Is All Black Mold Toxic?

When homeowners or business owners see or hear of black mold they think of toxic mold? Why? Well the media hype and websites that stress fear rather than solutions to sell you a bill of goods becoming alarmists. There are legitimate cases when it comes to mold and health hazards but most are more allergy induced causing irritable respiratory and breathing problems. Especially for those with chronic asthma and allergies. An example of black mold is in attic where dark or black stains may be visible. A mold that often comes up in New England, Greater Boston, or Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard is usually a cladosporium type species. This is a common mold in the outdoors and the spore counts are much higher than other mold species during the peak of the mold spore elevation season such as Spring, Summer and Fall seasons. As for black toxic mold, which I prefer to as mycotoxin, a species such as Stachybotrys chartarum or sp. atra. This usually stands in chronic wet areas and is a slow terciatary species. Usually not as airborne as some would think. If stachybotrys species is airborne, it is considered a chronic condition. It’s more of a slimy like substance greyish, greenish more than actual black. Also, other toxic mold species come in a variety of different colors as well, besides black. Remember, the longer water infiltration stands in a basement or living area where the substrate is wet, it has potential for excess mold fungi growth.

For a professional assessment hire a trained certified professional to assess and provide solutions for your home or business.

Andy Provitola CMC-Certified Microbial Consultant
Environmental Resources LLC
Headquarters
316 Washington Street
Norwell, MA 02061
781-248-9975

www.airenvironments.com

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Ice Dams-Roof Leaks and Mold



Did you know that ice dams can cause mold problems?

Frozen ice and snow on top of roofs and gutters are creating havoc for homes in New England and the greater Boston area. With cold temperatures in freezing climates then an unexpected 40 to 60 degree day causes a lot of melting of the ice and snow which enables mold growth, roof deterioration of the plywood, wood rot in the fascais boards behind the gutters. The water and moisture can travel through the attic area, dormers, wall cavities and down into lower levels even down into the basement and first floor.

Some ways to detect mold: 

1. See if water spots and dark stains are noticed and perhaps wet.

2. Look for visible stains such as mold on the surfaces of the ceiling, walls of the living areas, floors, carpets, attic plywood sheathing, attic sidewalls,  floor joist, wet insulation, and excess moisture or humidity

3. Check for moisture or high relative humidity over 65% and higher.

4. Smelling unusual irritable odors such as musty or moldy where wall cavities or insulation can be wet inside the walls, but dry on the outside wall. High relative humidity or moisture may be the culprit.

5. Other ways to detect mold is to hire a competent professional with the right tools such as conducting mold sampling the air or visible mold with tapes, swabs, or bulk.

6. Utilizing moisture meters, Thermal Infrared Imaging camera, boroscopes, etc.


For a professional mold inspection and mold assessment call:

Andy Provitola CMC-Certified Microbial Consultant
Environmental Resources LLC
Headquarters
316 Washington Street
Norwell, MA 02061
781-248-9975

www.airenvironments.com

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Musty Damp Odors

This time of year brings in many calls with some nasty irritable odors. After a dry, but an unusually high hot and  humid summer, the Fall season here in the Greater Boston area has brought some rain fall with the same type of humidity; but now it is getting a bit colder. This means the windows have to be closed and air quality tends to get stale or odors are more noticable.

What’s that smell? These complaints are often called in and I ask a few questions such as: Have you been flooded due to the recent heavy rains last spring or prior years. How about roof leaks? How effective was the cleaning, drying out process and did you get to the water early such as within 24 to 48 hours to help avoid potential mold growth problems.  What type of smell are you experiencing such as is this a chemical smell, foul smell, a rotten decomposed smell such as a dead rodent, or a strong musty mold smell.

Not all odors are mold or due to water damage, so an investigation requires a rule out process. Taking a few samples for mold is not necessary the solution, it may help in the ruling out process.

