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Posts tagged ‘remediation’

Disaster Recovery, Part I: Hotel/Facility Priorities Come First

The lady walked toward her vehicle in Home Depot’s parking lot. In one hand, she grasped two, 1-gallon cans of Glidden’s Interior Latex Paint. In the other, she held onto a 2-inch Purdy paintbrush, a 6-inch paint roller with cover and an orange combination paint tray and screen.

It was one day after Hurricane Irma, and the tornadoes that it had spawned, had whipped through Central Florida.

When a major disaster hits – eg. hurricane, tropical storm, tornado – painting should be one of the last things on your immediate agenda.

HOTEL/FACILITY PAINTER’S TOP TEN PRIORITIES

1. Help your chief engineer check out all systems that are under the department’s charge – eg. mechanical, electrical, plumbing.

2. As part of the engineering team: (a) assess each building’s condition, interior and exterior; (b) identify problem areas; (c) determine which problems to resolve a.s.a.p., and, (d) decide how to handle each of them promptly and safely.

3. As part of the engineering team, get the department back in shape, so that all of you can do the major recovery and repair tasks and projects as efficiently as possible.

4. As part of the engineering team, help implement the plan to (a) make repairs and (b) get everything up and running again in a timely, safe and cost-effective manner.

5. Assist groundspersons in clearing away all broken trees, limbs and branches and brush; also dismantled lumber, metal, piping; debris, garbage, etc. This includes clearing main traffic areas.

6. Help repair and replace all crucial lighting – especially front entrance, parking, walkways, corridors, lobby, public restrooms. Also repair main walkways, as soon as possible.

7. Assist other departments, as necessary, to get their areas up and running again.

8. Assist chief engineer in working with utility companies, outside contractors, repair services, etc. to get property systems and amenities, and business operations back in working order.

9. Between efforts to help others, start to get your paintshop back in shape. HINT: Try to unpack, then set up what you’ll need to use first.

10. When your chief engineer gives the go-ahead, concentrate your efforts on reorganizing the paintshop so that you can get back to your painting job.

By the way, it can be tempting to ignore the engineering department’s big job during this very disorganized and stressful time. You might be tempted to hide in your area. Do not do it!

This is one instance when painting will be lower on the list of everyone’s priorities.

At the top of every staff member’s and department’s disaster recovery list needs to be:

1. people
2. property
3. business
4. “neighborhood”

This is one time when, both now and later, you’ll be glad that you helped others first.

See: “Painting It: Disaster Recovery, Part 2: Paintshop Priorities.”
See: “Painting It: Disaster Recovery, Part 3: When Painting Is Not Enough.”

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Thank you for doing your best job every day. Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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Paintshop: Working with Toxic Painting Chemicals

Protecting oneself from chemical exposure is the key to enjoying a long working life. In the coatings industry this is particularly important since coatings and paint materials contain any number of harmful components. With what they are designed to do, they have to. Paints must withstand the weather, corrosion, rigorous abrasion, and the penetrating rays of the sun.

 

Paint manufacturers and the chemists do their parts in helping to ensure the lasting quality and endurance of paint.

 

The painter is the one who applies a coating for a specific situation. Therefore, he is the one subject to the conditions produced in applying the material.

 

This is to inform you that you are in charge of what and how you are exposed to.

 

Here’s an example: You are assigned to paint the ceiling deck of a retail store. You assess the situation and realize there is certain equipment you will need. Namely a spray pump, fluid line, a spray gun, and possibly plastic to cover what doesn’t get painted.

 

If you are a seasoned professional, then you also know you must protect yourself. You know this because you have prior experience with the product you are going to use. The paint is composed of various inorganic solids and evaporative solvents which are dangerous to one’s health. But, that’s what the job calls for.

 

Under most circumstances, most anyone would say, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Figure out how you can paint the ceiling without becoming seriously ill. This was a major problem in the early 1900’s when there was lead in the paint, and painters had virtually no breathing protection. Their life expectancy was often shorter.

 

Today, however, the toxicity of the various paint chemicals has met its match. If the painter “works smart”, there is no longer a reason for him to suffer.

 

This is what’s available to the painter and to everyone serious about their health:

 

  1. Self- Enclosed Breathing Apparatus. Similar to what firefighters and scuba divers use, it provides the optimum conditions for breathing in a toxic environment. It is composed of a compressed oxygen air tank and a facial mask or a complete helmet.

