Glossary and References

Mold Remediation Glossary
The following are some basic terms to help better understand the mold issue.


• An allergen is a substance that elicits an antibody response and is responsible for producing allergic reactions. Chemicals are released when certain cells come into contact with an allergen. These chemicals can cause injury to surrounding tissue – the visible signs of an allergy. Only a few fungal allergens have been characterized but all fungi are thought to be potentially allergenic.


• Allergy is a hypersensitive disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur to normally harmless environmental substances known as allergens; these reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid. Strictly, allergy is one of four forms of hypersensitivity and is called type I (or immediate) hypersensitivity.

• Common allergic reactions include eczema, hives, hay fever, asthma attacks, food allergies, and reactions to the venom of stinging insects such as wasps and bees.

• Mild allergies like hay fever are highly prevalent in the human population and cause symptoms such as allergic conjunctivitis, itchiness, and runny nose. Allergies can play a major role in conditions such as asthma. In some people, severe allergies to environmental or dietary allergens or to medication may result in life-threatening anaphylactic reactions.


• Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.

• The prevalence of asthma has increased significantly since the 1970s. As of 2009, 300 million people were affected worldwide. In 2009 asthma caused 250,000 deaths globally.


• Biocides and fungicides are chemicals that limit the growth of or kill microorganisms such as fungi.

Biological Contaminants

• Living organisms, such as viruses, bacteria, or mold (fungi),
• Remains of living organisms
• Debris from or pieces of dead organisms.
• Biological contaminants can be small enough to be inhaled, and may cause many types of health effects including allergic reactions and respiratory disorders.

Black Mold

See Toxic Mold below.


• The issue that originally caused the mold colonization needs to be addressed and corrected to assure mold colonization will not return.

Certified Water Damage Technicians (WRT)

• Personnel who have attended the required education classes and passed the required test to become Certified by the nationally recognized IICRC organization in Water Damage Restoration (S-500)

Certified Applied Microbial Remediation Technicians (AMRT)

• Personnel who have attended the required education classes and passed the required test to become certified by the nationally recognized IICRC organization in Mold Remediation (S-520)


• Clutter creates microclimates where humidity is higher than the ambient

Provides environment and food source

Provides environment and food source

humidity in the room, Mold develops because clutter blocks airflow, thereby elevating the humidity level to where it supports Mold growth.

Condensation (Dew)

• Water vapor from air which naturally condenses on cold surfaces into liquid water is called dew. Water vapor will only condense onto another surface when that surface is cooler than the temperature of the water vapor, or when the water vapor equilibrium in air, i.e. saturation humidity, has been exceeded.

• Mold as a result of Condensation are surface issues normally on the exterior walls or areas (behind furniture, drapes) where there is little or no air movement. These areas could be cleaned up under conventional methods, however, not all the mold present under these conditions may be visible. Mold spores could be present in the carpeting, soft contents, clothing, etc. and just because the visible area was cleaned up doesn’t mean the mold will not come back. The causation issue (normally humidity) needs to be addressed to assure it will not return.

Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay (ELISA)

• The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is a test that uses antibodies and color change to identify a substance. ELISA is a popular format of “wet-lab” type analytic biochemistry assay that uses a solid-phase enzyme immunoassay (EIA) to detect the presence of a substance, usually an antigen, in a liquid sample or wet sample.


• ERMI is the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index – the combination of EPA research, powerful Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology, and a new method to screen homes for mold. Based on recently published data from EPA researchers and the 2006 HUD American Healthy Home Survey, the test has been developed as a tool to evaluate the potential risk of indoor mold growth and associated health effects. See ERMI-PCR Panel for more details.


• Dust samples are collected by a sampling vacuum of an area approximately 6’x6′ in one room and a 6’x6′ area in a bedroom for 5 minutes each with a sampler vacuum fitted with a DustChek ™ cassette.

• With the use of commercial foam machine the solution is transformed into a foam which slowly dissolves and penetrates into the soil or substrate killing bacteria, viruses, mold and other toxic organisms.

