Washington – NIOSH recently issued an alert (.pdf file) about preventing occupational respiratory disease caused by exposure to dampness in offices, schools and other non-industrial buildings.
Excessive moisture – which can be triggered by roof or window leaks, high indoor humidity, and flooding – can lead to growth of mold, fungi and bacteria; the release of volatile organic compounds; and the breakdown of building materials, the alert states.
NIOSH advises employers and building owners to:
- Check areas such as the roof, ceilings, walls and basement for dampness.
- Regularly inspect heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems and correct any problems.
- After a flood or leak, dry any porous materials within 48 hours.
- Implement a system for responding to dampness, flooding and moldy odors.
Building occupants should report any leaks, flooding, dampness, musty odors, and ventilation problems, as well as respiratory problems that may be building-related, the alert states.