 

  1. An Inorganic Vapor Respirator. This is the painter’s most universal tool next to the brush and spray gun. It is a face mask design containing filter cartridges which remove substances in the air before you inhale. The cartridges become filled with contaminants and must be replaced regularly. Caution: When in an enclosed space, the solvent concentration can build up to a point where the cartridges cannot prevent the solvent vapor from coming through. If you know this before hand, opt for the Self-Enclosed breathing system.

 

  1. Air Flow Mask. This is a simple system in which air is supplied to a transparent type bag mask. The incoming air blows through the mask providing you with breathable air, as well as blowing through an opening the size of your mouth and eyes. This current of air keeps any dust and overspray from entering. It is not recommended for keeping out high evaporative solvent vapor.

 

  1. Full Body Suit. It is a thin cloth suit which can be used under many conditions. A mechanic could use one to keep the grease and oil off of him. For the painter, it prevents paint overspray, paint platter and a minimal amount of solvents from coming in contact with his skin. In this, it keeps the chemical from being absorbed out into the bloodstream. The body suit is very important to have on hand.

 

  1. Head Sock, Eye Protection and Gloves. These are accessory items that provide additional protection. They are one of the best precautions you can take, because they protect vital areas. Sometimes these items are taken for granted. You may take them off and forget to put them back on because you’re so busy. Big mistake!

 

I once was working on a wood striping project, when my gloves became dissolved up by the solvent. I kept on working without them.

 

Later, when I had finished, I saw that my hands were extremely dry. I then thought to myself, “I wonder how much of that solvent made it into my bloodstream and into my brain. I felt a little queasy and I was wearing a respirator. See what can happen?

 

Recommendations: Be your own advocate. It’s your health that will suffer if you aren’t.

 

* When first starting to work with a product, read the manufacturer’s label where it concerns

safety precautions.

*My own personal advice: Have a box or container in your vehicle in which to store only safety

equipment.

*Always keep a spare set of respirator cartridges. When you can’t find any, you’re likely to

keep working.

*Some products are against the law for use to consumers. This means they are even more toxic.

 

When working with paints, coatings, and solvents, toxicity is self evident. Prepare yourself so you will live to paint another day, and not one in which your family loses you.

 

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Toxic exposure is everyone’s business on the job.

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

“THE CLEANER”

One of the funniest foreign tv sitcoms, aired in 2014-2015, was “The Cleaner.” It starred an average German named Joe, who ran a small crime scene clean-up service.

 

The problem was that Joe liked to talk. And, he tended to meddle in the lives of whomever may have been on the scene, or involved in the case. Live victims, dead victims’ loved ones, neighbors, police, even suspects.

 

Joe had a very messy job. Horrible working conditions. A big pile of stress. Tight deadlines. Demanding clients.

 

But, Joe was a credit to his profession, and his community. He always left the people on the scene in better shape. Just like the rooms and property that he treated.

 

In April, I happened to notice a Linkedin.com connection to a real crime scene clean up expert. “Jerome” was located in the London area. Unlike with Joe, his services included repairing and repainting of the property.

 

He told me that the restoration services were added in 2008, when his business slowed down. More people had entered the field. He needed to stay at the top of the specialized resource list. Property owners of crime scene properties wanted all signs of the incident eradicated.

 

One of my questions concerned the odors that crimes left behind.

 

“How do you guarantee 100 percent removal of the smells?’

 

Jerome listed four tips:
1. Air out the place for as long as possible. Before you start the clean up, then during the work, and after all restorative work is completed. At least three days.

2. Use one or more of the following products:

A. Disinfectants: Microben, Shockwave RTU, bleach and peroxide.

B. Enzyme cleaners: Viraguard, Metrex.

C. Blood borne pathogens spill kit.

3. Use paint and finishing products that DO leave behind an initial product odor.

4. Repaint or refinish every surface in the area. Do not minimize the need for a complete overhaul.

 

These basic tips make sense in other scenarios. Examples: Small fire, flooding, tornado, hurricane, roof leak, water/plumbing leak.

 

Commercial painters can be called to work on properties linked to some very gross situations.

