Mold remediation, mold removal and mold abatement all mean the same thing, getting rid of mold.

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Post-Remediation Verification Testing
WHAT IS Post-Remediation Verification Testing?
In order to understand what post-remediation testing is and why it is necessary, consider the steps that lead up to it.
 
Step 1:
 
You suspect you have a mold problem.
 
Step 2:
 
Preliminary Investigation:
You hire a mold inspector to confirm or rule out your suspicion. If your suspicion is confirmed, the next step is to choose a reputable mold remediation contractor to perform the work (remediation means remove the mold).
 
Step 3: Remediation:
Choose a remediation contractor. Remember! Removing the mold is always the primary goal of remediation, not killing the mold. Attempts to kill mold will only result in the mold coming back. Proper mold remediation typically involves:
  • Removing any mold contaminated materials that are easily and inexpensively replaced, such as drywall, trim work, etc.
     
  • Removing all mold found on construction materials that can be salvaged, such as framing lumber, sub-flooring, etc. The most common methods use to remove mold is scraping, sanding, grinding and wire brushing. However, the latest technology for mold remediation is dry-ice blasting, similar to sand-blasting but with dry-ice.
     
  • Larger remediation jobs may require special containment barriers and sophisticated filtration systems to be in place before any work begins to prevent cross-contamination of non-effected areas.
Step 4: Post-Remediation Verification Testing:
Once the remediation work is completed BUT before any new surface materials are reintroduced, such as drywall, plywood, etc., the next step is to have your inspector re-test the work area to ensure that the remediation was successful.
 

What is Post-Remediation Verification Testing?
Simply stated; post-remediation verification testing (aka. clearance test) is the retesting of remediation work areas to ensure the goal of remediation has been met.

What is involved in post-remediation verification?
1. A visual inspection of the remediated materials.
If the job was done properly, there should be no visible evidence of mold growth on any of the construction materials. (see Encapsulants below).

2. Moisture readings of construction materials.
Mold is always the direct result of moisture. Proper mold remediation always includes drying out all materials that are going to be salvaged. If the job was done properly, all construction materials should show less than 17% WME (wood moisture equivalent).

3. A comparative airborne mold spore analysis.
If the job was done properly, the air inside a remediation work area should be similar to the air outdoors in terms of the amount of mold and the types of mold present.

What is the benefit of post-remediation verification?
1. Post-remediation verification is your only way of knowing that your remediation contractor did what he was hired to do.

2. Post-remediation verification provides you with documentation to prove that your mold issue has been resolved.

Who should perform post-remediation verification testing?
Ideally, the original inspector should perform post-remediation verification testing since he already has experiential knowledge of the job. If the original inspector is not available, use another third-party certified mold inspector. NEVER allow you remediation contractor to perform his own post-remediation verification testing. Since his primary goal is to get the job finished, collect his final payment, and move on to his next job, it is simply not prudent to allow him to "grade his own home work". A third party tester is your only assurance of an unbiased report.

Who pays for post-remediation verification testing?
As a rule, you pay for your own post-remediation verification. It is a good idea to work out any special arrangements with your contractor ahead of time concerning the cost of post-remediation costs. Some contractors will offer to pay for it, but only if you allow them to do it or someone they choose, which is not in your best interest. Some contractors will offer to pay for a second test if the first test fails. Some will not pay any testing at all. The bottom line is, third-party verification is essential to completing your remediation project and should be included in your remediation project.

What to watch out for.

1. Encapsulation:
Some contractors include a process they call "encapsulation" in their remediation work. However, encapsulation can easily cross the line from being a legitimate step in the remediation process to a deceptive method of hiding mold that was not removed.

Technically speaking, the goal of encapsulation is to essentially glue any remaining mold in place to prevent the release of spores. This is possible to do and may even be the preferred method of choice is some cases. However, if you have fixed the water problem, dried the remediated materials and removed all of the mold growth, encapsulation should not be necessary.

Deciding To Encapsulate:
In the remediation process, contractors will scrape, sand and grind as much mold as they can from salvageable construction materials such as studs, ceiling and floor joists. At some point they determine that they have removed as much mold growth as possible for the amount of money they are charging you. At the point, if your contractor is confident in his work, he will inform you that your project is ready for a post-remediation survey and clearance test. If they are not confident that all mold growth has been removed, often times they will "encapsulate" the areas where mold growth may still remain. There are two reasons why contractors decide to encapsulate:

  1. The legitimate reason: Because he suspects that there may still be traces of mold left in areas that cannot be accessed without major demolition or significantly increasing the amount of his original bid.
     
  2. The scam reason: Because his work is sub-standard. He simply did a bad job of removing the mold and to hide his poor workmanship, he uses encapsulation to "paint over" it.

How To Tell the Difference:
When encapsulation is done properly by a responsible remediation contractor, the encapsulant product should always be clear so that a third-party Inspector can visually see the remediated materials in this post-remediation survey and confirm that no mold growth remains. When encapsulation is done to cover up a bad job, the contractor will use a solid color encapsulant product (typically red or white) to hide whatever mold they left behind, making it impossible for the Inspector to verify that all mold has been removed. Some unscrupulous contractors try to encapsualte with KILZ, which is just a stain killing paint with absolutely no anti-microbial properties or ability to encapsulate mold spores.

How To Avoid It:
Before your remediation contractor begins, ask him if he intends to use an encapsulant and, if so, insist that whatever product he uses must dry clear. No solid color encapsulates and no KILZ. Secondly, before your contractor applies an encapsulant, ask him to take you into the containment area (the work area) and explain to you why he believes encapsulation is necessary.

Tips on Encapsulation:
Before encapsulation can be considered:

  1. Whatever water problem that occurred which led to mold growth must be corrected and unlikely to occur again. Mold will grow on encapsulating materials if the get wet.
     
  2. All mold growth has been removed from surfaces where it is possible to remove it. Encapsulating is not an alternative to mold removal.
     
  3. The substrate or surfaces to be encapsulated must be completely dry. Otherwise mold will grow right through the encapsulant.
     
  4. Encapsulating mold growth may not be safe or an adequate safeguard where immunocompromised people live.
     
  5. Encapsulating should be considerably less expensive than actually removing all of the mold contaminated materials. Encapsulation is not a permanent fix. Completely removing all of the contaminated material is always best.
     
  6. The best encapsulant product available (and dries clear) is Foster 40-51

 

 

 


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While there are no government regulations describing methods to properly remediate mold contaminated environments, the New York City Department of Health has written guidelines recommending safe practices of remediation of mold contaminated environments, based on current knowledge and the advice of recognized experts in the field. These guidelines are subject to change as more information becomes available.