There are as many as 100 species of mold which can cause infection in humans. These infections can cause allergic reactions such as breathing difficulties, nasal congestion, itchy watery eyes, dry cough, headaches, memory loss, mood changes and fever. Long term exposure can cause permanent nerve damage, organ damage, cancer or immunity suppression.
This area has experienced an excessive amount of rainy weather this year. You can hardly open the papers without seeing headlines such as “The Fungus Among Us”, Trenton Times, August 25, 2003, “Breaking the Mold Requires Crash Course”, Trenton Times, August 28, 2003, and “Mold Hits High School Library”, Trenton Times, September 10, 2003. Mold has become a significant workplace hazard. It finds its way into our offices through leaky roofs, plumbing or basements. Because of less expensive more porous materials and more energy efficient buildings the mold has a place to live and thrive and the moisture it needs is sealed in our air tight buildings. Once the mold becomes visible, it is a sign of a serious behind the scenes problem. It is not enough to just clean the visible areas. The mold that we can see is merely the tip of the iceberg. If the ceiling tiles, dry wall and floor coverings are not properly cleaned, then it is only a matter of time before the mold resurfaces. To ensure mold will not return, windows should be opened to let fresh air in and moisture out. An industrial dryer should be rented or purchased to ensure that the area is completely water free. An exhaust fan can also help to circulate the fresh air more quickly. You should request that your employer or building operator have indoor air quality studies performed, either through a private company or through your local OSHA office, to make sure that the clean-up was successful in removing all traces of the mold from the building and air.
If you or your co-workers develop any of the symptoms mentioned above or mysterious sneezing or fatigue, you may have mold in your work place. If your workplace is found to be contaminated, you may be entitled to medical testing and treatment at no cost to you. In addition, you may be eligible for disability benefits if you are required to be out of work while you recover or if your illness has permanent affects on your breathing or organs. For more information on your rights, please call any of our worker’s compensation attorneys. At Stark & Stark, we are experienced in these matters and would be pleased to discuss your particular circumstances.