U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Admistration
Directorate of Science, Technology and Medicine
Office of Science and Technology Assessment
A Brief Guide to Mold in the Workplace
Safety and Health Information Bulletin
This Safety and Health Information Bulletin is not a
Concern about indoor exposure to mold has standard or regulation, and it creates no new legal obliga-
tions. The Bulletin is advisory in nature, informational in
increased along with public awareness that
content, and is intended to assist building managers, custodi-
exposure to mold can cause a variety of health
ans, and others who are responsible for building mainte-
effects and symptoms, including allergic reactions. nance. Contractors and other professionals (e.g., environ-
This safety and health information bulletin mental consultants and health or safety professionals) who
provides recommendations for the prevention of respond to mold and moisture situations in buildings, as well
mold growth and describes measures designed to as members of the general public, also may want to refer to
protect the health of building occupants and these guidelines.
workers involved in mold cleanup and prevention.
This bulletin is directed primarily at building The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires
managers, custodians, and others responsible for employers to comply with hazard-specific safety and health
standards as issued and enforced by either the Federal
building maintenance, but may also be used as a Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), or
basic reference for those involved in mold an OSHA-approved State Plan. In addition, Section 5(a)(1),
remediation. the General Duty Clause, requires employers to provide
their employees with a workplace free from recognized
By reading this safety and health hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
Employers can be cited for violating the General Duty
information bulletin, individuals with little or no Clause if there is such a recognized hazard and they do not
experience with mold remediation may be able to take reasonable steps to prevent or abate the hazard.
reasonably judge whether mold contamination can However, failure to implement these guidelines is not, in
be managed in-house or whether outside assistance itself, a violation of the General Duty Clause. Citations can
is required. The advice of a medical professional only be based on standards, regulations, and the General
should always be sought if there are any emerging
health issues. This document will help those
responsible for building maintenance in the The information in these guidelines is
evaluation of remediation plans. Contractors and intended only as a summary of basic procedures
other professionals (e.g. industrial hygienists or and is not intended, nor should it be used, as a
other environmental health and safety detailed guide to mold remediation. These
professionals) who respond to mold and moisture guidelines are subject to change as more
situations in buildings, as well as members of the information regarding mold contamination and
general public, also may find these guidelines remediation becomes available.
Mold Basics and the right temperature to proliferate. This explains
why mold infestation is often found in damp, dark,
Molds are part of the natural environment. hidden spaces; light and air circulation dry areas out,
Molds are fungi that can be found anywhere - making them less hospitable for mold.
inside or outside - throughout the year. About
1,000 species of mold can be found in the United Molds gradually damage building materials
States, with more than 100,000 known species and furnishings. If left unchecked, mold can
worldwide. eventually cause structural damage to a wood-
framed building, weakening floors and walls as it
Outdoors, molds play an important role in feeds on moist wooden structural members. If you
nature by breaking down organic matter such as suspect that mold has damaged building integrity,
toppled trees, fallen leaves, and dead animals. We consult a structural engineer or other professional
would not have food and medicines, like cheese and with the appropriate expertise.
penicillin, without mold.
Since mold requires water to grow, it is
Indoors, mold growth should be avoided. important to prevent excessive moisture in
Problems may arise when mold starts eating away buildings. Some moisture problems in buildings
at materials, affecting the look, smell, and possibly, have been linked to changes in building
with the respect to wood-framed buildings, construction practices since the 1970s, which
affecting the structural integrity of the buildings. resulted in tightly sealed buildings with diminished
ventilation, contributing to moisture vapor
Molds can grow on virtually any substance, buildup. Other moisture problems may result from
as long as moisture or water, oxygen, and an roof leaks, landscaping or gutters that direct water
organic source are present. Molds reproduce by into or under a building, or unvented combustion
creating tiny spores (viable seeds) that usually appliance. Delayed or insufficient maintenance
cannot be seen without magnification. Mold may contribute to moisture problems in buildings.
spores continually float through the indoor and Improper maintenance and design of building
outdoor air. heating/ventilating/air-conditioning (HVAC)
systems, such as insufficient cooling capacity for
Molds are usually not a problem unless an air conditioning system, can result in elevated
mold spores land on a damp spot and begin humidity levels in a building.
growing. They digest whatever they land on in
order to survive. There are molds that grow on Health Effects
wood, paper, carpet, foods and insulation, while
other molds feast on the everyday dust and dirt that Currently, there are no federal
gather in the moist regions of a building. standards or recommendations, (e.g., OSHA,
NIOSH, EPA) for airborne concentrations of
When excessive moisture or water mold or mold spores. Scientific research on the
accumulates indoors, mold growth often will relationship between mold exposures and health
occur, particularly if the moisture problem remains effects is ongoing. This section provides a brief
uncorrected. While it is impossible to eliminate all overview, but does not describe all potential health
molds and mold spores, controlling moisture can effects related to mold exposure. For more
control indoor mold growth. detailed information, consult a health professional
or your state or local health department.
