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Glossary of Terms Relating to Mold, Water Damage, Fire Damage

Glossary of Terms

The glossary of terms is an online dictionary for the industries of mold inspection and remediation, water damage restoration and indoor air quality

When describing situations involving mold contamination, water damage, fire damage, biohazards and other situations our company manages, we often use terms that can seem technical or industry-specific. To help you better understand some of the terms we use, please refer to the dictionary of common industry terminology that we have created below.

  • Abatement - See Mold Remediation
  • Air Sampling - Also known as "indoor air quality (IAQ) testing", "air testing", "mold testing" or similar, refers to the process of collecting samples of ambient air and its contents from a selected indoor area of a property. The most commonly accepted method of open-area air sampling involves a specially calibrated air pump machine that regulates air flow across special sampling media that captures (collects) contents from the air. Inner-wall air sampling is another method and involves drilling small holes into a wall. A tube can then be inserted into the wall cavity for the purpose of drawing out air so that its contents can be collected on the sampling media. The sampling media is then analyzed by a laboratory to determine the type of and concentrations of any contents (biological or non-biological) present in the air taken from that area of the property.
  • Air Testing - See Air Sampling
  • Anti-Fungal - Also group into anti-microbial, anti-fungal refers to the prevention of the growth and spreading of fungi (mold) and its spores. This often involves the use of solvents or chemicals applied to building materials for the prevention of such growth.
  • Asbestos - A naturally occurring fibrous mineral that has been used commonly in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fire-retardant. Due to its strength and heat resistant properties, asbestos has been used for a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials, machinery friction parts and heat/fire-resistant fabrics. Its inclusion in these products has been a controversy due to the adverse health effects one can experience from exposure. Some of the most common major health issues experienced by those exposed to asbestos include: Asbestosis, Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma.
  • Asbestos Abatement - The process and procedures involved in containing and removing items or materials from a property that contain the potentially harmful mineral fiber called asbestos. This process often involves containing the area being abated to keep airborne asbestos particles from spreading to other parts of the property. This process should be conducted carefully under carefully constructed protocols for operation by trained and certified technicians.
  • Biohazard - Biohazards are biological materials that pose a health threat to humans, animals, and the environment. Biologically hazardous substances can range greatly in terms of the danger they pose to living creatures. Biohazards are organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) according to a four-stage classification system, with Biohazard Level 1 being the least potentially infectious, and Level 4 being the most potentially infectious. Biohazards can include, but are not limited to, toxins, allergens, bacteria, mold, fungi, viruses, and parasites. Decontamination or removal of biologically hazardous substances requires the implementation of safety precautions and barriers to limit the exposure of biohazards to living organisms.
  • Black Mold - see Toxic Mold
  • Crime Scene Clean-Up - Also known as “crime and trauma scene decontamination” (CTS Decon), “biorecovery,” or “blood and trauma cleaning,” this is the process of removing, cleaning, decontaminating, and disinfecting the biologically hazardous material left from crime scenes or trumatic events after law enforcement officials have completed their investigations. Crime scene clean-up professionals restore property to pre-incident condition through the use of special equipment and protective devices. Cleaning of the substances left behind after homicides, suicides, methamphetamine laboratories, chemical spills, and a variety of other criminal activities fall under the classification of crime scene clean-up. Oftentimes it is the responsibility of the family members of the victim to organize clean-up operations in the wake of a death or a potentially hazardous incident. Cleaning companies specializing in crime and trauma clean-up can be hired to carry out the proper CTS Decon procedures for blood, tissue, and chemical substances that are deemed to be hazardous to the public.
  • Cross-Contamination - Is the transfer of a contamination from one area to another area through either physical contact or air exchange. Cross-contamination involving mold can occur when it is on a surface or airborne. Surface cross-contamination occurs when the mold directly touches a person or object that then transfers to a different area of the property. Air cross-contamination occurs when the air in an area contaminated with airborne mold spores exchanges with an area of low or no airborne mold spores. Once occupying a new area, the cross-contaminated mold may come into contact with the resources it needs to begin new growth (a new colony) or a person who could suffer from adverse health effects.
