Mold is a common causative agent of indoor air quality (IAQ) issues. It is ubiquitous, literally occupying the air we breathe. When organic materials become wet (especially materials that are not normally wet), they provide a suitable substrate to promote the germination of mold spores. Mold needs moisture, organic matter, and an appropriate temperature to promote its growth. If you take away either one of these, mold cannot grow. The paper and glue exterior of sheetrock provides one of the most common substrates that supports mold. And remember, mold can grow on the side of sheetrock that is not visible to you!
So, what should you do if you see or suspect mold damage? ESA can help you determine if there is a mold issue that requires professional remediation. Not everything that appears to be mold is mold, and not every mold problem requires an expensive solution. Certainly, a visual inspection is required at the outset. Then, depending upon what is found, there may also be a need to do mold sampling and testing. If remediation is required, ESA can then recommend an independent mold remediation company.
Indoor Air Quality Issues In the Workplace
When an employee registers an IAQ complaint in your place of business, if you fail to respond “within a reasonable period,” you could jeopardize your standing if the employee pursues legal action.
Once you’ve notified ESA that an employee has registered a complaint, ESA will interview the complainant and conduct a thorough inspection of the office, including its HVAC system. ESA’s next course of action is based upon the nature of the employee’s complaints, the presence of other staff with similar complaints, the nature of the operation(s) within your place of business, and observations made during our inspection. Typically, ESA will engage in some form of sampling that normally entails air and/or substrate samples. The nature of the sampling is also predicated upon ESA’s synthesis of the data and information gathered.
While, on occasion, ESA discovers real IAQ issues requiring mitigation, ESA often determines that the solution is more simple than that. Sometimes filter replacement, duct cleaning, or improved air exchange is all that is required to improve the air quality for the complainant.
After a flood, roof leak, or some other form of water damage, people often fail to do the right things. If you can dry your environment quickly, you have a strong likelihood of avoiding any mold issues. The first thing to be done (if possible) is to stop the infiltration of water and alter the environment to promote rapid drying. A dry environment is achieved by installing dehumidifiers and running your AC or heat, depending upon the season.
Fans will further promote drying, but we caution you about using them: DO NOT USE FANS IF YOU SUSPECT MOLD GROWTH, because fans will aerialize the spores and could create an unsafe breathing environment. This can be especially dangerous because some mold spores are highly toxic. Remove water-damaged sheet rock immediately. You also may have to sacrifice your carpeting if you are unable to dry it immediately.