FAQs: MOLD/IAQ, RESIDENTIAL USTs & OTHERS

As the owner/founder of Salem I've fielded questions every week for the last 30+ years. So, here are the most common ones posed - and remember..."there's no such thing as a stupid question".

What was your most memorable situation?

Actually, two. We were doing environmental drilling in Wilkes County (NC) at an UST farm, and a younger employee asked me whom a short, stocky older guy dressed in Pointer overalls, t-shirt, and work boots was. I said, "That's Junior (Johnson)". The employee became so shaken that he was literally useless the rest of the day.

The second was spending almost an hour conversing with Leon Levine (founder of Family Dollar) while we were doing IAQ sampling at his residence in Charlotte.

If you're busy, whom can I contact for immediate assisstance?

Call my assistant Anda Olsen at 404.915.4262. Anda has a BA, MA and an MBA/JD, so she's much smarter than me. Plus, she's a great cook. And much cuter, too.

OK, back to business, starting with Mold/IAQ FAQs...

What is mold? And what causes it?

Mold ("fungal growth") is ubiquitous and includes thousands of species, inclusive of "mildew", mushrooms, smuts, rusts and yeasts. The vast majority do not cause respiratory distress, create allergic reactions, or produce toxins. Mold growth is caused by excess moisture in its "host" over an extended period of 2-3 days minimum. Mold spores will start to amplify at 60% relative humidity but really start to multiply at 70%+. As for building materials, 17% relative wood moisture and 20% for drywall are required for accelerated growth. For "black mold" to germinate, almost near saturation of drywall or wood for 2-3 weeks is necessary. BTW, mold will not grow on non-organics like concrete, masonry, or metals. It will not grow on fiberglass batt insulation unless the insulation accumulates damp dust, on which it will grow.

What should a professional mold inspection include and cost?

A thorough visual, site condition photographs, humidity/materials moisture measurements, infrared camera screening for possible plumbing leaks and/or water infiltration, particle count collection, and, lastly, surface and/or IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) sampling, but only if conditions indicate they’re necessary. The Indoor Environmental Professional (“IEP”) will prepare a report summarizing all data, create an assessment, and suggest appropriate remedial actions if needed. Cost is anywhere from $200 to $2,000 - pricing depends on the requested Scope of Work.

I've heard a lot about ERMI sampling - do you recommend it?

Yes, if conditions warrant; it's also much more expensive. We recently did residential
IAQ sampling that indicated a "Normal Fungal Ecology" environment; particle count
analysis indicated an optimal "Total IAQ" environment as well. ERMI (Environmental
Relative Moldiness Index) testing was completed, due to the owner having
concentrations of mold in his bloodstream.
ERMI involves vacuuming two 18 sq ft areas of carpet or rugs in high traffic areas; collection media are specialized bio-cassettes. Fungal matter from these cassettes are analyzed by Polymerase Chain Reaction ("PCR", aka DNA) for 36 mold species. A "moldiness" rating is then assigned from -5 to +20 (lowest to highest). Here, results indicated that mold species that produce toxins were present, and appropriate remedial
measures were undertaken.

Is particle count analysis important?

Well, the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) thinks so, as particulates <2.5
microns can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
"Total IAQ" is evaluated by using a computer program developed by a Ph.D
microbiologist (www.iaqanalytics.com). It analyzes accumulated counts in six particle
size channels and assigns a ranking that determines if remedial actions are necessary.

Can I clean mold myself? Is bleach OK?

Of course, but to be really effective you should use a 6% bleach solution. You must
wear appropriate protective gear, including a N-95 filter mask, latex gloves, safety
glasses and a Tyvek® suit. Be sure the area is well ventilated. But, don't even attempt
to use pool bleach (10% sodium hypochlorite) - you need a full face mask with P100
filtration (asbestos) and chemical grade gloves/full body suit with hood/booties. And
never mix ammonia with bleach, as it creates a toxic gas that can be fatal.

Are there advantages to hiring a mold professional for remediation?

Yes, especially if "black molds" - Stachybotrys chartarum, Memnoniella, Chaetomium or
Trichoderma are confirmed. An enclosure must be created with HEPA filtration to protect
the HVAC system from contamination. As there was spore spread before remediation
started, the HVAC system will likely require professional furnace and duct cleaning. The
IEP supervising abatement ensures that cleaning and applications of anti-microbial is
done per standard industry procedures, as well as collect post-remediation surface and
IAQ samples to clear the enclosed and adjoining areas.

I see Salem uses the Goldmorr® system for mold remediation. What is it?

It involves two products - GM6000 & GM2000. GM6000 is the "workhorse"; GM2000
eliminates VOCs created by the use of GM6000. It is also cold fogged through HVAC
systems to neutralize mold and bacterial growth. Go to www.goldmorrusa.com to learn
more and view an amazing video of GM6000's effectiveness on their home page.

Salem uses Molekule® air purifiers in conjunction with HEPA air scrubbers. How do they work? Can I buy these from Salem?

Their technology, developed over two decades of research, is called Photo
Electrochemical Oxidation - "PECO". It is a fundamentally new approach to air
purification that destroys tobacco smoke odors, allergens, molds, bacteria, viruses, and
microscopic VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). In a 1,600 sq ft condo with 20' high
ceilings where construction was ongoing, two units reduced particulates by 99% within a
day and reduced mold spores by almost 60%. You can learn more at
www.molukule.com.

