FACTSHEETH HHMolds in Indoor WorkplacesMolds in Indoor WorkplacesHAZARD EVALUATION SYSTEM & INFORMATION SERVICECalifornia ...
WIn almost all cases of allergic or other illnesses,the symptoms are temporary. However, a smallpercentage of people may e...
3Dermatitis – Red itchy skin and/or rash.Asthma – May be aggravated or caused by exposure tomold, resulting in acute attac...
ORGANIZATIONS➤ HESIS can answer questions about the healtheffects of molds and other workplace hazards forCalifornia worke...
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California Mold in the Workplace


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California Mold Standards for the Workplace

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California Mold in the Workplace

  1. 1. FACTSHEETH HHMolds in Indoor WorkplacesMolds in Indoor WorkplacesHAZARD EVALUATION SYSTEM & INFORMATION SERVICECalifornia Department of Health ServicesOccupational Health Branch850 Marina Bay Parkway, Bldg. P, 3rd Floor, Richmond, CA 94804510-620-5757 • www.dhs.ca.gov/ohbHESISMolds are forms of fungi that are found indoors and outdoors.You are exposed to them daily in the air you breathe. Sometimes molds growexcessively inside your workplace and can cause different types of illnesses. Most workerswill not be affected by molds. Some workers have symptoms like those of hay fever and thecommon cold, but they can last for longer periods. Molds can also aggravate asthma. Inaddition, some people in wet or moldy buildings may have flu-like symptoms. Most healthproblems are temporary and can be controlled by limiting exposure to molds.How do I know I ambeing exposed to moldsat work?Molds need moisture and a food source (organicmaterial). Molds can be any color, includingwhite, orange, green, brown, or black. Even ifyou cannot see any molds, you may notice amildew or earthy smell. They may be foundindoors on wet/damp walls, carpets, ceilings, orbehind wallpaper, as well as in heating, ventila-tion, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems.Indoor moisture leading to the growth of moldsand other micro-organisms may come fromflooding, leaks, high humidity, and steam.Symptoms also can indicate that you areexposed to molds at work. See “Health Effectsof Mold Exposure” on page 3. If you havesymptoms, observe when they occur. They maybe work-related if they worsen when you are atwork, and disappear or lessen at home or onweekends, or during vacations. The onset ofsymptoms depends on your individual reactionto molds.How do I get exposedto molds?Molds produce seed-like spores that are smallenough to travel through the air. You can breathein spores or come into contact with them.Sometimes molds also produce chemicals calledmycotoxins, which are attached to the spores andother parts of the mold. You may be exposed tomycotoxins at the same time you are exposed tomolds. Mycotoxins are produced only under certainenvironmental conditions.How can molds affectmy health?Molds can cause allergic reactions, fungalinfections, and other health effects. Most workers,however, will have no reaction at all whenexposed to molds (see page 3). Some workershave underlying health conditions that makethem more sensitive to effects of mold exposure.Allergic reactions, similar to common pollen oranimal allergies, are the most common healtheffects of molds. Allergic and toxic illnesses canbe treated by getting rid of the mold exposure.Your doctor may also prescribe medication tocontrol symptoms.NOVEMBER 2005Continued inside…California Department of Health Services • California Department of Industrial Relations
  2. 2. WIn almost all cases of allergic or other illnesses,the symptoms are temporary. However, a smallpercentage of people may experience longerrecovery times.Fungal infections of internal organs are rare. Theyrequire immediate medical attention and treatment.The symptoms described on page 3 for moldexposure can also be due to other causes such asbacterial or viral infections, or other allergies.Therefore, it is important to tell your doctor if youare concerned about exposure to molds. If possible,have your doctor refer you to, or consult with, anoccupational medicine physician to help determineif the illness is work-related. An occupationalmedicine physician can also help identify otherworkplace conditions that could be related toyour symptoms.What do I do aboutmolds in the workplace?There are no standards to say how much mold ishazardous to your health. There should not bevisible mold growth or strong moldy odors inthe workplace.Report mold problems. If you see or smellmold, or if you or others are experiencing mold-related symptoms, report it so the problem can beinvestigated. You may need to tell your employer,supervisor, health and safety officer, unionrepresentative, or school board. Find out whetherco-workers are experiencing any of the listedsymptoms. See if a particular office, floor, or areais affected. Your workplace Injury and IllnessPrevention Plan (Title 8, California Code ofRegulations, Section 3203) must describe aprocedure for employees to report hazards to theemployer. Your employer must correct uncontrolledindoor accumulation of water that may cause mold.