Water Leaks/Liquid Spills and Mold Remediation
Water Leaks/Liquid Spills
Clarkson University Safety Protocol: Water Leaks and Liquid Spills Resulting in Potential Mold Growth
There is a significant, nationwide Health and Safety concern regarding indoor air quality specific to mold growth in buildings. Anywhere water or moisture build up is allowed to remain for greater than 24 hrs provides a potential breeding ground for molds. Exposure to mold spores can cause serious health problems, particularly for those with allergies, asthma or other respiratory diseases. There are many types of molds in the natural environment and, as a result, mold spores are found everywhere. Mold growth can occur indoors anytime the spores come in contact with a wet surface.
The key to Mold control is moisture control.
Indoor mold growth is common in areas where moisture is likely found such as bathrooms, custodial closets, basements, around windows, under kitchen sinks and even along baseboards. There are several recommended options for controlling moisture:
- Reduce humidity to less than 60 %.
- Increase ventilation or air movement by using fans or opening windows and doors.
- Cover cold surfaces, like cold water pipes, with insulation.
- Increase air temperature.
All reports of indoor spills and/or leaks should be responded to immediately.
- Identify and Repair all leak sources.
- Contain spills and eliminate sources.
- Clean up and dispose of free liquids by appropriate means.
- Absorb as much liquid as possible from porous materials like carpets. Some materials may have to be discarded if they cannot be sufficiently dried. (i.e., ceiling tiles, rugs, sheet rock etc.)
- Run fans and dehumidifiers as necessary.
- A response with in 24 to 48 hours is critical!
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Clarkson University Safety Protocol: Identification of Mold Growth and Remedial Actions
Due to the potential human health risks associated with mold spores and mold growth, this protocol has been developed and should be followed during all phases of planned indoor remediation of mold contaminated surfaces in any Clarkson University building. The specific type of mold growth may require additional precautions in order to assure the safety of workers and other University personnel.
Mold: The Problem
Mold growth in any building is the result of mold spores in the air contacting wet surfaces. If moisture is allowed to exist, mold growth is inevitable. The problems associated with molds are commonly; odors, unsightly staining of walls, carpets, draperies and the like, as well as the health risks mentioned above, particularly to those with allergies and respiratory problems. Mold growth left unchecked with potentially spread and become worse. Drying the area after mold has already begun to grow is of little benefit. Remediation of the affected areas is the only sure method of eradicating the spore colony.
Less than 10 sqft.
EPA guidelines indicate that areas identified for mold remediation that are less the 10 sqft in size can likely be handled in-house. For larger or more involved areas of contamination, a professional contractor may be considered better equipped to handle the removal and clean up. Remedial steps should include:
- Personal Protective Equipment for those in close contact with any mold contaminated materials – safety goggles, gloves at a minimum, and N-95 respirators if airborne particulates are anticipated.
- Identify and cordon off the area to be remediated, including relocation of non-essential personnel until work is completed.
- Cover adjacent surfaces as necessary.
- Clean all contaminated surfaces by scrubbing with water and detergents. Remove as much contaminated material as possible including carpets, sheet rock, drapes, and furniture. Place loose materials in plastic bags, seal and label as to contents and source or origin. Transport waste to a safe storage area or dumpster. Mold contaminated material is not considered hazardous waste.
- Hepa-vacuum the affected area as dead mold spores can still cause allergic reactions. Biocides, like chlorine, are not recommended as background spore levels will remain and additional moisture may stimulate continued mold growth following remediation.
- Disposable PPE may be placed with mold contaminated materials. Otherwise, appropriately sanitize PPE and return to storage area.
Areas Greater than 10 sqft
Larger areas of mold contamination will require a more detailed method of identification and a remedial plan compliant with associated regulatory standards. Generally it is recommended that a professional remedial contractor be hired. The Facility Engineer and Clarkson Risk Management should verify the qualifications of the contractor and approve the remedial plan. All aspects of the remediation and disposal of contaminated materials should be identified in the plan. If encapsulation is determined to be required, all HVAC equipment to the affected area will be sealed off. A Pre and Post Remedial Air Quality Testing Plan will be developed in order to document conditions of those critical areas and times. The requirements of Clarkson University’s Contractors Safety Manual will apply to all contracted mold remediation work.
HVAC Equipment- By design, some HVAC equipment collects moisture in places not easily accessible. Where practical, additives should be used to prevent mold growth in drip pans and other moisture collecting locations. Any wet filters should be replaced immediately and moisture control practices employed as necessary.
Environmental Health & Safety Manager
107 Graham Hall
8 Clarkson Avenue
Potsdam, NY 13699