Mold

Mold is not a plant or animal; it is a fungus (plant-like organism) that can be different colors and can be found indoors or outdoors. Mold consumes the material on which it grows.  If it present in large amounts it could create health hazards for humans, such as respiratory or allergen problems. It can be found in damp/dark areas, basements, under carpet/drywall, on food, and in poorly ventilated places. Outside, mold grows on soil, grass, wood, and decaying plants or animals. Places such as antique shops, farms, greenhouses, construction areas, flower shops, and summer cottages tend to have high mold exposure. Thousands of kinds of molds exist, and some, like aspergillus or stachybotrys (black mold), are toxic for humans and animals. Toxic black mold is one of the major causes of sick building syndrome, and it is very toxic to humans. Sensitive people must avoid areas where mold is present. Symptoms of mold exposure can include headache, watery eyes, chronic cough, breathing problems, rashes, asthma, tiredness, and sinus problems. Mold can be removed from hard surfaces with soap and water, bleach mixed with water (not with ammonia or other cleaning products), or hot water and detergent. OSHA provides guidance regarding mold prevention and remediation in buildings for property managers or owners, contractors, consultants, and safety professionals. Under the general duty clause employers are required to provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized health and safety hazards. This standard includes mold.

  1. Mold Safety Practices:
  • Do not touch moldy items with bare hands.
  • Avoid breathing in mold.
  • Use PPE when necessary (gloves, eye protection, respirator).
  • Try to improve ventilation in damp areas at home or in the workplace.
    • Open windows and doors for fresh air.
    • Use air-conditioning or a dehumidifier in damp areas of a building.
  • Focus on fixing the cause of mold at home or the workplace (leaking roofs, pipes, etc.).
  • Do not carpet basements or bathrooms.
  • Try to keep humidity at less than 50%.
    • Use air-conditioning or dehumidifiers in damp areas of a building.
    • Prevent high indoor humidity with an HVAC system.
  • If you use bleach with water to clean up mold, follow manufacturer instruction.
  • If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult with the EPA.
  • If an employee has a respiratory problem encourage him/her to see a health care provider and follow the recommendations involving building-related respiratory disease.
  • Establish a program for recording and responding to indoor air quality complaints.