Specialists share the method and madness in getting rid of indoor mold
With a case of suspected mold growth indoors, it’s time to turn to the professionals. Mold can wreak havoc on people’s lives from their wallet to their brain, so what does it take to get rid of the culprit?
Two mold remediation specialists, Michael Rubino and John K. Taylor, explained the equation for remediation.
All American Restoration founder Rubino–known as “the mold medic”–is a prominent expert on mold remediation. Rubino is an advocate for legislation and an educator on mold remediation.
Taylor founded Madison Taylor Indoor Environmental Inc. in 2000. Taylor has several acronyms to his name–from Council-Certified Indoor Environmentalist (CIE) to Applied Microbial Remediation Technician (AMRT).
Mold remediation is a collective process–involving inspection, testing, and cleaning–but what calls them in is water. It can be water damage, lack of humidity controls, or improper HVAC filtration. When water meets an organic food source, which is most building materials or debris, that is grounds for mold growth.
Even without organic building materials, Taylor said, “You collect 20-30 pounds of dirt, hair, dead skin, what have you inside ductwork every year. You throw moisture and humidity on top of that, and you’ve got a petri dish.”
The key is to mitigate conditions for mold growth. Water damage must be addressed before mold can grow (24-48 hours), humidity should remain below 60 percent, and HVAC systems need annual maintenance.
With modern energy efficiency goals, Rubino said, “Net zero energy efficiency requires sealing our buildings. Making them airtight [means it’s] more important to ensure the air inside is healthy air.” Taylor added that “the conditioning part [of the air conditioning system] is to reduce the relative humidity.” Rubino emphasized the importance of water drainage and diversion.
Taylor outlined their remediation process: test the mold, assess indoor air quality, measure moisture, identify the source, and move forward with cleaning. “The object isn’t to kill mold, it’s to remove it,” said Rubino.
Mold poses a problem from root to spore. “The industry standard is that if you see mold on drywall, you have to cut it out because the root system can get into the drywall. So even if you wipe it off or treat it, the root system is still inside the drywall,” Taylor explained.
On the other end, Rubino said that killing the mold doesn’t address the particles left behind. “Plants reproduce with seeds just like mold reproduces with spores… [you] have to remove the living organisms and the particles produced by them. It only fails because you failed to address both sides of the equation,” he said.
That means that their process of cleaning can look like sealing things off, using filtration technology, and losing some things that can’t be salvaged.
“Every time you see mold it’s not always a significant problem but sometimes it is. That should be evaluated by somebody certified,” said Taylor. There are industry standards but, Taylor said, “A lot of states and governments have not gotten involved in regulating this in any way.”
Rubino said that the systems in place are “not looking at this as an epidemic [when] it is and it’s getting worse, and I know that because every year we get more people contacting us… you take 20,000 breaths per day [but] we’re not paying attention to how what we’re breathing can create an impact.”
When it comes down to funding, Rubino explained how investment into researching mold would pay off with reduced stress on our medical institutions and disability programs. He presented a bill to Ohio legislatures, HB 251, that would validate indoor mold as a problem and create an active program.
Change starts with awareness. Rubino urged, “Anytime a law is going to change, there needs to be demand for change.”