September was Mold Awareness Month. As the weather begins to cool in anticipation of the fall season, indoor air quality is a consideration that building and business owners must take as damp weather returns. Commercial buildings, schools, pharmaceutical labs and more can use temporary humidity control services to prevent moisture intrusions; the resulting mold could pose serious health risks and financial implications.
Where Mold Lives
Mold costs Americans millions of dollars each year in repairs and medical bills. The fungi thrive in damp and humid environments, and reproduce by forming resilient spores that can survive harsh conditions.
In large buildings, mold is the most prevalent in corner rooms and on exterior wall surfaces, because they tend to have higher relative humidity levels than the adjoining rooms. When the relative humidity in a building is seventy percent or greater, it creates the ideal conditions for mold growth. However, lower humidity levels in warm rooms can also create a habitable environment for the fungi, making temporary humidity control an important factor in decreasing the amount of moisture in indoor air.
Reasons that mold may exist in a building also include:
- Roof and plumbing leaks
- Insufficient or delayed maintenance
- Improper or old sealing around windows
- Improper ventilation
The Effects of Mold
Mold is nature’s decomposer. It eats away at materials, breaking them down. While mold serves an important function in the ecosystem, it is detrimental to buildings. When it affects a property, mold weakens the structural integrity of the building.
Not only can mold damage building materials, it can also penetrate flooring, documents, books, furniture, linens and food, which can pose health hazards. For those who are sensitive to the fungus, mold can trigger asthma symptoms or allergic reactions that range from eye irritations to shortness of breath. Exposure to mold may cause infections in those with compromised immune systems. In effect, the presence of mold in a building can reduce the quality of indoor air to be worse than the air outside.
Mold Control and Prevention
Keeping a building dry and free of humidity is the key to mold prevention. This means ensuring proper air circulation, ventilation, humidity levels and temperatures.
Some companies with persistently wet or humid conditions, such as those in the marine or food industries, may find that HVAC systems and other basic mold-preventing techniques are not enough to keep the relative humidity in a room or building low.
While mold serves an important role in nature, it’s not something that should be present in buildings. In addition to degrading building materials, mold can pose health risks to employees and building occupants. Take the pressure off your HVAC system when you have moisture problems and look to temporary humidity control and dehumidification to create the ideal controlled environments when you need them.
Photo by Agustín Amenabar L. via CC license.