Mold in the Workplace
As public awareness of the health effects and symptoms caused by mold exposure increases, so too, does concern about indoor exposure and the need to reduce contact. Therefore, it is important to understand basic practices to prevent or minimize mold growth; specifically among those overseeing the maintenance of commercial properties.
Molds are part of the natural environment. Throughout the year, molds can be found anywhere - inside or outside. However, mold growth should be avoided inside if possible, as problems may arise when mold starts eating away at materials; affecting the look, smell, and possibly, the structural integrity of buildings. Mold growth will often occur when excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, particularly if the moisture problem remains uncorrected. If left unchecked, molds gradually damage building materials and furnishings, and can eventually cause structural damage to a wood-framed building, weakening floors and walls as it feeds on moist wooden structural members.
SERVPRO’s familiarity with water cleanup and mold remediation makes us highly knowledgeable in areas pertaining to mold prevention. Moisture control is the key to mold control. When water leaks or spills occur indoors - act promptly. Any initial water infiltration should be stopped and cleaned promptly (within 24-48 hours). Thorough clean-up involving drying, and/or removal of water-damaged materials will prevent or limit mold growth.
Mold prevention tips include:
- Repairing plumbing and building leaks as soon as possible.
- Looking for condensation and wet spots. Fix source(s) of moisture infiltration as quickly as possible.
- Increasing surface temperature or reducing the moisture level in the air to prevent moisture from condensing Surface temperature can be increased by insulating or increasing air circulation. Whereas, to reduce the moisture level in the air, repair leaks, dehumidify (if outdoor air is warm and humid), or increase ventilation (if outside air is cold and dry).
- Keeping HVAC drip pans clean, unobstructed, and flowing properly.
- Performing regularly scheduled building/ HVAC inspections and maintenance, including filter changes.
- Maintaining indoor relative humidity below 70%. If possible, 25 - 60% humidity is ideal.
- Venting moisture-generating appliances, such as dryers, to the outside where possible.
- Referring to local code requirements when venting kitchens (cooking areas) and bathrooms.
- Cleaning and drying wet or damp spots within 48 hours of discovery.
- Providing adequate drainage around buildings; sloping the ground away from building foundations.
- Pinpointing areas where leaks have occurred, identifying the causes, and taking preventive action to ensure that they do not reoccur.