NADCA Warns of Possible Health Dangers Left Behind by Hurricane Ike in Region's Ventilation Systems
WASHINGTON, DC--October 8, 2008-- NADCA -- The HVAC Inspection, Maintenance and Restoration Association, is alerting homeowners, commercial property managers, school boards and other facility operators of hidden health hazards potentially spreading in the ventilation systems of buildings affected by Hurricane Ike.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that were either flooded or simply exposed to unusual humidity or other environmental conditions during the hurricane may become breeding grounds for mold or other contaminants. While most molds are relatively harmless and usually cause little worse than hay fever-type symptoms, individuals with health conditions such as asthma, compromised auto-immune systems or severe mold allergies may experience potentially life-threatening reactions caused by mold spores spread throughout a building by a contaminated HVAC system.
The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has cautioned building managers that even the suspicion of mold in an HVAC system should be enough to get the system professionally inspected and cleaned if necessary. "Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold, as it could spread contamination throughout the building," says OSHA's "Brief Guide to Mold in the Workplace." (SHIB 03-10-10) The Centers for Disease Control agree, telling building owners that "…all components of the HVAC system that were contaminated with flood water or moisture should be thoroughly inspected, cleaned of dirt and debris, and disinfected by a qualified professional." While a simple visual inspection performed by removing a vent and looking into the ductwork for signs of mold is a good first step, molds grow best in the damp and hidden corners deep within HVAC ductwork, out of sight of the average homeowner or building manager. Generally, only an HVAC inspection professional can truly determine if an HVAC system is mold-free.
In Texas, HVAC inspection, maintenance and remediation professionals are required to be state-licensed Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors. NADCA recommends that consumers choose licensed contractors that have also completed NADCA's industry-leading certification programs that ensure best practices and adherence to NADCA-developed standards. In addition to a NADCA-certified Air System Cleaning Specialist, consumers can also choose service providers who have completed extra training and testing and fulfill ongoing professional education requirements to become Certified Ventilation Inspectors or Certified Ventilation System Mold Remediators. More information on these certifications, as well as contact information for certified service providers in specific areas, can be found at www.NADCA.com. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation contractor licensing information is available at http://www.license.state.tx.us/ or by calling 800-803-9202.
"With the terrible devastation caused by Hurricane Ike, our concern is that the ‘out of sight, out of mind' issue of HVAC contamination may get lost in among every other legitimate cleanup and rebuilding project," explained NADCA Executive Director John Schulte. "We just want to make sure that the people of the Gulf Coast are aware of how to evaluate their risks for contaminated HVAC systems and know how to make contact with a licensed, knowledgeable and reliable professional if their situation requires it."
Hurricane Ike is not the first time that NADCA has reached out to educate consumers and others on the issues of post-disaster HVAC contamination. Most recently, following the record floods in Iowa in June 2008, NADCA experts performed free training for city building inspectors and other health and safety professionals in the affected region to help them recognize signs of HVAC contamination during their post-flood cleanup and inspection efforts.
NADCA – The HVAC Inspection, Maintenance and Restoration Association was formed in 1989 as the National Air Duct Cleaners Association, and has since expanded its mission to become a trusted advocate for consumers and the industry on environmental and health issues surrounding heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. NADCA was the first organization to develop industry-standard best practices and its "Standard for Assessment, Cleaning & Restoration of HVAC Systems" is in use in more than 30 countries worldwide as a best practice and/or basis for national law. NADCA has more than 1,000 corporate members and more than 1,500 individuals certified as Air System Cleaning Specialists, Ventilation Inspectors or Ventilation System Mold Remediators. For more information, visit www.NADCA.com
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