• Fumigation is a method that completely fills an area with gaseous fumigants to control pests in buildings this method also affects the structure itself, affecting pests that inhabit the physical structure, such as mold, bacteria and viruses.

French Drain

• A French drain or land drain is a ditch filled with gravel, rock that redirects french drain 03surface and ground water away from an area. French drains are common drainage systems, primarily used to prevent ground and surface water from penetrating or damaging building foundations. Alternatively, the French drain technique may be used to distribute water, such as that which flows from the outlet of a typical septic tank sewage treatment system. French drains are also used behind retaining walls to relieve ground water pressure.


• Fungi are neither animals nor plants and are classified in a kingdom of their own, the Kingdom of Fungi. Fungi include a very large group of organisms, including molds, yeasts, mushrooms and puffballs.


• High Efficiency Particulate Air filtration media that  filters out 99.97% of air borne particles down to 3 microns.

Hidden Mold

• This refers to visible mold growth on

building structures that is not easily seen, including the areas above drop ceilings, within a wall cavity (the space between

the inner and outer structure of a wall), inside air handlers, or within the ducting of a heating/ventilation system.

Humidity, Absolute (GPP)

• The weight of water vapor per unit weight of air expressed as grams of water vapor /pound of air or GPP. This method of measuring humidity is much more precise and useful when applying structural drying or trying to identify a humidity issue.

Humidity, Relative (RH)

• Is the amount of moisture in the air compared to what the air can “hold” RELATIVE to temperature. When the air can’t “hold” any more moisture (100% humid), then it condenses as dew.

Hypha (plural, hyphae)

• An individual fungal thread or filament of connected cells; the thread that mold-hypha1represents the individual parts of the fungal body. Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs) Fungi produce chemicals as a result of their metabolism. These chemicals, MVOCs, are responsible for the characteristic moldy, musty, or earthy smell of fungi, whether mushrooms or molds. The human nose is very sensitive to mold odors and sometimes more so than current analytical instruments.


• Hypersensitivity (also called hypersensitivity reaction) refers to undesirable (damaging, discomfort-producing and sometimes fatal) reactions produced by the normal immune system. Hypersensitivity reactions require a pre-sensitized (immune) state of the host.

Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis

• An inflammation of the alveoli within the lung caused by hypersensitivity to inhaled organic dusts or molds. Sufferers are commonly exposed to the dust by their occupation, hobbies or can receive a on time high dose of toxic exposure.

Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA)

• A nonprofit, multi-disciplined organization, dedicated to promoting the exchange of indoor environmental information, through education and research, for the safety and wellbeing of the general

Indoor Environmental Air Quality Surveys (IEAQS)

• Various tests, evaluations and reports used to identify environmental issues that would affect your health.

• Mold
• Allergen Screen
• Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
• Formaldehyde

Indoor Environmental Professionals (IEP)

• Personnel who is qualified by knowledge, skill, education, training and experience to perform an assessment of the fungal ecology of structures, systems and contents at a property location; create a sampling strategy, sample the indoor environment, evaluate the laboratory data and establish a scope of work necessary to return the property to a healthy condition.

Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)

• The IICRC is a nationally recognized Education, Training and Certification Organization. They were instrumental in developing the Standards for both Water Restoration (S-500) and Mold Remediation (S-520). Learn more at


• Molds are a group of organisms that belong to the Kingdom of Fungi (see Fungi). Even though the terms mold and fungi had been commonly referred to interchangeably, all molds are fungi, but not all fungi are molds.

Mold Colonization

• Active mold growth as a result of water leaks, sewer leaks, wet crawl spaces or attics and even high levels of humidity.


• A mass of hyphae.


