Mould is a common problem in homes and workplaces. Mould will grow in environments where there is moisture, where there are water ingress issues, in areas of poor air quality management and where there has been flooding, (even minor flooding). It can cause serious health problems if not managed properly. In this blog, we will discuss the dangers of mould, how to identify it, and how to prevent and remove it.
Why Mould is a Serious Safety Hazard
Mould releases microscopic spores and gasses known as “microbial volatile organic compounds” (mVOCs) that can cause respiratory problems, headaches, allergies and other health problems. Even mould that is considered dead, i.e., mould fragments can cause some individuals health issues.
Mould exposure can also trigger asthma attacks and make allergies worse as well as cause chronic, obstructive or allergic lung diseases. The health risks are higher for those who have asthma or lung disease, chronic disease such as diabetes and low immunity. If left unchecked, mould can also cause damage to buildings, furniture, and other possessions.
Mould can appear in many different colors and textures, but is most commonly black, green, or gray. It can grow on walls, ceilings, floors, and other surfaces. Mould can grow quite easily with sufficient moisture on paper, cardboard, ceiling tiles and wood products. If you suspect you have mould, it is important to investigate the extent and what is causing the mould, which could include having it professionally tested to identify the mould. An environmental professional such as the Occupational Health and Safety Team at Helia EHS will be able to conduct the following :
Helia EHS can also help with post remediation verification to ensure that mould has been removed.
To prevent mould from growing in your workplace, it is important to maintain proper ventilation and control moisture levels. This includes keeping bathrooms and kitchens well-ventilated, fixing leaks promptly, and using dehumidifiers if necessary. It is also important to clean up water spills immediately and dry out damp areas quickly as mould growth can establish within 24 hours in some environments.
If you have mold in your workplace, it is important to have it removed promptly. You should not attempt to remove mould yourself, as it can release mVOCs into the air, spread mould fragments and spores to other uncontaminated areas and sometimes make the problem worse. Instead, you should hire a professional environmental consultant who will be able to assess the extent of the problem, have the mould removed safely and provide recommendations for preventing future mould growth.
Employers or PCBUs must provide and maintain a working environment where employees, contractors and visitors are not exposed to hazards. Mould in the workplace requires immediate attention and action. Follow the four steps below for best practice in managing mould –
To find out more about managing mould in the workplace and air quality testing, contact an Indoor Environmental Professional at Helia EHS today here.