What is Microbial Contamination?
What is Microbial Contamination? Where does mold come from? Is microbial contamination a health concern issue? How do you properly get rid of a microbial contamination?
Microbial contamination refers to a variety of microorganisms, including mold, bacteria, viruses and protozoa; and fungi, which includes molds, yeasts, and their by products and toxins. All of these can affect the health of a building and its occupants.
As a starting point the proper job sequencing for a typical microbial-remediation project includes but it not limited to: identifying and stopping the source of moisture; setting up containment; establishing negative air; removing contaminated building materials; cleaning surfaces; drying the affected areas; conducting a post remediation evaluation.
Mold spores are a major concern for our project managers. Because of their very small size, mold spores can be anywhere there is air, including under carpet, inside wall cavities, under kitchen cabinets, virtually everywhere. Molds are usually not a problem unless mold spores land on a damp spot and begin growing. They digest whatever organic material they grow on in order to survive. Some molds grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods and insulation, while other molds feast on the everyday dust and dirt that gather in the moist regions of a building. Generally mold spores are hydrophobic. This means that spores do not like water itself. While mold spores need water to colonize (germinate and grow), they like wet organic substances, not a puddle of standing water.
Hazard Awareness and Risk Assessment
The first line of defense against safety hazards is awareness. A hazard inspection checks for any work-site situation that potentially poses danger to life or property. Project managers must then perform a risk assessment on all potential hazards found on the work site. The assessment evaluates the risk or likelihood a particular hazard will cause harm. Due to the unsafe nature of most water damaged structures, hazard inspections and risk assessments are essential for protecting workers.
The initial hazard inspection and risk assessment of a water damaged facility would involve three important aspects. The first step is to identify hazards that could give reason not to enter the building, such as wet electrical panels and collapsing ceilings. The second step is to identify the presence of regulated building materials such as asbestos, lead or PCB's (polychlorinated biphenyls). Government-regulated substances may require testing or inspection services from specialized. Third-party experts to assess health and safety issues. Finally, a competent technician conducts a risk assessment and installs or implements the necessary hazard controls for any identified hazards.
Installation of Air Movers
Air movers specifically distributed to ensure proper distribution of air.
Air movers are placed in the environment to ensure rapid evaporation across all affected surfaces. The number of air movers necessary depends upon the number of wet surfaces, the amount of water present, and the ability for air to reach each wet material (e.g., wall cavities, behind cabinets, and under contents).
The IICRC S500 Standard recommends that air mover installation quantities should be based on the amount of wet surface area in affected spaces. For the initial phases of drying, air movers should produce continuous airflow across affected material surfaces. A step-by-step process for determining the proper number of air movers is:
- Place one air mover for each affected area.
- Add one air mover for every 50 to 70 sqft. of affected floor area.
- Add one air mover for every 100 to 150 sqft. of affected wall surfaces (above 2') and ceiling surfaces.
- Add one air mover for every room offset or inset greater than 18 inches.
This calculation should provide an appropriate amount of air movement for most water intrusions, but can vary depending of the situation and type of materials affected.
Once the number of air movers to be installed has been determined, several factors will influence their actual placement. These factors include: the type of material affected, the degree of saturation, the accessibility of the actual wet surface, power availability and equipment availability. Below are some general guidelines for installation of air movers:
- Air movers are directed toward the wall at a 5 to 45 degree angle, depending on the type of air mover.
- The air mover's snout will almost touch the wall, within in 1 to 2 inches.
- All air movers in each area will face the same direction to ensure that air movers are not pushing against each other.
- When placing air movers, we need to consider the need for circulation throughout the affected area.
- Specialty air movers may be necessary if building cavities require air flow.
Water Damage following a Fire
After a secure building by properly completing a board-up, water removal and drying wet surfaces is the next step. Due to the presence of water, fire restoration and water restorations are related. All of the primary and secondary challenges associated with water restoration can be found in a fire restoration project. Examples are degradation of structural components, contents, corrosion of metallic surfaces and microbial growth. An added complication is that waterborne smoke odor may penetrate deeply into porous materials.
In locations where water has been used to extinguish the fire, the water will migrate through the structures and wet building materials. During this process, the water becomes contaminated with innumerable materials. Excess standing water should be extracted thoroughly. Some buildings are so full of water that special pumps are required to remove standing water. Where possible, wet surfaces should be treated with a broad spectrum, government-registered disinfectant to control the growth of microorganisms. All personnel should followed label instructions when using EPA-registered products.
Dehumidification is set-up within the water damaged area(s) depending upon power availability and the type of drying equipment available. A supplemental electrical power source may be necessary in some buildings.
What is lurking in flood waters?
Underneath the surface of flood waters can be an abundance of danger: both living and non-living. The Environmental Protection Agency requests that everyone limit their exposure to flood waters. The agency states that flood waters may have high levels of raw sewage from both humans and animals embedded in the waters. In addition to that, many plants, factories, and farms may be overrun with flood waters, and some of those can leak toxic materials into the water, such as an oil refinery or nuclear plant. These issues can affect water mains, well water, and lines that can bring contaminated water into dry homes that may not even be flooded.
Unwanted animals may be lurking underneath the waters as well: crocodiles, snakes, fire ants, and even, if you're along a coastline, sharks.
