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Disaster recovery and restoration can be veiled in mystery to the many who have not undertaken specific training. This glossary explains technical terms to assist both report writing and the understanding of those technical terms so often misunderstood.


The Disaster Advice Glossary and its contents are the protected copyright of Disaster Advice

Main Frame

In buildings the main frame is the main structural components which support all secondary frame components. In computers the mainframe is a very high speed computer capable of handling multi-tasking. See Components In Place



An offensive odour from decay and decomposition of organic matter and waste. Some malodours can automatically cause automatic vomiting reactions and inhalation of malodourous bacteria and viruses may result in diarrhea and illness. See Odour


Manifest System

The regulations applicable to transporters of hazardous waste. Included in hazardous waste which must have a manifest are asbestos and lead-base paint. A company may decide to have their own non-regulated manifest system to track and control the use of chemicals.


Masking Agents

Chemicals containing fragrances that are manufactured to mask offensive malodors putrid odours musty odours and fire odours from being identified for what they truly are. Properly applied with binding odour neutralizers masking agents can be a benefit in the preliminary odour neutralization phase. Health and Safety Note Masking agents are unfortunately too widely used by non-professionals. Unsuspecting persons who have allergies and other impairments may find that masking agents create a false negative sense of smell that a problem does not exist for which it actually does. See False Negative


Material Safety Data Sheets MSDS

Chemical manufacturer supplied information about physical characteristics safety health and reactive data of all chemical ingredients listed. 29 CFR 1910.1200g1.


MCL Maximum Contamination Level

A Standard for drinking water established by USEPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act which is the maximum permissible level of chemicals of concern in water while is delivered to any user of a public water supply.


MDF Medium Density Fibreboard

A pre-cast or molded finishing material made of composite fiberboard glues and adhesives. Adjuster Note Most MDF are painted cove and cornice materials. MDF materials take the place of more expensive solid wood coving and cornices. If the base and cornice materials are to be painted MDF may be a substitute for solid wood. Restorative Drying Note In water damage restoration once MDF materials become saturated they tend to swell anddelaminate easy and in general when MDF has had continuous contact with water where water or moisture remains behind the MDF the MDF backside readily supports mould growth.


Mean Radiant Temperature

Having a value intermediate between the values of two substances or materials. The uniform surface temperature of a radiantly black enclosure in which an occupant would exchange the same amount of radiant heat as in the actual nonuniform space.


Means Referring to R.S. Means

A cost estimating and job-cost accounting software program produced by R.S. Means. Means also produces a field cost estimating book of construction related materials and labor costs. The cost estimating book is published annually.


Mechanical Agitation

The preferred method of cleaning a contaminated surface properly. Mitigation Note Counter and wall mechanical agitation includes scrub brushes detergents warm water and rinsing. Mechanical agitation of floors preferably include a floor scrubber with an abrasive stripping pad detergents warm water and rinsing. c There is a difference of mechanical agitation of a non-porous surface and a porous surface. A non-porous surface such as stainless steel and vinyl flooring can be cleaned and sanitized having a even cleanliness while porous surfaces such as non-sealed concrete wood subfloors and drywall cannot be cleaned and sanitized evenly.



A process by which parties involved in a dispute submit their dispute to a neutral third party the mediator who works with the parties to reach a settlement. Mediation is an extension of the negotiation process. Submitting a dispute to a mediator will not cause delay to any pending lawsuit or arbitration. Mediators receive a fee from the parties for their services.


Mediation vs Arbitration

The arbitration process is a less formal legal process than litigation and mediation is even less formal than arbitration. Unlike an arbitrator a mediator does not have the power to render a binding decision. A mediator does not hold evidentiary hearings as in arbitration but the mediator conducts informal joint and separate meetings with the parties to understand the issues facts positions and differences of the parties. The separate meetings are known as caucuses. In contrast arbitrators hear testimony and receive evidence in a joint hearing based on which they render a final and binding decision known as an award.


