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Mold Blog

Thinking of Using Ozone Treatment in Mold Remediation? Think Again…

Today, let’s talk about the use of ozone in mold remediation. Ozone is the latest in a long list of magical bullet mold remediation services. Companies have made it available as a discounted alternative to mold remediation. If you’re a property owner considering hiring a company to perform an ozone treatment, there are some things that you really need to know.

Ozone Can Be Hazardous Inside Your Home or Office

First, ozone is very good at killing mold spores, which is what they advertise. However, on the hierarchy of services that are needed for mold remediation, killing mold spores is at the bottom or not even on the list at all.

Using ozone in such a highly concentrated manner inside a property comes with side effects. Inhaling ozone is extremely bad for your health and can cause permanent respiratory problems. The American Lung Association says that breathing in ozone is the equivalent of having sunburn on the inside of your lungs.

If these health risks aren’t bad enough, there’s a laundry list of side effects to the actual home itself, including rapid deterioration of rubber and plastic. Take a second to think of everything in your home made of rubber, such as the rubber gaskets for your plumbing system. If these were rapidly deteriorated and damaged, they will begin sprouting leaks. Then, with this new water damage, you will be almost back to square one and, as a result, possibly experience more mold damage. Then, think about the plastic in your property: your electronics, your appliances, the electrical system itself. All of these electrical wires are wrapped in plastic. The deterioration of this plastic could cause a fire and has in the past. As a result of these fires, a number of lawsuits have resulted from use of highly concentrated ozone in properties.

Companies Will Still Use Ozone for Mold Remediation

Because of the lawsuits and resulting regulations from the FDA, OSHA, and the EPA, you will never find a company that advertises using a concentrated blast of ozone in the house. Instead, these companies will refer to “energized oxygen,” which will create a pure air environment and produce a springtime odor. This is fine if our goals are to deodorize or have our clothes smell better from a fabric softener. For mold remediation, though, this really is not what we’re looking to accomplish. Our goal to bring this property back to a healthy living or working environment.

How Do We Perform Mold Remediation Without Ozone?

For this reason, industry experts around the world have performed tons of research and experimentation to find the best methods for getting rid of mold and bringing you back to those healthy living environments. It always comes back to the same process, and that is a HEPA filtration cleaning process. Supporters of ozone treatment will always say the same thing: by doing HEPA filtration, you’ll never kill or get rid of 100% of the spores. This is actually true; you won’t, and it doesn’t really matter. An actual healthy home’s mold levels should be about the same as what you find outside. As you come in and out of your home or office, you’re bringing mold in and out with you, so what does it matter if you killed and eradicated 100% of the actual mold spores? You’re just going to bring more in with you as soon as you’re done.

In addition to this, we must remember that mold spores are not what really cause you to get sick. These carry mycotoxins, which is what causes illness. The mycotoxins, being microscopic poisons, are present because of the mold, and they attach themselves to mold spores. They also attach themselves to other fungi, called hyphae. When you breathe these in, you actually get sick. If there are no supplemental services on top of the actual ozone treatment to remove all of those fragmented pieces that carry all those mycotoxins and even those dead spores that are there, it really doesn’t matter that you’ve killed them. You’re still going to get the same type of adverse health effects from the mold. Again, that’s not what we’re trying to accomplish.

Trust Lightning Restoration With Your Mold Troubles

Here at Lightning Restoration, we follow the state of Florida guidelines for mold remediation. We use the nationally and internationally recognized process for performing mold remediation, which is a HEPA filtration cleaning process. We guarantee our services 100%. If for any reason we didn’t pass after the first test and need to clean again, we would clean for free. We would even pay for that hygienist to come back and test for a second time.

Which brings me to my next point: If you’re having mold remediation performed in your home, you want a third party industrial hygienist to come in and do the testing upon completion to ensure that your property is back to a healthy environment. We see some situations regularly when it comes to ozone treatments:

  • They either do not get a test at all, or
  • They do the test themselves.

If they’re doing the test themselves, they’ve actually adjusted the test to their benefit. The test will show they’re doing what they set out to accomplish, which was simply, once again, to kill the mold spores. Meanwhile, they will never address the mycotoxins and the fact that you still have those mold fragments present that make you sick. Remember always:

  • Utilize a third party,
  • Rely on an industrial hygienist,
  • Require testing upon completion.

If you have questions about mold remediation or the use of ozone, we’d be happy to discuss more of it with you. If you have mold concerns, give us a call. We come out to your property. We do a free consultation. When it comes to mold remediation, you have the right to choose whoever does work in your property. We’d love it if you chose Lightning Restoration.

