Green Cleaning in Action: Dry Ice Blasting and Environmentally Friendly Mold Removal
Over the past few years we have a long list of companies, technologies, or products that are worth knowing about. Unfortunately, they sometimes get buried too deeply in our archives so we provide fresh information for readers.
Our current technology of interest is dry ice blasting, a method for removing mold and preventing potential health-related illnesses. Carl Bennett provided this post last February.
Mold growth frequently occurs both in commercial and residential buildings in any area that is prone to damp or leaks, and if not attended to promptly it can lead to health issues in people that regularly come into contact with the spores they release. There are various methods used to remove mold, however dry ice blasting is the most effective and environmentally friendly method available.
Dry ice blasting is a relatively new cleaning method used to remove mold from walls and other surfaces. It works on the same principles as sand blasting, or blasting with other mediums such as soda or plastic beads that are fired under pressure by a jet of compressed air onto the surface that needs to be cleaned. However, dry ice blasting offers many benefits over these methods and other chemical methods of removing mold and other surface contaminants from substrates.
Unlike sand, plastic beads or soda, which being hard and abrasive can damage the underlying surface when fired under pressure, dry ice blasting uses dry ice pellets that are made from liquid CO2, which are compressed into hard pellets that literally vaporize on impact. The extremely cold temperature of the dry ice results in a micro-thermal shock, which causes the bond between the mold and the substrate to break, providing a non-abrasive, yet extremely effective method of removing mold without damaging the surface beneath.
Dry ice blasting uses inexpensive non-toxic pellets processed from food grade liquified carbon dioxide gas approved by the EPA, the USDA, and the FDA for use in the food industry. The pellets are non-flammable and can be safely used or stored on site without worrying about potential fire hazards. As dry ice is a non-conductive substance, it is also safe to use around electrical wiring and electrical equipment.
Possibly one of the biggest advantages that dry ice blasting offers over other methods of mold or soot removal is that it is 100% environmentally friendly. Dry ice pellets are made from liquid CO2, a naturally occurring substance that poses no risk to the environment. But wait, what role does this CO2 play in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, I hear you ask? In fact, dry ice is created from reclaimed CO2 acquired from the byproducts of other industrial processes. Consequently, it does not generate additional CO2 or contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
Dry ice blasting uses no secondary contaminants in the form of solvents or other chemical toxins that could potentially harm the environment or wildlife; it generates very little, if any hazardous dust – a major cause of air pollution; and unlike other methods of blasting, it leaves no trace of the blasting media – the CO2 pellets vaporize and vanish into thin air, making clean-up a blast (no pun intended).
Consequently, once the mold is removed from the walls or other surfaces, there is no secondary toxic waste to clean up or dispose off. Other blasting methods result in secondary waste consisting largely of the cleaning media that is now contaminated with the material that was removed from the substrate, together with any toxic chemicals or solvents used in the process. This secondary waste has to be cleaned up, and handled and disposed off appropriately.
Unlike other methods of blasting or chemical removal, there is no danger of downstream contamination by toxic chemicals or the blasting media that could potentially damage equipment nearby or kill vegetation in the surrounding area. The lack of airborne dust and contaminants means it is safe to use around workers and it will not compromise their health in any way.
Dry ice blasting is not limited to mold removal. It can be used in many cleaning applications to effectively remove other undesirable surface contaminants, including soot from surfaces in fire damage restoration projects, and to remove industrial grime, oil, or paint from walls, equipment and other surfaces. The process allows equipment to be cleaned on site without the need for disassembling or special care of electric or mechanical parts, making it a time-saving, practical and eco-friendly method of cleaning for a wide range of applications.
About the author: Carl Bennett owns New Jersey-based Above & Beyond Unlimited Cleaning.