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Prevent Indoor Mold to Protect Facility Occupants

0 2 years ago

Mold can happen to any building at any time if the conditions are right. Mold is three things: persistent, resourceful, and low maintenance. It requires very little to live and can sneak right into any type of facility if given the opportunity. Once it starts growing, it can quickly become a large-scale problem and begin affecting the health of anyone exposed to the poor indoor air quality, whether a customer, visitor, client, or employee.

That makes mold a facility manager’s worst nightmare and is why managers need to have a solid foundation of mold knowledge, awareness, and action plans to help deal with this tenacious fungus. Being a mold aficionado helps to ensure that anyone visiting the facility doesn’t experience the adverse health effects that can be triggered by mold exposure.

Mold Awareness 101

At present, there are quite a few misconceptions and misinformation about mold.

For instance, what is mold? The term refers to over 100,000 species of fungus that fall under the “mold” umbrella. It also encompasses two sides of mold: the non-living part and the living part. Every species of mold reproduces by creating microscopic spores that they release into the air. With over 100,000 species, it’s easy to say that these tiny particles are everywhere. A few encountered here and there throughout the day aren’t a problem for our immune systems.

When a mold spore stumbles upon a habitable location, it will transform into a living being, set down roots (literally), and begin to grow and colonize the space. When this happens inside a facility, all of the spores are trapped within the walls of that structure, tanking the indoor air quality and opening the door for adverse health reactions to occur. Some species of mold can also create and release microscopic toxins called mycotoxins that also trigger adverse reactions in anyone exposed.

Having this understanding of mold is important for a couple of reasons. It breaks down the misconception that “mold is everywhere.” Mold spores are all over the place, but they’re spaced out and don’t cause much of an issue. Colonized mold is not everywhere and can cause real problems when it starts to grow in facilities as those within the building continue to breathe in all of those moldy particles.

This understanding also highlights the importance of proper mold removal, which includes taking care of the living mold inside of the building and removing any invisible contaminants that come along with it. Otherwise, exposure to the contaminants will continue.

Mold and Health

Mold exposure affects everyone differently for a variety of reasons. Things like the following all play a role:

  • Genetics
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Length of exposure
  • Species of mold
  • Presence of mycotoxins

Researchers are still trying to nail down exactly how mold exposure affects the body, but there are a lot of factors to consider. Some individuals may experience no symptoms from exposure, while others will immediately develop a wide range of possible reactions. These could include rashes, sneezing, coughing, neurological issues, digestive issues, and brain fog, among others. You just never know. What researchers do know is that anyone with a developing or compromised immune system is at a higher risk of experiencing symptoms.

When push comes to shove, humans take an average of 20,000 breaths per day. That’s about 14 breaths per minute. Every minute spent inside of a facility with poor indoor air quality from mold spores and its byproducts has the potential to severely impact an individual’s health. Creating a safe space with top-notch air quality and free from indoor mold growth is crucial to ensuring those inside the space remain healthy.

Preventing Indoor Mold Growth

The best way to manage indoor mold growth is to prevent it from starting in the first place. This predominantly rests on facility managers’ shoulders as it requires a comprehensive plan, delegation, and communication.

A mold spore’s journey into the world of the living requires very little, which is why it’s fairly easy for a facility to develop a mold problem if preventive actions aren’t taken. Giving this tiny particle four simple things and leaving it undisturbed for 24-48 hours can result in a mold colony. These four life-giving ingredients include:

  1. Oxygen (they require very little, which is why mold can live inside of walls)
  2. Temperature (most prefer 40-90 degrees Fahrenheit, but some species can live in extremes)
  3. Food (they eat almost anything, such as dust, wood, paper, and organic matter)
  4. Moisture (the aspect most often missing)

Facilities offer an abundance of the first three things necessary for a mold spore to begin growing. Preventing wet opportunities will be at the top of the list for avoiding indoor growth.

The following are steps a facility manager can take to avoid mold growth:

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