Over the past 15 years a newer environmental concern – toxic molds – have come to the forefront of the home buyer’s attention.
While the existence of toxic molds in the environment has been documented for centuries, due to modern construction practices, poor quality control lack of proper maintenance, and medical knowledge, they are now linked to illnesses and other medical disorders that are affecting the lives of families across the continent. Most of the attention regarding toxic molds has been focused on the compromised health and shattered lives of the home’s occupants or new home buyers along with the inevitable litigation that follows.
What has been missing throughout all this firestorm of media activity is discussion regarding the conditions contributing to toxic mold manifestation. There are many factors leading to abnormal fungal development within a structure, but there must be a unwanted moisture source, and a food source that is commonly any cellulose substrate on which the fungal contamination can grow on and become a colony. The typical gestation period for a mold colony is only 48 hours from the onset moisture and spore exposure to the cellulose substrate.”
When dealing with a possible toxic mold contamination inside a structure, the first course of action is to locate the moisture source and remove it. There are several common areas of moisture intrusion to consider, such as
Poorly maintained heating and cooling systems
Window and door leaks
Improperly adjusted landscape sprinklers as well as many other possible sources
Homes should be thoroughly inspected, including an inspection of the roofing materials and penetrations, such as heating and plumbing vents. Other common leakage areas, such as chimney and/or skylight flashings should also be examined. Exterior wall penetrations, such as windows and door openings, electrical fixtures and receptacle boxes, should be examined for signs of water intrusion as well. Additionally, the plumbing system, including pipes in crawl spaces and attics should be thoroughly reviewed for signs of leakage. All heating and cooling equipment should be operated and inspected for signs of moisture intrusion, and or creation.
Due to the complexities surrounding moisture intrusion sources, I recommend consumers and buyers, hire a professional home inspector that is also a Certified in Mold investigation by the American Council for Accredited Certification (ACAC) http://www.acac.org that is trained and equipped to perform such work. A qualified ACAC inspector is trained to identify conditions leading to and causing moisture intrusion, and writing a scope of work to remove any mold promptly and safely.