Safe Mold Removal:
How Employers and Commercial Landlords Can Maintain a Mold-Safe Workplace
workplace mold infestation can cause serious health problems for employees, customers, and visitors, according to DangerBusters, a worldwide environmental inspection, testing, remediation, and training firm.
Employers, commercial landlords, and employees in Canada, the USA, and worldwide should suspect a mold health threat if any of these three mold warnings occur in the workplace---
(1) Visible mold growth appears on or in ceilings, walls, floors, heating/cooling ducts and registers, attic, basement/crawl space, and/or on furniture, equipment, and inventory of raw materials or finished products.
(2) Workers or customers
report experiencing any of the most common, possible
mold health symptoms:
allergies, asthma, bleeding lungs, breathing difficulties, central nervous
system problems, recurring colds, coughing (chronic), coughing up blood,
dandruff problems (chronic) that don't go away despite use of anti-dandruff
shampoos, dermatitis, skin rashes, diarrhea, and/or
Eye and vision problems, fatigue (chronic, excessive, or continued) and/or
general malaise, flu symptoms (chronic), sudden hair loss, headaches,
hemorrhagic pneumonitis, hives, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, irritability,
itching (of the nose, mouth, eyes, throat, skin, or any other area), kidney
failure, learning difficulties or mental functioning problems or personality
changes, memory loss or memory difficulties, and/or
Open skin sores and lacerations, peripheral nervous system effects, redness
of the sclera (white of your eyes), runny nose (rhinitis) or thick, green
slime coming out of nose (from sinus cavities), seizures, sinus congestion,
sinus problems, and chronic sinusitis, skin redness, sleep disorders,
sneezing fits, sore throat, tremors (shaking), verbal dysfunction (trouble
in speaking), vertigo (feelings of dizziness, lightheadedness, faintness,
and unsteadiness), and vomiting.
People differ significantly in their sensitivity and reaction to mold
exposure. Consequently, there are no federal
standards or recommendations, (e.g., OSHA, NIOSH, and EPA) for airborne
concentrations of mold or mold spores in the workplace.
Even the smell of mold can make some workers sick.
Thus, if only one or a few workers or customers experience one or more
possible mold health symptoms, the employer or landlord should still inspect
and mold test the work premises for the health protection of both the
mold-sensitive employees and others who may ultimately be harmed from
time-cumulative mold exposure.
(3) Workplace mold inspection and
workplace mold testing discover elevated levels of indoor
mold in the air, on visible surfaces, or hidden inside walls, ceilings,
floors, the heating/cooling equipment and ducts, the attic, or the
"All molds have the potential to cause health effects. Molds can produce
allergens that can trigger allergic reactions or even asthma attacks in
people allergic to mold. Others are known to produce potent toxins and/or
irritants,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.).
As to asthma, a health study by
the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health links
adult-onset asthma to workplace mold exposure. “The present (health
study) results provide new evidence of the relation between workplace
exposure to indoor molds and development of asthma in adulthood. Our
findings suggest that indoor mold problems constitute an important
occupational health hazard.”
The Finnish workplace mold study estimated that the percentage of
adult-onset asthma attributable to workplace mold exposure to be 35%.
(Reported in Environmental Health Perspectives, May, 2002)
Furthermore, a number of commonly found indoor mold species are, in fact,
toxic mold, a description applied to any mold that produces mycotoxins in
its spores. Stachybotrys ("black
mold"), Aspergillus, and Penicillium are three of the most dangerous indoor
Mycotoxins are cytoxic, meaning they have the capacity to
pass through the human cellular wall and disrupt certain cellular
processes---potentially causing serious health damage to workers and
What should employees do? ”If you see or smell mold, or if you or others are
experiencing mold-related symptoms, report it so the problem can be
investigated. You may need to tell your employer, supervisor, health and
safety officer, union representative, or school board. Find out whether
co-workers are experiencing any [mold-related] symptoms,” recommends the
California Department of Health Services.
What should companies and property managers do for mold prevention,
maintenance, and remediation? Step 1 is to conduct periodic and thorough
physical inspections of the workplace for evidence of water and mold
problems---whether visible or hidden.
For effective mold inspection and
mold testing, the employer or property owner
should hire a
certified mold inspector, environmental hygienist, or
industrial hygienist. Alternatively and less expensive, utilize mold test
kits for all-around mold testing.
The mold inspector or hygienist will collect samples of all visible mold growths,
mold test the air of each room and area of the employer’s facility, and
obtain mold laboratory analysis and mold species identification and
quantification of the collected mold and air samples.
The most common mold-causing water problems are roof leaks, siding leaks,
plumbing line leaks, sewer line breaks, a wet crawl space or basement,
flooding, and high humidity. Finding and fixing the underlying water problem
are always required for successful mold remediation.
For step 2, follow the U.S. Occupational Health
Health Administration (OHSA)
recommendation that the employer and the
building owner should notify workers in the affected area(s) of the presence
of mold in their workplace.
Notification should include a description of the proposed remedial measures
and a timetable for completion. Group meetings held before and after
remediation with full disclosure of plans and results can be an effective
Individuals with persistent health problems that might be related to mold
exposure should be encouraged to visit their physicians for a referral to
practitioners who are trained in occupational/environmental medicine or
related specialties and are knowledgeable about medical mold diagnostic and
Step 3 is for the employer or landlord to do safe and effective mold
killing, mold removal, and mold remediation of all mold growths and of all
airborne and surface-deposited mold spores. After the completion of mold
remediation, the workplace needs to pass “clearance tests” to be safe for
employees and customers.
For more information about mold prevention, mold inspection, mold testing, and
mold remediation techniques, please visit---
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