Note that my title says “safer,” not safe. This is because unfortunately, for some very sick people and/or for some very bad molds, no remediation is safe.
Some people report terrible reactions to their possessions they took from their moldy houses, even after they tried to clean the items. This is because mold in a building shoots out spores and toxins that land on everything. So some people cannot make even metal or glass items safe for themselves again. Most cannot make porous items safe again.
Now imagine all the places where mold spores and toxins could be lurking besides items: walls, floors, windows, ceilings, cupboards.
However, cleaning may help—hard scrubbing of surfaces. Painting over WILL NOT stop or even reduce risks from active mold, but if ALL mold has been removed, it’s possible painting may trap non-viable spores and toxins which had landed there. However, I do not know for sure about this—it has not been tested.
So, to remediation.
First of all, the reason for the mold must be found, whether a leak, humidity, or what. Otherwise, the mold will come back. The problem must be corrected.
Now, picture asbestos. Bad stuff. Hazmat practices needed.
Now pretend asbestos not only grows and spreads but also puts down roots INTO wood, drywall, insulation, and the like. And It doesn’t just sit there being poisonous, it actually SHOOTS OUT toxins in the air, even if it is “killed.” see Why is it Bad to Kill Mold?
Now you probably have a pretty good picture of what should be done. But I’ll lay it out as best as I can.
- Remove all possessions from the area, even better from the house. Do not bring them in again until evaluated, such as with ideas here: The Mold Avoider’s Dilemma: What Should I Do About My Stuff? If you put them in a tightly sealed metal container, such as a good, new metal trash can with tight lid, you can store them until you figure out what to do. Just don’t ever open the cans inside the house.
- Set up Hazmat scene, complete with plastic on floor, negative air pulling air out of the space, plastic containment, sealing off vents, and bags to contain the waste.
- Mold-ill people and children should NEVER be present during remediation.
- Those who do the work should be fully protected with hazmat suits and respirators.
- If possible or reasonable, cover bad mold (such as on a PVC pipe or piece of drywall) with tape before removing the building material. This will help protect the remediator as well as the space from spores coming off while disturbing the area.
- Remove all mold-infected materials as possible (carpet, subfloor, drywall, insulation, etc), to about 4 inches beyond the visible mold to get it all (think like removing cancer).
- Sandblast, dry-ice blast, or soda blast all remaining mold off beams, concrete, bricks.
- Vacuum debris with vacuum including HEPA filter.
- Wipe down all surfaces. There is NO need for disinfectants or mold killers, because all the active mold is gone. The mycotoxins that could be left behind are not alive, so they can’t be killed. The stray spores that might be left behind will not grow and take hold if there is no more moisture or high humidity present.
- Let the outside of the house be “cleaned” through wind and rain a bit (2 weeks???), then:
- Air out the house with windows open, fans creating cross-draft.
- Wipe down surfaces again.
- Make sure everything is COMPLETELY dry before rebuilding.
Even though this remediation can still fail for a person who got sick in that environment, it may do well for “most” people. It’s the safest way to do remediation besides burning the house down, removing even the dirt the house was on, and starting over. But for “average” people, it may even be better than the unfortunately many actively moldy houses in the world.
Christa Upton Black Hills Picture Books Edgemont, SD 57735