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Molds are a part of the natural environment. Outdoors, molds work to break down organic matter such as leaves and fallen trees. They reproduce by means of tiny spores that are present in outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when spores land on surfaces that provide food, organic material, and moisture.
Mold has a distinctive ?musty' odor, but visually, active and inactive mold can be very different. Active mold in the early stages has hair-like filaments in webs, which develop a more bushy appearance as the bloom matures. Inactive mold is dry and powdery, and the surface layer can generally be readily brushed off the surface. Inactive mold can easily become active given the right environmental conditions. Mold can also cause staining of materials, which may be permanent even after the mold has been removed.
Most molds are not a health concern to healthy individuals. People with asthma or allergies may, however, be sensitive to molds and experience irritant or allergic reactions or worsening of asthma. Certain molds produce mycotoxins which, depending on the exposure level, can cause health effects. Both active and inactive molds can pose potential health hazards. Health effects from mold can be acute from short-term high exposures or chronic from long-term exposure to lower levels.
Step 1: When interior mold is found, identify the source of the moisture problem, take action to eliminate it, and determine the extent of the water/mold damage. Note: When water damage occurs, quick action can prevent more extensive damage. Water should be cleaned up, and saturated building materials should be completely dried out within 24-48 hours.
Step 2: To protect your health and the health of the occupants of the building, employees must follow certain precautions when remediating mold contaminated areas. Based on the initial assessment, classify the area as:
Level A: water infiltration pre-mold condition
Level B: cleaning areas with mold contamination less than 2 square feet
Level C: cleaning areas with mold contamination of 2-10 square feet or removal of less than 10 square feet building materials
Level D: cleaning or removal of mold contamination between 10-30 square feet
Level E: mold contaminated area is greater than 30 square feet
If the water was grey water, after removing the water and drying the areas, the surfaces should be wiped down with soap and water and a disinfectant.
For Level E areas, the services of an industrial hygienist will be contracted to develop work plans and oversee the project as well as conduct a final inspection upon project completion. A mold remediation contractor will perform the remediation services.
For further information or evaluation of specific areas, please contact the office of environmental health and safety.