What are the 5 levels of Mold Remediation?
The 5 levels of mold remediation comes from the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), a non-profit organization that gives certification as well as instruction for professionals in the mold remediation and cleaning industry. The levels were established to give a standard for properly examining and remediating mold issues in buildings, based on how bad the contamination is as well as the health and safety of the removal process. Level one of the 5 levels is the level of least contamination, while level four details the process and detailing of the highest level of contamination. Level five involves remediation in highly sensitive environments, such as hospitals and schools.
When dealing with mold contamination in your home it can be difficult to decide when a mold remediator is needed or what you can take care of yourself. These is where it can be helpful to refer to the 5 levels of mold remediation to determine if the mold issue is significant enough to involve professionals.
In the following 5 levels, you will have a guideline to go by when removing mold from your home:
The 5 Levels of Mold Remediation
Level I (10 square feet or less)
Smaller infestations categorized in level I are mostly the cleaning and removal of contaminated materials. These may include mold found on ceilings or baseboards, as well as things like drywall or carpeting. Level I mold contamination may be cleaned without hiring a mold remediator, but there are several important safety precautions that you need to know:
- Do not attempt cleaning mold if you suffer from asthma, allergies, or immune disorders
- Wear gloves, eye protection, and an N95 disposable respirator
- Vacate from your work area any infants less than 12 months old, individuals recovering from recent surgery, anyone with a suppressed immune system, or people with chronic lung diseases such as asthma, sever allergies, emphysema, etc.
- Contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned should be removed from your home in a sealed plastic bag to prevent an infestation in another part of your home.
- Clean your work area when you’re done with a damp cloth or mop.
- Make sure all areas are left dry and visibly free of mold contamination.
Level II (10-30 square feet)
Level three of mold remediation requires a more substantial elimination of mold contaminated materials, in addition to more extensive mold containment procedures to assure that mold spores do not spread to other areas, To remove mold from an area category the size of level two (probably one wall panel), the same precautions used in level one should be taken as well as the following:
- Moldy materials should be covered with plastic sheets and sealed with tape before any handling or removal of materials. This will contain dust and debris. It may be wise to double wrap in plastic before escorting the moldy material from your home.
- When the mold removal is finished, vacuum the work area with a HEPA vacuum. Clean the area with a damp cloth or mop.
Level III (30-100 square feet)
This level of remediation often requires professional help, as it involves extensive removal and disposal of contaminated materials, as well as specialized equipment and techniques for containing and removing mold spores. Professional assistance is often needed when dealing with this level. Level three involves more extensive mold elimination and removal. This level also utilizes specialized equipment and procedures to contain mold to keep the environment healthy and uncontaminated, and to remove the circulating mold spores. Mold contamination this size (patches of mold on several wall panels), should still be handled with the same precautions as level one and two as well as the following added measures:
- Seal ventilation ducts/grills in the work area and areas directly adjacent with plastic sheeting.
- Vacate everyone from your work area until work is completed. Further vacate adjacent work areas of any infants less than 12 months old, individuals recovering from recent surgery, anyone with a suppressed immune system, or people with chronic lung diseases such as asthma, sever allergies, emphysema, etc.
Level IV (greater than 100 square feet)
This level of remediation requires significant expertise and resources, as it involves widespread contamination of a building or structure. Professional remediation is typically required, along with specialized equipment and techniques for containing and removing mold spores.
This next level is a widespread mold contamination of a large area and thus requires a serious levels of knowledge and experience. This typically requires professional remediation to assure proper removal of mold, and for safety and containment will require specialized equipment. An infestation depending on how much greater than 100 square feet, and how significant the contamination, may definitely require the assistance of a mold remediator. If not, the same requirements should be followed as were needed in levels one, two, and three along with the following:
- Every worker must be trained in the handling of hazardous materials and equipped with full face respirators with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cartridges, with disposable protective clothing covering both head and shoes.
- Make sure workers completely isolate their work area from the rest of your home with sheeting sealed with duct tape, including ventilation ducts/grills, fixtures, and any other openings.
- Make sure workers set up and use a “decontamination room,” or a chamber taped off with plastic sheeting. The outside of sealed bags containing contaminated material should be wiped down with a damp cloth or HEPA vacuumed in the decontamination chamber prior to their removal.
- Air monitoring should be conducted prior to moving back into your home to determine if it is fit to reoccupy.
Level V (Remediation in a Highly Sensitive Environment)
This level of remediation involves situations where mold contamination poses a particular risk to the health and safety of individuals, such as in hospitals, schools, or other sensitive environments. Remediation in these situations must be carefully planned and executed, often requiring specialized equipment, techniques, and protocols.
This level should be left to mold remediation professionals entirely, as it can pose a significant risk to the health and safety of people. This includes places like schools, hospitals, and other environments where mold could pose a health risk to those vulnerable, especially during the remediation process as mold spores are disturbed. The method for removal in these situations must be carefully planned and carried out, involving specialized equipment and procedures.
Mold Remediation of HVAC Systems
If there is a small area of mold growth beneath your air conditioning system it would be safe to apply precautions from levels one and two to remediate the mold contamination. However, all remediation procedures for air conditioning units and HVAC systems should be left to professionals. Procedures for level five remediation for areas larger than 10 square feet are the same for all previous levels with the following precautionary measures added:
- Shut down the HVAC system prior to remediation.
- Growth-supporting materials that are contaminated, such as the paper on the insulation of interior lined ducts and filters, should be removed and sealed in plastic bags.
- A variety of biocides – broad spectrum antimicrobial agents designed to prevent the growth of microorganisms – are recommended by HVAC manufacturers for use with HVAC components, such as cooling coils and condensation pans. HVAC manufacturers should be consulted for the products they recommend for use in their systems.