Often associated with damp, poorly ventilated environments, mold poses a threat to your office building’s appearance and is also a health hazard in the workplace. From simple respiratory discomfort to more serious health problems, these fungi can have a variety of negative effects on human well-being and should not be taken lightly.

In this article, our environmental services experts explain what mold is, how it grows and the risks it poses to the health of your workers and your office building.


What is mold?

Mold is a general term used to describe certain types of microscopic fungi found everywhere in our environment. In the early stages of development, mold is invisible to the naked eye but as it develops into colonies, it becomes visible as spots or films of various colors.

Although often associated with damp, poorly ventilated environments, mold can grow in a variety of conditions, making it a potential problem in many office buildings.

Conditions that promote mold growth

Mold is most likely to grow under conditions that favour spore germination:

• High humidity

• Presence of nutrients (organic matter: wood, wallpaper, carpet, etc.)

• Ambient temperature between 10 and 40°C

• Lack of ventilation

• Absence of direct sunlight.

Homes, classrooms, public spaces or businesses – these are all places where mold can easily grow.

Different types of mold

Aspergillus: This mold is often found on food and in ventilation systems in homes. Some types of Aspergillus can cause allergic reactions or respiratory infections.

Cladosporium: This black or green mold usually grows on fabrics, carpets and woodwork. It is known to cause allergies and respiratory problems.

Stachybotrys: Commonly known as "black mold", this type of mold grows on cellulose-rich materials such as wet wood, wallpaper and gypsum board and is particularly toxic. It is associated with serious health problems, including severe respiratory symptoms.

Penicillium: Often blue or green in color, this mold is found on water-damaged materials and can cause allergies and asthma. 

What does mould do to your health?

When mold only covers a small area and is dealt with quickly, it is not really considered a hazardous material. However, when mold is widespread in a building, it releases spores into the air. Breathing in these particles can cause a variety of symptoms and health problems:

• Irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract

• Runny nose, congestion

• Difficulty breathing (e.g., wheezing)

• Cough

• Increase in frequency and severity of asthma attacks

• Allergic rhinitis

• Chronic fatigue

• Headaches

Mold allergy

Note that the adverse effects of mold exposure vary from person to person. Everyone reacts differently depending on their level of exposure and their general health.

People who suffer from allergies, asthma or chronic respiratory diseases are more likely to experience health problems as a result of exposure to mold. Mold is also more likely to affect young children, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals. 

Impact of mold on buildings

Mold doesn't just pose health risks. It can also have devastating consequences on building structure. The often-insidious presence of mold can cause significant material damage and affect indoor air quality, ultimately compromising the integrity and safety of office buildings.

• Material damage: Mold can degrade a variety of building materials. It can attack wood and cause rot and structural weakening. It can deteriorate drywall, and damage floor coverings like carpets and rugs.

• Degradation of indoor air quality: Mold spores can significantly reduce indoor air quality. This in turn can aggravate health problems, particularly respiratory disorders, and contribute to an uncomfortable, unhealthy environment. 

How to prevent mold growth

Prevention is the key to avoiding the appearance and proliferation of mold in office buildings, homes and workplaces. Here are some effective strategies for preventing mold growth.

1. Use air dehumidifiers.

2. Ensure good ventilation throughout your building.

3. Repair water leaks.

4. Install an efficient drainage system.

5. Clean at-risk areas (where fungi thrive).

6. Use anti-mould paints.

Please note: air purifiers require regular maintenance in order to function optimally.


Combating the spread of mold in the workplace

Now that you are aware of the health risks of mould, you may be wondering how to get rid of it from an office building or other commercial or industrial workplace.

The answer is that most companies have their facilities rigorously maintained by an industrial cleaning company or decontamination service.

Mold removal

When traces of mold begin to appear on surfaces, it’s important to act quickly to prevent the problem from worsening enough to cause health problems. There are a variety of decontamination techniques that can be used.

Companies who specialize in mold decontamination will be able to suggest options for decontaminating the affected areas based on the severity, extent and type of mold in question. 

Building components that are too moldy to be cleaned (especially those made with porous materials such as insulation, drywall and ceiling tiles) must be removed and replaced with new ones. 

Contaminated materials should be handled and disposed of following a protocol similar to that for asbestos disposal.

Mold prevention

Of course, the best way to avoid the dangers of mould is to prevent it from appearing in the first place.

Mould can be prevented with the following steps:

• Ensure that facilities do not provide an environment conducive to mould growth. Buildings must be adequately ventilated in order to reduce humidity levels. This is particularly important for sites where food is cooked or tanks or vats are located.

• Hire an industrial cleaning service to clean up leaks and spills in the event of an emergency. This will greatly reduce the risk of materials remaining soaked in liquid and getting mouldy. 

• Seal any cracks causing water infiltration as soon as they are detected.

• Make sure that no organic waste or residue remains on the equipment or in hard-to-reach areas. 

Industrial cleaning operators have the training and equipment needed to ensure that every inch of the building is sanitized.

Enviro Urgence can help you get rid of mold

No office building is entirely safe from the dangers of mold. Rely on our team to provide your employees with a clean and healthy work environment!

At Enviro Urgence, we offer personalized maintenance programs for industrial and commercial facilities. With our specialized training and equipment, we can reduce or eliminate the risk of all kinds of mold contamination.

Contact us to find out more about our services.