4 FM quick reads on Mold
1. Remove Mold to Preserve Indoor Air Quality
Mold has a broadly known detrimental effect on indoor air quality. Facility occupants are very sensitized to the risks of mold exposure, so facility managers are often well aware of how to keep mold infestation from occurring in the first place and how to remediate the situation. But did you know that it is not enough to kill the mold? According the EPA, dead mold is allergenic and some dead molds are still potentially toxic. Splashing some bleach on the trouble spot (or spots) and calling it a day is not going to cut it, for various reasons.
EPA calls out several steps that must be taken in mold remediation. The EPA does not recommend using a biocide, such as bleach, as chlorine bleach and its ilk have their own detrimental effects on indoor air quality and human health. (However, biocide should be used when the professional judgment of the situation warrants the benefit is greater than the risk, such as when immune-compromised people are involved, says EPA.)
In general, the strategy for remediation recommended by the EPA is to dry out and thoroughly clean the space, dispose of all moldy materials that can't be cleaned and thoroughly clean the tools used in cleanup so you're not just contaminating the space all over again. Achieving an indoor relative humidity between 30 and 50 percent is the goal, as this will limit mold's ability to grow and spread.
EPA proves an in-depth look at mold remediation in commercial properties at http://www.epa.gov/mold/mold_remediation.html.
2. Use Your Senses for Good IAQ
Sophisticated monitoring equipment can detect particle counts or vapor levels in air, but simply using the basic senses can help facility executives pinpoint sources of indoor air pollutants.
Sight can identify telltale wet spots and stains from mold, mildew or bird droppings. Stained ceiling panels can indicate roof leaks.
Smell can also detect mold, as well as many other irritants, including volatile organic compounds. During quiet times, dripping water, which can create chronic mold and mildew problems, can be heard.
The idea is to catch obvious problems before they become complicated, and costly, to remedy. On your next walk through your facility, keep your eyes, ears and nose on the lookout.
3. Rainy Day Activity: Prevent Mold
There’s one upside to rainy days. They afford facility executives a chance to check out potential trouble spots that could lead to mold problems. Keeping the facility nice and dry is a major way to stave off indoor air quality issues due to mold.
When it’s pouring buckets outside, take some time to walk around the facility. Check out balconies or vegetated roofs located above occupied areas to see if any ponding is occurring. Look at the weather-stripping and its seal around windows, skylights and sliding doors. Notice if any condensation is occurring on windows or windowsills. Take note of any discoloration or water stains in the ceilings, walls and floors.
Immediately dry any leakage or condensation and work on addressing the root cause of any moisture infiltration. Catching a little leak in time will prevent big mold remediation problems later.
4. Control Water Vapor, Control Mold
Keeping water in check inside of facilities is an important step in preventing mold and mildew problems, which compromise the indoor air quality. Mold can grow with 70 percent humidity. Water can be introduced to the indoor environment in all sorts of ways — from cooking and showering to burst pipes or spills. Water vapor also moves through buildings as part of the air that is mechanically introduced or that infiltrates past the building’s shell.
Some simple operating guidelines for the HVAC system can help reduce the effects of moisture intrusion. In the summer, thermostats should be between 70 and 80 degrees. Letting the temperature be any warmer would reduce the equipment run times and limit its effectiveness in controlling humidity. Any cooler, and moisture condensation on surfaces could become a problem. In the winter, indoor temperatures should not fall below 55 degrees to prevent pipes from bursting.
Also, for unitary or split-system equipment, the fan should be set to the AUTO mode. This allows the fan to cycle on and off with the compressor, which helps avoid introducing unconditioned outside air or the re-introduction of moisture from the cooling coil.
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