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Mold Prevention News

Growth in basement toxic, on 2nd floor less harmful

Mold: Unsightly but not deadly

Mold keeps schools closed

Hotels review mold prevention plans  

Erin Brockovich Crusades Against Mold

Ed McMahon Sues Over Mold, Says it Killed His Dog

Warm spring  weather can cause stored corn, soybeans to spoil

State Orders Haz-mat Review of New Ferry Offices.

'Hulk' star settles toxic mold suit

New ferry HQ has history of toxic substances



Top Ten Mold Prevention Mistakes To Avoid


1. IGNORING POSSIBLE MOLD HEALTH SYMPTOMS BEING SUFFERED BY ONE OR MORE FAMILY MEMBERS OR CO-WORKERS Be concerned about possible mold problems if one or more occupants is suffering from unexplained health problems such as an ongoing itchy eyes, bloody nose, sinus problems, headaches, nose congestion, runny nose, skin rashes, skin sores, coughing, breathing difficulties, difficulty in remembering things and in thinking clearly, feeling disconnected from the world around you, and/or chronic fatigue. Please remember that some occupants may experience mold health symptoms, while others may have none, with all living or working in the same mold-infested area. People differ significantly in their sensitivity to mold.

2.  IGNORING HOME MAINTENANCE PROBLEMS & MOLD CLUES. You contribute big-time to becoming a mold victim when you ignore roof leaks, plumbing leaks, sewer line leaks, water stains on ceilings, the indoor smell of mold, visible mold growth, high humidity [60% or more to drive mold growth from humidity alone], a wet or damp basement, and a wet or damp crawl space.  

3.  ASSUMING THAT THERE IS NO MOLD PROBLEM BECAUSE OF NO VISIBLE MOLD GROWTH. The worst mold infestation problems are often the ones you cannot see INSIDE floors, ceilings, walls, basement, attic, crawl space, and the heating/cooling equipment and ducts.  Airborne mold spores are invisible to the eye, very light, and are easily carried in air current movements or in the air flows of your heating/cooling system to mold cross-contaminate your entire house from just one hidden mold problem. Use our do it yourself mold test kits to mold test the air of your basement, attic, all rooms, and the outward air flow from each heating/cooling register for the possible presence of elevated levels of airborne mold spores, in comparison to an outdoor mold control test. Visit: Environmental Products and Services   Use a hidden moisture meter to scan all walls and floors for hidden water problems. Use a fiber optics inspection device to check for mold growth inside wall, floor, and ceiling cavities.

4. HOPING THAT A NEW HOME IS MOLD FREE.  Today’s new homes often come with built-in mold infestation problems because:

(a) Moldy building materials are received from the builder’s supplier---today's timbers are not kiln-dried as in earlier times, and thus contain a high internal moisture content that makes mold growth possible in the timbers;

(b) The builder and its supervisors and employees fail to do quality control to inspect for, and, thus, prevent moldy building materials from being used in the home’s construction;

(c) The builder stores the inventory of building materials on the outside ground with no plastic sheeting to protect the building materials from rain [which thus supplies the necessary water to enable mold to grow in and on the materials];

(d) The construction crew fails to cover the entire home under construction with plastic sheeting at the end of each construction day to protect the building materials from rain [which thus supplies the necessary water to enable mold to grow in and on the materials]. The roof and side walls need to be protected against rain until the entire roof, siding, windows, and doors are totally installed to seal out rain; 

(e) The builder fails to inspect and test the home for mold growth while it is being constructed and at the home’s completion; and

(f) Use of modern building materials like chip wafer boards, drywall (plasterboard), & plywood--- all of which molds love to eat.

(g) Visit: Mold Products and Services.

