Stachybotrys is the mold that has received the most media attention in the last decade. It is a zero tolerance species because it has carcinogenic effects on humans. it is a mold that does not easily become airborne and, therefore, does not always readily show up in air testing results. Due to this fact, it is very important to use both air and physical testing means. Stachybotyrs is also a slow growing mold but even a little is too much!
It is essential to learn about the various hazards that may be present at a mold remediation project site. This includes but is not limited to learning about the levels of various types of mold contamination, how to take appropriate precautions with PPE and containment zone(s), and to understand the special project considerations that can have an affect the risk assessment/site investigation. It is essential to understand what the risks of a mold remediation project site are before commencing the actual remediation. Workers and occupants should not be put at risk. The basic categories of risks are biological (mold, bacteria etc.) chemical, and physical (sharp objects, slip, trip, and fall hazards etc.). The levels of mold in particular location(s) in the structure will be assessed (mold testing and analysis) as will any special health situations such as immunocompromized individuals.
Physical Risk Factors
The project location may have had extensive water damage can lead to the following risks:
It is important to assess the structure to determine if there are leaks and if the power needs to be turned off, what materials may have to be moved to provide a clear path for movement, and if any structural steps must be taken to allow for a safe work environment. The key to assessing the physical hazards is to ascertain what steps will have to be taken to protect the workers and occupants during the project.
Risk Assessment in a Water Damage Situation
In conducting a risk assessment pertaining to water damage, it is important to investigate and fully understand the situation. If you have walked into a mold remediation risk assessment where there is substantial water damage, it is most important to identify the type of water and where it is coming from. It is also important to interview the building owner and occupants to ascertain how long the water has been there and the time and date of the initial water intrusion. During the inspection, it is important to note which specific locations in the structure have been affected by the water. The investigator should note what an acceptable outcome would be in light of the water damage situation.
Chemical Risk Factors
It is important to really think about the potential for chemical risk factors on a potential mold remediation project site because water can corrode gas, propane, and other chemical lines (depending on the type of facility). Corroded lines can lead to oil/chemical/gas and or other chemical leaks. Some types of gases do not have very obvious/any smell but can be extremely toxic to human health. It is always essential to wear the proper PPE and fit tested respirator to avoid exposure on a mold remediation project.
Biological Risk Factors
Biological hazards include the health effects of mold and bacteria. Overflowing sewage can be a growth area for bacteria and high humidity/standing water a growth area for mold. E. coli and Legionella are bacteria associated with adverse health reactions in human. Asperigillus, stachybotrys, Fusarium, and Penicillium produce endotoxins which can make people seriously ill. Histoplasma and Cryptococcus can also make people ill. The remediation team members must understand the proper PPE to wear to protect themselves from these risk factors and how to set up the containment zone to close off the work zone.
Main Components of a Risk Assessment
· Discussions with facility manager and occupants
· Visual inspection of outside and inside conditions
· Check of HVAC systems
· Review of custodial practices and facility maintenance
· Charting and analysis of symptoms by medical professional’s
· Sampling and lab testing/analysis
There are no general guidelines on how to interpreting medical tests or sample results because everyone reacts to mold differently and there are too many factors that go into analysis of a project site and the testing considerations. A physician should be consulted wherein the issues deal with human health. Regardless of a person's health status past or present, exposure to suspected or actual Stachybotrys mold should be minimized and avoided as much as possible. Top^
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