Occasionally it happens in life that you are vindicated in your beliefs when the tide was against you. We are enjoying that feeling today at Air Allergen, because the American Industrial Hygiene Association has recently released their Position Statement on Mold and Dampness in the Built Environment. We work in an area that is not regulated by the government despite many studies demonstrating the quality of the indoor air and its correlation to respiratory symptoms, and we are always excited when different organizations acknowledge these studies. The AIHA has outlined their opinion on mold and dampness and their guidelines for sampling and remediation, and we couldn’t agree more with their statement. Below is an outline of their statement, and it reads like an Air Allergen report.
American Industrial Hygiene Association: Position Statement on Mold and Dampness in the Built Environment
AIHA is made up of 10,000 members who provide information about the health and safety of people in the workplace and homes. Since 1996, the AIHA has been involved in developing practices for the management of mold and dampness problems in the building environment. This information has been used by officials who develop public policy for indoor environmental quality for non-industrial workplaces and individuals have utilized this information to make more informed choices. As the resources are being used it is important to the AIHA to define and explain their role to all parties.
Wetting and drying is small amounts is normal in buildings and pose little risk for occupant health as long as steps are taken to dry the materials as quickly as possible. It is important to distinguish these events from “dampness” which is unwanted and excessive moisture.
“Mold” is a term that refers to a group of fungi that are common on food and wet materials. Most are Ascomycetes that produce a lot of spores; they are normally found on damp building materials easily because they are found in soil and adapted to grow well on a variety of materials.
The AIHA recognizes that well conducted epidemiology studies in several countries have shown that exposures from building dampness and mold have been connected with increased risks for respiratory symptoms, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, rhinosinusitis, bronchitis, and respiratory infections. Studies conducted in the non-industrial workplace found that individuals with asthma or a hypersensitivity pneumonitis had an increased risk for progression to more severe disease if the relationship between illness and exposure to the damp building was not recognized.
Three reviews of the available evidence indicate that elimination of the moisture intrusion and leaks and removal of mold contaminated items reduce mold exposure and respiratory symptoms and new asthma cases. The AIHA, NIOSH, and many state governments, Health Canada and the World Health Organization all concur with this position.
AIHA. (2013). American Industrial Hygiene Association Position Statement on Mold and Dampness in the Built Environment.