Is Building Mold Making Employees Sick? Expert Tips on How to Find Out & Solve It

(Source: DepositPhotos)

The presence of mold growth and elevated spore levels in your building could be causing the employees of your business tenants a lot of health issues. Be it more coughing, skin rashes, watery eyes, or other flu-like symptoms, these problems can harm productivity and revenue.

If left unresolved, building mold issues could force your business tenants to make decisions about whether to continue leasing at your building. In this post, we highlight the symptoms you need to keep an eye on and initial steps you can take to solve your mold issues.

The Symptoms of Office Building Mold

The reality of ‘office building mold’ is that it’s a situation where your building has a build-up of toxic mold or elevated levels of mold spores in a specific area (or multiple areas). In terms of symptoms, those manifest in two ways: in people and in the building itself.

In People

The challenge with mold symptoms in people, such as your employees, is that it typically comes off as a common allergy. In fact, many mold symptoms are very similar to those of a flu: you can get a dry throat, nagging cough, headaches, and watery eyes as a result of mold.

Overall, many will mistake a reaction to mold for something else. But at the same time, most will have some kind of reaction to mold, especially in areas with high levels of spore build-up.

Like the flu, people can experience mild to severe mold symptoms. In addition, the people who are most at risk to mold symptoms are infants, children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing conditions and compromised immune systems.

This fact is a reason why most workplace health and safety guidelines call for removing mold, regardless of type. However, most people will react to black mold or toxic mold with some of the symptoms above.

Don’t Let Mold Cost Your Tenants
in Your Commercial Building

In the Building

In buildings, the most obvious example of mold symptoms is the visible build-up of mold in the buildings and mold-induced damage. You could find mold growth in the corners of your showers, under sinks (or drywall under the sink), tile grout, hallways, and wallpaper.

An Example of Black Mold in the Ceiling

example of black mold(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In addition to visible mold stains, you could also notice a musty smell, particularly in areas of the growth (e.g., bathrooms, kitchens, basements, etc).

However, the mold build-up and resulting damage is only a symptom of a deeper problem. Yes, you could have mold, but that mold itself has a root cause.

That root cause is elevated moisture levels indoors, which happens due to the introduction of water or an increase in humidity. But a challenge is finding the originating source of the water. For example, the water source may be behind the drywall, and unless you fix it, then removing the mold on the surface will not stop mold from returning.

Why is Building Mold a Problem for Businesses?

With mold, businesses will run the risk of having sick or distracted employees, which will cause a major loss of productivity, especially through a higher number of sick days and breaks.

In fact, employers are also legally required to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees. If you had known of the issue — or were in a position of knowing — and ignore the situation or fail to solve it, you could be liable for a mold in the workplace lawsuit.

If you’re a business that is a tenant, you should ask your landlord to look into the mold problem. Next, you should follow-up with the landlord, perhaps request an air clearance certificate.

To get a certificate, your landlord will need to bring in a qualified indoor air quality (IAQ) expert to come in and test the air quality in the area and give a report.

As a building owner, the presence of mold could push businesses to leave your building. The situation will also put you at risk of legal troubles. Besides testing the IAQ, you will also need to introduce the idea of commercial mold remediation services to your tenants.

What’s Building Mold Remediation?

There are two main parts to a building mold remediation project: first, a professional air quality inspection (by a third-party firm) and second, remediation services.

In terms of remediation services, your contractor must conduct a thorough inspection of your building so as to identify the root cause of the mold. So in addition to the mold growth and/or damage itself, it must look for the source of elevated water, humidity and/or moisture levels.

More on Solving Building Mold Problems:

Finally, when renting out to offices and commercial tenants, the idea of mold remediation may scare your tenants. You can calm those fears by being fully transparent from the start.

In our experience, town hall meetings inviting the remediation contractor to answer questions or outline the process is an excellent way of calming tenant concerns.