Medical Sewage waste

Pertaining to the mainline sewer system backups blood and other potentially infectious %u005Bliquid%u005D materials OPIM and solids which are allowed to be legally disposed of in sewer systems including chemotherapy waste that enter a building from a backup. Education Note Sewage is not classified as medical waste unless the sewage is coming directly from a medical facility itself and the sewage is on the property of the medical facility Bloodborne Pathogen Standard reference. Health Note Sewage cleanup emergency response technicians must be extremely careful when responding to sewage backups in or near hospitals outpatient clinics laboratories abortion clinics morgues animal hospitals prisons long-term care facilities dental offices and cancer treatment centers. See Sewage


Medical Surveillance Protection

In hazardous and potentially environments resulting in potential or known exposures a medical surveillance protection program must be implemented as part of the HAZCOM requirements. Technician Health Note Environments having toxics gas carcinogens pathogens and agents known to cause health illness and disease impairments the potentially exposed employees must have a medical surveillance program in place by the employer before exposing employees to such hazards. Besides employees quite possibly the environment itself may require medical surveillance protection and monitoring. 29 CFR 1010.120 and 29 CFR 1910.1030



A resin impregnated decorative panel that is thermally fused to particleboard for use in the manufacturing of cabinets bookcases shelving desks and storage units. Education Note In water damage restoration while the melamine itself is not usually affected by water the fused particleboard delaminates and swells and the affected area is usually not cost effective to repair or is repairable by normal restoration means. For more information on melamine contact customer service at 800/829-3648 or www.doable.com.



An organism that grows optimally within the temperature range of 77%u00B0F to 104%u00B0F 25%u00B0C to 40%u00B0C. Organisms that commonly thrive and live in moderate temperatures and humidity for their development. Mesophilic organisms include bacteria fungi and yeasts which are commonly associated with an indoor environment and are considered resident to the microflora of the building. See Microflora Resident Organisms


Metabolic Rate

A rate of energy production by the body. Metabolism which varies with activity is expressed in met units metabolic rate units. One met is defined as 18.4 BTU/h ft2 58.2 W/m2 which is equal to the energy produced per unit surface area of a seated person at rest. The surface area of an average man is about 19 ft2 1.8 m2. Education Note An industrial hygienist may calculate the metabolic rate of workers who appear or who are over exerting them self in certain work activities such as in chemical protective suits wearing a respirator or during the performance of certain tasks.


Metal Pan Flooring

A galvanized sheet metal used in high-rise buildings as part of the subfloor. On top of the metal pan flooring is a type of poured light-weight concrete slab usually 4%u0022 to 6%u0022 thick. Education Note Light-weight concrete floors are very porous and in a water damage situation the very porous concrete can retain much of the excess water like a sponge. Further complicating the restorative dry process is the metal pan which can hold and retain large amounts of trapped water. Some subfloors having metal pan flooring and light-weight concrete after a major flood could not have replacement hardwood and vinyl flooring placed on them for months since the excess moisture as vapor pressure exceeded manufacturer installation requirements. Unlike pour-in-place concrete slab floor which does not have a metal pan floor a metal pan floor cannot benefit from drying the concrete slab from a lower floor.


Methods of Investigation

Related to indoor air quality inspections methods of investigation include a review of the history of the building an on-site physical review of all parts of the building and scientific monitoring of various parts of the building. Methods of investigation are similar to discovery of medical patient wellness by medical professionals. EPA recommends a Building Assessment Survey and Evaluation BASE Study and Temporal Indoor Monitoring and Evaluation TIME Study as either methods for determining base-lines or in dealing with problem solving.


Methods of Testing

Acceptable industry standards and methods of testing for determining the presence/absence of a contaminate. See Bioaerosols Assessment and Control



The physical conditions limited to a particular habitat such as in a wet or humidified wall cavity as compared to corresponding climates of larger areas.



A prefix used in science to denote small or a particulate matter that is less than one millionth in size.



See Bacteria Fungi


Microbial Contamination

In water damages microbial contamination is one of several factors including the presence of certain bacteria virus and protozoa or fungi mould and yeasts or their by-products and toxins which effect the health of the building and its occupants.


Microbial Load

The total number of bacteria fungi and yeasts in a given area or space.


Microbiological Contamination

See Microbial Contamination



The branch of science which studies living organisms.



As it relates to the indoor environments of buildings the normal living resident bacteria fungi and yeasts commonly found in a healthy building surfaces and atmosphere. See Mesophilic Resident Organisms



A unit of length that is 1/1X106 of a meter.