 

I’ve done more than a few.
1. 3-story /Victorian home of elderly sisters, both found dead and badly decomposed.

2. Lake Michigan 3-story home of a physician, who took his own life in the sun room.

3. 4-bedroom ranch home of Alzheimer’s patient, who had been sheltering over 75 cats.

4. Historic Miami large apartment of noted author and professor, discovered deceased in the middle of wall-to-wall pack rat mess.

 

Restoring purpose to properties struck by crime, or other tragedies, can be very gratifying. To see, smell, and touch the positive changes taking shape as you work is a benefit of value far greater than the fee you’re paid.

 

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Cleaning up someone else’s mess can be a service of merit, and a source of gratification.

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

HIDDEN TOXIC MOLD AND MILDEW: A PAINTER’S VIEW

Toxic mold and mildew can hide in the most unsuspected areas, and on the most surprising surfaces. Given the right conditions, it can grow nearly anywhere in the world.

 

In the tropics and other moist, humid climates, the challenge of finding and keeping up with their mitigation and remediation tends to be relentless, exhausting, and costly, also dangerous health and safety wise.

 

Where does BLACK and GREEN MOLD – eg. stachybotrys chartarum – like to hide?

 

Short list of potential sites for hidden mold and mildew: *

 

  1. Wallpaper, drywall, paneling, cork: back side
  2. Ceiling tiles: top side
  3. Carpet, padding: underside
  4. Walls: inside, especially around piping, wall joists
  5. Furniture: surface facing wall behind, and/or adjacent
  6. Ductwork: inside
  7. Roof materials: above ceiling tiles
  8. Refrigerators: under/behind/around pans, door seals, ice cube maker connections, motor.
  9. Air conditioner/heating system: inside/under/behind covers, vents; around tubing, hoses.
  10. Drapes/linings/valances/swags: back side, folds; around/inside rods, around hardware.
  11. Bedspreads/skirts: undersides/backsides, especially edges touching flooring.
  12. Shower curtains/liners: behind, between, in folds.
  13. Tiles – wall, ceiling, floor: behind/around/under ceramic, vinyl, plastic.
  14. Exterior tiles and borders: on top/under/around.

 

* Note: This list represents a small number of potential hidden sites.

 

How do you INVESTIGATE for the PRESENCE of toxic mold and mildew?

 

1. Wear protective gear:

A. Preferred: Disposable hooded full-body suit, including shoe covers; also, gloves, free-standing breathing apparatus, snug eye goggles.

B. Basic: Long sleeved shirt, long pants, disposable long plastic gloves, snug fitting eye goggles, breathing mask.

 

2. Follow basic procedure:

 

  • Temporarily TURN OFF all systems that will move or stir the air in the area where you are checking, also all electrical systems.
  • Rely on your sight. DO NOT touch or disturb the area.
  • Try to shine a flashlight into and behind the area.
  • SLOWLY and gently pull back two edges/corners (in different spots) of wallpaper, drywall, tile, paneling, carpeting, pad, etc.

 

How to REMOVE hidden black and green mold and mildew.

 

Call a licensed mitigation and remediation specialist.

 

***WARNING: DO NOT try to handle any hidden mold and mildew problem on your own.

 

How to identify YOUR EXPOSURE to hidden black and green mold and mildew.

 

1. Watch for exposure to bio-contaminants (black mold, fungi, bacteria, virus) caused by exposure and moisture problems, poor maintenance and inadequate ventilation.

2. It can cause serious, life-threatening effects, disease, damage, and impairments.

 

Know the signs and symptoms of exposure to hidden mold and mildew.

 

1. Discomfort level – Associated with climatic conditions, especially when building contamination may be implicated (eg. “Sick Building Syndrome”).
***SYMPTOMS: Feel too hot/too cold, eye/nose/throat irritation; air too dry, stuffy, strange odor; feel sluggish, body aches, fatigue, odd taste in mouth, coughing.

 

2. Acute effects level – Within 24-hours of exposure.
***SYMPTOMS: Headaches; blurry vision, difficulty focusing; red/watery/burning eyes; difficulty breathing/getting air; nasal congestion/burning; dizziness; sore chest, lungs, rib cage; itchy skin/rash; fatigue; odd taste in mouth; upset stomach.

