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NIOSH indoor air quality investigation of a hurricane damaged outpatient clinic in the United States Virgin Islands.

McCleery R; Martinez K; Burr G
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, June 1-6, 2002, San Diego, California. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 2002 Jun; :84
In May 2000, NIOSH investigators responded to a request from employees in an outpatient clinic on the island of Saint Croix, United States Virgin Islands. Employees believed their headaches, coughing, rash, itching, infections, respiratory problems, and eye irritations, were related to working in this building. Air sampling was conducted for culturable fungi using a single-stage cascade impactor with malt extract agar and cornmeal agar, fungal spores using Air-O-Cell media and mixed cellulose ester filters, and endotoxin using polyvinyl chloride filters. Bulk samples were collected of materials with suspect fungal colonies from various areas of the building. CO2 temperature, and relative humidity measurements were collected, and the condition of the air-conditioning systems was determined. Areas suspected of water damage (exterior walls, floors, and near windows) were probed with a moisture meter to qualitatively assess residual amounts of water. Total fungal concentrations were higher outdoors than indoors for a majority of the air samples collected. However, some indoor air samples revealed a higher percentage of Aspergillus and/or Penicillium species than outdoor air samples, suggesting the presence of fungal reservoirs. Stachybotrys chartarum, Cladosporium, and A. sydowii were the predominant fungal species identified in the ceiling tile bulk samples collected, which indicates past or present microbial contamination. All CO2 concentrations were below 800 ppm, suggesting that the two story building was receiving sufficient amounts of outside air. Temperature and relative humidity levels ranged from 72 degrees F to 84 degrees F and 33% to 74%, respectively. NIOSH investigators concluded that there was a potential for airborne fungal exposures due to moisture incursion. The building revealed evidence of localized patches of microbiological contamination and water-damaged materials. Continued delays in roof reconstruction and renovation of structurally damaged portions and closed interior wings could result in a progressive increase of fungal colonization.
Air-sampling; Workers; Workplace-monitoring; Workplace-studies; Respiratory-system-disorders; Eye-irritants; Fungal-infections; Endotoxins; Microorganisms; Health-care-personnel; Health-care-facilities
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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