Mold is a type of fungi. Most molds reproduce by forming spores which are released into the air. When spores land on a suitable moist surface they begin to grow, can penetrate porous materials and release chemicals. Most molds are harmless but some can cause infections, allergy symptoms and produce toxins. Infections are rare in healthy individuals and the effect of toxins is still not well understood. Nevertheless, mold remediation is often necessary to return working spaces to a safe condition and make them suitable for occupancy.
The most important requirement is to control the source of moisture. Next, survey the types of materials and the size of the area involved. This may become important in determining the strategy for remediation and worker protection. Materials that cannot be dried and fully cleaned are removed using methods that minimize occupant exposure to spores. Mold remediation often involves construction activities.
Non-porous materials (e.g., metal, glass, hard plastics, etc.) can be dried out, fully cleaned and reused. Clean hard and non-porous materials using a detergent. Surfaces can be rinsed with a disinfectant made of ½ cup liquid household bleach mixed into one gallon of water (Caution: DO NOT mix bleach with cleaning products that contain ammonia).
Semi-porous materials (e.g., wood and concrete) can be cleaned if they are structurally sound.
Porous materials (e.g., drywall, carpets, insulation, ceiling tile, etc.) are different because mold penetrates into them making it very difficult to fully clean. As a general rule, if a porous material has been wet for over 48 hours it is best to remove and replace.
Small Areas of Mold Remediation (i.e., < 30 ft.2)
As a general rule, small areas of water damage require less control when remediating.
Large Areas of Mold Remediation (i.e., 30-100 ft.2)
Extensive and Visible Mold Contamination
Worker protection uses engineering controls, work practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) during mold remediation. Inhalation is the route of exposure of most concern to cleanup workers.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Visit OSHA's Safety and Health Topics webpage on Mold at: www.osha.gov/SLTC/molds/index.html
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments: www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/epi/moldrpt1.shtml
This fact sheet creates no new legal obligations. It contains recommendations as well as descriptions of OSHA safety and health standards. By law, employers must comply with safety and health standards and regulations and provide their employees with workplaces free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm. The recommendations provide additional information intended to assist employers in providing safe and healthful workplaces. This information will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals upon request. The voice phone is (202) 693-1999; teletypewriter (TTY) number: (877) 889-5627.
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U.S. Department of Labor
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DTSEM FS-3713 09/2013
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