• Mycotoxins are compounds produced by some fungi that are toxic to humans or animals. A mycotoxin is a toxic secondary metabolite produced by organisms of the fungus kingdom, commonly known as molds. One mold species may produce many different mycotoxins and/or the same mycotoxin as another species

Negative Air Unit / Air Scrubber

• These machines are interchangeable depending on how they are seneg air 04t up. The NAU will extract the air from a workspace and discharge it outside the workspace creating a negative pressure, an AS circulates the air within a workspace, in both cases the air is filtered thru a 3 stage filtration system consisting of a primary, a secondary and a HEPA collectively removing 99.97% of the airborne particles from the air down to 3 microns.

Relative Humidity

• A term used to describe the amount of water vapor that exists in a gaseous mixture of air and water, expressed as a percentage of the maximum amount of water vapor that could be present if the vapor were at its saturation conditions. For example: 70% relative humidity @ 80° means that the air can only hold an additional 30% more water vapor before it reaches its saturation point.


• The term “remediate” simply means to fix a problem. Related to mold contamination, remediation includes fixing the water/moisture problem, and the cleaning, removal and/or replacement of damaged or contaminated materials.


• A controlled professional activity to physically remove the contamination, clean and treat the surfaces, scrub the air with HEPA filtration devices and to assure that the living environment has been brought back to acceptable healthy levels.


• General a term for the reproductive structure in fungi, bacteria and some plants. In fungi, the spore is the structure which may be used for dissemination and may be resistant to adverse environmental conditions.

• Spores vary in shape and range from 2 to 100 microns in size. Spores travel in several ways: passively moved by a breeze or water drop, mechanically disturbed (by a person or animal passing by), or actively discharged by the mold (usually under moist conditions or high humidity).

mold Stachybotrys_Fig03sm
• Is a genus that includes approximately 10 species. These species occur mainly on dead plant materials. Of these, Stachybotrys chartarum is the most common. In the indoor environment, it is commonly found on cellulose materials including paper, canvas and jute which are wetted to a water activity > 0.98. This is a toxigenic mold.

Toxic or Black Mold

• Toxic mold or Black Mold is a misnomer, yet it is commonly referred by consumers who use these terms to identify what it is they are trying to describe. Mold can be any color and usually takes on the color of the food source it is digesting. Stachybotrys is one of the mold spores that are associated with the “toxic or black mold” terms. One of the reasons is Stachybotrys takes longer to cultivate and needs a higher concentration of moisture over a longer period of time so it can look gooey and black.

Unprofessional Remediation

• Attacking mold contamination with a bottle of Clorox (or any disinfectant) will do more harm than good. Consider a dandelion flower when you blow on it the seeds fly away and your left with the stem, spraying Clorox on a mold colony will get some of the spores and the stem structure but the majority of the spores just drift off to settle in other areas. The relocated spores do not die just become dormant, they reactivate when inhaled into the respiratory system.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

• Are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary, room-temperature conditions. In other words these compounds, though solid slowly turn to vapor and get into the air where they can be breathed, the action is called Off-Gassing. This off-gassing results from a low boiling point, which causes large numbers of molecules to evaporate or sublimate from the liquid or solid form of the compound and enter the surrounding air.

• Many VOCs are dangerous to human health or cause harm to the environment. VOCs are numerous, varied, and ubiquitous. They include both man-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds. VOCs are typically not acutely toxic, but instead have compounding long-term health effects.

• The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found concentrations of VOCs in indoor air to be 2 to 5 times greater than in outdoor air and sometimes far greater.

• VOC concentration in an indoor environment during winter is three to four times higher than the VOC concentrations during the summer. High indoor VOC levels are attributed to the low rates of air exchange between the indoor and outdoor environment as a result of tight-shut windows and the increasing use of humidifiers.

Water Intrusion (Leaks)

• Leaks from roofs, windows, plumbing lines or faucets, wax rings on toilets, dishwashers, garbage disposals, faulty grout, etc. all contribute to an environment that supports mold growth.

• All water intrusion issues need to be addressed and corrected or the mold will return after the remediation is completed.


Wipe hard surfaces with a micro fiber wipe wetted with decontaminate solution.

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