Mold is one of the most potentially dangerous and hazardous materials facing people at work today. Whether you work in an office, factory, construction site or another other type of building or setting, you need to know what to do about mold and some of the dangers of mold to keep your workers safe.
What Causes Mold?
The main cause of mold is a buildup of water. Mold is a living substance that thrives in wet and moist conditions. You’ll often find mold growing near water sources that can include a basement or first floor that floods when rain falls. Mold can also grow inside of walls because of plumbing leaks and in spaces with a high humidity level. If there is both a heat and water source inside a specific area of a building, mold will likely grow there.
Mold and Health
While black mold is the most dangerous type of mold, you shouldn’t assume that workers are less likely to see effects because you only may see green mold or even mildew growing in your building. Any type of mold can cause health problems. Those who work around mold may feel so tired that they have a hard time working, and they can suffer from irritations of the mouth, nose and throat too. Many people experience frequent headaches, nausea and concentration problems. Some people exposed to mold can develop asthma and breathing conditions also.
At the first sign of mold, you should take steps to increase the safety of your property. Mold can cause something known as dry rot, which refers to a fungus that grows, spreads and thrives on wood. Dry rot can affect the joists and beams on your ceiling or those holding up your floor, the patio or deck on the building and any wood furniture in the building too. Mold can also clog the HVAC system in your building and prevent you from using the heat or AC.
How to Prevent Mold
Regulating both the temperature and the humidity level of a building can prevent mold from developing and growing. If you use hot water, you need to install vents that help the steam produced by that water safely escape from the building. Venting is important in commercial bathrooms and kitchens for this same reason. Having an HVAC system with a thermostat that you can set is another helpful way to prevent mold. You can keep the temperature at a comfortable level around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure that you wipe or soak up any spills and clean moisture too.
Inspecting for Mold
You can inspect a commercial building for mold on your own without turning to professionals for help, but you need to know what to look for and exactly where to look. Start with a full inspection of any areas that are prone to leaks and moisture build up like bathrooms, kitchens and basements. You’ll also want to look around the doors and windows of the building, inside ceiling tiles, on the carpet and on any furniture in the building. Look for spots that look or feel wet to the touch, fuzzy areas and any stains that are a dark shade of blue, brown, green or black.
Bleach is one of the best products for use on mold because it kills the actively growing mold and any spores that the mold produces. Before you begin cleaning though, you must outfit yourself in the proper gear. Wear goggles to keep the spores out of your eyes and a mask to protect your face. You’ll also want to wear gloves and remove that gear outside to keep the spores from falling off your clothing and spreading through the building. Seal any materials that you remove from the building and any materials that you need to clean inside large bags.
360training.com, the leading resource for online continuing education, offers a NAMP Mold Inspector Certification Course. This intensive 6-hour course, produced in partnership with the National Association of Mold Professionals, will help you understand identification, control, and removal methods for mold along with key items such as testing procedures and legal requirements.