The “Growth” of Mold
The issue of mold growing inside our homes and buildings is fast approaching the concerns we had with asbestos in the early to mid 70’s. Property management professionals and home owners alike need to increase their awareness of the hazards of mold and know how to deal with it in a safe manner so as to not sacrifice the integrity of the building structure or the health of its occupants. We must be able to identify mold, seek professional testing, understand the correct way to remediate it and then take the proper steps to prevent future growth. In the past ten to fifteen years, the subject of mold has received a lot of publicity. Mold has been featured in numerous prime time television news programs and has been on the cover of many popular news magazines.
During this time, the number of mold related lawsuits has escalated exponentially. While hundreds of cases could be cited, one of particular interest to management professionals and building owners involved two tenants living in an apartment complex in Texas. The tenants claimed that the landlord hid and denied the existence of mold in the apartments. The jury agreed with the tenants and awarded the plaintiffs $1 million dollars. While the extent of mold-related health concerns may be questionable, the extent of mold related lawsuits is not, they can be very costly. Larry Pecor, Director of Safety and Loss Control for Paris-Kirwan Associates, a local real estate property insurance brokerage company, says “a single large law suit will generally name multiple parties (property owner, management company, contractors) and when brought to court will involve many expensive experts such as engineers, environmental specialists, industrial hygienists, toxicologists, medical professionals etc.” The cost and time related to fighting a lawsuit can be very disruptive to the building owner and their agents. The best way to avoid mold is to address moisture issues head on. At THE CABOT GROUP, we have been involved with several large mold cleanup projects caused by flooding. In almost every case mold growth in a building could have been prevented if moisture penetration or leaks in a building were identified and corrected immediately. Molds are part of the natural environment. Mold will begin growing indoors only if old spores attach themselves to wet surfaces. Mold spores will no longer grow when moisture is eliminated. Several steps that building owners and management professionals can take to prevent mold:
- Perform routine inspections and identify all areas that look wet or have been wet in the past. This would include looking in the attic.
- If the foundation is leaking, make sure water does not continue to come in contact with carpet, drywall, wood etc.
- When water leaks occur, make sure to remove all standing water.
- Vent wet areas and make sure the wet surfaces dry completely. Water resting in the metal framing of walls is a perfect place for mold to start growing.
- Carpets that have been flooded must be professionally cleaned and treated or removed within 48 hours of the flood.
- Remove all wet or stained ceiling tiles.
- If you find mold, call a professional that is trained to handle mold remediation.
- Taking the proper steps to eliminate moisture will prevent the growth of mold spores and avoid the expense of remediation.