Categories
Sanitization

How We Test Our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Sanitization Treatments

Let’s talk about the sanitization treatment process we’re using in our customers’ homes, offices, and businesses. More importantly, we’re going to talk about the testing we use during that process.

The most important part of this process is we can test to show that the sanitization we are performing is successful using an ATP meter. If you’re not familiar with ATP, it’s an energy molecule found in all living things, including bacteria and viruses. We take a swab sample before we actually do any kind of cleaning, and then we take another sample at the end after we’ve done the treatment. The premise behind this test is that we will show a significant drop in ATP and, thus, show significant drop in microbial contamination.

Let’s do this sanitization treatment right here on my desk

I work pretty long hours and eat at my desk pretty much every day, so I treat my desk and office regularly. In order to get a realistic view of normal levels of contaminations, we’re going to subject my desk to an everyday scenario. I just received a package. I’m going to rub it all over top of my desk. Then, we’re going to take a sample from there. This will be our beginning threshold.

So now we’re ready to actually do our tests. We’ll take our samples and see what kind of contaminants we have before the actual cleaning. Let’s look at the components of what we’re going to be dealing with.

  • then we have our actual swab samples that we’re going to take.

  • And on here, I have my disinfectant, an EPA registered and certified disinfectant that kills 99.99% of all viruses and bacteria.

We’ll do this treatment after we take the swab, and then we’ll take another swab sample at the end.

We’re going to swab a 4 x 4 square inch area of the desk. I’ll roll the swab over, take a good sample and place the swab back in the tube. There is a reagent in the top of this tube, so we’re going to snap off that plug and squeeze that down in with the plunger. After swishing the tube around for about five seconds, we’re going to drop it into the meter to see what kind of reading we get. This reading will take about 15 seconds.

That’s a pretty high reading

I’ll go over exactly what these readings mean in just a little bit, but Our reading is 316, which is pretty high. I’ll go over exactly what these readings mean, but for now, that’s our beginning threshold.

Now we’re going to treat the desk and do a post-test to see what we get after sanitization treatment. Treating a desk is pretty simple. I’m going to wash it over here, back and forth. We’ll let the material remain wet for a dwell time of about 10 minutes.

We let the disinfectant sit (or dwell) on the desk for 10 minutes. After this time, we’re ready to take our post sample to see what kind of reading we get after we’ve treated it. We will swab the same 4 x 4 inch area and get a good flex on the stem.

After returning the swab to its tube, we’ll release the reagent and plunger to see how successful our treatment is. When we’re performing these treatments in people’s homes, we’re doing a completely aerosolized treatment. So it’s going everywhere that air, the virus, or bacteria can go. In this localized case, we’re testing a small sample of this desktop, but any actual home or office that we treat will receive a complete envelope treatment, including the AC system as well.

Let’s see our final reading after sanitization treatment

We will wait 15 seconds again for the results of this second test to find out exactly where we are after sanitization treatment. Amazing, 2 is our final reading.

Before we get into the results of the test that we did on my desk, I want to first talk about what the test results mean. We mentioned already that we have a Hygiena meter which tests for ATP, an energy molecule found in viruses and all living things. This particular meter pushes light through the actual sample that is sent through it, and then it’s measured in RLUs, or relative light units. The higher the amount of RLUs in that actual swab sample, the higher the amount of microbial contaminants.

What’s a normal reading?

As you saw from our test, we started with an initial reading of over 300 RLUs. After finishing the sanitization treatment, we saw a reading of 2 RLUs. Let’s put those numbers into perspective and talk about what the standard readings are for different types of settings.

  • For an office or home setting, you generally want your RLUs to be at or below 50.
  • In the case of a doctor’s office or a hospital room, we’re looking for the RLUs to be less than 25.
  • In a surgical center, operating room, or a food prep area of a restaurant, you want those RLUs to be less than 10.

This is the same meter and test that’s used by the Department of Health to test all of those different areas. And I’m really excited about the process that we use here and the products that we’re using, because as you see, we got a reading of 2 RLUs. This is what you would expect your food to be prepared on. This is also a reading you’d expect in an operating room when having surgery done.

Let Lightning Restoration sanitize your home or office

We’re excited about the level of sanitization that we can bring to people’s homes and offices. And if you’re interested in this sanitization treatment, please give us a call. Our number is 855-850-LTNG. Thank you, and be safe and healthy.

Categories
Mold Blog

Here’s How Mold Spreads in Your Home

We want to talk about exactly what mold is and why it is so harmful to people? If you’re not terribly familiar with mold, it is a microfungi and it’s also saprophytic. Saprophytic means that it eats dead organic material.

