Mold growth inside buildings can lead to adverse health symptoms in building occupants. Preventing or minimizing exposure to mold and its contaminants is essential to reduce indoor air-related symptoms in building occupants. If water damage or mold growth does occur, the removal of mold-contaminated materials and remediation of the moisture source is critical. The following guidelines are provided to reduce or minimize exposure to mold in buildings.
Building materials can become mold colonized as a result of chronic exposure to moisture. Measures to repair sources of water release or penetration into a building must be taken to prevent future damage to building components and materials.
Prolonged hot humid weather can also create conditions that can allow for mold to colonize building materials. For strategies to prevent or limit mold growth in hot, humid weather, please consult "Preventing Mold Growth in Massachusetts Schools".
Removal of mold growth
Mold growth inside buildings
Mold growth in or on building components or materials stored within a building is considered a public health nuisance subject to enforcement action or removal by the Board of Health pursuant to M.G.L. c. 111, sec. 122.
Removal of mold contaminated materials
Mold contaminated materials should be removed in a manner to prevent cross contamination of clean areas of a building in order to minimize exposure to building occupants. Such removal should be done in a manner consistent with the most current guidelines established by the US Environmental Protection Agency document entitled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings.
Prevention of mold growth
Below grade space in public buildings
The conversion of below grade space in public buildings should not be done if that space is subject to chronic dampness. Existing below grade space should be inspected at least twice a year for evidence of water penetration or water damage of building materials after significant precipitation events. The results of inspections should be recorded in a log book. Information or evidence of mold/water damage in rooms and building components should be noted. Also porous materials listed in Table 1 (attached) from the most current guidelines established by the US Environmental Protection Agency document entitled "Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings" should not be used in below grade space in public buildings if that space is subject to chronic dampness due to water leaks or condensation accumulation.
General building condition
The foundation, floors, walls, doors, windows, ceilings, roof, staircases, porches, chimneys, gutters/downspouts and other structural elements of public building should be evaluated to ensure that the building is in good repair and weathertight against wind, rain and snow.
Holes, cracks, loose plaster, or other defects that may render the area subject to water penetration or damage should be repaired to the extent practicable.
The following are recommendations to maintain windows and doors weathertight to prevent water penetration into the building interior.
- all panes of glass should be in place, unbroken and properly caulked
- windows should open and close fully without excessive effort
- exterior cracks between the prime window frame and the exterior wall should be caulked
- at least one of the following should be present with respect to storm windows or the window sash:
- a storm window is affixed to the prime window frame, with caulking installed so as to fill exterior cracks between the storm window frame and the prime window frame
- weather-stripping is applied such that the space between the window sash and the prime window frame is no larger than 1/16 inch at every point on the perimeter of the sash, in the case of double hung windows and 1/32 inch in the case of casement windows
- the window sash is sufficiently well-fitted such that, without weather-stripping, the space between the window sash and the prime window frame is no larger than 1/16 inch at any point on the perimeter of the sash in the case of double hung windows and 1/32 inch in the case of casement windows.
- Exterior doors:
- all panes of glass are in place, unbroken and properly caulked
- doors open and close fully without excessive effort
- exterior cracks between the prime door frame and the exterior wall are caulked
- at least one of the following conditions is met:
- a storm door is affixed to the prime door frame, with caulking installed so as to fill exterior cracks between the storm door frame and the prime door frame
- weather-stripping is applied such that the space between the door and the prime door frame is no larger than 1/16 inch at any point on the perimeter of the door
- the door is sufficiently well-fitted such that, without weather-stripping, the space between the door and the prime door frame is no larger than 1/16 inch at any point on the sides of the door or 1/8 inch at any point on the top or bottom of the door.
Maintaining the plumbing, heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems elements
The owner/operator shall maintain the plumbing, waste disposal and heating system pipes and equipment attached thereto in good repair and free of water damage. Any leaks from these systems should be repaired in a timely way to prevent mold growth in building components.
Exhaust ventilation systems that have the purpose of removing water vapor from the interior of a building, including but not limited to restroom vents, shower vents, locker room vents, kitchen vents, and indoor pool vents, shall be maintained in good repair and operated continuously as long as a water vapor source exists in the area vented. All such exhaust vents must be vented to the outdoors and not be connected to the general ventilation system. Such vents must not direct air into the building wall cavity and ceiling plenums.
Inspection upon request
The Indoor Air Quality Program is available to inspect a public building upon receipt of a written request for inspection from and in cooperation with the appropriate government agency.