All molds share the characteristic of being
able to grow without sunlight; mold needs only a There are many types of mold. Most typical
viable seed (spore), a nutrient source, moisture, indoor air exposures to mold do not present a risk of
adverse health effects. Molds can cause adverse Prevention
effects by producing allergens (substances that can
cause allergic reactions). Potential health concerns are Moisture control is the key to mold control.
important reasons to prevent mold growth and to When water leaks or spills occur indoors - act
remediate existing problem areas. promptly. Any initial water infiltration should be
stopped and cleaned promptly. A prompt response
The onset of allergic reactions to mold can (within 24-48 hours) and thorough clean- up,
be either immediate or delayed. Allergic responses drying, and/or removal of water-damaged materials
include hay fever-type symptoms such as runny will prevent or limit mold growth.
nose and red eyes.
Mold prevention tips include:
Molds may cause localized skin or mucosal
infections but, in general, do not cause systemic • Repairing plumbing leaks and leaks in the
infections in humans, except for persons with building structure as soon as possible.
impaired immunity, AIDS, uncontrolled diabetes,
or those taking immune suppressive drugs. An • Looking for condensation and wet spots.
important reference with guidelines for Fix source(s) of moisture incursion
immunocompromised individuals can be found at problem(s) as soon as possible.
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) website (www.cdc.gov). • Preventing moisture from condensing by
increasing surface temperature or reducing
Molds can also cause asthma attacks in the moisture level in the air (humidity). To
some individuals who are allergic to mold. In increase surface temperature, insulate or
addition, exposure to mold can irritate the eyes, increase air circulation. To reduce the
skin, nose and throat in certain individuals. moisture level in the air, repair leaks,
Symptoms other than allergic and irritant types are increase ventilation (if outside air is cold
not commonly reported as a result of inhaling mold and dry), or dehumidify (if outdoor air is
in the indoor environment. warm and humid).
Some specific species of mold produce • Keeping HVAC drip pans clean, flowing
mycotoxins under certain environmental properly, and unobstructed.
conditions. Potential health effects from
mycotoxins are the subject of ongoing scientific • Performing regularly scheduled building/
research and are beyond the scope of this HVAC inspections and maintenance,
document. including filter changes.
Eating, drinking, and using tobacco • Maintaining indoor relative humidity below
products and cosmetics where mold remediation is 70% (25 - 60%, if possible).
taking place should be avoided. This will prevent
unnecessary contamination of food, beverage, • Venting moisturegenerating appliances,
cosmetics, and tobacco products by mold and other such as dryers, to the outside where
harmful substances within the work area. possible.
• Venting kitchens (cooking areas) and
bathrooms according to local code
• Cleaning and drying wet or damp spots as Before planning the remediation assess the
soon as possible, but no more than 48 extent of the mold or moisture problem and the
hours after discovery. type of damaged materials. If you choose to hire
outside assistance to do the cleanup, make sure the
• Providing adequate drainage around buildings contractor has experience with mold remediation.
and sloping the ground away from building Check references and ask the contractor to follow
foundations. Follow all local building codes. the recommendations in EPA’s publication, “Mold
Remediation in Schools and Commercial
• Pinpointing areas where leaks have Buildings,” or other guidelines developed by
occurred, identifying the causes, and taking professional or governmental organizations.
preventive action to ensure that they do not
reoccur. The remediation plan should include steps
to permanently correct the water or moisture
Questions That May Assist in Determining problem. The plan should cover the use of
Whether a Mold Problem Currently Exists appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
It also should include steps to carefully contain and
• Are building materials or furnishings remove moldy building materials in a manner that
visibly moisture damaged? will prevent further contamination. Remediation
plans may vary greatly depending on the size and
• Have building materials been wet more complexity of the job, and may require revision if
than 48 hours? circumstances change or new facts are discovered.
• Are there existing moisture problems in the If you suspect that the HVAC system is
building? contaminated with mold, or if mold is present near
the intake to the system, contact the National Air
• Are building occupants reporting musty or Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), or consult
moldy odors? EPA’s guide, “Should You Have the Air Ducts in
Your Home Cleaned?” before taking further action.
