In a recent post, we outlined the steps building managers and owners should take to remove mold after a water intrusion event. Recognizing the need to reduce or remediate mold is a great first step, but there are additional considerations beyond mold removal, the most important of which is determining whether or not the building materials affected by mold are safe to clean or remove.
In this post, we highlight the risks surrounding molded building materials and the safest ways to minimize the risks of handling those materials.
Age Matters When It Comes to Mold
Mold-impacted building materials can also contain asbestos or lead paint, depending on the age of the building. Many building materials used before 1978, such as lumber, wallboard, and windows, have a high likelihood of containing asbestos or lead. Asbestos and lead, however, are in many other products; below is a list of those products and their associated dangers (please note that this list is not exhaustive):
|Plaster and gypsum wallboard||Lead paint and asbestos|
|Wood (lumber, flooring, etc.)||Lead paint|
|Windows||Lead paint, asbestos in glazing|
|Plumbing (faucets, solder, pipe)||Lead paint|
|Tiles (9-inch type), sheet-vinyl flooring||Asbestos|
|HVAC systems and ductwork insulation, ceiling, wall and vermiculite insulation||Asbestos|
|Electrical wiring insulation||Asbestos|
|“Popcorn” ceilings, ceiling tiles, wall plaster||Asbestos|
|Source: Northeast Recycling Council|
Improper Material Removal Can Be Costly
You may be able to address your mold issue by removing affected building materials, but asbestos and lead can cause secondary hazards, and improper material management/removal can be costly. The EPA, HUD, and OSHA all regulate materials containing asbestos, so depending on the situation, federal, state, and/or local regulations will dictate their removal; ignoring the laws will incur fines and create ongoing liability.
An Environmental Professional Can Help
A professional environmental consultant can help you avoid unnecessary costs by identifying your issue and determining if lead and asbestos are present in the mold-impacted material. A certified environmental consultant can benefit you in many critical ways, including by:
- Identifying the hazards surrounding your mold-impacted materials
- Certifying that your mold-impacted materials are safe
- Ensuring that your evaluation/survey for hazardous materials follows EPA, OSHA, and HUD guidelines as well as federal, state, and local laws
An environmental consultant provides additional value if your mold removal does, in fact, require the handling of hazardous content; the consultant can recommend contractors to perform the removal and oversee their performance.
If you decide you have a mold problem that needs remediation, remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By leveraging the services of a certified professional, you can be confident that you won’t overreact to a mold event or ignore critical steps in the abatement process.
Contact us if we can be of assistance.