A unit of measure equaling to .0025 inches or .001 millimetres in length.



Chemical and environmentally produced food-stuffs which microorganisms support their growth by.



The optical instrument used by trained professionals and microbiologists to determine the physical and biological properties associated with a damage. Microscopes are used to identify asbestos bacteria yeasts and fungi to name a few.



The ability of a contaminate such as water chemical gas or a vapour to move away from or out of its source location.



A group of small microscopic size organisms which cannot be seen or identified without a microscope.



Usually designated to those molds that are common in wet damp building environments such as bathrooms and bathroom showers where tile glass and painted surfaces harbour soap and soap fatty films allowing the growth of mildew. Education Note Mildew is a layman term for mold and fungi growth. See Mold and Fungi


Mildew on Pain

A condition usually brought about from high humidity and warmth. The mildew is on the surface where dust dirt and oily surfaces exist or from behind the paint where moisture and dirt are on the previous unclean surface which is allowed to grow the mildew.


Millgrams per Cubic Metre Mg/m3

A metric unit used in industrial hygiene to measure air concentrations of dusts gases mists and fumes.



A prefix denoting one-thousandth.


Milligram mg

A unit of weight in the metric system. One thousand milligrams equal one gram or the equivalent to one-thousandth of a gram.



A metric unit used to measure volume. One millilitre equals one cubic centimeter.


Minimum Transport Velocity MTV

The minimum velocity which will transport particles in a duct with little settling the MTV varies with air density particulate loading and other factors.



Aerosolized airborne suspended small particle size droplets of chemical and moisture vapors that linger in air for some time. Some mists are visually apparent when other particulate matter such as dusts are present in the mist but as a water vapour alone mists are not easily apparent. Mists are generated from the condensation of gaseous from or to a liquid state such as by atomizing splashing or vapourizing. See Aerosols Bioaerosols



Small minute arachnids such as dust mites and skin mites. Under a microscope mites look like undefined or well marked small spiders. Larger species of mites which are seen with the eye may be chiggers or ticks. Education Note Mites in water damaged buildings and in carpets increase in number because of the increased moisture and food sources such as fungi yeasts and bacteria.


Mitered Corner

The 45 degree formation of the corner of a window door casement or wood framed drawer.



Any one of a number of processes necessary for overcoming an environmental problem. The terms for remediation and mitigation are used interchangeably. Education Note Actions taken by competent trained technicians to reduce and lessen the impact of building damage from flooding and other disasters and to eliminate secondary damage concerns of a building becoming a future health risk or liability. See Abatement Remediation


Mitigation Directorate

The component within FEMA that is directly responsible for administering the floodplain management aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program.


Mixed Air

The part of an HVAC system where the return air R is mixed with the outside fresh air OF the air resulting from this mixing is the mixed air.


Mixing of Air

An induction method in water damage mitigation to exchange wet air in a building for more dryer air. See Induction Restorative Drying


Mixing Ratio

In a moist air environment the ratio of the mass of water vapour to the mass of dry air.


Mobilzation Costs

The costs and expenses incurred during the assembly of employees and equipment materials and supplies prior to the start of scheduled and emergency work. Mobilization costs including transportation if covered under the terms of the contract are reimbursable job related costs. See Administrative Costs


Moderate-Level Hazardous Work Environment

Work atmospheres and environments which are known to pose some direct risk to life and/or health if the hazards are not removed and monitored before employees are allowed to work in such an environment. A work environment requiring engineering controls and personal protective equipment in order for an employee to complete specific work tasks. See High-Hazardous Level Work Environments Low Level Hazardous Work Environments



To control a damper or valve so that it may assume any position between full open and full closed as well as these two positions.


Modulating Control

In the HVAC system a mode of automatic control in which the action of the final control element is proportional to the deviation from set point of the controlled medium.


Modulating Controllers

Mechanical controllers which constantly reposition themselves in proportion to the requirements of the HVAC system theoretically being able to maintain an accurately constant condition.



In HVAC system controls the adjustment and balance of the system by increments and decrements.


