Toxic Mold and Children

My wife and I are in dire need of your advice on how to properly remediate a mold problem in our home.

In short, coffee colored blotches began appearing and spreading in our 4 year old son's bedroom ceiling approximately 4 months ago. Concerned that there was moisture and possibly mold permeating from the attic above, we called in several mold remediation companies and were informed that we did indeed have mold growing on the drywall, insulation and wood above our son's room. However, each contractor suggested a different method/product (ammonia vs. hydrogen peroxide vs. biocide) to kill the mold.  Costs also ranged from $3,000 to $7,000.

Confused by the conflicting information we received, we called in an independent mold "inspector" to assess the situation and provide expert advisement.
 
For $900, the mold inspector visually inspected the attic and performed both swab and air quality tests. The swab tests were sent to a laboratory and confirmed that that there were 2 types of mold growing (green and white -- Cladosporium and penicillium) and the air quality tests (attic and son's bedroom) came back extremely poor. The inspector recommended a mold remediation contractor who again provided conflicting information on how to fix the problem.

We are very concerned about the health of our family and want to properly remediate the situation as soon as possible. Your advice on this situation would be much appreciated.
tonyz 4-16-07 9:16am

This is potentially a serious problem due to the effect it could have on your son's health.  For some tips on this exact situation, I turned to my trusted friend Jeff May, author on several books on mold and mold remediation, including My House is Killing Me

Jeff warns that more ventilation alone will not solve this problem.  You could spend thousands on remediation and unless the SOURCE of moisture is eliminated, the problem will reoccur.

So your first jobis to figure out how moist air is infiltrating the attic. The most common sources of moist house air are bathrooms and dryers that are venting into the attic (or soffit), air leaks around attic hatches and pull-down stairs, and air leakage from recessed fixtures.

Leaky duct work in an attic can also be a source of moisture, especially if you use a humidifier on your hot air furnace.

Is the sheathing all black and moldy? Then you have a bigger job. All the sheathing has to be remediated. If you have an older shingle roof, the cheapest approach is to have all the roofing and sheathing replaced. At the same time you can have insulation removed and replaced, and the moldy ceiling drywall removed and replaced. This is not really a mold remediation.

Jeff also warned that if there is mold on the bedroom ceiling, your son should not be sleeping there. Take everything out of the room and clean all dust from the items.

Surprisingly, Jeff and I worked on a home that had a very similar situation for a television show I was involved with.  It turned out that the insulation was full of Aspergillus mold and had to be completely removed, all the framing cleaned and replaced.

I hope this is of help and good luck with the project.  For more information, see The Money Pit's Mold Resource Guide.

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