4 FM quick reads on EPA
1. Troubleshoot IAQ Issues With EPA Guide to Moisture Management
Mismanaged moisture in buildings is a major contributor to poor indoor air quality. Moisture issues can lead to mold problems and can negatively impact the health of facility occupants, such as by triggering or worsening asthma symptoms. This is to say nothing of the property damage caused by moisture infiltration and other issues.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a guide for building professionals — anyone who designs, builds, operates or maintains buildings — filled with practical guidance on how to control moisture in buildings.
"Moisture Control Guidance for Building Design, Construction and Maintenance" breaks down moisture management into the design, construction and management phases of a building. It also contains several checklists for problem spots, such as roofs and HVAC inspections.
The section dealing with facility maintenance and operation covers site drainage maintenance, foundation maintenance, wall maintenance, roof and ceiling assembly maintenance, plumbing system operation and maintenance and HVAC system operation and maintenance. " The people who keep buildings working—the HVAC mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, engineers, custodians and managers—inherit the good points and the bad points of the design and construction," read the introduction to Chapter 4.
The guide is set up in a problem/solution format, listing several guidance points to troubleshoot the situation. For example, facility managers faced with water infiltration through the foundation of the facility are directed to check on the condition of roof drain leaders and look for newly sprouted trees near drain lines, among many other practical steps.
The guide can be found here.
2. 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.