 

3. Chronic effects level – Long-lasting response to long-term/frequent exposure, even low concentration.
*** SYMPTOMS: Respiratory disease, skin disease, chronic/acute sinus infections and sinusitis, cognitive impairments, CNS damage, strokes, cancer, vision loss, hearing loss, hair loss/graying.

 

Important Note: Hair graying tends to be rather “sudden” and very noticeable.

For more information: www.epa.gov; www.osha.gov, www.sickbuildingsyndrome.gov.

 

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“Your world – your environment – includes every cell, tissue, neuron, fiber, muscle, tendon, bone, etc. of your body. PROTECT IT!  PROTECT YOURSELF!” rdh

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Many thanks for keeping in touch, and for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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Copyright 2013, 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

 

 

“A Hotel’s ‘Sick Building Syndrome’: A Close-to-Real-Life Personal Story.”

Marielle eyed the park bench. “Homeless man,” she whispered. “Where did he come from?”

The hotel is empty. Everyone was vacated from the property over three weeks ago. OSHA and EPA orders.

In very humid climates, this type of thing happens more than even locals might suspect. All that area residents see are tall security fences appearing suddenly around properties. Hotels, commercial buildings, schools, homes, rehabilitation/nursing facilities, hospitals, etc.

Marielle thought about approaching the man. But, she wasn’t supposed to be there either.

She’d found a front gate open. That morning, the security officer, hired by the federal government, had not snapped the gate lock tight enough, when he’d left. The latch hung.

During the next week, Marielle entered the property at least five days. Each time, the gate was not secured. Each time, she spotted the same homeless man sitting on the same bench, behind Building 6.

On her seventh visit to the emptied property, she got a big surprise. Something streaked across her vision, as she climbed out of her suv, parked under some trees near the tennis courts.

Three men stepped out. Shoulder-to-shoulder. In front of her. They wore head-to-toe HAZMAT suits.

“EXCUSE ME. What are you doing here,” asked one man. “This property is sealed off.”

Clearly, the men were authorized to be there. Marielle was not.

The one speaking produced an I.D. badge and a card. “Are you alone?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Your name?”

“Marielle Vega Velasco.” (A fictitious name.) She didn’t even think to not answer.

“What are you doing here?”

“Oh…” she stopped. “You asked that…Sorry…Uh…I used to work here. For twenty-one years. Director of Housekeeping.”

“Why did you enter the property? Didn’t you see all of the warning signs?”

“No…uh. Well, yes. I did see the sign secured to the main gate. The second time.”

“What part of ‘WARNING…U. S. Government…Environmental Protection Agency … TOXIC…HAZARDOUS…DO NOT ENTER…do you not understand? Did you not see the signs ‘HAZARDOUS… Sick Building Syndrome Building’ posted on every building?”

Marielle gulped. She knew about both SBS and BRI (Building related illness). They’d been major reasons for the mirage of inspections of the property during the last year. BLACK  MOLD. She shuddered.

An intense heat flashed up and down Marielle’s body. Underneath her clothes. She felt water trickle down her back and her legs, into her Nike shoes. Oh, Oh! She thought. Fear froze her to the asphalt.

“Am I under arrest?” She’d been afraid to ask. More afraid of the answer.

“No. That’s outside of our job, “said a different suited-up person standing nearby. (A woman’s voice.) “We will need to escort you off the property. Immediately!”

Marielle didn’t need to be told twice. She climbed back into the vehicle, and eased the door shut. She backed the suv, then put it into DRIVE.

She slammed on her brakes. Screeeech! Out of nowhere had appeared a bright yellow, oversized golf cart. Fully enclosed.

She could see the three suited-up figures seated inside. A large orange light sent blinding flashes from the golf cart’s roof. Bright red lights flashed from the rear of the vehicle. A loud BLEEP BLEEP shattered the atmosphere.

Marielle followed the golf cart. It inched along the east parking area, and turned left toward the front gate, and U. S. Highway 192.

Tears swelled behind the woman’s eyes. She knew, somehow, this would be the last time that she – or anyone else with the hotel – would ever see the place again.

Marielle was wrong. Fewer than ten months later, the tall cyclone fence came down. A combination of solutions had been followed to save the buildings, and make the property safe for occupancy. At a reported cost, including the overdue remodeling, of nearly $1 million dollars.

