Mold Myths Busted!

MYTH:  Buildings can, and should, be completely free of mold.

FALSE:  Mold spores are part of the natural environment and are all around us both when we are inside and outside. It would be virtually impossible (and totally unnecessary for most people) to remove every mold spore from a building. Greater amounts of mold can pose health risks and cause significant damage to a building if it is not taken care of promptly.

MYTH:  Once you’ve killed mold, removal of materials is optional.

FALSE:  The allergens in mold are still present and can become airborne even when mold is dead. All affected building materials should be removed or encapsulated (if they cannot be removed, such as studs).

MYTH:  Bleach kills mold.

FALSE:  Bleach can kill certain kinds of mold on nonporous surfaces. However, it is unclear if it kills all kinds of mold on every type of surface. Its effectiveness on porous surfaces like wood is still very much in question. Usually, all bleach does is bleach the mold so it’s not as visible.

MYTH:  Mold remediation is something you can easily handle yourself.

FALSE:  Mold remediation can be handled for small areas fairly easily. However, efforts in removing mold may accelerate mold growth if not properly contained and remediated. For a pervasive problem, the help of a professional is highly recommended and often regulated by the State. In fact, large areas of mold (more than 25 square feet) must be removed by a licensed mold remediation contractor, as overseen by a licensed mold consultant firm.

MYTH:  A small amount of mold generally doesn’t indicate a problem.

FALSE:  A small amount of mold, especially adjacent to an area you can’t see, can be just the tip of the iceberg. Only a licensed mold assessor technician can tell you for sure the extent of your mold issue.

MYTH:  Mold is always visible.

FALSE:  Seeing isn’t believing when it comes to mold, as not all types of mold are visible.

MYTH:  A mustiness smell indicates mold.

FALSE:  Smelling isn’t believing when it comes to mold either. Some mustiness may be just that, moisture. However, any moisture intrusion, no matter how small, should be dried up immediately to avoid mold growth.

MYTH:  You can identify the species of mold that’s growing in your building.

FALSE: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that there are anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of mold and fungi species — far too many to identify. Laboratory analysis is required to identify the species of mold growing in a building. A licensed mold assessor technician can assist with collecting samples and obtaining this analysis.

MYTH: You shouldn’t worry about a small spot of mold.

FALSE: In reality, a mold problem can become a bigger issue if the moisture problem is not addressed. What’s more, mold can spread to any organic surface, as well as to the HVAC system. This can result in widespread damage and costly repairs.

MYTH:  Once the mold is gone, it won’t come back.

FALSE:  Removing mold is one thing but resolving the water issue is something else. The only way to completely stop mold from returning is to resolve high humidity, moisture, or water problems that cause mold to grow promptly. The State requires any water-intrusion related repairs to be completed prior to mold remediation.

MYTH:  You only have to worry about mold after a water leak.

FALSE:  The perfect environment for mold is a moisture source and porous materials. Anywhere there is a higher level of heat, and any amount of water (causing elevated humidity levels) can result in the perfect conditions for mold.

MYTH:  Mold makes people sick.

FALSE:  Mold affects people differently and these effects can vary. Some people can be allergic to the allergens formed by mold. Others won’t be affected until the mold growth is severe. Still others won’t be affected at all.

 

Benzene – What You Should Know

From the Deer Park Texas Website

On Sunday, March 17, 2019 at approximately 10AM, a storage tank caught fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) Deer Park facility, located at 1943 Independence Parkway.

Industry neighbors and multiple local agencies actively fought the fire to prevent it from spreading and to extinguish it as quickly as possible.

As of early Wednesday morning, March 20, the fire had been extinguished.”

During the early morning hours of Thursday, March 21, 2019, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a statement…

Early this morning, certain air quality readings were found to be above our very conservative air quality standards. The cities of Deer Park and Galena Park issued shelter-in-place orders.

At this time, air quality readings that we are monitoring are at lower levels, and the city of Deer Park has lifted its shelter-in-place order. Galena Park’s shelter-in-place order is still in effect.

We know these events are concerning, and we are continuing to monitor benzene levels. If you believe you are experiencing symptoms related to benzene exposure, please call a  healthcare professional.”

ERC Teams were called into action early Thursday morning to assist clients with assessing indoor air quality (IAQ) in facilities within the shelter-in-place borders. ERC’s long background with assessing IAQ gives clients confidence that we can help them manage this critical situation.

What are we testing for? Benzene and Toluene. Both of these chemicals were released into the air after the fire was extinguished and clients are looking to make sure their workers/students are safe to return to work/school.

About Benzene: It is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It evaporates quickly when exposed to air. Benzene is formed from natural processes, such as volcanoes and forest fires, but most exposure to benzene results from human activities. It is among the 20 most widely used chemicals in the United States.

The Department of Health and Human Services has determined that benzene is a known carcinogen (can cause cancer). Both the International Agency for Cancer Research and the EPA have determined that benzene is carcinogenic to humans. Exposure to benzene may be harmful to the reproductive organs.

About Toluene:  It is an aromatic hydrocarbon. It is a colorless, water-insoluble liquid with the smell associated with paint thinners. It is a mono-substituted benzene derivative, consisting of a CH3 group attached to a phenyl group. The effects of toluene on animals are similar to those seen in humans. The main effect of toluene is on the brain and nervous system, but animals exposed to moderate or high levels of toluene also show harmful effects in their liver, kidneys, and lungs and impaired immune function.

What Can You Do?

  • Do not touch any substance, residue, or particles from the plume (smoke).
  • Wash your hands and exposed skin with soap and water thoroughly for 3-5 minutes if you have come in contact with residue/particles.
  • Bathe your pet while, wearing gloves, if they have come in contact with reside/particles from the fire.
  • Move your pet indoors to reduce contact with any substance, residue, or particles from the plume.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you feel you or a loved one are experiencing any related symptoms.
  • Check on elderly neighbors or those who you are concerned about.

(This information and more can be found at ReadyHarris.org – Harris County Homeland Security and Emergency Management.)

If you are a business owner/manager and want to have your facility assessed for these chemicals, please call ERC at 713-290-9444 or through our website Contact Us