Moisture Control

The engineered controls in buildings that are specifically designed to control regulate humidity and temperature. Education Note Moisture control are the physical building material properties including but not limited to vapor barrier and insulating properties of exterior walls floors ceiling and roof. Refer to the Moisture Control Handbook by Joseph Lstiburek See Equilibrium Moisture Content Humidity


Moisture Damage to Paint

A condition to paint brought about from underlying moisture affecting the bonding strength of the paint film to its underlying surface. Moisture damage to paint in this instance refers to the peeling cracking and blistering of the paint film.


Moisture Impermeable Building Materials

A characteristic of some building materials to hold off retard delay and impede rain water high moisture and moisture vapour absorption for a given period of time while allowing the building material to microscopically breathe. Moisture impermeable building materials are generally limited to materials which are known to retard rain water and water vapor effectively as calculated by industry standards outlined in ASTM guidelines. See ASTM Impermeability


Moisture Meter

The moisture measurements of wood drywall and flooring materials which are measured using various electrical conductivity instruments. Restorative Drying Note The results of the moisture meter instruments is a qualitative comparison of wet and dry materials and the results are expressed as a percentage. Some moisture meters sensors measure the percentage of moisture content in a particular material. In water damages the percentage of moisture will vary as the materials dry and vapour pressure changes.


Moisture Monitoring

In water damage claims management during the emergency part of the job moisture monitoring is an investigative and forensic process determining the exact locations which building absorbed unwanted moisture and humidity. In water damaged buildings during the drydown phase moisture monitoring is the strict discipline requiring the measurement and recording of wet building materials and the drydown process. Moisture monitoring continues until the restorative drying contractor has determined the wet building materials no longer require drying and dehumidification since they have been returned to an acceptable moisture content


Moisture Transpiration

The amount of moisture in a material that can move in and out of that material. Moisture transpiration rate must consider the percent of solids which make up the material the percent of free air and the percent of suspended or trapped moisture.


Moisture Vapour

The amount of indoor moisture trapped in a building in its vapor state or phase during high humidity or a water damage. Education Note High moisture content in air above 75%u0025 RH is an indication engineering controls are necessary to control and reduce unwanted indoor humidity. See Dehumidification Psychometrics


Moisture-Related Flooring Failures

The ability of moisture as a vapor from a substrate to cause or result in a floor product damage. Although there are a lot of very technical-sounding terms and theories surrounding flooring problems and failures there are only two basic causes of flooring failures moisture and alkalinity. Assuming of course there has not been unsatisfactory construction practices flooring products and flooring installation.



Sampling and analysis of air water soil and building materials to determine background and concentrations of contamination. Restorative Drying Note Monitoring is the method used daily along with moisture sensoring equipment during the drydown process of a wet building. See Dehumidification Drydown Restorative Drying


Monitoring Equipment

The equipment necessary to monitor a control against a contaminate or a contaminate against a standard.


Monte Carlo Method

A method of sampling that produces a statistical estimate of a quantity by taking many random samples from an assumed probability distribution source such as considered to be a normal distribution. The Monte Carlo Method is typically used when experimentation is infeasible or when the actual input values are different or impossible to obtain.



The state of a person or community being sick or diseased. The sickness rate or ratio of the number sick persons measured against persons remaining well.



The branch of biological science that deals with the study of the structure and form of living organisms without regard to their function.


Mortgage Payment Clause in an Insurance Policy

In insurance terminology the word mortgage includes trustee or loss payee. If a mortgagee is named on a policy a covered loss will be paid to the mortgagee and the insured as interests appear. If more than one mortgagee is named on the policy the order of payment by the insurer will be the same as the order of the mortgages. Education Note If the insurer denies an insurance claim such denial will not apply to a mortgage holder valid claim against a mortgage or against other contractual claims such as a contractor who provided emergency or restoration services.


Mould Abatement

The term mold abatement is a misnomer and it is a misused term. The term mold abatement came from the asbestos abatement industry. Mould abatement is often confused with asbestos abatement since most all of the asbestos terminology methods and equipment have been borrowed from this industry. Harmful mould is remediated not abated since not all mold can be removed from an environment nor should it be.