  • Decontamination - Often considered to be "remediation" in itself, decontamination is only one part of the remediation process. Decontamination is the process of cleansing an environment of one or more harmful substances using various combinations of personnel, equipment, chemicals and materials. When there is a mold contamination, this process is performed by a trained and certified technician following pre-planned protocols to properly cleanse mold spores and colonies from building material or items around the property found to be contaminated.
  • Expert Witness - An individual who possesses an exceptional or specialized knowledge beyond that of the average person, often through education, training or experience, who presents testimony in a legal manner, such as in a trial or administrative hearing, in a deposition or an affidavit, or in any other type of proceeding. Professionals from Indoor-Restore are often retained by council in court cases involving mold in properties, water damage insurance claims or property defects.
  • Fire Damage Restoration - The process of returning a property to its condition prior to when fire or smoke damage occurred through the cleaning of damaged building material, demolition of irreparable material, cleaning any recoverable household items, applying odor removing detergents and solvents and/or rebuilding any parts of the property that require it.
  • Fungi - Also known as "fungus" or "mold", fungi is a diverse group of single-celled organisms that also include mushroom, smuts, rusts and yeasts. They are decomposers of organic matter such as wood, plants, fabric and animals and can be found both indoors and outdoors. To survive, fungi basically needs organic nutrients, moisture and oxygen.
  • Homeowner's Insurance - Is a form of insurance that can be obtained by an owner of a home as a form of protection in the event of a defect, failure or natural disaster that results in damage to a property, the items contained within it or its occupants. The premium for this insurance is determined by the organization providing the insurance. The extent of what a homeowner's insurance policy covers varies by policy type and company. It is important for a policyholder to carefully read and understand the level of coverage they have.
  • Homeowner's Insurance Claim - A request made by the owner of a property and carrier of a homeowner's insurance policy for approval of repairs needed to recover from damages that occurred to their property, its contents or its occupants. A claim often is made following a flood, fire or robbery. The limit of what a claim will pay for varies depending on the policy type and company. Typically, maximum payout amounts (or caps) are set by the insurer for the various situations the policy covers.
  • IAQ - See Indoor Air Quality
  • Indoor Air Pollution - See Indoor Air Quality; You may also visit our page on indoor air pollution.
  • Indoor Air Quality - Or IAQ, refers to the air quality within (and sometimes around) a building or enclosed structure, as it relates to the health, safety and comfort to the building's occupants. Having poor indoor air quality is also referred to having indoor air pollution. Air that is unclean or contains contaminants that are allergenic, pathogenic, carcinogenic or toxigenic are known to reduce the quality of air when they become airborne. The most common of these contaminants include mold, dust and dust mites, pollens and other plant matter, asbestos fibers, lead particles, radon gas, carbon monoxide gas and volatile organic compounds. There are a variety of causes for poor indoor air quality, some being building materials used for a property, building design and age, environmental factors such as temperature and humidity that can breed mold or other biological contaminants, geographic location, outside pollution, poor ventilation and lack of building cleanliness.
  • Indoor Air Quality Testing - See Air Sampling
  • Infrared Thermal Imaging - The use of specialized digital infrared imaging equipment to detect variances in the infrared light spectrum that can indicate the presence of moisture, mold or water damaged building material. To learn more about infrared thermal imaging and an infrared inspection, visit our Infrared Inspection Services Page.
  • Landlord - A landlord is the party responsible for issuing and approving a lease for a rental property. They are the contact for issues pertaining to the state of the property and lease contract. A landlord can be an individual property owner who uses this property as an additional revenue source, a property management company, an investment firm, or another company. Often, the owner of the property hires a person or company to manage their property as the landlord. So the owner isn't always the landlord. A landlord isn't always someone you don't know. It could be a family member, friend or associate. If you are a tenant and are experiencing problems with your landlord responding to issues with indoor mold, water damage and other concerns, learn about your rights as a renter.
  • Mold Remediation - The process of removing, cleaning and treating fungi (mold) that has grown on building material and/or furniture inside of a property. This process often involves the use of special anti-fungal solutions and commercial-grade equipment. To learn more about mold remediation, visit our Mold Remediation Services Page.
  • Mold Testing - See Air Sampling or Source Sampling