• Are building occupants reporting health Do not run the HVAC system if you know or
problems that they think are related to mold suspect that it is contaminated with mold, as it
in the indoor environment? could spread contamination throughout the
• Has the building been recently remodeled building. If the water or mold damage was caused
or has the building use changed? by sewage or other contaminated water, consult a
professional who has experience cleaning and
• Has routine maintenance been delayed or repairing buildings damaged by contaminated
the maintenance plan been altered? water.
The remediation manager’s highest priority
Always consider consulting a health professional must be to protect the health and safety of the building
to address any employee health concerns. occupants and remediators. Remediators should
avoid exposing themselves and others to mold-laden
Remediation Plan dusts as they conduct their cleanup activities. Caution
should be used to prevent mold and mold spores from
Remediation includes both the identification being dispersed throughout the air where they can be
and correction of the conditions that permit mold inhaled by building occupants. In some cases,
growth, as well as the steps to safely and effectively especially those involving large areas of contamination,
remove mold damaged materials.
the remediation plan may include temporary relocation A variety of cleanup methods are available for
of some or all of the building occupants. remediating damage to building materials and
furnishings caused by moisture control problems
When deciding if relocating occupants is and mold growth. The specific method or group of
necessary, consideration should be given to the methods used will depend on the type of material
size and type of mold growth, the type and extent affected. Some methods that may be used include
of health effects reported by the occupants, the the following:
potential health risks that could be associated with
the remediation activity, and the amount of Wet Vacuum
disruption this activity is likely to cause. In
addition, before deciding to relocate occupants, Wet vacuums are vacuum cleaners
one should also evaluate the remediator’s ability to designed to collect water. They can be used to
contain/minimize possible aerosolization of mold remove water from floors, carpets, and hard
spores given their expertise and the physical surfaces where water has accumulated. They
parameters of the workspace. When possible, should not be used to vacuum porous materials,
remediation activities should be scheduled during such as gypsum board. Wet vacuums should be
off hours when building occupants are less likely used only on wet materials, as spores may be
to be affected. exhausted into the indoor environment if
insufficient liquid is present. The tanks, hoses, and
Remediators, particularly those with health attachments of these vacuums should be
related concerns, may wish to check with their thoroughly cleaned and dried after use since mold
physicians or other health-care professionals and mold spores may adhere to equipment
before working on mold remediation or surfaces.
investigating potentially moldy areas. If any
individual has health concerns, doubts, or Damp Wipe
questions before beginning a remediation/cleanup
project, he or she should consult a health Mold can generally be removed from
professional. nonporous surfaces by wiping or scrubbing with
water and detergent. It is important to dry these
Mold Remediation/Cleanup Methods surfaces quickly and thoroughly to discourage
further mold growth. Instructions for cleaning
The purpose of mold remediation is to surfaces, as listed on product labels, should always
correct the moisture problem and to remove moldy be read and followed.
and contaminated materials to prevent human
exposure and further damage to building materials HEPA Vacuum
and furnishings. Porous materials that are wet and
have mold growing on them may have to be HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air)
discarded because molds can infiltrate porous vacuums are recommended for final cleanup of
substances and grow on or fill in empty spaces or remediation areas after materials have been thoroughly
crevices. This mold can be difficult or impossible to dried and contaminated materials removed. HEPA
remove completely. vacuums also are recommended for cleanup of dust
that may have settled on surfaces outside the
As a general rule, simply killing the mold, remediation area. Care must be taken to assure that
for example, with biocide is not enough. The mold the filter is properly seated in the vacuum so that all the
must be removed, since the chemicals and proteins, air passes through the filter. When changing the
which can cause a reaction in humans, are present vacuum filter, remediators should wear respirators,
even in dead mold. appropriate personal protective clothing, gloves, and
eye protection to prevent exposure to any captured detergents that contain ammonia because this
mold and other contaminants. The filter and contents may produce highly toxic vapors and create a
of the HEPA vacuum must be disposed of in hazard to workers.
impermeable bags or containers in such a way as to
prevent release of the debris. Some biocides are considered pesticides,
and some states require that only registered
Disposal of Damaged Materials pesticide applicators apply these products in
schools, commercial buildings, and homes. Make
Building materials and furnishings sure anyone applying a biocide is properly licensed
contaminated with mold growth that are not where required.
salvageable should be placed in sealed
impermeable bags or closed containers while in the Fungicides are commonly applied to
remediation area. These materials can usually be outdoor plants, soil, and grains as a powder or
discarded as ordinary construction waste. It is spray. Examples of fungicides include
important to package mold-contaminated materials hexachlorobenzene, organomercurials,
in this fashion to minimize the dispersion of mold pentachlorophenol, phthalimides, and
spores. Large items with heavy mold growth dithiocarbamates.
should be covered with polyethylene sheeting and
sealed with duct tape before being removed from Do not use fungicides developed for outdoor
the remediation area. Some jobs may require the use in any indoor application, as they can be extremely
use of dust-tight chutes to move large quantities of toxic to animals and humans in an enclosed
debris to a dumpster strategically placed outside a environment.
window in the remediation area.