Conducting a thorough visible investigation of the odor or where the smell appears to originate is a beginning is important. Some odors can be on the second or third floor but have originated from the basement. The basement flooded out months prior and now the relative humidity “fuels the fire” for the odor and the draft from the stack pipe or plumbing drift up to the upper levels. A professional can provide the proper assessment with the proper tools to help to determine such factors as relative humidity, temperature, air flows, moisture meters, Thermal Infrared Imaging, cannisters, etc.

In a recent odor investigation of a bathroom-Laundry area in an antique home 150 + years on the north shore, the smell was overwhelmingly strong. It did not necessarily have the odor of mold but strong in this area to say the least. After a plumber, contractor, and even a pest control company, the odor was not solved up to this point. This can be frustrating and costly. I don’t like to use the term “witch hunt”, but at times professionals can go on a witch hunt and it can end up being very costly in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars with no solution in sight. The key is the scope of work conducted has to be a rule out process and talk about a budget that you may be willing to spend before the work begins. There is no guarantee for discovering the odor problem, even after paying for this type of service. To sum up this antique house, a dead rat was trapped behind the lower wallboard behind the washing maching shut off valve. This was even after a company inspected this area. Again, sniffing odors can be hard to find even when they are right under our nose!

Most odors are caused by ventilation issues in general. It is best to open windows until the odor can be discovered. HVAC systems, pet, rodent odors, dampness, mold, the trash can, refrigerator, etc. Sampling can help as an inidcator, however, a thorough visible inspection with the right tools from a professional is an excellent start if you have come to your wits end as to finding this irritable odor.

Environmental Resources is here to help identify problem areas. Also we provide solutions with products and quality air purification with several pounds of carbon to fight odors.  We offer sampling if it is called upon. Call for a professional consultation of your home or business’ indoor air quality today.

Andy Provitola CMC-Certified Microbial Consultant
Environmental Resources LLC
Headquarters
316 Washington Street
Norwell, MA 02061
781-248-9975

www.airenvironments.com

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Heavy Floods-Water Intrusion in Basements

What happens when water stands in a basement for a prolonged period of time? Recently Massachusetts experienced some of the largest rainfall in  a short period of time including 6 to 13 inches of water in a 3 to 4 day span a few years ago. Towns such as Andover, Billerica, Hingham, Topsfield, Peabody, Waltham, Sudbury, Canton, and many others experienced unusual flooding in the homes and businesses.

The longer the water stands in the basement or building they are prone for active mold growth throughout the affected substrate areas. Water, floods, dampness, moisture are all key ingredients when it comes to mold fungi to grow on substrate sources such as drywall, carpet, furniture, boxes, etc. Toxic mold and black mold can grow even after the drying out process if the area is not dried out properly. The visible mold is the easier areas to handle such as wallboard or ceiling tiles, however, mold spores are not always visibly seen or noticed until after the fact. Such as several weeks or months later when odors begin to arise or a family member may be experiencing some breathing discomfort.

The to prevent any mold growth is to keep the area clean and dry, preventing moisture from accumulating. A proper mold and moisture professional assessment is a wise choice to prevent this from happening. Environmental Resources uses the latest state of the art technology when it comes to detecting mold and water leaks. A Flir Thermal Infrared Imaging Camera well help detect water and moisture problems. Certified  mold testing and mold inspections utilizing accredited microbiology accredited labs will determine the type of mold species growing and the describe the extent of the growth whether is active or not.
Serving Greater Boston-Cape Cod

Andy Provitola CMC-Certified Microbial Consultant
Environmental Resources LLC
Headquarters
316 Washington Street
Norwell, MA 02061
781-248-9975

www.airenvironments.com

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The Value of Mold Testing

What is the value of mold testing? Too often I have heard that if you see the mold just get rid of it!

This is true to a certain extent however, what if you can smell the mold but can’t see it? There is a strong musty mold odor or some form of dampness. I agree if you see the mold get rid of it and/or have the mold treated, but what about mold that may be hidden or undetected? Mold spores are not visible to the naked eye that are airborne. Just because walls, ceilings, or floors are not moist does not indicate that mold spores are not present. Every building have some forms of mold, we are looking for unusual or excessive mold growth.

