A proposed bill that could bring South Carolina one step closer to regulating mold is now one step closer to becoming a reality.
House Bill 3127 is a resolution that will establish a committee that would study the impacts of mold and find the best way to get rid of it.
According to online records from the S.C. Legislature, the bill passed the House on Feb. 12 and then passed the Senate on March 14.
The committee would be called the Mold Abatement and Remediation Study Committee and would look at public policy issues relative to mold in public buildings, focus on the impacts of heath of children in public schools, and propose policy initiatives to remediate and get rid of mold problems.
The proposed legislation comes as many Horry County parents continue to express concerns over mold issues at local schools.
Last week, St. James Elementary School was proclaimed free of amplified mold spores after several rounds of testing and cleaning.
After mold became a concern at St. James, WMBF News put in a request for work orders at Horry County Schools since February 2015 that contained the words mold, mildew, humidity and air quality.
WMBF received about 90 pages worth of documents and some of those work orders contained concerns about mold growing in several different schools.
North Myrtle Beach Middle School, Conway High School, Lakewood Elementary School and Forestbrook Middle School are just some among the more than 30 schools where staff described potential mold and mildew issues over the last four years.
Residents across San Diego County say they’ve seen more mold in their homes after recent rainfall.
A number of mold testing and removal companies FOX 5 reached out to said they have seen a spike in business. One company said business has more than doubled and another said this has been one of the busiest weeks they have seen in years.
Mold has kicked Fernando Perez’s daughter out of her room in her Del Mar home.
“She’s obviously not very happy about it,” Perez said.
Recently, Perez said his teenager noticed a spot on the ceiling that appeared to be wet and stained. He called professionals to take a look — who in turn told him his family not only had a leak, but a mold problem in the already nearly renovated room.
“You would never know by opening this up that you would see that it would have been this bad,” Perez said as he showed FOX 5 the wall that was infested with mold.
Orange Restoration, a company that removes mold, stepped in to help. Owner Yaron Lief said the wet winter months have kept him and his employees busy answering calls.
“The average would be five or six a day and now we are maybe at 25 a day,” Lief said.
“If you see a discoloration I would recommend to send a picture. It’s the cheapest way to do this. Find a legit company send them a picture,” Lief said. “We can tell you if you actually need us.”
In this case, the Perez family said professional help was needed and they are glad they acted fast.
“It’s scary to think that people, if they’ve got leaks and they don’t see through to the dry wall and you don’t know it and people are sensitive, or have allergies, or asthma issues. God forbid the potential health issues you could have from unknown mold,” Perez said.
There are at least four reasons a mold inspector should consider using Conditional Areas as the basis for the mold inspection report. First, Conditional Areas are recommended in IICRC S520- 2015 as the basis for mold remediation activities.(1) Second, assigning Conditional Areas forces the mold inspector to view a structure in greater detail. Third, the inspection strategy determines the sampling plan and the data-interpretation plan. Fourth, a stratified strategy allows the mold inspector to collect select samples as composites, reducing the cost of the inspection. The typical strategy used in mold inspections is referred to as Professional Judgment. A more sophisticated approach is to use a stratification strategy; separating interior spaces into discrete areas. One example of a stratification strategy that is recommended by AIHA is Similar Exposure Groups.
