FALLS CHURCH, Va. – The climate of the areas affected by the recent hurricane season offers a fast recipe for mold accumulation. The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA®) fears that this may lead to a potential mold epidemic across the regions. AIHA would like to offer guidance to those affected as they begin to rebuild their lives.
The term “mold” is a colloquial term for a group of filamentous fungi that are common on food or wet materials. This includes the green Penicillium species that produces penicillin and fungi that spoil our bread, fruit, cheese, and crops. Most of these are Ascomycetes that produce a lot of spores. The key to preventing and stopping indoor mold growth is to control excessive moisture and condensation. Keeping susceptible areas in the home clean and dry is critical. In general, mold will not grow indoors without water, dampness or excessive moisture.
In addition to calling one’s insurance company, AIHA suggests contacting a licensed mold inspector (depending on your local laws) or an occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) professional who has specific work experience in dealing with mold evaluation and clean-up. They can look behind the walls of a home and perform indoor air quality testing, as necessary. Many insurance companies will not provide this service.
AIHA has created the “Mold Resource Center” which is available to OEHS professionals as well as the general public. It is an online hub of information focused on mold and mold control, including frequently asked questions, general information, additional outside resources, and an industrial hygienist consultants listing.
While AIHA does not recommend that individual building and homeowners use these resources to determine possible problems within their building or home, these resources will help the public ask educated questions when meeting with qualified professionals.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization and Health Canada all agree that living or working in a building with mold damage results in increased risk of respiratory disease. Although there are several guidance documents available, there are no accepted national or international standards for mold investigation, evaluation, or remediation.