The woman stood in full uniform, thankful for so much. Familiar cars, trucks and suvs began to fill strategic parking spaces towards the front, and near the back of the property.

Very familiar faces smiled at one another. People shook hands, waved, and hugged each other.

At dusk, the colorful lights in the signage along the front entrance sparkled. They winked brightly at visitors entering the property, or passing by.

 

THE HOTEL WAS BACK IN BUSINESS.

And Marielle? Well, Marielle was eating her box lunch, on her first night back. On that park bench. Remember?

Somehow, it seemed like the perfect place to enjoy the view.

* This story is a work of fiction, inspired by a true story. All names, characters, places, and incidents are used here fictitiously. Copyright 2015. SSH. All rights reserved.

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As age, environmental damage, budget, etcetera take their toll on older properties, let’s remember that…

HOPE can beat for buildings, too. Not just for the people that have worked in and around them. Or called the buildings and their surroundings “home.”

 

As caretakers of our entire environment…

Let’s do our best to protect, preserve and restore our buildings, too.

“Sick Building Syndrome” does not have to happen.

Special thanks to those who protect their properties from developing “Sick Building Syndrome.” Special thanks to the property owners that preserve and maintain the integrity of their buildings.

Special thanks to the property owners that invest the funds to solve and modify SBS, BRI and related problems.

Special thanks to the property owners that order “demolition” when their buildings are too sick to be saved. And, too sick to safeguard for the health and welfare of people and their pets.

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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Copyright 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Wallpaper and Hidden Black Mold Treatment

In 2013, I ran into a serious environmental problem on a hospitality property. Black mold lined the wallpaper and covered the drywall in a busy front office. An office whose primary occupant suffered from chronic asthma. The budget did not include the services of a certified mold mitigation and remediation specialist. So, the job came my way.  

What led to the initial investigation for black mold and mildew?

A musty odor filled the room, and filtered into the hallway. The air seemed stuffy. The occupant reported constant irritation, and severe difficulties with breathing, chest tightness, itching and burning eyes, fatigue, etc.

How was the black and green mold discovered?

I pulled back a corner of one panel of wallpaper on every wall in the room. Dense black mold covered the back of each panel. Similar black and slimy green mold and mildew covered over 80 percent of the drywall itself.

What needed to happen as soon as possible?

The wallpaper had to be removed in an environmentally-safe manner. The black mold on all surfaces needed to be stopped (mitigated) from growing further. Then, the spores had to be removed completely (remediated.

Prior to treatment, what was done?

1. All small items were removed from the room.                                                                                2. The office furniture and equipment were moved into the center of the room, and covered with plastic sheeting, then old cotton sheets.                                                                                            3. The floor was covered with 2-5 ply plastic sheeting, then more old cotton sheeting.

The main objectives were (1) to protect everything else in the room from additional exposure and damage, and (2) to prevent seepage of the chlorine bleach and water solution, also rinse water, onto the surfaces.

How did you protect yourself?

I “suited-up” before performing each step. The protective gear included the following: disposable hooded paper suit, shoe booties, and particle mask; disposable plastic gloves; also eye goggles, breathing respirator with an organic filter.

How was the contaminated wallpaper removed?

First, the infested area was confined from the other areas,  and from other persons in the office complex. Next, each sheet of wallpaper was pulled off, carefully, from the drywall. Then, each sheet was rolled up, and placed on the floor out of the way.

Key considerations included (a) the toxic conditions; (b) density of toxic black mold;(c) amount of moisture on the paper’s back and drywall surfaces; and (d) time, budget and exposure limits.

How was the infested and contaminated wallpaper disposed of?

The paper was wrapped into 3-4 roll bundles, using masking tape. Then, per supervisory instructions, the bundles were placed into large heavy-duty trash bags. And, they were placed in the commercial solid waste dumpster at the back of the property.

How was the black mold killed (mitigated)?

1. The management-approved solution of 3 parts chlorine bleach to 1 part clean warm water was mixed in a 2-gallon garden sprayer.                                                                                                   2. The chlorine bleach-water solution was sprayed lightly onto one small at a time. And, it was allowed to set 8 to 10 minutes.                                                                                                          3. To keep the job running smoothly, the solution was applied promptly to adjacent areas.             4. Steps 1 through 3 were repeated until all wall, ceiling, woodwork, door, and trim surfaces in the room had been treated.