Mould and Fungi

According to Ainsworth %u0026 Bisby Dictionary of the Fungi 8th Ed 1995 molds are micro-fungi which have well marked mycelia and spore mass. The word mould is used to describe various groups of fungi. Surprisingly to some persons all mold are fungi but not all fungi are molds%u0021 Dr. Chin Yang Education Note In water damaged buildings environmental assessments and remediation practices the term mould and fungi are often used interchangeably. See Fungi Mildew


Mould Assessment

1 The process of visually evaluating an environment or material for signs of mould growth or decay. 2 The process by which environmental professionals use to determine the presence/absence of mould contamination in buildings and materials.


Mould Containment

A properly designed and engineered containment that is placed around mouldy building materials before they are allowed to be removed. Depending on the environment and situation mould containment must be maintained under negative air-pressure relative to the surrounding areas.


Mould Exposures

All moulds in certain quantities are allergenic while other moulds in small quantities can be toxic. Mould exposures are based on an individuals health and there are no exact threshold levels. Mould exposures are mainly a result of inhalation ingestion and skin contact.


Mould Mitigation

The term mitigation means to lessen. This is an alternative term the primary and more professional term for describing the removal of harmful or questionable mouldy building materials is mould remediation. See Mould Remediation


Mould Prevention

Methods required for stopping and eliminating high moisture content humidity and the drying of water damages before mould growth.


Mould Remediation

Specific industry accepted methods for the containment and removal of mould-contaminated building materials safely while applying acceptable industry standards-of-care. NYC Education Note Mould remediation of contaminated building materials having over 30 square feet of contaminated surface must follow the same containment and abatement methods as prescribed for asbestos remediation. See IICRC Mycotoxin Abatement Personal Protective Equipment Serious Violation Stachybotrys Mitigation


Mould Remediation Guidelines

1 Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi In Indoor Environments www.ci.nyc.us/html/doh/html/epi/moldrpt1.html 2 Mould Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/molds.html 3 Federal Emergency Management Agency www.fema.gov/mit. Note there are reference materials and other web sites attached to these documents that are valuable resources.


Mould Remediation Plan

A written engineering plan that describes the reasonable judgement methods and protocol required for removing contaminated building materials safely.


Mould Sampling

The removal of representative materials having or indicating a mold concern. Education Note Mould sampling for general identification of a material may be completed by the lay-person through bulk swab or tape lift sampling. Mould samples are to be sent to a qualified mycology laboratory for analysis. Mould sampling for quantitative and qualitative analysis must be completed by only trained environmental professionals along with interpretation of laboratory data.



In physics and engineering the term movement denotes the principal by which a force is applied sufficient enough to exert a pressure on itself or by another object.



A term denoting liquefied and suspended soil in water.


Mud and Muck

The remaining organic and inorganic matter collected around the outside under and in a building after a catastrophic flooding disaster. The mud and muck came from lakes and streams fields and farms storm runoff and sewer systems. Contractor Note From a building owners prospective the immediate task is to start shoveling-out the mud and muck. After most of the mud and muck has been removed the building owner will usually bring in hoses and pressure washing equipment to wash down the remaining mud and muck from building materials and contents. c After muck and mud removal and the interior environment is allowed to dry then the building owner assesses the damage and after a very close evaluation the owner determines there a considerable amount of grit and fines remaining. See Fines Grit Mud and Muck Assessment


Mud and Muck Assessment

A damage assessment of the building and its contents. The assessment includes the safety of the building electricity and gas hazards and what steps are necessary in containing the damage. The assessment of the building damage does not include a damage estimate it is a survey of the overall damage only. See Mud and Muck-Out


Mud and Muck-Out

The services necessary to remove all catastrophic mud and muck from a building. Remember mud and muck-out services cannot begin until flood waters are down.