The value of mold sampling is Threefold:

  • The air testing will determine the mold spore elevations present in the room if they are excessive beyond our natural environment.
  • The air sampling or direct identification will determine the type of mold species such as mycotoxic, pathogenic,or allergenic.
  • The sampling will determine if the mold is growing actively or is dormant. (Dormant mold is known
  • to be allergenic and can still compromise a building or a persons health)

Another value for a professional mold test and inspection is the peace of mind to know your investment and health are not at risk. Our theme is “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”.

Mold testing is best to be perormed by a professional  independent company or consultant that does not remediate mold to offer a factual unbiased assessment.

All our samples are sent to qualified labs with trained microbiologists. Certified EMPAT AIHA Labs.

Having personal field experience with hundreds of mold inspections and assessments in the past several years there are times when the mold in the building looks worse than what may appear and at other times the room walls and ceiling look clean and innocent only to find that the room has excessive mold in mycotoxic, allergenic in nature.  Although there are currently no federal standards or guidelines regarding results of fungal samples and there are no levels which are typical or permissible there is still value, especially in finding and correcting the source of the mold such as a water or moisture problem.

Environmental Resources provides qualified and trained professionals to provide sampling and protocol in your mold assessment and mold inspection. We serve all of Massachusetts including Greater Boston, North & South Shore, & Cape Cod-Islands.

For more information:

Andy Provitola CMC-Certified Microbial Consultant
Environmental Resources LLC
Headquarters
316 Washington Street
Norwell, MA 02061
781-248-9975

www.airenvironments.com

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Mold Inspections-Testing in Real Estate

Is buying a house that is under foreclosure really a bargain? Most banks and mortgage companies will try to sell in an ‘as is’ condition, but you may want to consider having a professional mold inspection, mold testing, and moisture assessment to determine if the property is really worth it. Due to the overstock of foreclosed properties in recent months ‘mold has become a hot topic in the real estate’ industry. Toxic mold has become the new environmental issue and has become a problem for the seller and the buyer. That musty moldy odor smell may not be just a damp basement with mold growing due to standing water in a basement or a severe leaking roof that has still yet to be repaired for several months!. Many banks do not even know what kind of condition the properties are in and how distressed they may be. These conditions may have been here for months and perhaps a few years. These foreclosed houses are not properly winterized and the pipes burst only to have excessive water damage and mold running down several floors and walls and down into the basement.


Relative humidity have caused excess mold fungi to grow. As you walk through a property those stains that you see on the walls or ceilings may be indicating mold growth. Mold fungi grows in many forms and colors such as black, orange, greenish, white etc. and usually in a wet damp environment.
What can I do now and be assured that I am not buying a property that will lose value or become a health risk such as asthma, allergies, or a sinus condition?


Hiring a trained certified profession to conduct a mold assessment and mold testing can help you to determine if the property is habitable and give you peace of mind. Environmental Resources LLC is aware of the mold and water problems today. Using the latest state of the art technology which includes sampling, moisture readings, and/or Thermal Infrared Imaging to help with leak detection. Mold is mold whether it is mycotoxic, pathogenic, or allergenic it is not a respecter of buildings and houses. It seeks fruited organic sources to grow and deteriorate the porous materials.


Our theme is “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure”, so before you go to list that property or consider buying a home that has any signs or symptoms of mold, hire a professional to conduct a quality mold and moisture inspection. Environmental Resources has trained certified professionals to point you in the right direction. We are independent consultants and give you an objective view because we do not remediate or remove mold. Serving all of southern New England.


Andy Provitola CMC-Certified Microbial Consultant
Environmental Resources LLC
Headquarters
316 Washington Street
Norwell, MA 02061
781-248-9975

www.airenvironments.com

 

Independent Mold Assessments

Mold inspections and mold testing are an important part of the process to determine the extent of a mold contamination problem, especially when it may involve professional mold removal. Too often a mold remediation contractor will try to conduct their own testing or exaggerate an inspection claiming the mold is very extensive when in reality it may not be extensive in the nature and scope of the problem at all. For example, Environmental Resources does not remediate mold or remove toxic mold in homes or businesses. We are an independent consulting firm providing professional environmental inspection services for mold and (IAQ) indoor air quality issues. A real estate company or the potential buyer will call us stating, “There was a home inspection and dark or black stains or what looked like mold fungi species was indicated”. (A mold company was in prior to us coming for inspection proposing a very high cost estimate for mold removal after the buyer called a mold remediation company in Boston MA area).

