Recently we were called to take a look at a dentistry in Tonbridge that had been having some issues with damp. After evaluating the building and the indoor air quality, we identified that the indoor air quality in the basement surgery and the waiting room had been significantly affected by elevated numbers of allergenic fungal spores. Unfortunately, the overall risk to health from exposure to fungal spores in the basement surgery was very high. In order to make the building safe again, we recommended that the owners remove existing fungal contamination and carry out the necessary building repairs.
The Mould Survey
After conducting a mould survey we found that Pennicillium/Aspergillus spores dominated the indoor air in the basement surgery. In addition, the distribution and type of fungal genera in the surgery was considered to be highly allergenic. The sample collected in the ground floor waiting room reveals the presence of Pennicillium/Aspergillus alongside Chaetomium and Stachybotrys spores. The spores found were closely associated with water damage most likely to originate in the basement area and spread into the upper floor of the building by air currents.
In order to identify where the damp was coming from, we conducted a damp inspection and moisture mapping in the premises. The second-floor staff room was notable in that there was evidence of damp on the ceiling with a small area of mould contamination behind the radiator. More unusually, the external roof next to the first-floor corridor had been used for roosting by pigeons. There was significant contamination on the roof by pigeon droppings and dead animals. The roof was clearly visible to patients and staff via a corridor window. The accumulation of animal matter had caused blockage of down pipes and drainpipes on the ground. The result was that wastewater had been accumulating in the alleyway.
The ground floor customer toilet shows evidence of a leak from a toilet drainpipe, situated in the plywood boxing behind the toilet. The leak was causing damp and related odors around the room. Our damp inspection revealed damp and mould contamination in the corner of the ceiling, which is related to issues identified in surgery 8. Similarly, the basement surgery 2 was affected by strong damp and fungal odors. Damp in the internal walls showed full saturation, and there was evidence of mould contamination behind the walls.
Getting Rid of the Damp Problem
In order to reduce the dampness problems in the building, we advised the owners to repair the leak in the first-floor surgery immediately. On the roof, we recommended that all external pigeon droppings and dead animals be removed. In the second-floor staff room, we recommended that the mould contamination be removed and the room redecorated. Although we didn’t find the source of the roof leak we narrowed the source down to the chimney-wall junction, which would need to be monitored in future.
Our overall investigation revealed that fungal spores had significantly affected the indoor air quality in the practice. The extent of fungal contamination in the practice was high but none of the employees working in the practice were considered to be at an increased risk to health due to personal circumstances. In future, we recommended that the necessary building maintenance is carried out in order to clear the property and that air filtration and localized containment be put in place to minimize the dampness of the property.