When you use biocides as a disinfectant or
Use of Biocides a pesticide, or as a fungicide, you should use
appropriate PPE, including respirators. Always,
The use of a biocide, such as chlorine read and follow product label precautions. It is a
bleach, is not recommended as a routine practice violation of Federal (EPA) law to use a biocide in
during mold remediation, although there may be any manner inconsistent with its label direction.
instances where professional judgment may
indicate its use (for example, when immune-
compromised individuals are present). In most Mold Remediation Guidelines
cases, it is not possible or desirable to sterilize an area,
as a background level of mold spores comparable to This section presents remediation guidelines
the level in outside air will persist. However, the for building materials that have or are likely to have
spores in the ambient air will not cause further mold growth. The guidelines are designed to protect
problems if the moisture level in the building has been the health of cleanup personnel and other workers
corrected. during remediation. These guidelines are based on the
size of the area impacted by mold contamination.
Biocides are toxic to animals and humans, as Please note that these are guidelines; some
well as to mold. If you choose to use disinfectants or professionals may prefer other remediation methods,
biocides, always ventilate the area, using outside air if and certain circumstances may require different
possible, and exhaust the air to the outdoors. When approaches or variations on the approaches described
using fans, take care not to extend the zone of below. If possible, remediation activities should be
contamination by distributing mold spores to a scheduled during off-hours when building occupants
previously unaffected area. Never mix chlorine are less likely to be affected.
bleach solution with other cleaning solutions or
Although the level of personal protection • Containment of the work area is not
suggested in these guidelines is based on the total necessary. Dust suppression methods, such
surface area contaminated and the potential for as misting (not soaking) surfaces prior to
remediator or occupant exposure, professional remediation, are recommended.
judgment always should play a part in remediation
decisions. These remediation guidelines are based • Contaminated materials that cannot be
on the size of the affected area to make it easier for cleaned should be removed from the
remediators to select appropriate techniques, not building in a sealed impermeable plastic
on the basis of research showing there is a specific bag. These materials may be disposed of
method appropriate at a certain number of square as ordinary waste.
feet. The guidelines have been designed to help
construct a remediation plan. The remediation • The work area and areas used by
manager should rely on professional judgment and remediation workers for egress should be
experience to adapt the guidelines to particular cleaned with a damp cloth or mop and a
situations. When in doubt, caution is advised. detergent solution.
Consult an experienced mold remediator for more
information. • All areas should be left dry and visibly free
from contamination and debris.
Level I: Small Isolated Areas (10 sq. ft or less) -
e.g., ceiling tiles, small areas on walls. Level II: Mid-Sized Isolated Areas (10-30 sq.
ft.) – e.g., individual wallboard panels.
• Remediation can be conducted by the
regular building maintenance staff as long • Remediation can be conducted by the
as they are trained on proper clean-up regular building maintenance staff. Such
methods, personal protection, and potential persons should receive training on proper
health hazards. This training can be clean-up methods, personal protection, and
performed as part of a program to comply potential health hazards. This training can
with the requirements of the OSHA Hazard be performed as part of a program to
Communication Standard (29 CFR comply with the requirements of the OSHA
1910.1200). Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR
• Respiratory protection (e.g., N-95 disposable 1910.1200).
respirator) is recommended. Respirators must
be used in accordance with the OSHA • Respiratory protection (e.g., N-95 disposable
respiratory protection standard (29 CFR respirator) is recommended. Respirators must
1910.134). Gloves and eye protection should be used in accordance with the OSHA
be worn. respiratory protection standard (29 CFR
1910.134). Gloves and eye protection should
• The work area should be unoccupied. be worn.
Removing people from spaces adjacent to
the work area is not necessary, but is • The work area should be unoccupied.
recommended for infants (less than 12 months Removing people from spaces adjacent to
old), persons recovering from recent surgery, the work area is not necessary, but is
immune-suppressed people, or people with recommended for infants (less than 12 months
chronic inflammatory lung diseases (e.g., old), persons recovering from recent surgery,
asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and immune-suppressed people, or people with
severe allergies). chronic inflammatory lung diseases (e.g.,
asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and 1910.134). Gloves and eye protection should
severe allergies). be worn.
