How To Recover Records Damaged By Mold

Mold from Hurricane Katrina flood waters. Via http://www.flickr.com/photos/melinnis/52701007/

Closely associated with water damage is mold damage, a by-product of excessive moisture and temperature (and air, a food source, and surface to grow).  As with water damage to your records, you may want to contact a vendor to assist with recovery and salvage efforts.

First determine if the mold is active or dormant.  Look and see if it appears wet or fuzzy (active) or dry and powdery (dormant).  You need to move it to the dormant stage in order to remove it.  Then determine if your staff can effectively remove the mold or if you need to seek technical expertise from an outside source.  Isolate those records from non-affected materials.  If it’s in a small area or confined to a single room, seal it off to keep the spores from spreading.

If you’re removing objects, use gloves, goggles and masks.  For things such as books and folders of records, you may consider wrapping such items in butcher paper and placing them in paper boxes.  You may even consider freezing objects as it helps in getting the mold to the dormant stage.  Once the mold is in the dormant stage, use a vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter and a soft, natural brush.  Brush gently away from you.  Never touch the mold with the vacuum nozzle.

You may consider taking objects outside to dry and remove the mold.  Be careful as the sun can fade some dyed textiles and paper products.  If mold is on hard, non-porous material, use a soft cotton cloth or swab.  You also should look under carpet and along baseboards for mold.

Don’t inhibit the flow of air.  Use fans and dehumidifiers, lowering the relative humidity to 45% or lower.

{For more tips and information, contact the Association for Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA) at www.arma.org or the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) at www.archives.gov}