What feeds on food, moisture, air, and warmth at any time in the right conditions? Mold is the answer. The durability of wooden pallets has proven to be a necessity for manufacturers and distributors. While alternative materials such as plastic, metal, and cardboard pallets have entered the market, wooden pallets continue to be a suitable resource for transporting goods.
What Causes Mold?
Mold is an adaptable fungus that survives on any surface at the right conditions. Out of the four factors of what mold feeds on, moisture is the most feasible factors to eliminate. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suitable conditions for mold to grow include temperatures between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit, outdoor in shady damp conditions places where leaves or other vegetation is decomposing. Although mold can potentially contaminate the surface of the pallet, it does not affect the integrity of the wood.
One solution to eliminate mold is heat treating which requires that a pallet’s wood core temperature reaches 132.8° Fahrenheit for at least 30 minutes, according to the ISPM 15 standards Mold can germinate within 24-48 hours if exposed to the proper moisture, temperature, and food source. Therefore, it is important to locate a certified heat treatment facility in order to follow the specific standards of the ISPM 15.
Air drying is another process to prevent mold from growing while having control of your inventory. It is a round-the-clock rotation of pallets allowing the winds to eliminate moisture. Depending on the type of wood used to build the pallets will determine the amount of time for air drying.
Other solutions include the wood to be fumigated with methyl bromide, fan shed drying or dip treatments with chemical preservatives that have low mammalian toxicity. However, it is suggested going for an eco-friendly solution for eliminating mold on pallets instead of a synthetic treatment.
How to spot mold on pallets
The National Wooden Pallet and Container Association state, mold cannot be visible to the naked eye, while others blatantly discolor the wood surface. It is commonly found to show as black discolorations and forms in groups but could be easily wiped off only leaving spots and patches. Some forms of mold growths are not visible, but it is still living on the surface.
Depending on the surface, mold growth is either blue-green, dark yellow, grey-black, white or other shades of those colors. A way to distinguish mold is to use a magnifying glass and gloves, look for hair-like extensively branching filaments.
What to do if your pallets are delivered with mold
Once the mold has been identified, take extensive and rapid precautions to eliminate the mold. Notify your pallet supplier immediately. Heat treatment is the more efficient and can decontaminate pallets of mold. However, this does not prevent mold from returning if pallets are re-introduced to moisture and allowing it to grow again. Keep pallets in a dry staging area after decontamination.
Pallet Consultants strives to educate and provide useful information that will help you choose the best possible pallet provider for your operational needs. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us