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Microbiological contamination in a large metropolitan hospital following a localized, burst-pipe induced, flooding event.

Martinez K
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 1-6, 2002, San Diego, California. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2002 Jun; :29
In July 2001, NIOSH conducted a health hazard evaluation in a large metropolitan hospital to evaluate suspected microbiological contamination in a newly constructed, unoccupied surgical intensive care unit (SICU), adjacent offices, and laboratory space. Concern regarding suspect microbiological contamination was initiated subsequent to a brief flooding event resulting from a pipe that burst in the ceiling of the SICU. An industrial hygiene consultant had recommended major remediation activities including complete tear-out of gypsum wallboard following a moisture intrusion survey that identified significant wetting of building materials. The NIOSH investigation included a walk- through assessment of moisture affected areas, a review of building design plans, the collection of environmental measurements (temperature and relative humidity), a moisture content survey of building materials, the collection of bulk samples to assess microbiological contamination, and air samples of wall cavities. The walk-through assessment and moisture survey confirmed previously identified areas of moisture-laden building materials, predominantly in the SICU gypsum wallboard. SICU gypsum wallboard moisture readings ranged to 50% (on the relative scale) one month after the flooding event; this is in contrast to other water impacted areas on the first and second floors which were at or slightly above back- ground. Fungal concentrations from bulk material samples ranged from no growth to 6.8xl06 colony forming units per gram of material (CFU/m3), predominantly Penicillium species. Observation of wall cavities with a borescope revealed limited microbiological contamination. However, in-wall air samples indicated concentrations up to 6.8x106 CFU/m3, predominantly Penicillium species, which was consistent with the bulk sample results. Recommendations for remediation activities were reduced to focus on the lower sections of walls
Microbiology; Workplace-monitoring; Health-hazards; Industrial-hygiene; Air-samples; Sampling
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 1-6, 2002, San Diego, California
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division