Because the topic of mold and mildew became a big concern in a short time frame, many people think it is something new to our environment. Actually, mold has comprised a large percentage of the earth’s biomass forever. It is just that people were not aware of it until recently.
Due to the growing awareness of mold, many state health organizations have put rules and guidelines in place to improve indoor air quality and control mold growth. The primary goal is to speed up identification and prompt remediation of mold and mildew issues to avoid further contamination.
The majority of buildings that house workers rely on the existing indoor air; windows do not open so fresh air does not circulate, which in turn contributes to the possibility of an increase in contaminants.
Mold and fungi spores need nutrients, and they favor moist conditions where oxygen and materials are present that contribute to their survival. These materials can consist of wood, paper, sheetrock, and countless other sources.
There is no possible way to eradicate all mold spores in any indoor environment. The key to prevention of mold growth is moisture control. This requires ongoing monitoring and repairs to any areas where moisture can enter a building.
When mold is identified, prompt attention is required to not only remove the mold, but repair any leaks or moisture problems. If the mold is removed but the moisture problem that contributed to its growth is not addressed, the mold will simply return.
Some materials can be cleaned, disinfected, and left in place, while other materials may require replacement. Generally, absorbent materials such as sheetrock, carpeting, rotted wood, or ceiling tiles must be replaced.
The Ongoing Mold and Health Debate
Whether mold contributes to severe or even deadly health issues is a matter of great debate, but it is certain that it can cause allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and other respiratory health problems.
The reduction of the indoor humidity level is essential for decreasing mold growth. Any areas of a building that contribute to moisture should receive special attention such as bathrooms and kitchens. The air quality is better controlled through the use of dehumidifiers, exhaust fans, air conditioners, Rabbit Air BioGS or Blueair purifiers, and proper ventilation.
Condensation on pipes is another contributor to mold. Insulation can be added to help keep the pipes warmer which will in turn reduce the potential of excessive condensation leading to moisture problems and mold growth.
Large organizations benefit from organizing an IAQ (indoor air quality) team that addresses employee IAQ complaints and reports of moisture problems and mold. They implement measures and controls so that mold can be identified and removed promptly.
Ideally, an IAQ team will consist of someone with environmental safety training and experience as well as industry specialists in HVAC, electricity, and plumbing.
The team not only processes complaints and mold/moisture problem reports, but also evaluates and monitors the building conditions so that preventative repairs and maintenance are addressed on a regular basis.
The IAQ team should also create ways to address educating all employees in how to properly identify and assess the mold potential of any area. There should be processes in place so that employees know exactly how and where to report any potential or existing issues so they can be processed quickly and efficiently.
Diligent monitoring and prompt repair are the keys to controlling mold growth in any building, and the level of indoor air quality relies on this type of moisture and mold monitoring on a regular basis.