(Title 8, California Code of Regulations, Section3362). Cal/OSHA enforces these regulations (seepage 4).If you have symptoms see a doctor. Ifpossible, go to an occupational health clinic. Takethis factsheet in to show your doctor, and refer toHESIS if there are further questions (see ‘Resources’).If your illness is work-related, your doctor may rec-ommend your removal from the workplace and youmay be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.Make sure your doctor fills out a Doctor’s FirstReport of Occupational Injury or Illness (DFR), aform necessary for a successful claim.Clean up mold contamination. Mold shouldbe removed right away. No one with symptoms,or with a higher likelihood of mold-related illness(see box, page 3), should participate in moldremoval.➤ Focus on fixing the problem, not testing formold. A thorough investigation should revealall sources of mold and moisture. Environmen-tal sampling is usually unnecessary, since alltypes of molds should be eliminated.➤ Scrub hard surfaces (tile, concrete, vinyl,undamaged wood) with ordinary householdcleaning products. Bleach is not necessary. Usewaterproof gloves.➤ Moldy porous materials (carpet, ceiling tile,wallboard, softened wood) usually requireremoval and replacement. For extensiveremoval jobs (greater than 30 square feet),HESIS recommends using a contractor specializ-ing in this kind of work. There is no statelicense specifically for mold removal or cleanup.➤ Ensure that workers who remove moldymaterials use gloves, eye protection, coveralls,head and shoe covers, and properly fittedrespirators. See the recommended respiratoryprotection program (Title 8, California Codeof Regulations, Section 5144). Choose N-95respirators (not dust masks) in most situations.Make sure mold removal workers are trainedabout dust control methods, use of personalprotective equipment, and health risks.➤ Avoid using toxic chemicals. Fungicides anddisinfectants are rarely appropriate, and mayendanger building occupants. Don’t use ozonegenerators; ozone can harm your lungs. Mold-resistant paints may contain toxic additives. Nochemical can substitute for regular cleaning.Avoid exposure during mold cleanup.The highest exposure to mold often occurs duringcleanup. You may need to temporarily leave work2What about Stachybotrys?See back page…
  3. 3. 3Dermatitis – Red itchy skin and/or rash.Asthma – May be aggravated or caused by exposure tomold, resulting in acute attacks of coughing, wheezing, andshortness of breath. Reactions usually occur within minutesafter exposure, and may repeat 6-10 hours later.Most people will have no reactionat all when exposed to molds.Allergic rhinitis orsinusitis – Similar tohay fever or thecommon cold, but overan extended period oftime. Symptoms includea runny nose, nasalor sinus congestion,irritated or red eyes,irritated or scratchythroat, and cough.Reactions occur quicklyafter exposure to molds.Invasive pulmonaryaspergillosis – Onlyoccurs in the severelyimmunocompromised.Symptoms includepneumonia plus fever,bone pain, chills,headache, andweight loss. RAREAllergic BronchopulmonaryAspergillosis (ABPA) – Worseningof underlying condition (asthma orcystic fibrosis) plus coughing upblood and weight loss. RAREReported symptoms in damp buildingsinclude fatigue, headache, fever, muscleache, difficulty concentrating and moodchanges. The cause of these symptoms isnot completely understood.Hypersensitivity pneumonitis(extrinsic allergic alveolitis) – Involvesthe lungs and body. Symptoms includetightness in the chest, difficulty breathing,cough, fever, and muscle aches. Reactionsoccur 6-8 hours after exposure. RAREALLERGICREACTIONSFUNGALINFECTIONSOTHEREFFECTSqqqqqqqqareas where cleanup is occurring, especially if youhave symptoms or underlying medical conditionsthat increase your risk of mold-related illnesses.Eliminate and control the source ofmoisture. As long as moisture is present themold