How to Avoid Cross Contamination During Mold Remediation January 31, 2018 – Posted in: Blog
Mold restoration can be one of the trickiest types of cleanup. One of the most common mistakes during mold cleanup is cross-contamination, or inadvertently moving mold and spores to previously uninfected areas.
What can you do to prevent mold cross contamination during cleanup?
First, take the time to test both the areas affected by the mold and other surrounding areas that are not contaminated. This allows you to create a baseline of mold contamination in affected areas and have a measurement for areas that are not currently affected for later comparison.
Once you know the extent of the mold infestation, it becomes easier to create a plan of attack for your mold remediation.
2. Consider the Size of the Contaminated Area
How much of the area is contaminated with mold? This will determine your cleanup methods. For areas smaller than 30 square feet, dust containment protocols and negative air pressure to keep the mold from spreading can be effective. For any areas larger than 30 square feet, you will need to look at using procedures to seal and secure a larger area.
3. Protect and Restrict the Area
The next step is to restrict the area and provide protection, both for your remediation employees, the structure’s inhabitants and to stop the mold from spreading. Use a 6mm poly dust barrier and set up a 2-barrier airlock at any entry and exit ports.
In addition to the airlocks, you need to set up an area of negative pressure to prevent the air from inside the contaminated area from escaping. Without the negative pressure, passing through the airlock could carry dust and mold spores into uncontaminated areas.
Ensure that access to the area is restricted to those who are properly trained and possess the proper credentials for mold remediation. At night or when mold recovery operations are not being worked on, lock the doors and any other entry points.
4. Post Test
Once the job is done, your next step is to have another test done of both the now-remediated area and the surrounding rooms or areas. Compare this new test to your baseline created by the pre-test to ensure that all mold has been removed and that no mold spores have been spread to surrounding areas. It is always a good idea to use an independent testing company for post-tests to avoid a conflict of interest.
Don’t take down any of your containment barriers until your newly cleaned areas have passed your post-test and inspection. Doing so could potentially undo all your hard work.
5. Examine Your Equipment
Once the job is completed, make sure you clean and check all equipment that was used during the cleanup. Replace or clean all HEPA filters to ensure that no mold is transferred to your storage facility or future clean up jobs.
Any equipment that was used in the contaminated area, such as PPE suits, cameras, testing equipment or other tools, should be cleaned and sterilized – or discarded if appropriate – to reduce the chance of cross contamination.
6. Change the Air
Maintaining negative air pressure is essential in preventing cross contamination, but you don’t want to work in an area where the air has become stagnant. To prevent this, make sure that you change the air in your work space at least 4 times an hour.
This can be completed by either using ducting from the outside, paired with basic air filters and air movers, or a clean negative air machine in reverse with new filters to keep the air flowing while preventing the mold spore from spreading outside the containment area.
Other Tips for Avoiding Mold Cross Contamination
What else can you do to help prevent the spread of mold spores?
- First, don’t use water — such as spray or power washers — to clean moldy surfaces. While effective for removing visual debris, these can cause the spread of mold spores, which will defeat the purpose of your cleaning.
- Don’t take down the containment barriers before the post test and inspection are complete.
- Make sure you don’t turn on any interior air filtration or circulation without having a duct that funnels air to the outdoors.
Additional cleanup due to cross contamination is time-consuming and can be a costly mistake. Take all necessary precautions to avoid cross contamination so that you can get the job done right the first time.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.