How was the black mold removed (remediated) from the drywall panels and other areas?

1.  The black mold residue, that hadn’t evaporated, was wiped from the area, with a moist sponge. 2.  On many areas, the application of the chlorine bleach and water solution had to be repeated two to three times.                                                                                                                              3. The walls, ceiling, woodwork, door, and frame were washed thoroughly with clear, warm water, using a fresh sponge. This prevented re-infestation and re-contamination.                                       4. The drywall had to be inspected for left over wallpaper adhesive. Any remaining residue needed to be removed completely before proceeding.                                                                                    5. All furniture, equipment, fixtures, etc. were checked carefully for any sign of black mold and mildew. None was found.

How were used supplies, materials and tools disposed of?

The plastic sheeting, cotton sheeting, heavily-used sponges, cleaning rags, etc. were placed together in large, thick-ply plastic trash bags and tightly tied closed. The disposable hooded paper suits, shoe booties and masks, also plastic gloves were placed into a separate thick plastic trash bag. Then, per instruction, all bags were placed in the commercial dumpster at the back of the property.

How were salvageable supplies, tools and equipment cleaned and dried?

Salvageable items included buckets, lightly-used sponges, eye goggles, respirator, etc. All items were washed thoroughly with strong detergent and water. Then, they were rinsed at least twice with clean warm water. And, everything was air-dried, overnight (24 hours).

How were the drywall and other surfaces dried?

A large fan was placed in the room. The door closed.  And, the room was allowed to dry overnight (24 hours).

How were the drywall panels and other areas prepped for refinishing?

1. For prep sanding, I covered my mouth with a dust/particle mask. And, I wore eye goggles.        2. Products and materials used included sandpaper, joint compound, caulking, etc.                       3. Tools and equipment included paint rollers, covers, frames, roller pole, and roller screen; also, brushes, buckets, ladders, etc.                                                                                                          4. Before proceeding, the floor, and the grouping of office furniture, were covered with clean plastic dropcloths.                                                                                                                                         5. Then, the walls, woodwork, molding, and door were sanded. Cracks were caulked and filled. Drywall irregularities were patched. Some areas were re-sanded, as needed.          

Ordinarily, the removal of wallcovering is relatively easy and fast, as well as very safe. The removal of contaminated wallcovering from an environmentally-compromised area requires more time and care.

Special recommendations: Difficult-to-remove wallcovering requires special techniques and expertise. Depending on the complexity of the area’s layout and the quantity of infested wallcovering, calling a wallcovering removal specialist, with mold remediation experience, may be a wise and safer choice.

Special caution: At all times, the conditions in the area must be respected. And, the health and safety of any person that comes in contact with that area must be protected.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *                                                                                                                          For a technical explanation, read:  (your state) “Florida – Indoor Air,” Environmental Protection Agency (epa.gov),  or call 1-404-562-9143                                

A Painter’s View of Mold and Mildew: Part II

In many parts of the Southeastern region of the U. S., the long high-temperature and high-humidity season brings much more than natural disasters such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Opening in May, the five-to-six month season brings environmental conditions that make it ripe for black mold (Stachybotrys chararum) infestation, and mildew buildup.

Its toxic spores cover surfaces in minutes, and move inside wall spaces within hours. Particularly vulnerable are rooms and areas where moisture collects, air circulates or ventilates improperly, and water fails to drain completely.

The toxic fungi harbors, often hidden, long before you see its black or slimy green signs on surfaces such as walls, ceilings, furniture, cabinetry, carpet, etc. However, one of its earliest signs is an odd musty smell in the air.

Buildings in areas ravaged by very heavy rains, floods, hurricanes, even tornadoes, and earthquakes readily succumb to massive fungi buildups. Often so severe that the structures must be destroyed and every part of it removed. By HAZMAT (hazardous materials) teams trained and certified for the job.

The fungi infiltration can cause property owners and occupants great expense, inconvenience, and damage. It can cause health and safety risks to both humans and animals. It can necessitate the closing down of a business. It can lead to the sealing off of an entire building, even the demolition of a once-valuable piece of property.

