Because of having several leaks in their home during recent years I was hired to do an inspection for potential moisture and mold issues. This happened to be done during a re-piping by a plumbing company which involved removing drywall from several ceilings and walls to accomplish the work. As a result this exposed wood members in the wall and ceilings with visible mold in many areas. Surface samples confirmed the presence of mold. Fortunately the family was staying elsewhere during this work.
The Basic Problem: How do you protect your family when work like this results in exposing the home to mold and thus the family? From a liability standpoint this is the responsibility of the contractor performing the work. However, most contractors doing this type of work rarely think about the work they do exposing a family to mold. And most people don’t necessarily think much about it either. To a large extent this is realistically a scenario that has not been addressed in the general construction industry. Not to mention most contractors have no training to keep from exposing a family to mold in these situations.
The Solution: Because of contractors in general have no real knowledge of or training in protecting people from mold the home owner or tenant will have to bring the issue up prior to any work being done. It really should be done in the hiring or contract negotiation stage. It likely will involve having at least 2 contractors and one consultant (meaning someone who can write a protocol to follow to protect the family from mold exposure; this can be someone certified in Industrial Hygiene Management, an industrial hygienist or microbial consultant), one that does the work of re-piping (as the example in the opening paragraph shows) and one contractor has been trained or certified in following the protocol that will be written for that particular project.
An example of what a protocol may involve in this type of scenario could be:
1. Set up plastic containment for all work areas where the drywall will be opened so as to keep possible mold spores contained in that area.
2. Have an air scrubber (air filtration machine with a hepa filter) available to run when apparent mold is encountered to continually clean the air of mold spores.
3. When apparent mold is encountered the workers would then follow OSHA requirements of wearing PPE.
4. The persons living in the home may vacate while the work is being done.
The above is only outlining some possible protocol steps and is not to be taken as a standard procedure for all to follow.
Of course these additional steps will cost more to do and increase the overall project costs for a typical re-piping or other similar projects. This will also add to the time it takes to complete the project. If you are serious about protecting your family from mold exposure like the example above then it is important to talk with your contractor before hand to insist that appropriate precautions be taken.
My company, or myself, is available to write the needed protocol for you home or office project.