeting so that mold spores do not become dispersed throughout the home
- Use HEPA vacuums, HEPA air scrubbers, air exchange and commercial-strength dehumidifiers to ensure the air is properly cleaned of airborne mold spores once the physical removal of mold is complete
- Use an antimicrobial chemical to clean any remaining mold after remediation
- Apply a sealer or encapsulant to make the treated areas more resistant to water damage and mold, and to minimize possible odors
Once mold remediation is complete, have a clearance test performed to ensure work was done properly and ensure that cross contamination has not occurred.
If you have a mold problem, take action to prevent cross contamination. Speak with your RTK mold inspector about your situation; the inspector will be able to assess potential hazards and keep your mold problem to a minimum.