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New tools help employers identify, assess dampness and mold in buildings

NIOSH releases assessment tools for schools, general buildings

Posted December 13, 2018

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed Dampness and Mold Assessment tools to help employers identify and assess areas of dampness in schools, offices, and other nonindustrial buildings. The tools guide users through assessing all rooms for areas of dampness and mold and identifying the source(s) of the dampness and mold. The tools provide a checklist and instructions for assessing and recording any damage that is found and for tracking conditions through time.

NIOSH says office buildings, schools, and other nonindustrial buildings may develop moisture and dampness problems from roof and window leaks, high indoor humidity, and flooding events. Damp building conditions promote the growth of mold, bacteria, fungi, and insects, and occupants in these buildings can be exposed to pollutants in the air from biological contaminants and the breakdown of building materials.

The Agency says research has shown that numerous 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 (“hay fever”)
  • Bronchitis
  • Eczema

NIOSH notes that if workers suspect their health problems are caused by exposure to building-related dampness or mold, they 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.

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