5. ASSUMING THAT AFTER A WET AREA HAS DRIED, THAT IT IS NOW MOLD SAFE.  Mold needs moisture to grow and to multiply as its eats your home building materials and personal possessions. This moisture can come from high indoor humidity [above 60% some or all of the year], roof leaks, siding leaks, and plumbing leaks. If mold spores and mold colony growth run out of moisture, they do NOT die. Instead, they become dormant, and can wait millions of years for access to high humidity or a future water intrusion. Dormant mold can make mold-sensitive persons sick. Even the smell of dormant mold can make some people very sick.

6. USING CHLORINE BLEACH TO KILL MOLD. Do not use ineffective chlorine bleach to try to kill mold growth and mold spores. Bleach is too weak even when freshly manufactured to kill mold. Bleach that sits on store shelves and in your home continually gets ever weaker over the passage of time. In addition, read the manufacturer’s usage directions on the bleach container. The manufacturer does not recommend its use to kill mold.

7. USING OTHER INEFFECTIVE PRODUCTS TO KILL MOLD---such as Kilz, regular paint, paint containing a mildicide element, any paint, Lysol, ammonia, and other household cleaners and disinfectants. Painting over a mold problem does not solve it---it only hides the problem temporarily and gives the mold something delicious to eat---the paint itself.

8. SPRAYING SOMETHING ON THE MOLD WILL TAKE CARE OF THE PROBLEM.  Only EPA-registered fungicides can kill mold, but just spraying visible mold does not solve mold problems. You need to kill all visible mold encountered in mold remediation, but it needs also to be removed from the home or building, and all of the water and mold damaged building materials need to be thrown out and replaced with mold-free building materials. In addition the cleaned out area needs to be treated with both EPA-registered fungicide and wood protectant. Learn all of the steps required for safe and effective mold remediation at Mold Removal.

9. TRUSTING THAT MOLD REMEDIATION CONTRACTORS KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. Most mold remediation companies cause and leave more mold problems AFTER the alleged remediation than before their work because of: (a) failure to find and fix all of the mold infestation locations in a home or building due to incomplete mold inspection and mold testing; (b) poor and inadequate training; (c) failure to utilize proper mold containment procedures and effective mold remediation techniques; (d) taking shortcuts that undermine the remediation effort; and (e) sometimes fraud and dishonesty on the part of the contractor. Insist on hiring only Certified Mold Inspectors, Certified Mold Contractors, and Certified Mold Remediators who have been trained and certified by the Ecology College Online.

10. TRUSTING THAT GOVERNMENT AGENCIES ARE EXPERTS IN MOLD PREVENTION, INSPECTION, TESTING, AND REMEDIATION. The only people who truly care about your family’s health and home investment are yourself and your family. Although there are many mold knowledgeable and mold experienced industrial hygienists, most are not. Hire a Certified Mold Inspector or Certified Environmental Hygienist if you value your family’s health and home investment. Some government websites often promote ineffective and outdated mold remediation ideas like using bleach to kill mold.  Government employees do not have the personal experience of having to work in the real world to find and kill real mold that is often hidden in home walls, ceilings, floors, heating/cooling systems, attic, basement, and crawl space.



   Mold keeps schools closed

MICHAEL HOLTZMAN , Staff Writer  08/26/2003

NORTH SMITHFIELD -- Cleaning and disinfecting of mold at the Halliwell School, 11 buildings comprising 22 classrooms, has continued day and night since Friday.

A Providence company should conclude the work by Tuesday or Wednesday with test results from a California lab that’s looking at the impact of the mold known a day or so later.

 By the end of this week, school officials should know the test results, along with test results from North Smithfield Elementary School, which like Halliwell has been closed to teachers since mold was discovered about 10 days ago on Aug. 15, Superintendent M. Richard Scherza said during an interview Monday night.

He’s "guestimating" the cleanup and remediation, virtually all of it for Halliwell, could cost the school district about $125,000.

Asked when he’d be able to release more specific figures, Scherza said, "I’d like to know by the end of the week so people can know by the weekend."

He noted teachers are slated to report to the high school on Sept. 2 for orientation, and students and staff begin school the following day.