Yes! We do sell Molekule® purifiers. Unit cost is $799.00, plus S&H and sales tax (if
applicable). If you want more than one, a volume discount applies.

Can you test for tobacco smoke residue? Can you abate these odors?

Yes! We collect particle counts in every room and one outside. If the average indoor
count for particulates 0.3 microns and smaller are elevated, this likely indicates residual
smoke particulates, even if tobacco odor is not present.
To abate, we cold fog Goldmorr GM2000® throughout the building structure and its
HVAC system while it's running continuously. After 3 hours, we place 2-4 Molekule®
PECO air purifiers to run for another 24 hours. Then, particle counts are collected to
confirm abatement.

RESIDENTIAL HEATING OIL UST FAQs

Are heating oil USTs regulated? Do I have to get a closure permit?

No & No. They're not regulated, but in NC registration is required if the tank is >1,100
gallons. In many municipalities an excavation/in-place closure permit from the local Fire
Marshal is usually required if it's buried on a business/commercially zoned parcel.

How do I know if there's an out of service, "orphan" heating oil UST (Underground Storage Tank) still buried on my property? How much does an inspection cost?

If your house was built before the early 1970s, it's highly likely one would have been buried. Outside, there would be a 2" steel fill pipe with a cap and/or a 1.0-1.5" steel air vent line. 3/8" copper tubing in the crawl space/basement would be the UST's fuel delivery system to the furnace. If there's no such evidence, a surveyor-grade metal locator unit can be used to identify if one is present. Salem charges $150 minimum for a metal locator survey and report. If a fill or vent line is present and goes directly down into the UST, cost is normally $125, including report.

If an UST is discovered and there are no vent/fill lines, how do you inspect?

We advance a 2.5" diameter hand auger to its top, then drill a 2.25" hole using a bimetal
bit through the UST. This cost is an additional $150-200. Heating oil USTs have
standard diameters and lengths, so we can immediately confirm its size and the volume
of its liquid contents.

How large are heating oil USTs?

550 gallons is the predominant size, comprising over 80% of such vessels. The next two
most common sizes are 270s & 1,000s, and we occasionally see a 2,000 or even a
3,000 at very large residences or older quadriplexes.

What does a standard excavation cost?

That depends on tank size and contents, as well as physical constraints; it can be
anywhere from $2,100 to $3,900. Salem only hires OSHA-certified subcontractor
personnel that have completed the 40 Hour HAZWOPER course and annual 8-hour
updates.

If I decide to abandon the UST in-place, what method do you use?

Salem has abandoned nearly 5,000 residential USTs by inert foam fill since 1989. We
have changed our abandonment system to the CFI TankFoam® Process for in-place
abandonment. In less than 30 minutes we fill the UST with foam, shear the fill/vent line
below grade and grout those with concrete mix or silicone caulk. Cost ranges from
$1,430 to $2,800; tank size and volume of contents determine cost.

Do you recommend soil sampling/analysis?

If there's an active water well within 150', yes, even if municipal water is available.
If the soil has a fuel oil odor, there's no need for lab analysis. All soil sampling Salem
performs in NC is under the guidamce of a Professionally Licensed Geologist ("PG").

Do you report contaminated soil to the NCDEQ (NC Dept. of Environmental Quality)?

Only if authorized to in writing or via email by the tank/property owner.

Is the NC Non-Commercial UST Trust Fund still providing partial reimbursement for residential incidents?

Yes, but only for sites where a potable or irrigation well is within 150'; it usually only
reimburses installation and sampling of a groundwater monitor well and sampling of
nearby water wells. There are no funds allocated for "Low Risk" sites, which would
include 99.9% of metropolitan areas.

If you do report contaminated soil to NCDEQ, there will be a Notice of Residual
Petroleum in Soil (aka "Soil Deed Restriction") assigned, unless extensive soil
excavation and expensive risk-based soil analyses are done (Total cost is usually
>$15,000). This restriction prevents building a roofed structure over the excavation area
plus a 3' horizontal buffer.

OTHER FAQs

What is your standard turn around time for Phase I ESAs? Cost?

10 business days. Anywhere from $2,400 and up, depending on the site's location and
its complexity.

Can you test for asbestos and do you do abatement?

Salem is not licensed to sample, but we subcontract with state-certified inspectors to
verify its presence and licensed firms to perform abatement. All abatement sites have
post-remediaion air samples collected to verify absence of asbestos fibers.

Can you abandon larger commercial USTs at C-Stores and industrial facilities?

Yes! If a soil investigation is required, that would be done under the supervision of a PG.

Can you sample for radon?

We no longer do radon sampling.

Do you do any other types of environmental sampling?

Yes! Indoors, we do airborne VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and Formaldehyde.

Water wells and municipal tap water can be sampled for drinking water quality (BOD/Nitrates/Turbidity/Iron/Lead/Copper), bacteria (Total Coliforms & E.coli), Legionella, herbicides/pesticides, and petroleum contaminants.

We sample groundwater monitoring wells and provide analysis for petroleumcontaminants.

Any other areas that Salem does work?

We are currently involved with removal of free-phase petroleum in groundwater monitoring wells at an old bulk plant and anticipate it won't be completed until early 2020.

In addition to the Molekule® units, we sell ThermaStor MC33® in-wall dehumidifiers (apartment/condo/basement use), and ClearFuel™ Diesel Exhaust Fluid ("DEF") through our Online Store.

Starting in May 2019, a sister startup corporation will be installing concrete block (CFICoreFoam®) and InsulSmart® interior foam insulation.