One of the most common complaints that EHS receives regarding indoor air quality involves suspected mold within spaces.
It is important to understand that it is almost impossible to eliminate mold and mold spores from indoor space. The best action to control mold growth is to control moisture within a space. This moisture may be a result of water incursions through external or internal sources, when materials in spaces are wet for for extended periods of time, or when humidity levels within a building are not properly controlled. Repairing sources of water intrusion and repairing improperly functioning HVAC systems are the priority to ensure that environments conducive to mold growth do not exist.
Because there are no established health-based standards for acceptable levels of biological agents in indoor air, it is not recommended to to perform routine air sampling for mold. People have varying sensitivities to mold exposure, therefore those test results – taken as a snapshot in time – do not represent actual exposure nor can they be interpreted with regards to health risks.
Individuals have varying degrees of allergies that may or may not be associated with their indoor environments. For more information on allergies, especially as they relate to North Texas, please visit SMU's WellFacts document.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), as part of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recognizes that visual inspections in conjunction with musty odors are a more reliable method for correlating health risks in indoor environments.
If conditions conducive to mold growth are identified, EHS will work closely with Facilities Services to ensure that these conditions are addressed and remediation takes place. The following are general guidelines for mold cleanup projects:
- Mold growth on non-porous surfaces (plastic, vinyl, glass, sealed wood/concrete) should be cleaned with a mild detergent. Biocides are not usually recommended for indoor cleanups except under special circumstances.
- Small areas (<10 square feet) of porous materials such as drywall, ceiling tiles, insulation and carpet can not be satisfactory cleaned and must be discarded. These materials should be lightly misted prior to demolition to avoid spore and dust dispersal.
- Large areas (>10 square feet) may require additional resources and must be coordinated with EHS.
- Mold contaminated materials are not regulated and may be disposed of as regular waste. It should be contained in plastic and removed directly from the work area within the building.
Finally, there are many misconceptions about Stachybotrys chartarum (toxic or black mold). Hazards presented by molds that may produce toxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in a building. Mold growth should be remediated, regardless of the type. For a definitive resource, please visit the CDC Fact Page on Stachybotrys.
Resources for more information: