Mold Policy

Policy

The University of Chicago shall identify and correct conditions present within University facilities that permit mold growth and contamination while protecting the health of building occupants and workers involved in mold cleanup.

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Authority and Responsibility

Environmental Health and Safety is responsible for:

  • Conducting walk-through investigations of mold complaint areas;
  • Determining the presence, location, size, and source of mold growth;
  • Providing a written report including steps necessary for mold remediation;
  • Procuring the services of qualified mold remediation contractors, as necessary; and
  • Managing employee's conducting mold remediation and cleanup activities.

Departments are responsible for:

  • Notifying Environmental Health and Safety and Risk Management of any moisture issues, water infiltration or visible mold growth;
  • Providing access when an investigation and/or remediation is needed;
  • Arranging for removal of furniture, equipment, etc. from the affected area prior to the start of remediation; and
  • Ensuring occupants vacate the area prior to the start of remediation.

Engineers, maintenance and custodial staff are responsible for:

  • Identifying and correcting the source of moisture or water infiltration; and
  • Performing mold remediation and cleanup activities for small (10 square feet (sf) or less) and medium (10 - 50 sf) sized projects, as deemed appropriate by Environmental Health and Safety.

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Introduction to Mold

Molds are a part of the natural environment and generally do not pose a hazard to healthy individuals.  Molds are fungi that can be found anywhere indoors or outdoors throughout the year.  Mold needs moisture and a food source to grow.  Indoors, mold growth becomes an issue when moisture or water is present.  Molds may produce adverse health affects such as allergy-like reactions in a portion of the population; however, there are currently no federal standards or recommendations for airborne concentrations of mold or mold spores.

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Preventing Mold Growth

The key to controlling mold growth is moisture control.  All departments shall act promptly in response to recognized moisture issues within University facilities.  Water infiltration should be stopped and cleaned as soon as possible.  Drying efforts, cleanup, and removal of water damaged material should be done within 48 hours of initial water infiltration to prevent mold growth.  Refer to Emergency Response Plan for Floods for procedures in responding to floods on campus.

The following is a list of mold prevention efforts for engineers, maintenance and custodial staff:

  • Repair plumbing leaks and building envelope leaks as soon as possible;
  • Perform routine building inspections and note moisture issue areas;
  • Fix all sources of recognized moisture problems as soon as possible;
  • Keep roof drains clean and monitor flat roof systems during heavy rain events;
  • Maintain indoor humidity levels at less than 60% relative humidity; and
  • Inspect HVAC systems regularly for condensation, keep drip pans clean, flowing properly and unobstructed.

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Reporting Mold Complaints

If mold growth is observed or if musty odors are detected, contact Environmental Health and Safety to request a walk-through investigation.  Do not disturb any visible mold growth without consulting with Environmental Health and Safety since doing so may cause unnecessary contamination to adjacent surfaces and cause unwanted adverse health effects.

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Walk-through Investigation

Environmental Health and Safety shall conduct a preliminary walk-through investigation within mold complaint areas by request. The walk-through will consist of a visual inspection, interviews with building occupants, an interview with engineers, maintenance or custodial staff, inspection of various building systems and monitoring surfaces/building materials for moisture content, room and surface temperature, and relative humidity. If the immediate cause or source of mold growth or contamination cannot be determined,  more in-depth, building evaluation may be warranted.

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Mold Sampling

Environmental Health and Safety will not conduct sampling for mold or mold spores as a part of a preliminary walk-through investigation.  If visible mold growth is present the affected building materials will be cleaned (non-porous) or removed (porous) in a controlled manner.  A remediation strategy can be developed on the basis of a visual inspection. Mold is naturally occurring and always present in the indoor and outdoor air, therefor air sampling is not useful.  At this time, analyzing air sampling results is purely subjective since federal, state, or local agencies have not published limits for acceptable levels of mold or mold spores.  Since each individual reacts to mold differently and some people have no reaction at all, sampling cannot be used to determine if there is an exposure rate to mold.

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Mold Remediation

Environmental Health and Safety shall coordinate all mold remediation and cleanup efforts. Engineers and maintenance staff shall ensure all water or moisture problems are corrected prior to remediation and cleanup activities. The appropriate maintenance or custodial staff within each department shall perform mold remediation and cleanup, except for large scale (greater than 50 sf) projects. Large scale remediation projects shall be handled by an outside contractor and coordinated by Environmental Health and Safety.

Select portions of an air handling system including the supply and return air ducts, heat exchanger, heating and cooling coils, condensate drain pans (drip pans), fan motor and fan housing, and the air handling unit housing shall be remediated by an outside contractor with a plan that has been approved by Environmental Health and Safety.

The following table provides mold remediation guidelines. Select the method most appropriate for the situation from the table and locate the method description below the table. If hidden mold is discovered or suspected such as behind wallboard or under flooring, recalculate the total area affected and contact Environmental Health and Safety if the size of the remediation project becomes greater than 50 sf.

Mold Remediation Guidelines*

SMALL - Total Surface Area Less Than 10 Square Feet

(Affected Material; Clean-up Methods; Personal Protective Clothing; Containment)

  • Books and papers; 4,5; None; None
  • Carpet and backing; 1,2,3,4,5; None, None
  • Ceiling tiles; 5; None; None
  • Cellulose insulation; 5; None; None
  • Concrete or cinder block; 1,2,3,4; None; None
  • Fiberglass insulation; 5; None; None
  • Hard surface, porous flooring (linoleum, ceramic tile, vinyl); 1,2,4; Disposable gloves and safety goggles,
    Optional - Disposable filtering face-piece**; Keep area unoccupied and utilize dust suppression methods such as misting (not wetting) surfaces with water
  • Non-porous, hard surfaces (plastics, metals); 1,2,4; None; None
  • Upholstered furniture; 1,3,4,5; None; None
  • Wallboard (drywall, gypsum board); 3,4,5; None; None
  • Wood surfaces; 1,2,3,4; None; None

MEDIUM - Total Surface Area Affected Between 10 and 50 Square Feet

(Affected Material; Clean-up Methods; Personal Protective Clothing; Containment)

  • Books and papers; 4,5; None; None
  • Carpet and backing; 1,2,3,4,5; None, None
  • Ceiling tiles; 5; None; None
  • Cellulose insulation; 5; None; None
  • Concrete or cinder block; 1,2,3,4; None; None
  • Fiberglass insulation; 5; None; None
  • Hard surface, porous flooring (linoleum, ceramic tile, vinyl); 1,2,4; Disposable gloves and safety goggles,
  • Optional - Disposable filtering face-piece**; Keep area unoccupied and utilize dust suppression methods such as misting (not wetting) surfaces with water, cover adjacent unaffected surfaces in the area that could become contaminated with plastic sheeting
  • Non-porous, hard surfaces (plastics, metals); 1,2,4; None; None
  • Upholstered furniture; 1,3,4,5; None; None
  • Wallboard (drywall, gypsum board); 3,4,5; None; None
  • Wood surfaces; 1,2,3,4; None; None

LARGE - Total Surface Area Affected Greater Than 50 Square Feet

  • Large scale remediation projects shall be appropriately remediated by an outside contractor.  Contact Environmental Health and Safety if mold growth is greater than 50 Square Feet.

Clean-up Methods

  • Method 1: Use water extraction vacuum and/or steam clean.  If standing water is greater than 1 inch, use a pump to remove the water.
  • Method 2: Clean surfaces with liquid detergent and warm water solution.  Damp-wipe wooden surfaces with a 1:10 ratio bleach and water solution.
  • Method 3: Use dehumidifiers to remove water vapor and fans for drying materials.  Contact Environmental Health and Safety to monitor drying progress.
  • Method 4: Use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum after completely dry.
  • Method 5: Discard - remove water-damaged or moldy materials that cannot be salvaged.  Seal in impermeable plastic bags and dispose of as general waste.

*Adapted and modified from the U.S.E.P.A. "Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings."

**An employee electing to use a disposable filtering face-piece (e.g., filtering face-pieces do not have a separate cartridge.) must sign a "Voluntary Respirator Use" form.  Although not required, it is strongly recommended the employee follow the same guidelines outlined in the Respiratory Protection Program.  If an employee elects to use a respirator  (e.g., half-mask or full face with a separate cartridge) it requires a medical questionnaire, medical evaluation, training and a fit test.  Please refer to the Respiratory Protection Program for more information.

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Post-Remediation

Environmental Health and Safety shall conduct a post-remediation walk-through investigation to determine the success of the remediation project. The post-remediation walk-through will consist of a visual inspection of the remediation area including an inspection of any building systems that were affected, monitoring for moisture content, temperature, and relative humidity.

All departments, engineers, maintenance, and custodial staff shall contact Environmental Health and Safety of any reoccurring moisture issues and returning mold growth. Additional building evaluations may be warranted for return of moisture or mold growth.

Reviewed:  January 2015

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