Evidence of mould contamination
A large developer contacted us and requested us to evaluate an occurrence of mould contamination on a new development site. The development is a former large factory which is being refurbished into a combination of retirement residential apartments, care units and a range of welfare facilities for the elderly. Due to a recent bout of cold weather the construction site had been affected by substantial mould contamination in the unfinished building blocks. Our client wanted to know the full extent of the mould contamination and whether it was a risk to operatives working on the site and future occupants of the apartments once finished.
The development consisted of three large 6 storey buildings which were subdivided into residential apartments, 20-25 on each storey. Part of the development was to extend the original buildings by two storeys. The work on these top two storeys were not fully completed before severe weather hit Bristol. As a result of the persistent winds and driving rains there is now evidence of water penetration on the upper part of the building. The water has also reached the lower floors of the building and accumulated in the floor and partition wall cavities between the individual apartments. As a result of this sudden ingress of water there is a large scale of mould contamination to the building materials.
Inspecting the building and moisture mapping
On the day of our assessment we were made aware that the blocks were currently being treated with antifungal treatment which we found to be effective as it appeared to have stopped any further mould spore growths. Due to the size of the building and the extent of the mould contamination we were expecting the moisture mapping process to take some time.
When we inspected the building we found evidence of active water penetration and this water was starting to gather in the cavities of the wall and floor which then caused the building materials to get wet, essentially resulting in the mould contamination. All blocks within the development were suffering from penetrative damp and condensation in many of the indoor areas and mould contamination was evident throughout.
Our findings and recommendations
Our test results confirmed what we thought, and showed that the indoor air quality was significantly affected by mould contamination, and will continue to be whist there is regular disturbance due to the extent of the refurbishment.
These test results enabled us to give a number of recommendations to our client. The majority of our recommendations were to remove all building materials such as plasterboard that have been contaminated by mould spores. In order to prevent further mould contamination it is vital that the root cause of all existing leaks are identified then repaired.
We strongly recommend that all operatives working on the development should use respiratory protective equipment of at least FFP3 fitted with organic vapour filters. They should also be using full body coveralls and eye protection in order to reduce the chance of any mould contamination or antifungal agents coming into contact with their skin. Our client should enforce all recommendations with operatives in order for everyone to be safe within the working environment.