An independent visual inspection utilizing the latest instruments and tools to determine water leaks and moisture issues for the source of the problem. Mold sampling was conducted with the inspection and it was determined that the extent of the mold problem or mold damage was not as severe or extensive as was told to the homeowner by the remediation company. The mold assessment was conducted by an independent party and does not remediate (clean) mold which brought assurance and peace of mind to the homebuyer and seller because there was no conflict of interest. The suspect area for mold did need some mold remediation but was not as extensive as first claimed. It is always beneficial to have at least two or three estimates from companies who a qualified, trained, and certified from an independent body. Ask how long they have been remediating mold which may be less than how long they have been in business. Several contractors have jumped on the “Mold Rush” bandwagon so do your homework!

Independent mold assessments also help insurance claims and insurance adjusters to provide non bias independent professional opinions of indoor mold growth. Many homeowners deal with floods and water leaks in disasters such as hurricanes, flooding, heavy rainfall and high relative humidity which happens often in the Boston, Massachusetts and Cape Cod areas along the entire coast from Maine to Cape Cod. High relative humidity and moisture to mold spores is like putting gasoline on a fire which flares up and spreads the problem even more. Water problems need to be addressed within 24 to 48 hours for the best results for mold prevention and its microbial growth indoors. Our philosophy is that, “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” or “Do it the right way when it comes to a standard of care or don’t do it at all”! A certified trained professional mold inspector providing mold inspections and mold testing may end up saving $1000’s thousands of dollars in the long run along with peace of mind and assurance. If you think you have a mold problem or are not sure because the mold may be hidden behind a wall or underneath a floor then call a professional. Serving Massachusetts, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Islands.

Andy Provitola CMC-Certified Microbial Consultant
Environmental Resources LLC
Headquarters
316 Washington Street
Norwell, MA 02061
781-248-9975

www.airenvironments.com

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Mold Remediators Clean not Test!

There is a trend lately where several mold remediation companies are testing for mold along with cleaning. Then they go one step further and conduct there own cleaning verification testing to determine if the area i.e. basement was cleaned and treated properly. There is a problem with this picture because there is no accountability and no independent 3rd party to provide an objective factual mold assessment. Too often remediation companies who do their own testing exaggerate and make a claim of their own work or add unnecessary work. i.e. The entire basement walls, floor, needed to be removed, In several cases we were called in it was not the case just excess humidity on the walls with slight surface stains and the walls did not need to be removed! Some cleanup was necessary but not the entire area or walls and floors removed. We have saved homeowners and business thousands in several cases due to unnecessary extensive cleanup. The confusion is happening because there are no federal or state government regulations to set a criteria for Threshold Limit Values.(TLV) for mold testing and verification. There are industry standards for cleaning such as IICRC S520 for mold remedial cleaning and/or EPA guidelines. As for testing there is standards but industry guidance as to what is considered a mold amplification where remedial cleaning becomes necessary. The remedial process should always be to physically remove the mold if at all possible. If that cannot happen then properly treat with EPA registered products such as antimicrobial or anti fungicides etc. All remedial companies should be trained and certified from an independent firm. Ask about the history of their training and current certifications not the 2 hour online course that my pet can obtain! Ask for references, how long have they been conducting mold remedial cleaning, and get more than one estimate to compare expertise. It is not always about the lowest price, but being assured the job is done professionally and done right as a standard of care. Just ask the people who are dealing with mold now after hurricane Sandy in NJ and Staten Island, NY, or those who have experienced flooding.

Andy Provitola CMC-Certified Microbial Consultant
Environmental Resources LLC
Headquarters
316 Washington Street
Norwell, MA 02061
781-248-9975

www.airenvironments.com

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