5 FAQs Regarding Mold in Hawaiʻi Homes

March 16, 2018, 11:51 AM HST · Updated March 22, 2:03 PM
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Mold in bathroom. Maui Now Stock Image

When living in Hawaiʻi, it’s not a matter of if your home will be affected by mold growth—but when.

Mold in the home is prevalent in our humid island climate, however, there is a lot of misunderstanding regarding what mold is, what causes it, how to get rid of it, and its severity on indoor air quality.

Anthony Nelson, Senior Vice President of Operations for Premier Restoration Hawaiʻi, formerly Maui Fire and Flood, sets the record straight with the five most frequently asked questions regarding mold in your Hawaiʻi home.

What is the Main Cause of Mold

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In order for microbial growth to occur you need three things:

  • Food source (building material, fabrics)
  • Moisture
  • Relative absence of light

What is Mold’s Affect on our Health?

Mold affects our health a lot like other indoor air quality pollutants. Usually symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, congestion and headaches occur because your body has lost the ability to filter all airborne particulates out. Nelson says he often parallels mold to cyanide in peanut butter. “Most people don’t know that trace amounts of cyanide can be found in peanut butter, but we’d have to consume 50+ pounds of peanut butter in a day in order to experience any negative health effects. In most environments, mold is the same way,” he says. It’s present but not in any significant quantity to affect our health. It’s when the level of mold goes above that threshold, that we start to experience negative health effects. Children, the elderly and people who have immunodeficiencies usually have a much lower threshold.

Can you remove mold entirely?

In most environments, no. Again, the goal isn’t to remove it entirely, but to reduce it so the concentrations are low enough not to affect the most sensitive of individuals.

What is the best process by which to remove mold?

It’s a combination of multiple techniques. The only way to remove mold is simply to remove it (Literally, removing the piece of building material affected by mold growth). With the exception of specific enzymes or encapsulants which have a narrow window of effectiveness, the best process is to establish critical barriers, perform gross or extensive removal of affected non-structural building materials, critically clean remaining building materials and perform post remediation verification testing to confirm you’ve eliminated the problem. Having a certified mold remediation professional inspect your specific situation is the best way to ensure you’ll be effective in your efforts.

What is the best way to minimize mold growth in the home?

The best way to minimize mold growth is to control moisture in the indoor environment. Most instances where we see mold growth are related to an unaddressed plumbing leak. If the source of the water is clean and a restorative drying environment is established within 48 hours of the leak occurring, a majority of the building materials can be saved and mold growth can be prevented. In environments where the ambient humidity is naturally high (i.e. Windward sides of the mountain), good housekeeping is usually the best course of action. In those environments, we typically see mold growth occurring on the biofilm that accumulates from a lack of cleaning.

Anthony Nelson is Senior VP of Operations and Certifications at Premier Restoration Hawaiʻi, as well as an applied microbial remediation technician, applied structural drying technician, carpet cleaning technician, carpet repair and reinstallation technician, color repair technician, commercial drying specialist, fire and smoke restoration technician, health and safety technician, odor control technician, resilient flooring inspector and water damage restoration technician.


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