Preston Press & Charter - August 2007
Preventing Mold Growth
Courtesy JJ KellerThe smell of mold is familiar to all of us, but many people do not understand how or why a mold problem occurs, nor the health problems mold growth can create.
Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance when moisture is present. Molds reproduce by spreading tiny spores, just as plants produce seeds. These mold spores waft through the indoor and outdoor air continually.
When mold spores land on a damp spot, they may begin growing and digesting whatever they have settled on. Molds can grow on wood, paper, carpeting, food, and even dynamite. Wherever excessive moisture or water accumulates indoors, mold growth will often occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains undiscovered or unaddressed.
Eliminating all mold and mold spores from indoor environments is impractical and impossible. The way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
Buildings provide ideal sites for mold growth. Building materials that repeatedly get dampened, such as fiberglass insulation, wall board, ceiling tiles, and carpeting are excellent media for microbial growth.
Mold growth on furnishing or in buildings can result in the proliferation of microorganisms that can release acutely irritating substances into the air. Usually, where microorganisms are allowed to grow, a moldy smell develops. This moldy smell is often associated with microbial contamination and is a result of VOCs released during growth on environmental substrates.
Mold fungi can:
• Affect a person’s immune system,
• Cause invasive disease,
• Release toxins.
While we don’t full understand why mold affects some people more than others, we do know that some people are severely affected. Any exposures should be avoided.
What can you do?
Three conditions must exist in buildings before microbial contamination can occur:
• High humidity (over 60 percent);
• Appropriate temperatures (some molds like colder temperatures, some like warm or hot temperatures, and other molds don’t care what the temperature is); and
• Appropriate growth media.
While there are no specific training requirements for training employees on how to handle mold growth, an effective training program might include:
• Different types of materials and surfaces that could foster mold growth.
• Measures to take to control mold growth.
• How to inspect work areas for suspected mold growth.
• What procedures to take if mold growth or damage is discovered.
OSHA regulations require that employees that may be exposed to harmful situations be instructed regarding the potential hazards, and how to avoid injury from these hazards.
For More Information
See OSHA 1910.134—Respiratory protection and 1910.1000—Air Contaminants
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