(2) Another example of a stratified strategy is the concept of Conditional Areas as defined by IICRC in S520-2015.(1) Conditional Areas, which typically have been applied to mold remediation plans, are defined as: • Condition 1: Areas not affected by a water intrusion incident [no restoration]; • Condition 2: Areas affected by contaminant spores settling onto surfaces [restoration]; • Condition 3: Areas affected by a water intrusion or elevated humidity [remediation]. The Condition of an interior space is typically assessed by combining the information gained from the visual inspection, incident history, occupant interview, and the sample results. However, it should be noted that assessing the Condition of a space may require the appropriate samples to be collected. For example, if the soft-surface items in a living room had simply been contaminated by settled spores (Condition 2), they could be HEPA-vacuumed and restored to service. However, if the living room had been affected by elevated humidity for an extended period those items may be Condition 3 (interior surfaces colonized with mold growth). Differentiating between these two Conditions may be possible based on either the visual inspection or incident history. When this approach does not provide the necessary guidance, a differential sampling method may be used to determine Condition. (3) First, S520-2015 recommends that “Condition (1, 2, or 3) … should be assessed, documented, and reported to the client”. In addition, Part 6 (Mitigation) of the IAQA/AIHA Body of Knowledge document states the mold inspector is responsible for “identifying appropriate responses and including them in the mitigation plan”.(4) Although the remediation contractor is responsible for implementing appropriate responses, the mold inspector is the party responsible for identifying the appropriate responses. If the mold inspector does not use Conditional Areas as the basis for the inspection report, then how can the remediation contractor use them as the basis for the remediation? Second, a significant advantage of using Conditional Areas as the basis for the inspection strategy is that it not only allows the structure to be assessed by area, it requires the mold inspector to assess each area separately. Both the IAQA Body of Knowledge and IICRC S520- 2015 state that an assessment should be performed when mold is present or suspected of being present. An assessment requires the assessor to differentiate between normal and contaminated indoor spaces. For example, the objectives of an assessment may include identifying (1) building-related contamination, (2) the condition of contents, and/or (3) occupant exposure potential; all of which are expected to vary with Condition. Stratifying interior spaces by Condition may focus the inspection, suggesting the objectives that are appropriate for each Conditional Area. Third, the inspection strategy not only provides the basis for the remediation plan; but it also provides the basis for the sampling plan and the data-interpretation plan. It is often not practical for the mold inspector to classify an entire structure as a single Condition, since Condition frequently varies from area to area. Viewing the structure as a whole is neither efficient for the IEP, the remediation contractor, nor the client. Basing the inspection on Conditional Areas forces the IEP to differentiate between normal and contaminated areas, and to identify the Condition of each area in the structure. Fourth, samples collected in the same Conditional Area may be combined and averaged. For example, if the three second-floor bedrooms are Condition 1, then a separate 5-minute airborne sample may be collected in each bedroom; or, a single composite sample may be collected – using a single cassette to collect a 5-minute sample in each bedroom (composite sample).
Military families described living in decrepit, dangerous and inescapable homes at a Wednesday hearing, where lawmakers expressed shock over the allegations of slum-like conditions of privately managed housing.
The emotional testimonies came on the same day as the release of a survey that painted a grim picture of living conditions at U.S. bases for thousands of families, including black mold, lead, infestations of vermin, flooding, radon and faulty wiring.
Families said their concerns have been met with resistance, and in some cases threats from property management companies and commanders to silence them.
Crystal Cornwall, a Marine Corps spouse, told lawmakers about termites falling though light fixtures at an air base in Mississippi and mice chewing through infant pacifiers at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
“I wouldn’t recommend my own children join the service, and my husband has been a Marine for 12 years,” she said.
Some families said their children have been sickened by toxic living conditions but felt they had few options to hold companies or commanders accountable.Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), a former Air Force pilot, described the stories as “disgusting” and infuriating.
“They left you hanging. They put you in harm’s way,” McSally told a panel of three military spouses, describing the companies. “Somehow we need the chain of command . . . to be able to poke their finger to poke in the chest of these companies to say ‘fix it now, or you’re done.’ ”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said he was left baffled during opening remarks in the Senate Armed Services subcommittee hering. “It gets harder and harder to shock me,” he said. “This is shocking.”
During the hearing, the executives struck a conciliatory tone.
“The situation is clearly unacceptable,” said Denis Hickey, the chief executive of Americas Lendlease Corporation said. Christopher Williams, the president of Balfour Beatty Communities, said: “When we fall short, we try to make it right.”
The panel of military spouses told lawmakers they would like options to hold companies to account, like withholding housing stipend payments until work orders were complete and satisfactory. In a surprising move, the panel of executives told lawmakers they would have few problems with that idea.
In a joint statement, Army Secretary Mark T. Esper and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley said they were “deeply troubled” by reports of unsafe housing.
“We will hold our chain of command and private contractors accountable to ensure they are meeting their obligations to provide safe, high-quality family housing,” they said.