I’m also confident we’ll open and we’ll open well. The staffing is on track," he said.

More than 20 teachers have been hired for this school year, including about 10 new positions, all of which have been filled, Scherza said. An orientation solely for new teachers and staff is being held today at the high school.

While Scherza said only two or three rooms at NSES showed traces of mold the size of one’s hand in a scattered few pieces of furniture, he said cleaning and mold testing at this school precipitated the precaution of keeping teachers out of the building after large amounts of mold were found inside the Halliwell buildings.

The high school, part of NSES and several decontaminated buildings at Halliwell have been tested for mold and sent out for testing by Thomas E. Hamilton, owner of OccuHealth Inc., Mansfield, Scherza said.

He said one wing of NSES was still being cleaned by custodial staff and would be tested later this week. "If they’re decontaminating them, we just can’t have them (teachers) in there while we’re decontaminating," said Scherza when asked about NSES.

That school underwent significant remediation for mold and its ventilation systems two years ago. Both Hamilton and Scherza said the small appearances of mold there do not reflect re-occurrence of past problems.

At the high school, where a language lab carpet that remained damp was removed for precautions, decontamination cleaning was not necessary, Scherza said.

Hamilton has stressed the mold problems here have been rampant through the region and reflect high humidity and condensation rather than roof leaks or other structural defects.

The school district hired a cleaning company recommended by Hamilton, Serve Pro of Metro Rhode Island, which has come in with crews of about a dozen workers or so, working as late as midnight through the weekend and beyond, Scherza said.

He said additional crews have been sent to apply a biocide decontaminant to destroy bacteria and mold and encapsulate the areas they’re applied to, further inhibiting the growth of mold, which can be harmful to the health of children and adults.

As of last night, the final four Halliwell classrooms remained to be done, which could be completed as early as today, Scherza said. Halliwell houses about 400 pupils in grades 6 to 8, while NSES has about 650 pupils from pre-school to Grade 3.

Asked when teachers will be able to enter their elementary classrooms, Scherza said, "As soon as Tom (Hamilton) tells me we have good readings and it’s safe. I’m hoping Wednesday should be the day they notify us.

"I know it’s caused some inconvenience for teachers, but I’d rather error on the side of caution," Scherza said.

He said Marianne Lowe, president of the North Smithfield Teachers Association, had been kept abreast of the cleanup progress. A telephone call sent to Lowe last night was not returned.

Scherza said the NSTA has not issued any complaints. "I think if we were not doing what we were doing, that would have cause for complaint," he said.

While Scherza said the work to counter this "bombshell," as School Committee Chairwoman Christine A. Charest called it, has gone "smoothly," he was asked if it’s been viewed by teachers as a major disruption. "Other than setting up their rooms, to my knowledge it has not been a problem," he said.

Scherza vowed to continue communicating information so that parents and the public know how the mold cleanup is proceeding as it relates to the safe opening of school, as well as knowing the financial impacts.

He said the three major costs consist of paying the cleaning firm, Serve Pro, replacing the drop ceiling tiles from 22 classrooms and paying overtime to their 21-member custodial/maintenance staff that’s also worked nights and weekend hours.

One piece of positive news, he said, was that the district appears to have a surplus that can cover costs in the range he projected. Through ongoing cost savings, Scherza said, "I try to find a 1-2 percent surplus each year for things like this mold issue at Halliwell.

"You don’t know a year and a half ago that this is going to come up," he said.

Scherza anticipates offering a further update at tonight’s School Building/Space Needs Committee, which includes the School Committee. It will be held at 7 o’clock at the high school.


Hotels review mold prevention plans  

By Kelly Yamanouchi
Advertiser Staff Writer

The mold-related closure last month of Hilton Hawaiian Village's 453-room Kalia Tower has prompted some local hotel companies to review their own housekeeping procedures to see that mold doesn't cause such a costly shutdown at their properties.

Hilton estimated last month that closure of the tower will cost the company at least $10 million, making it the most expensive mold problem for the hotel company and the largest ever faced by a Hawai'i hotel.