• Surfaces in the work area that could • Surfaces in the work area and areas directly
become contaminated should be covered adjacent that could become decontaminated
with a secured plastic sheet(s) before should be covered with a secured plastic
remediation to contain dust/debris and sheet(s) before remediation to contain dust/
prevent further contamination. debris and prevent further contamination.
• Dust suppression methods, such as misting • Seal ventilation ducts/grills in the work
(not soaking) surfaces prior to area and areas directly adjacent with plastic
remediation, are recommended. sheeting.
• Contaminated materials that cannot be • The work area and areas directly adjacent
cleaned should be removed from the should be unoccupied. Removing people
building in a sealed impermeable plastic from spaces near the work area is
bag. These materials may be disposed of recommended for infants, persons having
as ordinary waste. undergone recent surgery, immune-
suppressed people, or people with chronic
• The work area and areas used by inflammatory lung diseases. (e.g., asthma,
remediation workers for egress should be hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and severe
HEPA vacuumed and cleaned with a damp allergies).
cloth or mop and a detergent solution.
• Dust suppression methods, such as misting
• All areas should be left dry and visibly free (not soaking) surfaces prior to mediation,
from contamination and debris. are recommended.
• Contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned
Level III: Large Isolated Areas (30 –100 square should be removed from the building in sealed
feet) – e.g., several wallboard panels. impermeable plastic bags. These materials
may be disposed of as ordinary waste.
Industrial hygienists or other environmental health and
safety professionals with experience performing • The work area and surrounding areas should
microbial investigations and/or mold remediation be HEPA vacuumed and cleaned with a
should be consulted prior to remediation activities to damp cloth or mop and a detergent
provide oversight for the project. solution.
The following procedures may be implemented • All areas should be left dry and visibly free
depending upon the severity of the contamination: from contamination and debris.
• It is recommended that personnel be trained in Note: If abatement procedures are expected to
the handling of hazardous materials and generate a lot of dust (e.g., abrasive cleaning of
equipped with respiratory protection (e.g., contaminated surfaces, demolition of plaster walls) or
N-95 disposable respirator). Respirators the visible concentration of the mold is heavy (blanket
must be used in accordance with the OSHA coverage as opposed to patchy), it is recommended
respiratory protection standard (29 CFR that the remediation procedures for Level IV be
Level IV: Extensive Contamination (greater than • Contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned
100 contiguous square feet in an area). should be removed from the building in sealed
impermeable plastic bags. The outside of the
Industrial hygienists or other environmental health bags should be cleaned with a damp cloth and
and safety professionals with experience a detergent solution or HEPA vacuumed in the
performing microbial investigations and/or mold decontamination chamber prior to their
remediation should be consulted prior to transport to uncontaminated areas of the
remediation activities to provide oversight for the building. These materials may be disposed
project. of as ordinary waste.
The following procedures may be implemented • The contained area and decontamination
depending upon the severity of the contamination: room should be HEPA vacuumed and
cleaned with a damp cloth or mopped with
• Personnel trained in the handling of a detergent solution and be visibly clean
hazardous materials and equipped with: prior to the removal of isolation barriers.
o Full facepiece respirators with
HEPA cartridges; Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
o Disposable protective clothing
covering entire body including both Any remediation work that disturbs mold and
head and shoes; and causes mold spores to become airborne increases the
o Gloves. degree of respiratory exposure. Actions that tend to
disperse mold include: breaking apart moldy porous
• Containment of the affected area: materials such as wallboard; destructive invasive
o Complete isolation of work area procedures to examine or remediate mold growth in a
from occupied spaces using plastic wall cavity; removal of contaminated wallpaper by
sheeting sealed with duct tape stripping or peeling; using fans to dry items or ventilate
(including ventilation ducts/grills, areas.
fixtures, and other openings);
o The use of an exhaust fan with a The primary function of personal protective
HEPA filter to generate negative equipment is to prevent the inhalation and ingestion of
pressurization; and mold and mold spores and to avoid mold contact with
o Airlocks and decontamination the skin or eyes. The following sections discuss the
room. various types of PPE that may be used during
• If contaminant practices effectively prevent
Skin and Eye Protection
mold from migrating from affected areas, it
may not be necessary to remove people
Gloves protect the skin from contact with
from surrounding work areas. However,
mold, as well as from potentially irritating cleaning
removal is still recommended for infants,
solutions. Long gloves that extend to the middle
persons having undergone recent surgery,
of the forearm are recommended. The glove material
immune- suppressed people, or people with should be selected based on the type of substance/
chronic inflammatory lung diseases. (e.g., chemical being handled. If you are using a biocide
asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and such as chlorine bleach, or a strong cleaning solution,
severe allergies). you should select gloves made from natural rubber,
neoprene, nitrile, polyurethane, or PVC. If you are
using a mild detergent or plain water, ordinary contaminants to street clothing, and to eliminate skin
household rubber gloves may be used. contact with mold and potential chemical exposures.
