Mold-related Violations Increase as Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Becomes Hot Topic

Mold and its effect on indoor air quality (IAQ) is making headlines.

For example, parents in Brooklyn, New York are upset that their children are getting sick because of a purported mold outbreak in one of the borough’s schools. A recent test revealed the presence of black mold in at least seven classrooms.

To make matters worse, the building is currently under construction and the windows are sealed off, which means they can’t be opened for additional ventilation. The mold outbreak is reportedly caused by water leaks and the construction is expected to fix the problem.

A recent Wall Street Journal article notes that mold claims are getting more attention. A report from the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development shows that overall violations for mold-related conditions have increased by 19% since 2007. For “C violations,” the most hazardous type of mold condition, the violations have increased by 67% since 2007.

Bill Sothern, a certified industrial hygienist for a mold inspection/consulting company, says more lawsuits will start to surface from people experiencing adverse health effects from mold-related conditions. In New York specifically, some lawyers are specializing in mold cases and mold-related insurance claims are increasing.

Mildew, mold, bacteria and fungi all live in HVAC systems. Mildew – often thin and black, dark blue/green or sometimes white – can grow into mold. Just one spore can germinate and grow into a colony the size of a quarter or half dollar in a few days or weeks. The problem is that there’s no way to completely get rid of them in indoor air.

If these tiny, lightweight spores proliferate in buildings, they can adversely affect indoor air quality, create hazardous health conditions for the occupants and contribute to the deterioration of building components. Mycotoxins are transmitted through inhaling, ingesting or skin contact, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. They can cause a host of symptoms including skin rashes, nausea, liver damage, central nervous system damage, upper respiratory tract infections and cancer.

A dirty HVAC system can harbor contaminants responsible for infectious diseases, including chicken pox, measles and influenza, according to the American Lung Association. Children, the elderly, allergy and asthma sufferers, and those with compromised immune systems are particularly sensitive to the health effects from biological contaminants.

Although you can’t get rid of them completely, there is a way deal you can deal with mold and mildew spores before they become harmful to your health. With adequate, year-long maintenance to your HVAC system you can prevent microbial growth and the various health conditions caused by poor indoor air quality. In addition preventative maintenance leads to greater operating efficiency, extends the life of the HVAC system and lowers energy bills.

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