Mold growth is encouraged by warm and humid conditions. It is likely to grow and become a problem where there is water damage, high humidity, or dampness. It is estimated that about 50 to 100 common indoor mold types have the potential for creating health problems. Exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, or wheezing. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions. The following references aid in recognizing workplace hazards and health effects associated with mold hazards.
An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) - Biological Pollutants. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Identifies biological contaminants including bacteria, molds, mildew, viruses, animal dander and cat saliva, house dust, mites, cockroaches, and pollen. It describes their health effects, presents measures for reducing exposure, and lists additional resources on the topic.
Mold Resources. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Provides general information and links about molds and mold-related issues such as moisture control, flooding, and asthma.
Facts About Mold (PDF). American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), (2011, December). A consensus statement by a group of experts about important aspects of the "state of the science". Presents a variety of mold facts, including health effects, cleanup, and recommended methods for prevention of mold growth and mold exposure.
Fungi in Buildings. University of Minnesota, Department of Environmental Health & Safety. Provides links to "Indoor Fungal Resources" that contain information on investigation of indoor fungi, water infiltration control, a fungal abatement protocol, and a glossary of fungi-related terms.
Histoplasmosis: Protecting Workers at Risk. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2005-109, (2004, December). Introduces the fungal disease histoplasmosis and includes information about exposure, diagnosis, and prevention.
State of Science on Molds and Human Health (PDF). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), (2002, July 18). Identifies a variety of illnesses that people exposed to molds may experience. Fungi account for 9% of nosocomial infections, that is, infections originating or taking place in a hospital. Ingestion of foods contaminated with certain toxins produced by molds is associated with development of human cancer. Many respiratory illnesses among workers may be attributed to mold exposures. Linkages between indoor airborne exposures to molds and other health effects, such as bleeding from the lung, or memory loss, have not yet been scientifically substantiated.
Update: Pulmonary Hemorrhage/Hemosiderosis Among Infants --- Cleveland, Ohio, 1993-1996. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) 49(09);180-4, (2000, March 10). Reports on its review and reanalysis of the 1993-1996 Cleveland, Ohio infant lung bleeding cases that brought Stachybotrys chartarum mold to national attention. CDC concludes that exposure to this or other molds was not proven to be associated with lung bleeding in these cases.
Molds, Toxic Molds and Indoor Air Quality (PDF). California Research Bureau, California State Library, (2001, March). Provides background information on molds, their potential health effects, and how they relate to indoor air quality.
Molds in Indoor Workplaces (PDF). Hazard Evaluation System and Information Service (HESIS), California Department of Health and California Department of Industrial Relations, (2005, November). Describes allergic reactions, fungal infections and other health effects that molds cause. Most workers will have no reaction when exposed to mold, however, some workers have underlying health conditions that make them more sensitive to mold exposure.
Health Effects of Toxin-Producing Molds in California. California Department of Health Services, California Morbidity (Monthly Report), (1998, April). Describes what is known about health effects of toxin-producing molds in the indoor environment, especially Stachybotrys chartarum. This article discusses mechanism of action, route of exposure and summarizes cases from the medical literature.
McNeel, S.V. and R.A. Kreutzer. "Fungi & Indoor Air Quality." Health & Environment Digest 10.2(1996, May-June): 9-12. California Department of Health Services, Environmental Health Investigations Branch. Discusses mold species commonly associated with indoor air. It also provides information on mycotoxins, including their origins and effects on humans.
Barrett, J.R. "Mycotoxins: Of Molds and Maladies." Environmental Health Perspectives 108.1(2000, January). Provides an overview of mycotoxins, mold species commonly associated with human disease, health effects, exposure risks, and current research topics.
Mold Allergy. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Provides information on mold allergies including prevalence, symptoms, methods of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention measures.
Kirkland, T.N. and J.F. Fierer. "Coccidioidomycosis: A Reemerging Infectious Disease." Emerging Infectious Diseases 2.3 (1996, July-September). Provides an overview of coccidioidomycosis, including its epidemiology, clinical aspects, treatment, and prevention.
All other documents, that are not PDF materials or formatted for the web, are available as Microsoft Office® formats and videos and are noted accordingly. If additional assistance is needed with reading, reviewing or accessing these documents or any figures and illustrations, please also contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300.
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