To protect your eyes, use properly fitted Disposable PPE should be discarded after it
goggles or a full facepiece respirator. Goggles is used. They should be placed into impermeable
must be designed to prevent the entry of dust and bags, and usually can be discarded as ordinary
small particles. Safety glasses or goggles with construction waste. Appropriate precautions and
open vent holes are not appropriate in mold protective equipment for biocide applicators
remediation. should be selected based on the product
manufacturer’s warnings and recommendations
Respiratory Protection (e.g., goggles or face shield, aprons or other
protective clothing, gloves, and respiratory
Respirators protect cleanup workers from protection).
inhaling airborne mold, contaminated dust, and
other particulates that are released during the Sampling for Mold
remediation process. Either a half mask or full
facepiece air-purifying respirator can be used. A Is it necessary to sample for mold? In
full facepiece respirator provides both respiratory most cases, if visible mold growth is present,
and eye protection. Please refer to the discussion sampling is unnecessary. Air sampling for mold
of the different levels of remediation to ascertain may not be part of a routine assessment because
the type of respiratory protection recommended. decisions about appropriate remediation strategies
Respirators used to provide protection from mold often can be made on the basis of a visual inspection.
and mold spores must be certified by the National
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Your first step should be to inspect for any
(NIOSH). More protective respirators may have to evidence of water damage and visible mold growth.
be selected and used if toxic contaminants such as Testing for mold is expensive, and there should be a
asbestos or lead are encountered during remediation. clear reason for doing so. In many cases, it is not
As specified by OSHA in 29 CFR 1910.134 economically practical or useful to test for mold
individuals who use respirators must be properly growth on surfaces or for airborne spores in the
trained, have medical clearance, and be properly fit building. In addition, there are no standards for
tested before they begin using a respirator. In “acceptable” levels of mold in buildings, and the lack
addition, use of respirators requires the employer to of a definitive correlation between exposure levels and
develop and implement a written respiratory health effects makes interpreting the data difficult, if
protection program, with worksite-specific procedures not impossible.
Testing is usually done to compare the levels
Protective Clothing and types of mold spores found inside the building
with those found outside of the building or for
While conducting building inspections and comparison with another location in the building. In
remediation work, individuals may encounter addition, air sampling may provide tangible evidence
hazardous biological agents as well as chemical supporting a hypothesis that investigators have
and physical hazards. Consequently, appropriate formulated. For example, air sampling may show a
personal protective clothing (i.e., reusable or higher concentration of the same species of mold when
disposable) is recommended to minimize cross- the HVAC is operating than when it has been turned
contamination between work areas and clean areas, to off. This finding may convince the investigators that
prevent the transfer and spread of mold and other the mold is growing within, and being disseminated by,
the HVAC system. Conversely, negative results may
persuade investigators to abandon this hypothesis and (EMLAP)). Accredited laboratories must participate
to consider other sources of mold growth or in quarterly proficiency testing (Environmental
dissemination. If you know you have a mold problem, Microbiology Proficiency Analytical Testing Program
it is more important to spend time and resources (EMPAT)).
removing the mold and solving the moisture problem
that causes the moldy conditions than to undertake Remediation Equipment
extensive testing for the type and quantity of mold.
There are various types of equipment useful in
If you are in doubt about sampling, consult mold assessment and remediation. Some of the
an industrial hygienist or other environmental more common items include:
health or safety professional with experience in
microbial investigations to help you decide if Moisture Meters
sampling for mold is necessary or useful, and to
identify persons who can conduct any necessary Moisture meters measure/monitor moisture
sampling. Due to the wide difference in individual levels in building materials, and may be helpful for
susceptibility to mold contamination, sampling measuring the moisture content in a variety of
results sampling may have limited application. building materials following water damage. They also
However, sampling results can be used as a guide can be used to monitor the progress of drying
to determine the extent of an infestation and the damaged materials. These direct reading devices
effectiveness of the cleanup. Their interpretation is have a thin probe that is inserted into the material
best left to the industrial hygienist or other to be tested or pressed directly against the surface
environmental health or safety professional. of the material. Moisture meters can be used on
materials such as carpet, wallboard, wood, brick, and
Sampling for mold should be conducted by concrete.
professionals with specific experience in designing
mold-sampling protocols, sampling methods for Humidity Gauges or Meters
microbial contaminants, and interpretation of results.