On top of that, mold and standing water can both lead to unwanted visitors inside your home. Mosquitoes and insects tend to live, breed, and thrive in standing water, and mold growth can spike in the event of moisture. Getting rid of standing water near your home, in gutters, old tires, plastic covers tarps, pools, and buckets can certainly help.
While we can't totally alleviate the effects of flooding during severe weather, developing a flood plan for your family can help out.
Create a barrier of protection for areas that can be inundated with floodwaters, by way of perhaps sandbags. Additionally, secure food and water for your family in the event that clean, drinking water is scarce.
Officials urge storing in a cool place, at least 3 days of water for each individual person. Do not use or drink contaminated water for anything: brushing your teeth, washing dishes, making ice, or preparing food.
After the Storm, keep older and younger people with sensitive immune systems out of the home until your home or business can be restored by SERVPRO of Fenton/South Ballwin. We are here to help 24/7/365. 314-858-1688
Mitigation services help prevent additional damages. Loss mitigation services include winterization to prevent freezing, controlling corrosion, and cleaning surfaces to prevent staining.
As soot combines with atmospheric water vapor, it becomes acidic. Neutralization of acid smoke residue is a fundamental part of the initial stages of corrosion prevention. In most cases, alkaline solutions are used to help remove and neutralize the acid smoke residue.
After removing the smoke residue from metallic and plastic laminate surfaces, apply an oil-based coating (Many restoration professionals use a common lubricant like WD-40). This treatment will slow down and/or inhibit corrosion and discoloration by airborne smoke particles that remain after the Project Manger completes the emergency service visit. This simple, but often overlooked, step can help to reduce overall replacement costs.
Initial Emergency Smoke Odor Reduction
Removing smoke odor contamination is always the first step in effective, permanent odor control. Next to establishing safe working conditions, prevention or reduction of smoke odor penetration should always be among the first orders of business when arriving to a fire-damaged structure. Odors are likely to be pronounced when you first arrive. This is because odors are most apparent when humidity and temperature are elevated - typical condition immediately after a fire has been extinguished.
Whenever possible, charred, unsalvageable materials should be removed at the outset of a restoration job to help eliminate odors and additional soiling. In most smoke odor situations, the best overall system for removal of intense smoke odors requires a combination of techniques and procedures.
Call us today for additional tips on reducing smoke odor following a fire in your home or business!
Board-Up: Securing your home or business
If doors or windows have been damaged or destroyed in a fire, rain and wind may enter the building and cause further damage. Also, curious onlookers or vandals may attempt to enter a damaged building. To help prevent these problems, it may be necessary to "board-up" the property.
The board-up procedures should provide durable protection for the damaged structure and cause minimal additional damage to building surfaces. Board-up methods include:
- Fitted inserts
- Bolt tension
- Tarps and shrink wrap systems
The cover-over system is easy to install and probably most applicable on roofs. Large expanses of roof can be covered quickly with heavy-duty tarps. Fitted insert board-ups are more difficult to install but are more weather tight than the cover-over system.
Bolt tension methods are relatively easy to install and have the advantage of being weather resistant and difficult for intruders to disengage. Placing carpet or carpet pad on the interior brace will prevent additional damage to wall surfaces.
What to expect from the Initial Water Damage Inspection?
What to expect from the Initial Water damage inspection
The goal of the restoration process is to transform an abnormally wet, potentially damaged structure into an environment of equal or better appearance and cleanliness than before the intrusion occurred, and to do so in the most economical and efficient means possible.
Our Loss Professionals begin this process by identifying all affected materials. Water must be tracked from its source and followed in every direction to establish an accurate perimeter of the flooded area. Next, our Loss Professional documents what types of materials have been affected (e.g., type of subflooring, type of carpet and underlay, type of wall construction, and type of insulation.) Affected materials are then evaluated against three criteria to determine if they should be restored or replaced.
The 3 Criteria are:
- Degree of Contamination
- Damage to the item
- Replacement cost vs. Restoration cost
Only after identifying the material and considering these three factors does the Loss Professional decide which materials should be dried and which should be replaced. In addition, the Loss Professional will also decide which materials should be dried aggressively and which should be dried through more disruptive means.
Protecting your Carpet
Once the water migration edge is located, it is important to protect furniture from contact with wet carpet. Simple foam furniture blocks, foil, or plastic tabs accomplish this task. Blocking furniture accomplishes several important goals, including:
- the prevention of color transfer between furniture and carpet (which causes staining)
- the prevention of rust stains
- the facilitating of effective and efficient drying by elevating furniture (especially low or heavy furniture such as bookcases)
In some restoration projects it is necessary to remove the carpet pad. This process will require the Project Manager to disengage stretched-in carpeting. Because carpet loses 80%-85% of its strength when it is wet, it is vital to treat carpet as gentle as possible until it dries.
Whenever carpet must be disengaged from the tack strip, a knee kicker and carpet awl must be used. The knee kicker is used to release the tension on the carpet and move it away from the tack strip. Then, the carpet awl is pierced through the carpet's primary and secondary backing and used to lift it up and away from the tack strip. This method of disengagement effectively reduces the possibility of delamination.
Carpet is disengaged around the perimeter of the room, then rolled back in one direction to expose the pad beneath. The majority of pad has a skin or mesh on the top side. The purpose of this skin is to ease carpet stretching during installation.