Mold Remediation and Water Leak Repair
Concern about exposure to mold has increased along with public awareness that exposure to mold can cause a variety of health effects and symptoms, including allergic reactions. This safety & health information provided by Autobella helps provide recommendations for the prevention of mold growth and describes measures designed to protect the health of people within their motor vehicles. By reading this safety and health information, individuals with little or no experience with mold remediation may be able to reasonably judge whether mold contamination can be managed in-vehicle or whether outside assistance is required.
The advice of a medical professional should always be sought if there are any emerging health issues. The information in these guidelines is intended only as a summary of basic procedures and is not intended, nor should it be used, as a detailed guide to mold remediation. These guidelines are subject to change as more information regarding mold contamination and remediation becomes available.
Molds are part of the natural environment. Molds are fungi that can be found anywhere – inside or outside – throughout the year. About 1,000 species of mold can be found in the United States, with more than 100,000 known species worldwide.
Outdoors, molds play an important role in nature by breaking down organic matter such as toppled trees, fallen leaves, and dead animals. We would not have food and medicines, like cheese and penicillin, without mold.
Indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Problems may arise when mold starts eating away at materials, affecting the look, smell, and possibly, with the respect to wood-framed buildings, affecting the structural integrity of the buildings.
Molds can grow on virtually any substance, as long as moisture or water, oxygen, and an organic source are present. Molds reproduce by creating tiny spores (viable seeds) that usually cannot be seen without magnification. Mold spores continually float through the indoor and outdoor air.
Molds are usually not a problem unless mold spores land on a damp spot and begin growing. They digest whatever they land on in order to survive. There are molds that grow on wood, paper, carpet, leather, plastic, foods and insulation.
When excessive moisture or water accumulates in a vehicle, mold growth often will occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains uncorrected. While it is impossible to eliminate all molds and mold spores, controlling moisture can control mold growth in our vehicles.
All molds share the characteristic of being able to grow without sunlight; mold needs only a viable seed (spore), a nutrient source, moisture, and the right temperature to proliferate. This explains why mold infestation is often found in damp, dark, hidden spaces; light and air circulation dry areas out, making them less hospitable for mold.
Molds gradually damage materials and furnishings. If left unchecked, mold can eventually cause damage to leather, cloth, plastic & seat belt material.
Currently, there are no federal standards or recommendations, (e.g., OSHA, NIOSH, EPA) for airborne concentrations of mold or mold spores. Scientific research on the relationship between mold exposures and health effects is ongoing. This section provides a brief overview, but does not describe all potential health effects related to mold exposure. For more detailed information, consult a health professional or your state or local health department.
There are many types of mold. Most typical indoor air exposures to mold do not present a risk of adverse health effects. Molds can cause adverse effects by producing allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions). Potential health concerns are important reasons to prevent mold growth and to remediate existing problem areas.
The onset of allergic reactions to mold can be either immediate or delayed. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms such as runny nose and red eyes.
Molds may cause localized skin or mucosal infections but, in general, do not cause systemic infections in humans, except for persons with impaired immunity, AIDS, uncontrolled diabetes, or those taking immune suppressive drugs. An important reference with guidelines for immuno-compromised individuals can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Molds can also cause asthma attacks in some individuals who are allergic to mold. In addition, exposure to mold can irritate the eyes, skin, nose and throat in certain individuals. Symptoms other than allergic and irritant types are not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold in the indoor environment.
Some specific species of mold produce mycotoxins under certain environmental conditions. Potential health effects from mycotoxins are the subject of ongoing scientific research and are beyond the scope of this document.
Eating, drinking, and using tobacco products and cosmetics where mold remediation is taking place should be avoided. This will prevent unnecessary contamination of food, beverage, cosmetics, and tobacco products by mold and other harmful substances within the work area.
Moisture control is the key to mold control. When water leaks or spills occur in our cars – act promptly. Any initial water infiltration should be stopped and cleaned promptly. A prompt response (within 24-48 hours) and thorough clean- up, drying, and/or removal of water-damaged materials will prevent or limit mold growth.
Mold prevention tips include:
- Repairing the leak as soon as possible.
- Looking for condensation and wet spots. Fix source(s) of moisture incursion problem(s) as soon as possible.
- Preventing moisture from condensing by increasing surface temperature or reducing the moisture level in the air (humidity). To increase surface temperature, increase air circulation. To reduce the moisture level in the air, repair leaks, increase ventilation (if outside air is cold and dry), or dehumidify (if outdoor air is warm and humid).
- Maintaining relative humidity below 70% (25 – 60%, if possible).
- Cleaning and drying wet or damp spots as soon as possible, but no more than 48 hours after discovery.
- Pinpointing areas where leaks have occurred, identifying the causes, and taking preventive action to ensure that they do not reoccur.
Autobella specializes in the remediation of mold within vehicle interiors. Please contact us at the first indication of mold so we may effectively begin treating the interior of your vehicle and help prevent the potential of any arising health issues.