Mold is very good at eating dead organic material, and it’s absolutely necessary on this planet. If we didn’t have mold eating those dead organic materials, this planet would be overrun with dead plants, animals, people, and everything else. Simply put, it serves a very good and beneficial purpose.

However, we don’t want it in our homes or offices. Our homes, offices, or any confined space can become very toxic. The reason why?… When you see mold growing in a confined space, you’re seeing the visible vegetative growth. What you’re not seeing are microscopic things that are happening. The mold spreads by releasing spores, which are like seedlings, into the air. All of these spores are carrying mycotoxins with them. And as the name would suggest, that means microscopic poisons.

For example, remember when you were a kid, and you ran outside and you picked up a white dandelion and blew on it. All the little seedlings went flying everywhere very easily as the air just carried them away. That’s the same thing that happens on a microscopic level with mold. As a matter of fact, some molds look exactly like those dandelions, just on a microscopic level.

When air drafts come by and picks up those released spores, it carries those mycotoxins and those seedlings to other areas of the home. And then, with the right amount of moisture, those spores are actually growing and forming their own colonies. Then, all these new colonies are releasing their own spores. So with the right amount of moisture and the right amount of mold in a property, you can have very highly concentrated levels of that poison.

Now, one thing to keep in mind is that mold is ubiquitous. That means you’re not going to go anywhere on this planet and not find mold. However, we want to keep it at an acceptable level inside your confined spaces, which is your home or your office, so that you’re not living in a toxic environment.

And that’s the reason why it’s so important to stay on top of any kind of moisture issues or mold growth issues in your property, instead of letting them go and then letting them get it worse. Because mold spreads so easily,  it will continually get worse until you address it.

CALL LIGHTNING RESTORATION

If there is something you have questions about, or anything that you want to inquire with Lightning Restoration when it comes to mold removal, water damage, or fire damage, please give us a call. You can reach us at 855-850-LTNG, or you can reach us on the web and leave us a message. Be safe out there.

Categories
Mold Blog

Answers to Some Common Mold Questions

IS IT SAFE TO STAY IN A HOME WITH MOLD?”

The best way to answer most mold questions is to check with your family physician. They’re going to know your medical history, the medical history of the people in your house, and what your susceptibilities are. The truth of the matter is most molds will not harm most people and then there’s some molds that will harm anybody and then there’s some people that are affected by any mold.

“WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF HAVING MOLD IN MY HOME?”

If you have people in the house that are very young (under the age of two) the respiratory system is not fully developed yet. Mold can severely harm these people, and it’s not a good idea for them to be in that environment. The elderly are in a similar situation. If you have someone who is elderly or has lowered immune systems, they also are very susceptible. Then, of course, there’s people with COPD, asthma, or immunodeficiency disorders. Anyone in these categories would be a high risk to mold poisoning.  Be sure to check with your family physician.

There are some molds out there that are not very toxic or, in fact, not toxic at all. Then there are some molds that are extremely toxic, so getting some testing upfront might be able to tell you exactly what you’re dealing with and how far into the house the contaminants go. This will let you know whether it’s necessary to actually leave the house or if you can just isolate the space that’s affected until it’s remediated.

“IF I HAVE BLACK MOLD, IS IT NECESSARILY THE VERY TOXIC MOLD YOU SEE ON THE NEWS ALL THE TIME?”

That’s an excellent question and one we get all the time as well. The truth of the matter is that there are literally 100,000 species of mold out there. A lot of them are black and a lot of them are non-toxigenic at all. There are some molds that are extremely toxigenic, and when they talk about toxic black mold on the news, they’re usually referring to “Stachybotrys.” If you’re not familiar with Stachybotrys, that’s actually a good thing for you because it’s very dangerous.

One thing to keep in mind is that just because you have black mold doesn’t mean you have a Stachybotrys. We don’t find Stachybotrys on a regular basis in people’s homes, but we do find it from time to time. The reason why? Stachybotrys takes a long time to grow. It’s not  a mold like a Penicillium, Aspergillus, or a Cladosporium that could grow in 24 to 72 hours. Typically, you need at least a couple of weeks of sustained moisture before Stachybotrys grows. Another good thing about Stachybotrys: it tends to be very sticky. It also tends to be much heavier than other molds, so it’s not as easily aerosolized. We typically find Stachybotrys behind the cabinets in the kitchen  or  behind the wall in a shower that’s been leaking for a long time.  So be aware of any signs of sustained moisture.

