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Water Damage Investigations More Than Sucking Air

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  • 1. WATER DAMAGE INVESTIGATIONS MORE THAN SUCKING AIR Connie A. Morbach, M.S., CHMM, CIE, ASCS Sanit-Air, Inc. 1311 North Main/ Clawson, MI 48017 248 435-2088 connie@sanit-air.com
  • 2. IS Mold New?
    • Mold is not new, awareness has increased
    • Changes in building construction
      • Tighter
      • Porous Materials =Good Nutrients
      • Construction to allow high moisture
    • Better testing methodologies
    • Physician Awareness
      • Link previously unexplained illnesses
  • 3. Tight Construction
    • Focus on energy conservation resulted in tighter buildings with less natural ventilation
      • 75 years ago, cracks in the building envelope allowed for 5 - 10 air changes per hour (ACH)
      • Now building codes permit 0.35 ACH
        • Contaminants are not diluted out
        • Higher concentration results in greater exposure and opportunity for amplification on building materials
        • The solution is to build tight / ventilate right
  • 4. New Building Materials Are Good Nutrients
    • Materials high in cellulose content that are porous retain moisture and provide good nutrient material for mold amplification
      • Drywall
      • Oriented Strand Board (OSB)
      • Plywood
      • Ceiling Tiles
    • Hasty construction with less detail to preventing water intrusion and providing mechanisms for removal
  • 5. MOLD IS NOT NEW
    • Leviticus 14:33-48
    • This passage describes mold contamination .
    • Instructs priests to inspect homes and scrape off mold if it is present. After 14 days, the home should be inspected again, if the mold returns, its a “destructive mildew” and the house must be torn down - its stones, timbers and all plaster - and “taken out of town to an unclean place”.
  • 6. MOLD FACTS
    • Mold Spores are Ubiquitous in Nature
    • Indoors, Mold is not a Problem Until it Amplifies
    • Mold Requires Water to Amplify (colonize)
    • During Periods of Growth and Metabolism, Mold Cells Produce Volatile Organic Compounds and Mycotoxins
    • Under Stress (Drying Out), Mold Produces Spores
    • Spores Become Airborne When Disturbed by Airflow, Disruptions, Pressure Differentials
    • Mycotoxins Become Airborne by Attaching to Spores
  • 7. ASPECTS OF A MOLD EVALUATION
    • Visual Evaluation
    • Moisture Measurements
    • Environmental Parameters
    • Development of Hypothesis
    • Development of Sampling Plan
    • Sampling
  • 8. Visual Evaluations
    • Most important aspect of investigation
    • Evaluate water stains and visible growth
      • Ceilings, walls, floors, floor coverings
        • Hidden damage is often more severe than damage on the outer surfaces
        • Access ports, boroscopes, and other invasive techniques might be necessary
      • Ventilation systems
        • filters, duct lining
  • 9.  
  • 10. Surface Moisture Measurements
    • Non-penetrating
      • Calibrated for different materials
        • Drywall
        • Wood
        • Concrete
    • Probes
      • Hard to reach areas
      • Sub-surface with long probes
  • 11.  
  • 12. A w : Minimum water activity level at 25 °C ERH: Equilibrium relative humidity A w < 0.80, ERH <80% A w < 0.80-0.90, ERH <80-90% A w >0.90, ERH >90% water
  • 13. A w : Minimum water activity level at 25 °C Aspergillus versicolor A w 0.74-0.79 Ulocladium chartarum A w 0.89 Stachybotrys chartarum A w 0.94
  • 14. Evaluate Hidden Damage
    • Mold that is hidden and visible is equivalent to visible mold and must be evaluated
    • US EPA cautions that mold on the backside of walls and behind wallpaper is frequently more severe than mold on the painted side of walls
    • Precautions must be taken to prevent cross-contamination during invasive evaluation
  • 15.  
  • 16.  
  • 17.  
  • 18.  
  • 19.  
  • 20.  
