A 2004 report from the Institute of Medicine found enough evidence to associate indoor mold exposure with asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and other respiratory illnesses. With over a thousand mold species in the United States, it’s no surprise that public awareness of the health risks of these abundant fungi has grown over the years. Do you know how to address mold exposure and remediation at work? Our latest blog rounds up the basics of occupational exposure to mold!
What You Need to Know About Molds
Molds can be found everywhere—especially in humid conditions, damp places, and areas with water damage. While most species of these microscopic organisms are relatively harmless, some types of mold may produce toxins and have the potential to cause infections and allergic reactions. Common health effects of exposure to mold include:
- Runny nose and sneezing
- Cough or congestion
- Eye and skin irritation
- Asthma aggravation
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), individuals with allergies, sinusitis, asthma, lung diseases, and a weakened immune system are at great risk of such health effects. The regulatory authority also notes that the primary concern of cleanup workers should be mold exposure via inhalation. In this regard, appropriate personal protective equipment, work practices, and engineering controls must be in place during mold remediation.
Mold Remediation and Cleanup Recommendations
As of this writing, there are no federal standards related to airborne concentrations of molds. To guide workers and employers in their general mold cleanup efforts, OSHA offers a few recommendations:
- Recognize moisture problems as early as possible. Use a wet-dry vacuum to eliminate excess moisture. Dry out the area immediately.
- Ensure proper ventilation in the working area and use fans to help the drying process.
- Use a detergent solution to clean work and egress areas or wet surfaces with a mop or damp cloth.
- As a rule of thumb, all porous materials that have been wet for over 48 hours must be discarded. Throw away materials that have been damaged by mold or water as well.
- Mix half a cup of household bleach with one gallon of water to disinfect surfaces. Never mix bleach with any kind of cleaning product that contains ammonia.
- Wear certified respiratory protection devices.
- Use hand and face protection equipment (including non-vented goggles).
- Choose and use long gloves that can protect against chemicals used for cleaning surfaces.
- Wear pieces of clothing designed to prevent mold/chemical contact or contamination.
- Designate and set up an area for decontamination.
- Avoid eating, drinking, smoking, as well as breathing dust in work areas.
- Wash thoroughly after working—clean hair, scalp, and nails as well.
- Use a mist of water to re-wet materials and minimize spores, debris, and dust.
- Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum in clean and dry areas.
OSHA also advises employers and workers to develop a mold remediation plan for areas that have visible and widespread mold contamination. Are you interested in becoming a certified mold inspector in just a matter of clicks? 360training.com offers an online Mold Inspector Certification Training program in partnership with the National Association of Mold Professionals! Contact us to find out more about this convenient training solution.