“DO I NEED TO HAVE THE PROPERTY TESTED OR CAN I JUST HAVE IT REMEDIATED?”

This comes down to two factors. Number one: Are you going to file an insurance claim? And number two: Has the mold been contained to one area or is it suspected to have drafted in other areas?

Are you going to file an insurance claim? According to most insurance companies today, in order for it to be a covered claim for mold, you actually have to prove that it is mold. That is, it can’t just be dirt. As far as they’re concerned, until you prove it’s mold, it’s just some kind of microbial-type substance, and there’s really no proof that mold remediation was necessary. In order to get it covered and to get it paid for by the insurance company, you have to show them that it was mold, and you do that by hiring a third-party industrial hygienist who comes in and does that testing.

“DO I NEED A PROFESSIONAL?”

The great thing about an industrial hygienist coming in and doing the testing is these are people that are experts in their field and can look under a microscope and tell you exactly what type of mold they are looking at and what the levels are. They also have the ability to send it out to a third-party lab to get third-party confirmation of everything that they’re finding. If you’re going to be filing an insurance claim, absolutely 100% get testing every single time, even if it’s just a minor amount.

The second point: Is it suspected that they may have cross-contaminated in other areas of the house? A typical scenario is where  a property owner has mold in a bathroom, and  they go in there and clean it up themselves.  They may be just kicking it up into the air. Typically, right outside the bathroom in the hallway is the AC return, which will pull those mold spores right into the system and distribute them through the house. Also, if moisture has drifted into multiple rooms, or if you have some kind of mold bloom in the property, it’s always a good idea to get testing done.

Testing is not inexpensive. Typically, it starts at about $600 or $800 and kind of goes up from there.  However, you’re literally saving yourself money by having testing done. This is because mold remediation can be very expensive, sometimes around $2,000 a room, depending on how much content that you have in there. If you can rule out one or two rooms and save yourself $4,000, the cost of getting that test greatly outweighs the remediation. In short, we highly recommend getting testing done in those two scenarios.

“HOW LONG DOES THE MOLD REMEDIATION TYPICALLY TAKE?”

Answers to these kinds of mold questions tend to vary a lot. We’ve had mold projects on large commercial projects that have taken two or three months. We also have very small projects that we can knock out in a day or so. Typically, we find that most projects take about a week. When you go in initially, you have to remove all damaged materials. When you remove the damaged materials, there’s typically a lot of moisture that’s still there in the framing & structure. You’ll find it in the flooring, subfloor and those types of materials that have  to be dried out. Once you bring the materials back to what we call its “dry standard,” then you can actually begin the mold remediation process.

When you’re cleaning the mold through the HEPA filtration cleaning process, that typically takes a couple of days. Then you’ve got a couple of days where you leave HEPA air scrubbers. These clean everything you’ve kicked up in the air. Then on the last day, the hygienist will come back and perform what’s called a “post-remediation verification test,” a PRV test. This process is extremely important, because when we’re doing this cleaning, we’re cleaning microscopic materials. We can’t see them. The process is very tedious, so we’re being very detailed in how we’re actually doing the remediation, but there’s no way to guarantee that we brought the property back to safe levels unless you get the PRV test done by the third-party industrial hygienist. NEVER EVER let a restoration company test their own work. This is extremely important due to the conflict of interests.   Always have it done by a third party.

“HOW LONG DOES THIS TAKE?”

Once you finish the demo, you do the actual mold cleaning. At the end, do the test, and you’re looking at about a week-long wait time. Now, does that mean that the remediation company is going to be there from morning till night every day? No, typically, they’re there for a 2-5 hours a day at best. On the last couple of days, the air cleaners are just running. They’ll come by and check to make sure everything’s running okay. Be prepared for that test when their work is complete.

“HOW MUCH DOES MOLD REMEDIATION TYPICALLY COST?”

There are many different factors involved in pricing a mold project, but I would say in a typical home with a typical amount of content, you’re probably looking in the neighborhood of about $2,000 a room. That can be very expensive, and again, that’s the importance of getting that testing done. You need to clearly define the parameters for the cleaning, so we’re not cleaning things we don’t need to. We need to make sure that we are paying specific attention to heavy contaminated areas, and then maybe doing light cleaning in some other areas. These will balance out the cost tremendously.

CALL LIGHTNING RESTORATION

If there is anything that you have questions about, or anything that you want to inquire with Lightning Restoration when it comes to mold removal, water damage, or fire damage, please give us a call. You can reach us at 855-850-LTNG, or you can reach us on the web and leave us a message. Be safe out there.