Office buildings, schools, and other non-industrial buildings may develop moisture and dampness problems from roof and window leaks, high indoor humidity, and flooding events, among other things.
Damp building conditions promote the growth of mold, bacteria, fungi, and insects. Occupants in damp buildings can be exposed to pollutants in the air from biological contaminants and the breakdown of building materials.
Research has shown that a number of health problems are associated with exposure to building dampness and mold including:
- Respiratory symptoms (such as in the nose, throat, or lungs);
- Development or worsening of asthma;
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (a rare lung disease in which lungs become inflamed as an allergic reaction to inhaled bacteria, fungi, organic dusts, and chemicals);
- Respiratory infections;
- Allergic rhinitis (often called “hay fever”);
- Bronchitis; and
The Dampness and Mold Assessment Tools guide users through assessing all rooms, whether in a school or a general building, for areas of dampness and mold and identifying the source(s) of the dampness and mold.
The tools provide an easy-to-use checklist and instructions for assessing and recording any damage that is found and for tracking conditions through time
NIOSH previously published an Alert, Preventing Occupational Respiratory Disease from Exposures Caused by Dampness in Office Buildings, Schools, and Other Nonindustrial Buildings that provides further information on respiratory disease related to indoor dampness and recommendations for preventing and remediating damp buildings.
When workers suspect their health problems are caused by exposure to building-related dampness or mold, workers should report new, persistent, or worsening symptoms, particularly those with a work-related pattern, to their personal physician and, as instructed by their employer, to a designated individual at their workplace.