Controlled study of mold growth and cleaning procedure on treated and untreated wet gypsum wallboard in an indoor environment

J Occup Environ Hyg. 2006 Aug;3(8):435-41. doi: 10.1080/15459620600798663.


The basis for some common gypsum wallboard mold remediation practices was examined. The bottom inch of several gypsum wallboard panels was immersed in bottled drinking water; some panels were coated and others were untreated. The panels were examined and tested for a period of 8 weeks. This study investigated: (a) whether mold growth, detectable visually or with tape lift samples, occurs within 1 week on wet gypsum wallboard; (b) the types, timing, and extent of mold growth on wet gypsum wallboard; (c) whether mold growth is present on gypsum wallboard surfaces 6 inches from visible mold growth; (d) whether some commonly used surface treatments affect the timing of occurrence and rate of mold growth; and (e) if moldy but dried gypsum wallboard can be cleaned with simple methods and then sealed with common surface treatments so that residual mold particles are undetectable with typical surface sampling techniques. Mold growth was not detected visually or with tape lift samples after 1 week on any of the wallboard panels, regardless of treatment, well beyond the 24-48 hours often mentioned as the incubation period. Growth was detected at 2 weeks on untreated gypsum. Penicillium, Cladosporium, and Acremonium were early colonizers of untreated panels. Aspergillus, Epicoccum, Alternaria, and Ulocladium appeared later. Stachybotrys was not found. Mold growth was not detected more than 6 inches beyond the margin of visible mold growth, suggesting that recommendations to remove gypsum wallboard more than 1 foot beyond visible mold are excessive. The surface treatments resulted in delayed mold growth and reduced the area of mold growth compared with untreated gypsum wallboard. Results showed that simple cleaning of moldy gypsum wallboard was possible to the extent that mold particles beyond "normal trapping" were not found on tape lift samples. Thus, cleaning is an option in some situations where removal is not feasible or desirable. In cases where conditions are not similar to those of this study, or where large areas may be affected, a sample area could be cleaned and tested to verify that the cleaning technique is sufficient to reduce levels to background or normal trapping. These results are generally in agreement with laboratory studies of mold growth on, and cleaning of, gypsum wallboard.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis
  • Calcium Sulfate*
  • Construction Materials / microbiology*
  • Disinfectants*
  • Fungi / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Sodium Hypochlorite*
  • Time Factors
  • Water*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Disinfectants
  • Water
  • Sodium Hypochlorite
  • Calcium Sulfate