In the Hospitality Industry – eg. hotels, motels, it can create special challenges. Especially with buildings and structures that are older, or have environmental issues. Structures designed with poor ventilation, drainage and piping systems. Structures built with extremely porous materials.

One problem occurs with rooms that are equipped with window air conditioners. Guests tend to turn off the units when they leave for the day, or check out. Just like they might at home, to conserve energy. The temperature rises in the sealed, unventilated room. The humidity builds up.

Sometimes, the fungi may have been “residing” already in inconspicuous spots, or inside the walls. And/or, it has built up, over days, when guests have requested reduced maid service during stays. By the time housekeepers are able to drop off fresh towels and remove damp/wet bath linens, tiny black or slimy green spores may have moved into the area. Prompt attention is called for.

Whatever the situation, the mitigation (reduction) and remediation (counteracting, removal) of the black mold and mildew requires vigilance, care and teamwork. It requires housekeeping and maintenance staffs to work together, during the entire, to keep ahead of the build-ups.

Similar scenarios play out in many other structures – eg. office buildings, hospitals, assisted living facilities, schools, restaurants, laundry/dry cleaners, stores, storage units. In buildings and areas occupied by the same persons, repeatedly and for longer periods of time, exposure to mold and mildew can be especially toxic and harmful.

Your home can be just as, if not more, susceptible to mold and mildew contamination. Every surface and area can serve as a host for those black fungal spores. Every person that lives or visits the home can be exposed to the toxic spores, as they emit into the atmosphere, or cling to anything they can. Every person (and animal) has the potential to develop respiratory and lung diseases, certain cancers, skin disease, vision problems, brain disorders, even reproductive damage. In the home, buildups of black mold and mildew tend to be very dangerous.

The length and frequency of human exposure to the fungi tends to be much longer, and repetitive. Infiltration, infestation, or contamination tends to be greater, and the coverage denser. After all, home is where you (and your family members) usually sleep, eat, bathe, study, watch television, work at the computer, launder, etc. It’s where you “house” the clothes you wear, the bed and bath linens that touch your skin, beauty/skin/hygiene products you use, the small appliances, computers and hand-held electronics you operate, the papers and documents you file and store.

Professional painters that work in mold and mildew prone regions of the country pay close attention to this problem. Their first concern is for the persons that live, work, or visit in and around these buildings and areas. Experienced painters know that these persons are at higher risk of developing adverse reactions and both short-term and long-term health and safety challenges. They know that continuous exposure to black mold spores can lead to toxic poisoning.

Their second concern is trade-related. Paint, varnish, wallcovering, texturing, and custom decorating products or materials do not adhere well to contaminated surfaces. Quality results and durability cannot be guaranteed. No guarantees mean no happy customers.

A third concern is compliance. More experienced, journey-level painters possess extensive knowledge of chemicals, toxic contaminants and compounds, hazardous materials, and environmental hazards. Most are certified in two or more of the following areas:

  1. government, health and safety standards (eg. OSHA, EPA, ADA);
  2. manufacturer product handling, storage and disposal standards (MSDS, SSPC);
  3. hazardous materials handling (HAZMAT);
  4. painting trade procedures and standards (IUPAT, HAZWOPR);
  5. construction industry (UBC, asbestos).

Some painters, especially industrial, are getting trained and certified in areas related to the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), under the EPA. Some are taking the certification program offered through the Society of Chemical Manufacturers (SOCM).

Professional painters accept and understand that thorough mitigation and remediation of toxic black mold and mildew, before prepping surfaces for finishing, is essential. It must be done right. It must be done in a healthy and safe manner.

That’s one reason why many painters turn over the mitigation and remediation of major and/or dense black mold and mildew buildups to professionals. These persons have been trained and licensed as mold mitigation and remediation specialists (MRSP).

Yes, using professional remediators adds to the cost of the painting/finishing project. In the long run, however, it protects everyone from unnecessary exposure and harm. The property occupants, visitors, painters, other craftspersons, etc. An added benefit: the post-treatment inspection – a part of the remediation contract – helps to ensure that the building is safe to use in the future.

Bottom line: Black mold and mildew must be removed. Persons, as well as pets, must be protected from suffering adverse reactions, and developing short-term and long-term medical conditions.

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