Mold in the Workplace

rusty pipes and a water-damaged wall

Testing and Remediation of Dampness and Mold Contamination

Testing

There are no established health-based standards for acceptable levels of biological agents in indoor air. We do not recommend routine air sampling for mold with building air quality evaluations. This is because air concentrations of molds cannot be interpreted with regard to health risks.

In many cases, very short-term sampling for mold spores is conducted. However, the results may not be representative of actual exposures. Spore counts and culture results tend to be included in indoor air quality reports. These do not capture the full range of exposures.

What building occupants react to is largely unknown. It may be:

  • Mold
  • A compound produced by mold
  • Something related to bacteria
  • Compounds that are released into the air when wet building materials break down

We have found thorough visual inspections and/or detection of problem areas via musty odors are more reliable. NIOSH has used these methods, which have shown association with health risks in buildings that have indoor environmental complaints.

Remediation

Appropriate remediation includes:

  • Drying wetted materials within 48 hours of getting wet or remove the materials.
  • Making necessary repairs to prevent further water entry into the building.
  • Following appropriate remediation guidelinespdf iconexternal icon with proper containment if mold is identified on materials.

Inappropriate remediation (e.g., painting over water-damaged materials or moldy surfaces) can cause further problems with building degradation and symptoms in occupants.

For complete remediation guidelines, go to the New York City Department of Health and Hygiene’s Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments pdf iconexternal iconsite.

Page last reviewed: February 25, 2022