Mold can lurk anywhere—indoors and out. And from spring’s winter thaw to the humid heat of summer, the conditions are right for it to grab hold and grow. When you consider the health risks that mold exposure can pose, especially the respiratory hazards, it’s a good time to look at mold prevention.
The Dangers of Exposure
Most mold species found indoors come from outdoor sources, and they can become a problem where there is water damage, high humidity, or dampness present. There are thousands of species, all of which produce and release millions of tiny spores that can travel through the air and water. These spores can produce mycotoxins, which can have adverse health effects.
Mold exposure can cause a variety of reactions, including nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. Some people are at higher risk and may experience more severe reactions, including infants and children, elderly people, and pregnant women as well as those with allergies, sinusitis, asthma, other respiratory conditions, or weakened immune systems.
Mold Prevention Tips
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends you do the following to prevent mold growth in your facility or home:
Keep Humidity Levels Low – Try to avoid levels rising above 50% throughout the day. An air conditioner or dehumidifier can help.
Keep Spaces Properly Ventilated – Use exhaust fans in moist areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.
Promptly Fix Leaks – Check roofs, walls, and plumbing for leaks that can allow mold to grow.
Address Flooding Within 24-48 Hours – Thoroughly clean and dry any water-exposed areas.
Invest in Mold Inhibiting Paints – Some paints resist mold growth.
Use Cleaners that Kill Mold – These are especially important in damp areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.
Remove or Replace Soaked Carpets and Upholstery – If materials cannot be dried promptly, it’s best to remove them. And you should consider avoiding carpet in bathrooms, kitchens, and basements.
For more information on mold prevention, see the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) guide to mold and moisture.
Removing Mold SafelyMold is prevalent and can grow any time and almost anywhere, so you may have a situation where you need to remove it from your facility or home. OSHA offers a Quick Card to help you deal with mold problems safely. Recommendations vary based on the size of the area and severity of the problem, but there are some common guidelines to follow:
Identify and Address the Cause – Removing spots of mold as they crop up isn’t a long-term solution. Identify the source of the problem and work to prevent future growth (see the tips above).
Wear Protective Gear – Use approved respiratory protection, non-vented goggles, long gloves, and keep skin covered to limit exposure.
Relocate People Working or Living in Affected Areas – People should not continue to work and live in mold-infested areas during the removal process.
We Can Help You Protect Yourself
From respirators to goggles and more, we have the knowledge, experience, and product lines to help keep you and your workforce safe. Our OSHA Certified Safety Specialists are here to help. Contact us today!
Have you had mold problems at your facility? Let us know in the comments.