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“Mold Remediation in a Hospital”
Study published in Toxicology and Industrial Health, at
http://tih.sagepub.com/content/25/9-10/723.abstract


Tang G Lee,
University of Calgary, Faculty of Environmental Design, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Abstract

As occupants in a hospital, patients are susceptible to air contaminants that can include biological agents dispersed throughout the premise, and an exposed patient can become ill and require medical intervention. A consideration for patients is that they may have become environmentally sensitive and require placement in an environment that does not compromise their health. Unfortunately, the hospital environment often contains more biological substances than can be expected in an office or home environment. When a hospital also experiences water intrusion such as flooding or water leaks, resulting mold growth can seriously compromise the health of patients and others such as nursing staff and physicians (Burge, Indoor Air and Infectious Disease. Occupational Medicine: State of the Art Reviews, 1980; Lutz et al., Clinical Infectious Diseases 37: 786—793, 2003). Micro-organism growth can propagate if the water is not addressed quickly and effectively. Immunocompromised patients are particularly at risk when subjected to fungal infection such that the US Center for Disease Control issued guideline for building mold in health care facilities (Centers for Disease and Control [CDC], Centers for Disease and Control: Questions and Answers on Stachybotrys chartarum and Other Molds, 2000). This paper is based on mold remediation of one portion of a hospital unit due to water from construction activity and inadequate maintenance, resulting in mold growth. A large proportion of the hospital staff, primarily nurses in the dialysis unit, exhibited health symptoms consistent with mold exposure. Unfortunately, the hospital administrators did not consider the mold risk to be serious and refused an independent consultant retained by the nurse’s union to examine the premise (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation [CBC], Nurses file complaints over mold at Foothills. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2003). The nurse’s union managed to have the premise examined by submitting a court order of detention and inspection and for an interlocutory injunction to allow their consultants to undertake air quality testing. Mold remediation procedures are readily available and are not to be discussed here (Silicato, http://www.nibs.org/BETEC/M6/ 13-Silicato_Mold-Remediation.pdf, 2004). However, the difficulty of determining the qualifications of consultants, contactors and project managers are discussed. It also describes the need and importance of a buffer zone between the occupied areas and the mold abatement containment area.

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