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Wood Pallets and Mold: Don’t Let It Take Over Your Industrial Needs

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As we enter the warmer, wetter months of the year, there is reason to be concerned with the potential to find mold on your wood pallets. Mold can be a health hazard and can also potentially damage the contents of your pallets.

But luckily, once you know the signs to look for, you will be able to minimize and prevent mold from growing on your wood pallets.

How Does Mold Get on Pallets?

Mold is a type of fungi that grows on wood, paper, foods, insulation, fabric and a host of other places. 

Mold is a natural part of the environment and mold spores are everywhere. There are many different types of mold that look different in color, but they all have one thing in common: mold needs moisture to grow! In addition to moisture, mold needs oxygen, the right temperature (typically warm temps) and a food source (like wood). Wood with a moisture content below 20% does not allow mold or mildew to grow.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), molds are very common in buildings of all kinds. Leaky roofs, open windows, and condensation on pipes can increase moisture content in any building, creating an environment for mold to grow. Mold loves to grow on paper, cardboard and wood products, as well as insulation, drywall, carpet and fabric.

It’s worth noting that you may find a dark blueish or black stain on pallet wood that is not mold. Rather, it is called iron stain and can rub off from products set on top of the pallet. You can purchase iron stain treatments to get rid of this discoloration.

What Problems Can Mold Cause?

The good news is that mold doesn’t affect the strength of the wood in the pallets. It only exists on the surface and won’t do any structural damage. The bad news, however, is that mold can contaminate products stacked on the pallet.

Additionally, mold can contaminate an area and become a hazard to human health. It also can just simply look and smell very unappealing.

The food industry is especially sensitive to the issue of mold on wood pallets. According to Pallet Enterprise magazine, Starbucks lost several millions of dollars worth of coffee beans due to moldy wood pallets. 

Pharmaceutical and medical companies are also very careful of mold for the same reason. Medications and sanitary packaged products cannot risk being contaminated once the package is opened.

Mold can also be dangerous for workers in areas around pallets that have mold on them. Some health risks for humans include sneezing, runny nose, skin rashes, dizziness and headaches.

Preventing Mold on Your Pallets

Good housekeeping is the key to preventing mold in the first place. There are several things you can do to keep wood pallets from developing mold, such as:

  • Keeping the pallets away from sources of mold, like old decaying wood or other similar materials.
  • Ensure your pallets are stored in an area that has very good airflow. If they are in trailers, unload them as soon as possible. You can even rotate the pallets to ensure they receive even airflow. 
  • Using a fan in the storage area can go a long way toward drying out the environment that may cause mold to grow.
  • Along with that, don’t let pallets sit in water or in a really humid environment for a long time. Storing them indoors is ideal, but if you can’t, at least cover the pallets with a waterproof cover.

If you do notice mold developing on your pallets, The Virginia Tech Center for Packaging and Unit Load design suggests using bleach or fungicide on the pallets and removing any signs of mold on the wood.

Hope Timber has very high standards when it comes to our wood pallets, and we know that you do, too!  Contact us or give us a call at (740) 344-1788.  We’d love to build a relationship with you as we serve your pallet needs.

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