Mold is all around us - and over the last few years, it has gained a scary reputation. If you are wondering about the affects of mold, you be wondering if mold in the workplace could be making you sick. Fortunately, many types of mold do not cause physical symptoms in most people. However, that is not always the case. In this article we’ll take a look at how mold could be affecting you and your workplace, what the common symptoms are to look out for, and what you can do about it. To learn more about a safer, cleaner office, contact the experts at Kitchener Clean now!
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Potential Health Effects Of Mold
Although there are some types of mold that are known for being dangerous or highly toxic, it is more likely that you will come into contact with more common types of mold at work. If mold is found in the workplace, some workers may not experience any symptoms at all, while others may experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms.
Exposure to mold or spores can cause symptoms in some people. Molds can also produce ‘mycotoxins’ - byproducts of mold that are toxic to humans. Scientists are still working to discover all of the health effects that can be caused by mold.
If mold is present, workers may begin to experience symptoms such as:
Allergies - Mold can create symptoms similar to allergies, such as sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, congestion, itchy eyes, and more. If a worker already has allergies, their symptoms may worsen.
Worsened Asthma - Workers with asthma may experience worsened symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, and increased coughing.
Other Symptoms - Though mold is known for causing allergy-like symptoms, it can also cause headaches, fatigue, and difficultly concentrating
If you notice employees complaining of symptoms such as the ones above, it may be time to get your office space examined for mold problems.
How Does Mold In The Workplace Occur?
As mentioned above, mold is everywhere. In Canada, there are many different types of mold that you may find (you can see a brief listing here). OSHA states that there are over 1,000 different species of mold found in the United States, and over 100,000 species found worldwide!
Although mold has a bad reputation, remember that it normally grows outdoors. When it is found outside, mold is not a problem at all. It is actually a great helper of the environment.
Mold helps to break down organic matter, like fallen trees in a forest. We also use mold for producing products like cheese and even some medications (source).
Mold is not ‘the big bad wolf’ - but it can become a problem when it is found indoors, especially in places such as offices or other commercial spaces that often do not have great ventilation.
When mold enters a space inside, it is not a problem just yet. It can become problematic or even hazardous, though, when the spores land on a wet or moist space.
Mold can start to grow on wood, insulation, foods, carpet, paper, and more. From there, mold can begin to spread as long as it still has oxygen, moisture, and a food source. When mold spores spread throughout the workplace, it may begin to effect workers’ health - especially if they already suffer from conditions such as allergies. We’ll take a look at some of the possible health effects below.
What To Do If Your Office Has Mold
Because mold is so prevalent, it is not uncommon for workplaces in Ontario or across North America to have mold growing on carpets, blinds, insulation, on wood, cardboard or paper, and more. If you have found out that your office has mold, it’s important to work through the proper channels to safely get the mold removed. But what about after it’s removed? Mold spreads easily, and if your office began growing mold once, it will likely do it again unless you make some changes.
remove contaminated items
If you found mold on a stack of old papers sitting in an old filing cabinet, it is likely all of those papers now have mold spores on them. Even if you can’t see it yet, you most likely will have new mold growth in a few weeks. If possible, remove any items that you suspect have been contaminated, even if you can’t see mold growth on them yet.
If you have found moldy papers or files in places such as desks or filing cabinets, that most likely means those spaces are not secure or moisture-free. Since mold needs moisture to grow, you may want to consider replacing filing cabinets or desks where moldy items have been found inside - especially if those items are made from wood.
keep relative humidity between 30% - 50%
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS), the best way to reduce and prevent mold growth is by keeping indoor relative humidity between 30% - 50% to prevent your office becoming too moist. They suggest doing this in a number of ways, including:
Keeping the building’s heating & air conditioning units in good condition
Avoid placing carpet near sinks, tubs, fountains, or anywhere else that may be prone to spilled or leaked water (such as kitchens or break rooms)
Insulate cold floors to help prevent condensation from building up
Remove stains immediately as they occur and always clean up spills
Use dehumidifiers if necessary
By doing these simple things, you can help make sure that mold growth doesn’t become a problem in your office.
inspect before your inspection
If you suspect that your office has mold and you have hired an inspector to come, it’s a good idea to do a pre-inspection - no one knows your office better than you! The CCOHS states that the best way to find mold is simply with a visual inspection. Go around every space of your office, and look for signs of mold - dark patches, spots, or stains are usually a giveaway.
When inspecting, you will want to check out the following areas:
Floors - both hard floors and carpeting
Paper - including documents, cardboard, files inside cabinets, etc.
Furniture - check fabric condition, under pillows, etc.
Walls and drywall
Keep track of spaces you notice any dark spots. You may also want to note any areas that you see accumulating moisture but do not show signs of mold yet (e.g. moisture on a window sill).
Work with professional cleaners
One of the best ways to keep your office clean and safe is by working with a professional commercial cleaning company. Commercial cleaners know all of the techniques and methods to keep your office safe for you, your customers, and your employees.
Mold growth often occurs due to consistent leaks, spills, or leftover stains that were not properly cleaned. Cleaning a spill requires more than just soaking it up with a paper towel. Unfortunately, this is often what happens - and moisture as well as residue from food or drinks is left behind in carpeting, on furniture, or on desks and other surfaces.
When you work with professional cleaners, they will soon get to know your office as well as you do! That means not only will they ensure all spills and stains are properly taken care of, but they will also be an extra set of eyes that will notice if something is not right - if that dark stain just recently appeared under your desk, or if your windowsill seems to be more damp than usual.
At Kitchener Clean, we care about your entire office, as well as your employee’s health. We want to ensure that your indoor air quality remains top-notch. That’s why we use non-toxic cleaning products, to keep the air you breath safe for everyone who enters your office.
Keep Your Office Safe & Clean With Kitchener Clean!
Kitchener Clean is a locally owned and operated family business, so we treat our customers like we would treat our own family - with respect. We value integrity, consistency, and thoroughness with all of our clients.
We also use non-toxic cleaning methods to keep you, your staff, and your clients breathing cleaner!
Did you know that Kitchener Clean started out as a home cleaning company? Today we are still firmly committed to cleaning your office as thoroughly as we would our own home. We are also dedicated to great customer service, honesty, and integrity.
At Kitchener Clean, we believe that our Office Care Technicians are a key reason we are so successful. We strive to hire the best Office Care Professionals in the business. We take security seriously so all of our staff are bonded and have undergone police checks.
Our reputation is important to us, so we guarantee all of our services. If for any reason you are not completely satisfied, simply contact us and we will return within 24 hours to address your concern at no additional cost.
We even guarantee our response time. If we haven’t responded to any client communication within 24 hours of receiving it, we will offer you a free week of Office Care. That is how strongly we feel about the importance of communication and customer satisfaction. We will always stand behind our work. We guarantee it.
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