  • 21. Environmental Parameters
    • Temperature
    • Relative Humidity
    • Carbon Dioxide
    • Air flow
      • Smoke pens
    • Pressure relationship
  • 22. Carbon Dioxide
    • Produced by people and combustion appliances
    • OSHA PEL 5000 ppm
    • Previous recommendation of 1000 ppm
    • Outdoors in MI typically 350 - 450 ppm
    • Can provide information on tightness of a building
    • Can provide information on ventilation relative to industry guidelines
  • 23. When is Testing Indicated
    • Illnesses associated with biological contaminants
      • Aspergillosis
      • Hypersensitive diseases
    • Diagnostic tool to assist in the development of a remediation scope
    • Baselines before remediation
    • Verify remediation effectiveness
    • Litigation support
  • 24. Interpretation of Data
    • No regulatory limits (PELS, TLV’s)
    • Case by case basis
    • Build your own database
    • Rely on published studies
  • 25. Air Sample Interpretation
    • Indoor vs. Outdoor
      • Predominant indoor organisms different than outdoors
    • Complaint vs. non-complaint
    • Indicator organisms
      • Stachybotrys, Memnoniella
      • Penicillium
      • Aspergillus
    • Persistent and consistent presence of organisms
  • 26. Source Sample Interpretation
    • Do predominant surface contaminants match air contaminants
    • Affected vs. non-affected
    • Are hyphae present
    • Do post cleaning samples improve
  • 27. Common Testing Mistakes
    • 1. Too little emphasis on visual evaluation
    • Essential to establish test sites
        • Moisture meters
        • Staining
        • Deterioration
        • Visible growth
        • Evaluation of hidden growth
  • 28. Common Testing Mistakes
    • 2. Poor Quality Control
    • Sterile techniques not implemented
    • Inaccurate calibration
    • Mislabeling of samples
    • Media not subjected to QC
    • No temperature control during shipping
  • 29. Common Testing Mistakes
    • 3. Too Much Emphasis on Total Concentrations
    • No PEL’s TLV’s - dose response too complex to establish
    • Interpretation should be based on:
      • Types and relative concentrations compared to outdoors or non-complaint/non-affected areas
      • Identification of “signature organisms” for water damaged building materials
  • 30. Common Testing Mistakes
    • 4. Too Little or Too Much Concern Relative to “Signature” Organisms
    • Fungi associated with water-damaged building should incite remediation and/or additional investigation
    • Examples
        • Stachybotrys
        • Penicillium
        • Aspergillus
        • Acremonium
        • Trichoderma
  • 31. Common Testing Mistakes
    • Two Common Methods for Air Samples
      • Spore trap
        • Measures Countable spores
        • Example: Air-O-Cell cassette
      • Culturable
        • Measures organisms that will grow in a selected culture media
        • Example: Andersen impact sampler
    5. Reliance on One Type of Air Sample
  • 32.  
  • 33.  
  • 34.  
  • 35.  
  • 36.  
  • 37.  
  • 38. Air Samples
    • Culturable Fungi
    • and Bacteria
    • Enumeration
    • Identification of genus and species
    • Necessary for profile comparisons
    • Can underestimate
    • Selective media
    • Samples must culture
    • Countable Spores
    • Enumeration only
    • Identify some genera
    • Cannot differentiate species
    • Can identify some particles and pollen
    • Can underestimate if high particulate matter present
    • Immediate results
  • 39. Example of Inconclusive Testing
    • Spore trap results
      • Inside
        • 2000 c/m 3 Penicillium/Aspergillus
      • Outdoors
        • 2000 c/ m 3 Penicillium/Aspergillus
    • Do not know if Penicillium or Aspergillus is present
    • Could have Penicillium inside and Aspergillus outside, which would indicate an indoor source
    • Could be the same indoors, which would suggest outdoors is the source
    • Culturable Samples
      • Inside
        • 500 cfu/m 3 Aspergillus versicolor
        • 1500 cfu/m 3 Penicillium chrysogenum
      • Outside
        • 500 cfu/m 3 Aspergillus versicolor
        • 1500 cfu/m 3 Aspergillus fumigatus
    • Apparent indoor source of Penicillium chrysogenum
  • 40. Common Testing Mistakes
    • 6. Failure to Collect Air Samples Under “Normal” Operating or Living Conditions
    • Can produce ‘false negative”
    • Documentation of normal conditions could include:
      • Quiescent sampling
      • Semi-aggressive
      • Aggressive
  • 41. Common Testing Mistakes
    • 7. Failure to design a well thought out sampling strategy
    • Testing should be conducted to answer a question (hypothesis)
    • Sufficient samples must be collected to evaluation the hypothesis
    • A poorly designed sampling plan with too few samples can raise more questions than it answers
  • 42. Summary
    • Indoor mold amplification is undesirable and should be avoided.
    • Air sampling for mold is prone to false negatives and should only be conducted if a well designed plan is developed to answer a specific question
    • Sampling is only one piece of the puzzle. Visual inspection, building history, and patient history are important to a case.
  • 43. CONSENSUS DOCUMENTS
    • Bioaerosols: Assessment and Control
      • American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), 1999
    • Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments
      • New York City Department of Health, 2,000
    • IICRC S500, Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration
      • Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, 1999
    • Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings
      • US EPA, 2001
  • 44. New Testing Methodologies
    • VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds
    • Mycotoxins
    • Endotoxins
    • Particle Counters
    • PCR
  • 45. RESOUNDING CONCLUSIONS
    • A Poorly Developed Sampling Plan Can Raise More Questions Than It Answers
    • An Investigator Can Not State That Something Is Not Present Unless Appropriate Testing Is Conducted