Mold Threatens Priceless Collections
Mold may seem like a small problem. It’s not as dramatic as a flooded basement or a fire-burned kitchen or a hurricane damaged roof. But make no mistake—mold can be extremely destructive, especially if it strikes a prized collection of yours.
Mold often threatens major artworks. In fact, the National Park Service has published a piece entitled, Mold: Prevention of Growth in Museum Collections. In 2007, the University of Illinois and Urbana-Champaign’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library suffered from a mold outbreak after a spike in humidity — one that took eight months to address. The Boston Public Library faced a mold threat to 500,000 rare books in 2015.
Mold In 14-Year-Old Museum
In February of 2017 the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut had thousands of items at risk from mold. And the building housing the threatened items was only 14 years old. It seemed to have started with a leak in the roof.
Mold was found in the storage facilities of the historic home's museum center, tainting at least 5,000 of the museum's 16,000 artifacts. The vulnerable pieces are varied: 19th-century furniture, upholstery, metal, glass and leather items, as well as books, including some Twain first editions and translations, whose fabric and leather bindings are conducive to mold growth. The spread of mold was halted by fixing the roof and repairing the HVAC system. A key, as with all mold situations, is closely monitoring the archive's relative humidity. But monitoring does nothing to combat the existing mold.
Probably like your most treasured possessions, the Twain artifacts are valuable and delicate. They must be handled very carefully and with special skill. Because mold is damaging to artifacts, the mold spores from each affected artifact must be removed as soon as possible. The total cost at the Twain museum? Would you believe a little more than $1 million.
Of course, smaller collections in private homes or businesses face the same threat. But there are proven ways to fight and remove mold.
Your best defense against mold is controlling the internal environment. Typically, mold won't grow below 45 percent relative humidity. So many private and public collections use large dehumidifiers to keep the humidity down.
Most Susceptible To Mold
Artifacts made of organic materials are most susceptible to mold growth. Photographs, letters, documents and other works on paper are safer if you store them in multiple layers of envelopes.
Another key fact to know about mold is how fast it spreads. Very. In as little as 48 hours, mold can quickly become a problem in your home or business when there’s a water intrusion, like a roof leak or leaking water line. Mold can cause health effects and can also cause significant damage to your property. SERVPRO of Bloomfield / Enfield has the training, protective gear, and specialized equipment necessary to handle your mold problem.
You can’t remove all mold. Microscopic mold spores exist almost everywhere, outdoors and indoors. Mold spores are microscopic and float along in the air and may enter your home or business through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants. And before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise, the mold may return.
More Mold Information
Every month on the SERVPRO of Bloomfield/Enfield blog we publish educational articles on how to protect your home and business from disasters and how to deal with mold, fire, water or other damage.
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