Dry Ice Blasting and Hurricane Katrina

Dry ice blasting offers solution for mold following Hurricane Katrina

By Thomas Monacelli

Due to the devastation of Katrina, residents and commercial business owners in New Orleans are facing serious mold and restoration problems. Although restoration and remediation efforts are already underway, many homes and buildings are still waiting to be attended to.

The problem only escalates as time that goes by; the mold continues to spread. Dry ice blasting enables those buildings that can be salvaged to be restored quickly, reducing displacement time for the residents and building owners.

Dry ice blasting provides the most efficient and environmentally safe mold removal method on the market. The process is non-toxic, non-corrosive and non-conductive and produces a quality clean, otherwise unachievable.

The presence of mold can be eliminated from contaminated surfaces in a fraction of the time it takes to sand and wire brush, allowing residents to return to their homes and businesses sooner. Due to the complete clean achievable with dry ice, implementing the process into remediation efforts allows contractors to eliminate or drastically reduce their chemical use.

Many contractors are attacking the Katrina Mold with only biocide chemicals.

They are simply spraying these chemicals on the contaminated surfaces. This is not wise. Although, biocides and other chemicals kill the mold (at least most of it), the allergenic properties still exist. Dead mold is still allergenic. The standards put forth by the IESA, Indoor Environment Standards Association, call for the complete removal of mold in order to ensure the negative health effects associated with mold are not felt by the inhabitants of the building. Further, biocides often leave behind a few viable mold spores, which can regenerate. Contractors will attempt to combat this by applying an encapsulation to seal the area, only adding more chemicals to the process.

For those contractors that understand the importance of removing mold, using traditional removal methods still requires the use of too many chemicals.

Conventional cleaning methods require sanding and scraping the mold from the wood’s surface. It’s a tedious and generally unpleasant process to endure. More importantly, it is an inferior process that leaves mold behind in areas that are just not possible to clean with these methods.

Most restoration contractors realize this and use chemical biocides and encapsulation in order to kill the mold that is left behind. As already mentioned, biocides kill mold, but do nothing to alleviate the allergenic properties associated with mold. In addition, the EPA does not recommend biocides and encapsulation use.

Before dry ice blasting, it was nearly impossible to completely remove all the mold spores from the surfaces of an infested attic, basement or crawl space.

Certified mold remediation contractors would employ the traditional methods of mold removal in an attempt to remove as much mold as possible. However, the mold growing in the corners and other hard-to-reach areas was left virtually untouched. In addition, the traditional mold remediation methods cost contractors a great deal in terms of labor hours, time and productivity. A 2000 square foot attic would take six to seven days to clean, using traditional methods. The labor force for this project would typically include about six people. With Cold Jet dry ice blasting, the same job can be completed in about two or three days with a two person labor force. Cold Jetting has reduced labor costs for UScleanblast by up to 90 percent per project, while reducing our total project time by up to 70 percent.

UScleanblast has been using dry ice blasting for mold removal work for many years. Since implementing the Cold Jet process into the mold remediation protocol, every post remediation verification test is passed and the customers are thrilled with the “like new” finish to the wood surfaces that were once covered with mold.

Prior to using the dry ice blasting method, UScleanblast employed the traditional methods of sanding and scraping. Needless to say the crew prefers the ease and efficiency experienced with dry ice blasting. However, what impresses the crew most is the quality of the clean dry ice blasting allows. Nothing is missed with dry ice blasting.

Dry ice blasting for mold removal employs all the same containment and safety parameters needed for any mold remediation project, however it replaces the sanding and scraping process. This cuts the cleaning time by up to 70 percent and provides a complete clean around all detail work, tight corners and trusses, nails and any obstruction. Cold Jetting can even safely blast around electrical wiring and plumbing without causing any damage.

Mold is an organic decomposer and can be found everywhere in nature.

However, health problems and damage to building structures can arise when mold is left to multiply indoors. If unattended for as little as 48 hours, mold is likely to grow. While some porous materials, such as dry wall, carpet and insulation must be removed, semi-porous materials and non-porous materials, such as wood, metal and concrete can be cleaned without causing structural damage to the surface, using dry ice blasting.

The dry ice blasting process is non-conductive, non-corrosive and non-toxic. It uses solid dry ice pellets and thermal shock and kinetic energy to blast mold from wood and other contaminated surfaces. As the dry ice (-78.5 C) blasts against the surface, the contaminate loses its adhesion and the warmer temperature of the surface causes the carbon dioxide solid to revert back to a gas, expanding underneath the contaminant and allowing it to break free. The dry ice pellets are no longer in solid form, as they have reverted to a gas, so no secondary waste is created. It just sublimates into the atmosphere. This means there are no added labor costs associated with the secondary waste clean up, as is the case with soda blasting and the variety of other blasting mediums.

Many soda blasters report that secondary waste clean up increases their project time by about one-third. An increase in project time leads to extended displacement time for the already weary New Orleans residents, and increased cost to the contractor. Labor costs associated with secondary waste removal can be eliminated with dry ice blasting. With all soda blasting costs factored into the equation, the switch to dry ice blasting decreases the total project cost by as much as 45 percent.

Cold Jetting is the fastest and safest way to restore the mold damaged homes and buildings from the Katrina Devastation. It allows the remediation contractor to take on more work and therefore increases production levels.

However, the most important aspect of the time savings that are achievable with the Cold Jet system is reduction in the resident displacement time. The displacement time is cut in half, and while this is valuable to insurance companies, it is most valuable to the well being of the resident. They are able to return to a healthy home or building and resume their lives much faster than would be possible without the dry ice blasting process. Cold Jetting is currently being utilized by many remediators in their Katrina relief efforts. The ability of dry ice blasting to clean mold-infested surfaces thoroughly and efficiently is leading it to become the method of choice for mold remediation professionals and restoration professionals around the country. Equipment costs are quickly mitigated with the increased amount of mold and restoration work a firm can perform.

About the author:
Thomas Monacelli, owner of UScleanblast and CIE (Certified Indoor Environmentalist), CMR (Certified Mold Remediator), ASCS (Air Systems Cleaning Specialist)

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