Nobody wants to work around mold except scientists or microbiologists who study it, and remediation specialists. Mold that has built up in confined or poorly ventilated spaces can cause or exacerbate health issues such as asthma, allergies and infections. Unchecked mold growth can also cause building damage so bad that it can become a structural issue. Mold flourishes wherever moisture and organic materials exist. It can form from high humidity, pipe leaks, rain drips, flooding and condensation. If you see mold in the workplace, report it to the proper OH&S representative before it creates even bigger problems.
What should you do if you have mold at work?
Advise your manager and or OH&S rep immediately after you discover mold in the workplace. Report it via email so you have a record of your actions.
Start your email by saying when you first noticed the mold, where you found it and how large the area covered by mold growth is.
Provide details about the environment of the location, including any visible signs of moisture or water damage. These signs might include heavy condensation on surfaces, high humidity, leaking pipes, dark stains, cracks on ceilings, structural damage or musty smells coming from vents or air conditioners.
Remind your manager or employer of a recent moisture or water event, if applicable, such as a leaking roof, flooding or wet flooring or furnishings. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, wet materials should be thoroughly cleaned and dried 24 to 48 hours after an event to prevent mold growth.
See your manager or OH&S rep in-person if you don’t receive a timely response to your email. Tell them about the mold problem and that you sent them an email. If you speak with your manager and or OH&S rep and he or she does nothing to correct the problem, contact your human resources department or another high ranking official.
Visit or contact your regional or area Occupational Safety and Health Administration office if your company takes no action to clean up mold and prevent it from growing back. Go to the Canadian Labour Standards website to file a complaint in the appropriate province.
Molds are part of the natural environment. Molds are fungi that can be found anywhere – inside or outside – throughout the year. About 1,000 species of mold can be found in Canada, with more than 100,000 known species worldwide.
Outdoors, molds play an important role in nature by breaking down organic matter such as toppled trees, fallen leaves, and dead animals. We would not have food and medicines, like cheese and penicillin, without mold.
Indoors, mold growth should be avoided. Problems may arise when mold starts eating away at materials, affecting the look, smell, and possibly, with the respect to wood-framed buildings, affecting the structural integrity of the buildings.
Molds can grow on virtually any substance, as long as moisture or water, oxygen, and an organic source are present. Molds reproduce by creating tiny spores (viable seeds) that usually cannot be seen without magnification. Mold spores continually float through the indoor and outdoor air.
Molds are usually not a problem unless mold spores land on a damp spot and begin growing. They digest whatever they land on in order to survive. There are molds that grow on wood, paper, carpet, foods and insulation, while other molds feast on the everyday dust and dirt that gather in the moist regions of a building.
When excessive moisture, humidity or water accumulates indoors, mold growth often will occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains uncorrected. While it is impossible to eliminate all molds and bring mold spores down to a normal fungal ecology, controlling moisture can control indoor mold growth.
All mold types share the characteristic of being able to grow without sunlight; mold needs only a viable seed (spore), a nutrient source, moisture, and the right temperature to proliferate. This explains why mold infestation is often found in damp, dark, hidden spaces; light and air circulation dry areas out, making them less hospitable for mold.
Mold will gradually damage building materials and furnishings. If left unchecked, mold can eventually cause structural damage to a wood framed building, weakening floors and walls as it feeds on moist wooden structural members. If you suspect that mold has damaged building integrity, consult a structural engineer or other professional with the appropriate expertise.
Since mold requires water to grow, it is important to prevent excessive moisture in buildings. Some moisture problems in buildings have been linked to changes in building construction practices since the 1970s, which resulted in tightly sealed buildings with diminished ventilation, contributing to moisture vapor buildup. Other moisture problems may result from roof leaks, landscaping or gutters that direct water into or under a building, or unvented combustion appliance. Delayed or insufficient maintenance may contribute to moisture problems in buildings. Improper maintenance and design of building heating/ventilating/air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, such as insufficient cooling capacity for an air conditioning system, can result in elevated humidity levels in a building.