6 Key Stats About Mold in Commercial Buildings

Mold in buildings, especially commercial buildings such as offices and shopping centres, can cause a range of problems for tenants and property owners alike.

For tenants, mold infestations generally accompany a drop in indoor air quality (IAQ) and, in turn, a rise in the risk of respiratory and other health issues. For property owners, IAQ problems for tenants can result in problems in securing and maintaining leases, i.e. a drop in revenue.

These 6 key statistics will equip to begin understanding what to look for when trying to identify and deal with mold infestation in your commercial building(s).

1. 30% of New and Remodeled Buildings Could Have IAQ Issues

Just because a building is ‘new’ or remodeled, it doesn’t meant that it’s immune to the risk of mold infestation. According to a 1984 World Health Organization (WHO) Committee report (via the US Environmental Protection Agency), as many as 30% of new or remodeled buildings can involve complaints about poor indoor air quality (IAQ).

Granted, the WHO study is old, but its findings remain true, even in more recent years. In 2012 a condominium complex in Calgary (which was only 10 years old by that point) had a very bad mould infestation issue causing upwards of $4 million in repair costs (CBC).

2. 270 Species of Mold Identified in Canadian Buildings

There are thousands of mold species, but 270 are known to have infested buildings (including homes, commercial properties and others) at some point (City of Toronto). Mold can grow in a number of areas including carpets, wallpaper, ceiling tiles, insulation and drywall.

It’s always a good idea to require or strongly advise building occupants at greater risk of mold infestation, such as gyms/fitness centres and grocery stores with elevated moisture levels (i.e. among the leading causes of mold) to adhere to moisture management best practices.

3. Keep Your Humidity Levels Between 30-50%

As a general rule, your occupants should work to maintain humidity levels of 30% to 50% as a means to preventing a mold infestation. Mold thrives in moist and damp environments where a high level of humidity is in place, such as bathrooms, showers, kitchens and the like.

By applying best practices such as this, you could drastically lower the chances of mold in your building. Not only would this ensure that your building’s IAQ is maintained at a high level, but it’ll also save you from the risk of spending thousands (or in some cases, millions) of dollars in very expensive – and preventable – repair costs.

4. Mold Forms in 24-48 Hours of Water Damage

In terms of preventative measures, it’s vital that you deal with water damage (resulting from a ceiling leak, flood or even accidents) immediately. Due to elevated moisture and dampness, a mold infestation can occur as early as 24 to 48 hours in water damaged areas.

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5. Risk of Asthma Climbs by 30-50% via Mold Exposure

Mold can have a severe impact on IAQ. For example, the risk of asthma and other respiratory issues climbs by as much as 30% to 50% as a result of mold. Remember, even a commercial lease-owner – such as a business – must adhere to Occupational Health and Safety laws and ensure that its employees have a safe and healthy work environment.

If your tenant’s workers are complaining of respiratory issues, then you could lose that business’ lease and, in turn, be at risk of failing to get new business in the long-term. Common symptoms of mold exposure include breathing problems, irritation in the eye, nose and/or throat, problems with the sinus or nose and other allergic reactions.

6. Mold of more than 3 by 3 ft Should Be Professionally Cleaned

Although you can potentially deal with minor mold damage, a mold infection greater than 3 by 3 ft should be dealt with using professional help (City of Toronto). Not only is the mold damage in question extensive in that it requires skilled expertise in properly removing, it’s also dangerous.

Mold is a controlled substance and many regulations, including Regulation 278/05 and Section 25(2)(h) of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), require controlled matter – such as mold – to be removed in a specific way to guarantee worker and occupant safety.

Type 2 and Type 3 mold remediation projects (which would cover infections of more than 3 by 3 ft) require the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – such as breathing masks – as well as HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) vacuums. Secondly, the worksite must also make use of polyethylene bags and antibacterial solutions during the clean-up phase.

Professional mold abatement work will ensure that the mold in your commercial building is not only properly – and safely – removed, but that the chances of it returning (due to remnant mold spores) is fully mitigated. Commercial mold removal services are very expensive, especially if construction (for repairing infected areas) is also involved.

However, professional mold abatement companies understand this issue and can potentially offer financing plans for large-scale abatement projects.

Next Steps

Mold is a serious problem, one that shouldn’t be dismissed as a possibility, much less ignored in case of actual mold infection. Be it to entire businesses or individuals, a mold infection is also a cause for leaving buildings. In other words, failing to deal with mold will negatively affect you in terms of losing office, retail and/or restaurant tenants.

If you suspect there’s a mold infestation, then contact FERRO Environmental to get started with a Designated Substances Survey (DSS) and, if necessary, a proper resolution.

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