Mud and Muck-Out Minimum of Services - a Technicians Right to Know

When service are required Assess the safety of the building including electricity and gas. Provide for employee protection safety and personal hygiene. c Have the right equipment to meet the needs of every job. d Inventory remove salvageable contents clean and sanitize them locate them in a safe clean area or a separate building. e Provide for mud and muck-out of all saturated building areas. f Gain access to the damaged building materials carpet vinyl underlayment cabinets drywall and insulation and remove them. g Remove all small debris and remove them. The building must be down to studs and the exterior walls. h Low-pressure pressure wash and scrub the building starting from one end to another while attempting to not recontaminate already cleaned areas. I Follow up with extraction with truckmount equipment or if necessary portable extraction equipment. On concrete slabs use squeegees and push out of a door. j A second low-pressure pressure washing and scrubbing in some buildings is necessary followed with extraction. k Drying of a wet building varies with each structure. Building drying depends on local weather conditions including wind relative humidity and temperature. Often during catastrophic flooding weather calls for more rain. Dehumidification with industrial size truck-mounted desiccant machines and large refrigerant machines sometimes is the only method available to dry structures properly.


Mud and Muck-Out Professionals

Water damage mitigation contractors who travel across the United States and Canada with trained managers and technicians who provide catastrophic mud and muck-out services for insurance companies business and communities. Contractor Note Typically trained managers and technicians of the contractor will hire teach and manage local high school and college age men to provide mud and muck-out services. Local housing is limited and it usually is not available for large out of state or town service crews.


Multi-stage Thermostat

A thermostat which controls multiple stages of auxiliary equipment for heating or cooling in response to a greater demand for heating or cooling.



An HVAC system supplying air to two or more locations each location having its own thermostat. The thermostat controls the delivered air temperature by controlling damper positions connected to a hot deck/cold deck.



The gas-like effect in air produced by some fungi as they sporulate and decay when digesting organic carbon-based materials. M-VOCs microbial Volatile Organic Compounds can result in a occupant health condition while indoors where fresh outside air is not constantly present and flowing. Static are spaces or indoor spaces having little air movement while in the presence of ideal fungi growth conditions will produce M-VOCs and mycotoxins. Most building areas having musty-like smells including mushroom like smells and smells consisting of earthy damp soil weedy nutty or having a sweet ester/metallic smell should be avoided. Health and Mitigation Note After donning proper respiratory equipment further investigation as to the cause of the smells should be conducted. Be aware that not all M-VOC conditions produce smells when fungi is present. Extreme health and respiratory caution must be taken when around a mouldy building environment.



A pain often located in the muscles that is usually brought about from injury and inflammation.



The growing yet non-spore forming stage of fungi moulds and yeasts. See Hyphae


Mycelial Fragments

The dead and decaying fragments from fungi moulds and yeast.



The scientific name given to mycologists who study fungi and yeasts other fungi and their by-products. The field of mycology is broke down into three specialty groups medical mycology - the study of fungi on populations plant mycology - the study of fungi rusts smuts and yeasts on vegetative plants trees and crops and environmental mycology - the study of fungi in environments including buildings.


Mycotoxin Abatement

Fungi which produce mycotoxins in wet building materials they are usually noticeable as having a black gray or a greenish mold color. Contractor Note There are no Federal regulations for abating mycotoxins but the State of New York and New York City has carefully and scientifically studied fungal toxins. Their document is called Assessment and Remediation of Stachybotrys Atra in Indoor Environments. Health and Mitigation Note The scientific community agrees black molds are dangerous and they must be removed carefully. Small areas 10 square feet can be easily removed by an owner or contractor as long as they wear Latex or rubber gloves long sleeve shirts and a HEPA rated respirator. Mitigation Note Large areas such as a whole wall room or building should only be removed by professionals who have mold abatement experience training and equipment. Mouldy building materials must be carefully removed in their entirety double bagged and legally disposed. OSHA Note Most other State OSHA health and safety standards mandate that mitigation contractors must now follow the revised New York Guidelines in protecting their employees and work occupants of a building. See Mould Mitigation Personal Protective Equipment Serious Violation Stachybotrys Mitigation



Toxic fungi that produce mycotoxins from fungal growth and fungal decay. Education and Health Note Recent medical-clinical evidence reports that mycotoxins especially from Aspergillus niger Stachybotrys atra chartarum indicate fungi mycotoxins are being produced from wet cellulosic building materials. Certain fungi can produce large amounts of toxins that can be severely toxic to both humans and animals. See Mycotoxin Abatement Neurotoxins



Any number of slime moulds that grow on damp soil and decaying vegetable matter such as decaying wood bark and fruits. See Ascospores Basidiospores


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