Outrigger Enterprises, Hawai'i's largest lodging company, has reviewed its mold-prevention programs, Barry Wallace, senior vice president of operations, said yesterday.

"We found nothing to be concerned about," Wallace said of the company's properties, which include more than 12,000 hotel rooms and condominium units in Hawai'i, Micronesia, Australia and the South Pacific.

Wallace said hotel managers spoke to housekeeping and maintenance employees about preventive maintenance, including the cleaning of fan coil units and the reporting of any out-of-reach mold. The hotels also reviewed their logbooks to ensure cleaning programs are on schedule.

B.J. Whitman, spokeswoman for the Sheraton Waikiki, which has more than 1,800 rooms and suites, and the Royal Hawaiian with 527 rooms and suites, said test results came back yesterday showing no toxic mold at the hotels, only "the safe mold, the everyday mold."

The tests were done last week after the Hilton tower closed.

"We decided to take the aggressive approach and made sure our environment was free and clear," Whitman said. Sheraton hotel housekeepers use a special solution to clean away mold and the engineering department has been checking air ventilation systems, she said.

Donna Wheeler, director of marketing for Aston Hotels & Resorts, said that while mold and mildew have always been issues here, the Hilton incident has raised awareness even further.

Aston hotel employees have been reminded of "the need to be observant and be able to communicate and react to certain situations, unusual situations," Wheeler said.

She said no problems have been found. Aston has more than 4,500 rooms and suites in Hawaii.

Officials with Local 5 of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union, which represents workers at Hilton Hawaiian Village, said yesterday they have been asking a number of other hotels where their members work for information about possible mold problems.

Eric Gill, financial secretary-treasurer for Local 5, did not identify the hotels. "So far we're kind of going where we see some smoke," he said. "Plus, as we've talked to experts, various information has been proffered to us, and we're trying to follow up on that."

In Waikiki, Local 5 represents workers at the four Sheraton hotels, the Renaissance 'Ilikai Waikiki, the Ala Moana Hotel and the Hyatt Regency Waikiki.

"We're not anxious to go on a mold crusade, but we've got to be cognizant of our members' health interests here," Gill said. "And certainly for any hotel who might be worried, being in a similar situation to Hilton, we wanted to offer them an opportunity to work out with us a scenario as to what to do."

Glenn Vergara, general manager of Aston's 106-suite Executive Centre Hotel, called mold prevention "a daily objective," and said Hilton's tower closure is unprecedented.

"Right now it's an awareness stage," Vergara said. "Certainly it's something that has become an issue that we're talking about."

Advertiser staff writer Susan Hooper contributed to this report. Reach Kelly Yamanouchi at 535-2470.

Erin Brockovich Crusades Against Mold

Erin Brockovich environmental crusader and champion for victims of toxic exposure now says that she is a victim herself - OF MOLD! Brockovich says that she and her family suffer from respiratory ailments, facial rashes, chronic headaches, sinus infections and other health problems brought on by mold in their Agoura Hills home. She testified before the state Senate committee on Health and Human Services about the problems she and her family received from Brockovich told the committee.

"I'm not here today because I'm looking for a new cause. I wasn't looking for mold, mold found me." Brockovich, told a state Senate health committee that what's making her ill is the very thing that a growing number of people across the capital region, state and country are blaming for symptoms ranging from hair loss and vertigo to weakened immune systems and brain damage. The culprit, they all say, is mold, sometimes referred to as "toxic mold," in their homes, schools or workplaces.

Ed McMahon Sues Over Mold, Says it Killed His Dog

Entertainer Ed McMahon is suing his insurance company for more than $20 million, alleging that he was sickened by toxic mold that spread through his Beverly Hills house.


Both McMahon and his wife, Pamela, became ill from the mold, as did members of their household staff, according to the Los Angeles Superior Court suit. The McMahons also blame the mold for the death of the family dog, Muffin.


