NIOSH Develops Tools to Help Identify and Assess Areas of Dampness and Mold
Dampness can promote the growth of mold, bacteria, fungi, and insects. Workers and others in damp buildings can be exposed to airborne pollutants from biological contaminants and the breakdown of building materials.
NIOSH has developed and released the Dampness and Mold Assessment Tool to help employers identify and assess areas of dampness in both general buildings and school buildings.
“Implementing regular visual inspections for dampness can help to identify trouble areas before they become major problems and help to prioritize maintenance and repair,” said David Weissman, M.D., director of NIOSH’s Respiratory Health Division. “The Dampness and Mold Assessment Tools provide an inexpensive mechanism to investigate, record, and compare conditions over time.”
Nonindustrial buildings like offices and schools can develop moisture and dampness problems from roofs and window leaks, high indoor humidity, and flooding events, among other factors. Dampness can promote the growth of mold, bacteria, fungi, and insects. Workers and others in damp buildings can be exposed to airborne pollutants from biological contaminants and the breakdown of building materials.
According to NIOSH, research has shown that exposure to building dampness and mold are associated with a number of health problems, 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 (often called “hay fever”)
The Dampness and Mold Assessment Tools provide a guide for users to assess all rooms for areas of dampness and mold and identifying the source(s) of the dampness and mold. The tools include a checklist and instructions for assessing and recording any damage found and for tracking conditions over time.
Workers who suspect their health problems are related to exposure to building-related dampness or mold should report new, persistent, or worsening symptoms to their personal doctor and to a designated individual at their workplace per their employer.