  • Mycotoxin - Is a Microbial Volatile Organic Chemical (mVOC) produced by certain types of mold (ones classified as toxigenic) while it is in an actively stage of growth. Mycotixins are released into the air in spore form along with the mold that produced them, which can lead to poor indoor air quality when in high concentrations. Severe health risk can exist in environments with high levels of mycotoxins.
  • Property Defect - Also known as a "latent defect", a property defect is a fault somewhere in a property that was not noticed or discovered prior to its sale. The prior owner of the property may or may not have been aware of the defect. Defects are often not discovered by a traditional home or building inspection. Property defects are often associated with construction defects (improper installation, construction methods or defective building material). A common defect is when improper drainage or waterproofing allows for water damage and mold growth within a property.
  • Restoration - The process of rebuilding or reconstructing a portion of a property to its original look and structural state prior to a destructive incident such as mold growth, water damage, flooding or fire damage.
  • Source Sampling - Also known as "surface sampling" or "direct sampling", involves taking a sample from a surface using a swab, microscope slide, tape, bulk or equivalent for analysis by a microbiologist to determine the presence and concentration of dusts, allergens, mold and other particulates. This method is often combined with an air testing method to obtain an accurate assessment of a mold or allergen situation within a property.
  • Stachybotrys - Commonly referred to as "black mold" (see Toxic Mold), this type of toxigenic mold is known to produce the harmful metabolite known as mycotoxins, which can cause adverse health effects for humans and animals, when exposed. Towards the beginning stages of growth, this mold appears white in color, but soon becomes black. To read more about Stachybotrys, visit our Common Types of Mold Page.
  • Special Substance Testing - Special substance testing refers to the detection of specific contaminants in air, soil, water, and building materials. Testing can be done for asbestos, radon, allergens, carbon monoxide, Chinese drywall, formaldehyde, pesticides, and other pollutants. Trained inspection professionals can examine properties for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), such as those found in paints and varnishes, aerosol sprays, and carpet products. Special substance testing can also be provided for the detection of narcotics and other drugs, such as methamphetamine and marijuana.
  • Surface Sampling - See Source Sampling
  • Toxic Mold - Also known as "black mold" or "toxic black mold", are popular terms used to describe dark or black colored mold that may or may not produce toxic byproducts. These terms became highly publicized in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the potentially toxic and black colored species of mold called Stachybotrys was found at a number of properties with the occupants experiencing associated health problems. In actuality, there are only a few species of mold that are potentially harmful in the toxic sense. It's important to note that while any mold is potentially harmful to those with allergies or who have weakened immune systems, not all mold is toxic and not all toxic mold is black (visit our Mold & Your Health Page for more information). Stachybotrys is a type of mold that is considered toxic. There are also other types of molds that secrete mycotoxins that do not have a dark or “black” appearance. To read about our mold testing service and how we can determine if potentially harmful types of mold are present within your property, visit our Mold & Allergen Testing Page.
  • Types of Mold - See our Common Types of Mold Page
  • Water Damage Restoration - The process of returning a property to its condition prior to when water damage occurred through the extraction and drying of any remaining water, dehumidifying inside air, cleaning and preserving any household items, applying deodorizing detergents and solvents and/or rebuilding any irreparable sections of the property. To read about our water damage recovery services, visit our Water Damage Restoration Services Page.
  • Waterproofing - Is the process of making an area of a property, such as the roof, windows or basement water-resistant or protected from water or moisture intrusion from rain, flooding, or other environmental means by applying certain construction techniques, building materials and/or chemical treatments.
  • Water Quality Testing - Water Quality Testing refers to the detection of contaminants in the water supply of a property, including tap water, well water, and water from an underground tank. Water quality testing can be done to determine pH levels, alkalinity, and ion levels of water. Water-based organic and inorganic contaminates could be present in drinking water, and should be tested for by a certified and trained water quality testing professional. In addition, bacteria such as E-coli and Enterococcus can be found in home tap water. Investigating water quality is the first step in avoiding the potentially dire health complications from contact with hazardous substances in household water.

For more information about our company and services, please call us at 866-358-3838 or email us here.

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