For additional information on air sampling, refer to the Humidity meters can be used to monitor
American Conference of Governmental Industrial indoor humidity. Inexpensive (less than $50)
Hygienists’ document, “Bioaerosols: Assessment and models that monitor both temperature and
Control.” In addition, sampling and analysis should humidity are available.
follow any other methods recommended by either
OSHA, NIOSH, EPA, the American Industrial Humidistat
Hygiene Association, or other recognized professional
guidelines. Types of samples can include: air samples, A humidistat is a control device that can be
surface samples, bulk samples, and water samples connected to an HVAC system and adjusted so that
from condensate drain pans or cooling towers. if the humidity level rises above a set point, the
HVAC system will automatically turn on and reduce
Microscopic identification of the spores/ the humidity below the established point.
colonies requires considerable expertise. These
services are not routinely available from Boroscope
commercial laboratories. Documented quality control
in the laboratories used for analysis of the bulk, A boroscope is a hand-held tool that allows
surface, and other air samples is necessary. The users to see potential mold problems inside walls,
American Industrial Hygiene Association offers ceiling plenums, crawl spaces, and other tight
accreditation to microbial laboratories (Environmental areas. It consists of a video camera on the end of a
Microbiology Laboratory Accreditation Program
flexible “snake.” No major drilling or cutting of dry Conclusion
wall is required.
After correcting water or moisture infiltration,
HVAC System Filter the prompt removal of contaminated material and
structural repair is the primary response to mold
High-quality filters must be used in a contamination in buildings. In all situations, the
HVAC system during remediation because underlying cause of water accumulation must be
conventional HVAC filters are typically not rectified or the mold growth will reoccur. Emphasis
effective in filtering particles the size of mold should be placed on preventing contamination through
spores. Consult an engineer for the appropriate proper building and HVAC system maintenance and
filter efficiency for your specific HVAC system, prompt repair of water damaged areas.
and consider upgrading your filters if necessary. A
filter with a minimum efficiency of 50 to 60% or a Effective communication with building
rating of MERV 8, as determined by Test Standard occupants is an essential component of all large-
52.2 of the American Society of Heating, scale remediation efforts. The building owner,
Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, management, and/or employer should notify
may be appropriate. occupants in the affected area(s) of the presence of
mold. Notification should include a description of
Remember to change filters as appropriate, the remedial measures to be taken and a timetable for
especially following any remediation activities. completion. Group meetings held before and after
Remove filters in a manner that minimizes the remediation with full disclosure of plans and results can
reentry of mold and other toxic substances into the be an effective communication mechanism. Individuals
workplace. Under certain circumstances, it may be with persistent health problems that appear to be
necessary to wear appropriate PPE while performing related to mold exposure should see their physicians
this task. for a referral to practitioners who are trained in
occupational/environmental medicine or related
How Do You Know When You Have Finished specialties and are knowledgeable about these types
Remediation/Cleanup? of exposures.
• You must have identified and completely corrected
the source of the water or moisture problem.
• Mold removal should be complete. Visible mold,
mold-damaged materials, and moldy odors should
no longer be present.
• Sampling, if conducted, should show that the level
and types of mold and mold spores inside the
building are similar to those found outside.
• You should revisit the site(s) after remediation, and
it should show no signs of moldy or musty odors,
water damage, or mold growth.
References conditions in the workplace that can cause injuries and
illnesses, including mold problems.
American Conference of Governmental Industrial
Hygienists 1999. Bioaerosols The following list of resources includes
Assessment and Control information developed and maintained by public
http://www.acgih.org and private organizations. However, OSHA does
not control this information and cannot guarantee the
National Apartment Association accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of
http:///www.naahq.org this outside information. Further, the inclusion of these
resources is not intended to endorse any views
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health expressed, or products or services offered, by the
(NIOSH) author of the reference or the organization operating
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh the service identified by the reference.
