Mold in Commercial Buildings, Large Buildings, and Schools
A key step when looking for mold in a building is to determine whether there has been a water leak. Maintenance personnel are frequently among the first to know when moisture problems have occurred. In some cases, management or health and safety personnel will have been notified. Either way, touring the building with maintenance or other personnel involved with the water problem may be helpful.If possible, crawl spaces should be included when examining the building. (A white, soluble fibrous material on the soil of the crawl space may be alkaline salts, not mold, indicating moisture has been a problem and suggesting that the area should be more extensively inspected.)Moldy or musty odors should alert an investigator to the possible presence of mold. Complaints of past water problems or water leaks should be investigated to determine how much water was involved and how quickly it was removed.The building’s air-handling system should be inspected to determine whether it is moldy. Moisture may collect in the ventilation system due to poor condensate pan drainage, poor roof drainage, or high humidity in the ventilation ducts. In some cases, water may enter the ventilation ducts from a leaky pipe. A contaminated ventilation system may spread mold spores throughout the building and should be considered a high priority for investigation and repair. Ventilation system mold contamination should be mitigated as soon as possible in a manner that does not expose building occupants to dust and mold spores. During the building survey, any moldy or damp odors should be noted because damp or musty odors suggest that water is or was present and mold growth is likely. Occupant complaints of odors and health problems also should be investigated.