The trouble began in late July, when a pipe broke in the couple's six-bedroom, Mediterranean-style house.The den became flooded. A month later, mold was discovered in the den.


The McMahons questioned the contractors' cleanup methods - including simply painting over the mold. "When your family loses its health and your home is a wasteland, that's a colossal disaster," McMahon said.The McMahons' dog, a mutt named Muffin that resembled a sheepdog, was in perfect health until she suddenly became sick at about the same time the mold was discovered, Browne said. "She was a sweetheart of a dog, incredibly smart, as frisky as you can imagine," the lawyer said. "All of a sudden she got this terrible respiratory ailment, and they had to put her down,"

Source: The Los Angeles Times

Warm spring weather can cause stored corn, soybeans to spoil
By U of M Extension

Farm & Ranch Guide News, April 9, 2003


Warm spring weather can put stored corn and soybeans at risk. If the stored crops are too wet they are likely to spoil, says Bill Wilcke, engineer with the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
Wilcke says wet harvest conditions resulted in the storage of some wet shelled corn and soybeans last fall. Cold weather generally protected these crops from mold and insects during the winter.

"Stored crops that are cooled to less than 30 degrees F during the winter can be stored at fairly high moisture levels with minimal risk of spoilage," he points out. "But during spring and summer we lose the ability to keep crops below 30 degrees F, so we need to reduce moisture content to avoid spoilage."

Wilcke says corn should be dried to 14-15 percent moisture for storage into spring, 14 percent for storage into summer, and 13 percent for longer-term storage. Soybeans should be 12-13 percent moisture for storage into spring, 12 percent for storage into summer and 11 percent for longer-term storage.

Stored crops will probably mold if they are wetter than these levels and are aerated only by a small fan delivering less than 0.5 cubic feet of air per minute per bushel of grain in the bin.

Using a gas-fired dryer in late winter or early spring is an option for both corn and soybeans, says Wilcke. After drying, cool the crop to less than 50 degrees F for summer storage. That means drying needs to be completed before average outdoor temperatures rise above 50.

Wilcke says you can expect energy costs for gas-fired drying to be about one to two cents per bushel per percent point of moisture removed. Total drying costs, including labor, depreciation and repairs, will be two to four cents per bushel per point. Labor, equipment and transportation costs for moving crops to the dryer and back to storage will add a few more cents per bushel.

"You can dry soybeans in gas-fired dryers, but the seeds will split if you dry them too fast or the temperature is too high," says Wilcke. "Therefore, it's important to use a much lower drying temperature for soybeans than for corn. If you plan to use any of the soybeans for seed, keep the drying temperature below 110 degrees F to avoid killing the seed embryo."

Natural-air drying may be another option for slightly wet corn and soybeans, says Wilcke. For this you need a bin with a full perforated drying floor and a drying fan that can deliver about one cubic foot per minute per bushel. For further information check a University of Minnesota Extension Service bulletin entitled "Natural-Air Corn Drying in the Upper Midwest," item BU-6577.

"Spring drying must be started early," says Wilcke. "If you wait too long and the weather gets too warm, the crop at the top of the bin will mold before it dries. The crop at the bottom of the bin will get drier than it needs to be. The wetter the crop, the earlier you need to start."

For corn wetter than 19 percent moisture, Wilcke says the natural-air drying process needs to begin as soon as average outdoor temperatures stay above freezing. This is usually around mid-March. Turn on the drying fan and let it run until the drying front moves through the top of the bin.  For 17-19 percent moisture corn, start drying around April 1, and for 15-17 percent corn, start drying around April 15.

The same dates apply when natural-air drying soybeans, but the moisture levels should be about two percentage points lower. This means you should start drying beans that are wetter than 17 percent moisture at mid-March.

For beans that are 14-15 percent moisture, Wilcke suggests controlling the fan, either manually or with a humidistat, so that the fan only runs when relative humidity is less than about 70 percent.

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