Mold and Bleach: The Mold Myth

The mold myth exists concerning the use and “effectiveness” of chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) in the remediation of a mold problem. Remediation involves the removal and or clean up and restoration of contaminated building materials.

Chlorine bleach, commonly referred to as laundry bleach, is generally perceived to be an “accepted and answer-all” biocide in the remediation processes. Well-intentioned recommendations of health departments and other state and local agencies are perpetuating that belief. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) who once recommended using chlorine bleach for remediation was the first federal agency to stop recommending the use of liquid bleach in remediation. Subsequently, The Environmental Protection Agency  wrote-out/edited their A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home (EPA 402-k-02-003) to exclude their once recommended use of bleach as a clean-up agent.

Why Chlorine is NOT recommended for remediation

Chlorine bleach is corrosive and that fact is stated on the product label (not to mention the exposure hazards of dioxins). Yet the properties of chlorine bleach prevent it from “soaking into” wood-based building materials to get at the deeply embedded mycelia (roots) of mold. The object to killing mold is to kill its “roots”.

Reputable remediation contractors use appropriate products that effectively disinfect properly scrubbed and cleaned salvageable, infected wood products. Beware of any inspector, remediation contractor or other individual that recommends or uses chlorine bleach for mold clean up on wood-based building materials.

Mold Facts:

  • It usually returns in less than 24 hours after using bleach.
  • Cleaning stirs up spores and puts them into the air, creating more health problems and allergic reactions.
  • Bleach only treats the surface. It does not kill or eliminate airborne spores.
  • Bleach is 3-6% Sodium Hypochlorite and 94% to 97% water. The Sodium Hypochlorite evaporates, leaving water behind to foster the growth of more mold.
  • Bleach is ineffective and not recommended for use on porous surfaces such as concrete, wood, wallpaper, sheetrock, grout, books, clothing,
  • Chlorine Gas, released by mixing bleach with any acid, may be lethal.
  • When inhaled during application, chlorine particles may cause lung and bronchial irritation, as well as headaches.
  • Chlorine particles, according to some reports, may bio-accumulate in the Thyroid leading to reduced thyroid function and possibly thyroid cancer.
  • In other words, do not fall victim of the mold myth.