Madison Taylor Indoor Environmental the largest indoor environmental company on the East Coast announces the completion of continued educational requirements for the DC Licensed Mold Remediator and the DC Licensed Mold Assessor Programs.
The District of Columbia’s Air Quality Amendment Act of 2014 protects tenants by mandating proper testing and remediation procedures when mold becomes a concern. The law requires that tenants must first notify the landlord in writing about mold issues in the home. The landlord must respond within seven days and has 30 days to repair the problem. Mold contamination greater than 10 square feet requires a DOEE licensed mold professional to assess (evaluate) and/or remediate (fix) the problem. Contamination from mold less than 10 square feet can be addressed by a non-licensed individual.
John Taylor, the owner of Madison Taylor Indoor Environmental, licensed mold inspector and certified indoor environmentalist says, “DC got their mold law right. DC’s Air Quality Amendment Act is a simple law that protects tenants from mold problems and gives effective guidance to landlords. As a company we have seen the direct impact to improving home and health since the passing of this law.” This law is streamlined and does not hinder clients from getting competitive and economical pricing for services, which some laws across the country do. Qualified mold assessors and mold remediation companies can efficiently become certified by DC and follow normal industry standards without needless additional convoluted processes which is beneficial for consumers.
John Taylor added, “Before the law was put into effect mold in DC rental homes and apartment buildings was quickly becoming a considerable problem for tenants and homeowners. Countless DC landlords improperly treated, cleaned, and remediated serious mold conditions, exposing tenants to contaminated indoor air quality, sometimes causing the occupants significant illness.”
Madison Taylor Indoor Environmental is the leading indoor air quality firm in Virginia, Maryland, and DC, providing mold testing and remediation services to residential and commercial clients all throughout the DMV. John Taylor expressed how rewarding it is owning a mold testing and mold remediation company. “It’s is what I call a happy business. Every day we at Madison Taylor Indoor Environmental are able to aid people in finding and fixing indoor air quality conditions. We have helped thousands of clients, with the testing and remediation of mold in hospitals, schools, government facilities, and homes, aiding building owners, homeowners and tenants in solving mold problems for over 18 years.”
If you have questions about mold or other indoor air quality concerns, contact:
With heavy rainfall comes a tremendous amount of moisture. Leaks and condensation increase, temperatures and warm drying daylight decrease.
These are optimal conditions for mold growth, both interior and exterior. As exterior mold spores explode in number some of them are bound to settle in our indoor environments. Here’s an overview from the EPA on Mold growth in the home.
So what can you do to reduce to likelihood mold will take hold?
I have some tips to minimize the conditions conducive to mold growth and maximize you and your family’s health.
Mold needs 3 conditions for optimal growth:
The Right temperature. Some mold species can grow at low (below 50 degrees F) and other species at high (above 90 degrees F), but most common mold species that grow indoors grow ideally at 55-85 degrees F. Unfortunately this is the optimal temperature for human comfort. So it is unlikely you can keep your home at a temperature that is inhospitable for mold growth. So we will not concentrate on that.
An organic food source. Different species of mold like to eat different things, but they all need something organic to munch on. Many mold species love cellulose, i.e. wood and paper. These are the natural composters and when it rains these species start to eat up all the fallen branches and leaves in the forest, as well as our yards emitting millions of spores that make their way into our homes. Inside our homes molds like to eat wood. This is what “dry rot” is, fungi usually consisting of 2 species, Ascospores and Basidiospores. Other species like to eat paper, such as cardboard boxes, books, and paper backed wallboard, such as sheetrock. Pennicillium/Aspergillus and Stachybotrys (colloquially known as toxic black mold) are often found on wet or moist paper. Cladosporium, the species most often found growing on windowsills and in bathrooms, can eat a variety of Biofilms (household dust consisting of epithelial cells (dead skin cells) insect parts, pet dander, natural fibers such as cotton and linen, etc.). Some mold food sources we cannot easily remove from our home such as framing lumber and wallboard, but others we can, such as cardboard boxes.
