Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Safety: Moulds

With wet weather upon us be on the look out for Moulds. They can be toxic and should be handled with care and caution.

More and more firms are involved in removing toxicmoulds from contaminated buildings.
This section explains:

• what moulds are
• where they are found
• why they are of concern
• what health effects they may cause
• how they can be identified
• how they can be safely removed.

This section also covers the obligations of employers and others under Ontario╩╝s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

What are moulds?

Moulds are microorganisms that produce thousands of tiny particles called spores as part of their reproductive cycle. Mould colonies are usually visible as colourful, woolly growths. They can be virtually any colour – red, blue, brown, green, white, or black. When disturbed by air movement or handling, moulds release their spores into the air. Given the right environmental conditions, these spores can go on to form other mould colonies.

Where are moulds found?

Moulds can be found almost anywhere outdoors and indoors. Indoor moulds usually originate from outside sources such as soil and vegetation. Moulds love dark, moist environments and can grow at room temperature on various construction materials including wallpaper, particleboard, ceiling tiles, drywall, and plywood. Workers can be exposed to toxic spores when working on buildings with some sort of water damage from flooding, plumbing leaks, or leaks in the structure itself.

Why are moulds of concern?

In buildings with water damage or ongoing moisture problems, certain types of “water-loving” moulds may reproduce to higher than normal levels and potentially cause adverse health effects. Stachybotrys chartarum (formerly known as Stachybotrys atra) is of particular concern because it can be found in large colonies and can cause adverse health effects. Stachybotrys has gained special attention because it has been discovered in portable classrooms with ongoing moisture problems. It appears as small black patches and grows well on water-soaked cellulose material such as wallpaper, ceiling tiles, drywall, and insulation containing paper. In addition to Stachybotrys, personnel working in water-damaged buildings may be exposed to other types of toxic moulds such as Fusarium, Aspergillus, and Penicillium.

What health effects can moulds cause?

Air movement and the handling of contaminated material can release toxic spores into the atmosphere. These spores cause adverse health effects by producing toxic substances known as mycotoxins. Once released, toxic spores must come into contact with the skin or be inhaled before symptoms can develop. Not all exposed workers will develop symptoms.

to read the rest of this PDF that includes a Mould Remediation Chart click here

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