will return, so the source of the moisturemust be eliminated and the building properlymaintained.Monitor symptoms after cleanup. Ifthe symptoms persist after cleanup, they may notbe related to molds, or the cleanup effort wasWorkers with a higher likelihood ofmold-related illness include those who:➤ Have other allergies➤ Have existing respiratory conditions includingasthma or other lung diseases➤ Are moderately immunocompromised (suchas diabetic) or severely immunocompromised(have AIDS or leukemia, receiving chemo-therapy, or are organ transplant recipients)➤ Are elderlyAspergilloma (formedin a pre-existing healedlung abscess) – Symptomsinclude cough, coughingup blood, and weightloss. RAREHealth Effects of Mold ExposureHealth Effects of Mold Exposureunsuccessful. You and your doctor should exploreother possible causes of illness. If there are otherindoor air quality problems or the cleanup was notadequate, your employer may need professionalassistance. Ⅲ
  4. 4. ORGANIZATIONS➤ HESIS can answer questions about the healtheffects of molds and other workplace hazards forCalifornia workers, employers, and health careprofessionals, call toll-free (866) 282-5516.➤ Occupational health clinics can be found at theUniversity of California:• UC San Francisco/SFGH Occupational andEnvironmental Medicine Clinic: (415) 885-7580.• UC Davis Occupational and Environmental HealthClinic: (530) 754-7635.• UC Irvine Occupational and Environmental Clinic:(949) 824-8641.• UC San Diego Occupational and EnvironmentalClinic: (619) 471-9210.➤ California Division of Occupational Safetyand Health (Cal/OSHA) can cite an employerfor unsanitary conditions, including uncontrolledwater accumulation, that may promote moldgrowth; see http://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/3362.html.Employees who need information on workplacehealth and safety regulations, or who want to file acomplaint, should call the nearest district office ofCal/OSHA. Call (510) 286-7000 or seewww.dir.ca.gov/DOSH/districtoffices.htm to find outwhich District Office covers your workplace. Youridentity will be kept confidential.➤ Employers who want free, non-enforcement helpto evaluate the workplace and to improve healthand safety conditions can call the Cal/OSHAConsultation Service at (800) 963-9424.RESOURCESWhat about Stachybotrys?Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra) is a greenish-blackmold that grows on materials with high cellulose content (drywall, wood andpaper, and dropped ceiling tiles). This mold, like some other molds, produceschemicals called mycotoxins under certain environmental conditions. Healtheffects of breathing mycotoxins are not well understood.Here are the most important things to know:• Not all black molds are Stachybotrys, and not all Stachybotrys producesmycotoxins.• While still alive, Stachybotrys is slimy and does not release manyspores or mycotoxins. Exposure is low unless it dries up, when sporesand mycotoxins (if present) are released into the air.• There is no diagnostic test to determine if you are currently exposedto Stachybotrys.• All indoor molds are potential health hazards and need to becleaned up.4PUBLICATIONS➤ Workers’ Compensation in California: AGuidebook for Injured Workers from the LaborOccupational Health Program (LOHP), Universityof California, Berkeley. This is an internet-onlypublication. Go to www.lohp.org then link toWorkers’ Compensation; download the freeguidebook in English or Spanish.➤ EPA guide Mold Remediation in Schools andCommercial Buildings,http://www.epa.gov/mold/mold_remediation.html.➤ “Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools” is a kitdeveloped by the EPA to help with investigationof indoor air issues at schools. See www.epa.gov/iaqor call 1-800-438-4318.➤ Listings of indoor air quality consultants canbe obtained from the California Department ofHealth Services’ Indoor Air Quality Program; seewww.cal-iaq.org then link to "Guidance on Findingan IAQ Consultant" and "Guidance on Hiring IAQConsultants." The American Industrial HygieneAssociation also has consultant listings; seewww.aiha.org.➤ Physicians can refer to the American College ofOccupational and Environmental Medicine(ACOEM) statement, Adverse Human Health EffectsAssociated with Molds in the Indoor Environment.www.acoem.org/guidelines/article.asp?ID=52.Arnold Schwarzenegger, GovernorState of CaliforniaKimberly Belshé, SecretaryHealth and Human Services AgencySandra Shewry, DirectorDepartment of Health ServicesJohn Rea, Acting DirectorDepartment of Industrial RelationsJANE NORLING DESIGN