This is the big one and the one I will be giving tips on below. Mold needs moisture. There is a common saying in our business: “Mold is the symptom, moisture is the problem”. Mold growth either needs liquid water or high humidity. Liquid water can come from condensation on windowsills and in bathrooms, or from leaks, either internal or external. Without liquid water mold will not become active unless the humidity is high, usually 60-80% RH depending on the species. When the humidity is high enough, mold can become active and grow by absorbing moisture directly from the air.
Here are some tips to reduce both food sources and moisture in your home and thus reduce the likelihood and amount of mold that may grow inside your home:
Let’s start outside. When it rains water can easily enter what we call the “Building Envelope”. It is very important to make sure your site drainage system is clear from debris and working properly to move rain water away from your home, foundation, and crawlspace.
Clean the roof of any leave or other debris.
Make sure downspouts are in good repair, not clogged, and properly attached any extensions or the site drainage system.
Make sure all property drains are clear of debris and flowing freely.
Check the “Building Envelope” for possible sites of water intrusion, i.e. leaks.
Window and doorframes are spots where water can intrude. Check all door and window frame caulking for cracks and gaps and repair where necessary.
Inspect the sealant around roof penetrations. Repair where necessary.
Check building siding for cracks, peeling paint, holes, etc. Anywhere water may be able to get in.
After a heavy rain walk around the entire house and look for standing water, and clogged drains. Look inside the crawlspace and make sure there is no hidden flooding. Carefully check the inside of the house, take a close look at the ceilings, around windows and doors, and walls for small leaks. Because all big leaks start out as small leaks! Check under sinks and around tubs and toilets to make sure there are no plumbing leaks adding moisture to the interior of your home.
Assuming there are no leaks and your drainage system is working well, what other sources of moisture can address?
Inside a home the occupants can produce a tremendous amount of moisture. On average each human occupant expires (breathes) and perspires (sweats) about 2 POUNDS of water into the air a day. Pets can also add to this moisture source. During the winter we often close out windows, as it is cold out, and most residential heating systems have no way of bringing in fresh air or ventilating out moist, stale interior air. Thus interior humidity can often increase to levels above 60%, which is ideal for mold growth.
So what can we do about Mold Growth?
Monitor interior humidity. Small, portable humidity monitors are available for around $10-15 and can be placed around the home. If RH (relative humidity) is consistently above 65%, action should be taken. Ideally, interior RH should be between 45-55% RH. Below 40% RH mucous membranes start to dry out and can cause occupant discomfort.
Open windows when practicable to help flush out moisture and other interior contaminants. Even 1 hour a day can make a big difference, although 3-4 hours is recommended.
Run ventilation fans in bathrooms and kitchens to help exhaust excess humidity from cooking and bathing. Run fans in bathrooms for at least 20 minutes after bathing. Timer switches can be installed on most bathroom exhaust fans and are highly recommended.
Wipe excess condensation from windowsills. Inspect windowsills often. Do not keep curtains closed as this can trap moist, cool air and promote excessive condensation.
The above tips can help reduce moisture sources, what can do we do about reducing mold food sources?
Do not keep books, papers, or cardboard boxes in moist areas such as attics, garages, basements or crawlspaces. Attic and crawlspaces should not be used as storage areas, but if you must store items in a garage or basement, we recommend sealed plastic bins.
Keep areas mold likes to grow clean and dry. This means cleaning dust (biofilms) from windowsills, baseboards, and doorframes. Vacuum carpet regularly with a HEPA vacuum. The recommendation is to vacuum and sweep one day per week PER OCCUPANT, including pets!
Check behind drapes and furniture for hidden condensation and biofilms. Allow airflow to reach these areas by opening drapes often and moving furniture a few inches from walls, especially exterior walls that can become colder and promote condensation.
Also, trust your nose, that musty smell is a sure indication of active mold growth. That musty smell is caused by microbial VOC’s, airborne chemicals that are a metabolic by-product of mold digestion.
If you think you have a hidden source of mold, call a professional Certified Microbial Investigator for a full mold inspection. Excessive interior mold can cause structural damage to your home and its contents, as well as allergic and respiratory reactions in some occupants. Take heed and be diligent, and you can survive this hopefully wet winter relatively mold-free.