National Multi-Housing Council An Office Building Occupant’s Guide to IAQ
The Building Owners and Managers Association Biological Contaminants
International (BOMA) http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/bio1.html
Building Air Quality Action Plan
New York City Department of Health & Mental (For Commercial Buildings)
Hygiene Bureau of Environmental & Occupational http://www.epa.gov/iaq/largebldgs/
Disease Epidemiology 2002. Guidelines on actionpl.html
Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in
Indoor Environments Floods / Flooding
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Home Page
United States Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.epa.gov/iaq
Office of Air and Radiation, Indoor Environments
Division 2001. Mold Remediation in Schools and IAQ in Large Buildings/Commercial Buildings
Commercial Buildings. EPA 402-K-01-001 http://www.epa.gov/iaq/largebldgs/
moldremediation.pdf IAQ in Schools
Mold Resources List
Business owners who are concerned about the cost http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/moldresources.html
of professional help can contact the OSHA
Consultation Project Office in their state for free Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial
consultation service. Priority is given to businesses Buildings
with fewer than 250 employees at a worksite, with http://www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/mold_remediation.html
further consideration given to the severity of the
worksite problem. The Consultation Program can
help the employer evaluate and prevent hazardous
U.S. EPA IAQ Information Clearinghouse Association of Occupational and Environmental
(IAQINFO) Clinics (AOEC)
Phone: (800)438-4318 or (703)356-4020 (202)347-4976
Fax: (703)356-5386 http://www.aoec.org
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Referrals to clinics with physicians, who have
Indoor air related documents, answers to Indoor experience with environmental exposures,
Air Quality (IAQ) questions, maintains listing of include exposure to mold; maintains a database of
State IAQ contacts, and regional EPA Contacts. occupational and environmental cases.
Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration
http://acca.org (800)272-7012 or (410)729-3603
Information on indoor comfort products and http://www.ascr.org/institutes
services. Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning Institute,
Mechancial Systems Hygiene Institute, National
American College of Occupational and Institute of Disaster Restoration, National Institute Rug
Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) Cleaning, Water Loss Institute referrals to
Referrals to physicians who have experience with American Academy of Allergy, Asthma &
environmental exposures. Immunology (AAAAI)
American Conference of Governmental Industrial http:// www.aaaai.org
Hygienists, Inc. (ACGIH) Physician referral directory, information on allergies
(513)742-2020 and asthma.
Occupational and environmental health and safety Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American (AAFA)
information. (800) 7ASTHMA (800)727-8462)
American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) Information on allergies and asthma.
http://www.aiha.org American Lung Association (ALA)
Information on industrial hygiene and indoor air (800) LUNGUSA (800)586-4872)
quality issues including mold hazards and legal http:// www.lungusa.org
issues. Information on allergies and asthma.
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of
Air Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) Asthmatics (AANMA) (800)878-4403 or
Information on engineering issues and indoor air Information on allergies and asthma.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Information on allergies and asthma.
National Jewish Medical and Research Center International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA)
(800) 222LUNG (800)222-5864) (800)225-4772
Information on allergies and asthma. Education and training on cleaning and
Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI)
(800) 882-8846 MidAtlantic Environmental Hygiene Resource
http://www.carpet-rug.com Center (MEHRC)
Carpet maintenance, restoration guidelines for (215)387-4096
water-damaged carpet, other carpet-related issues. http://www.mehrc.org
Indoor environmental quality training center giving
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) courses in building moisture and
(800)311-3435 biocontamination, and managing and operating
http://www.cdc.gov facilities for good IAQ. Extensive courses given
Information on healthrelated topics including asthma in IAQ.
molds in the environment, and occupational health.
CDC is recognized as the lead federal agency for National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA)
protecting the health and safety of the American (202)737-2926
people at home and abroad. It serves as the national http://www.nadca.com
focus for developing and applying disease prevention Duct cleaning information.
and control, environmental health, and health
promotion and education activities. National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS)
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Information on building regulations, science, and
Publications on floods, flood proofing, etc. National Institute for Occupational Safety and
University of Minnesota, Department of (800) 35NIOSH (800)356-4674)
Environmental Health and Safety http://www.cdc.gov/niosh
(612)626-5804 Health and safety information with a workplace
Managing water infiltration into buildings.
National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC)
Indoor Environmental Remediation Board (IERB) (800)858-7378
http://www.ierb.org Information on pesticides/antimicrobial chemicals,
Information on best practices in building remediation. including safety and disposal information.
Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration New York Department of Health,
Certification (IICRC) Bureau of Environmental and Occupational
(360)693-5675 Disease Epidemiology, Guidelines on Assessment
http://www.iicrc.org and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments.
Information on and standards for the inspection, (212)788-4290
cleaning, and restoration industry. http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/doh/html/epi/
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Information on worker safety and health,
compliance assistance, laws and regulations,
cooeprative programs, state programs, statistics,
Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’
National Association (SMACNA)
Technical information on topics such as air
conditioning and air ducts.