8/09/2017

MOLD: How to Handle and Prevent It

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Posted by Leander Tomazeli

Whether you are a property owner, church leader, or a tenant you should always be concerned and alerted if you see mold on your property. But why? What is mold and how does it grow?

According to United Policyholders (UP), an informational non-profit organization, mold needs a moist breeding ground to grow and reproduce. It can grow almost anywhere there is water intrusion, high humidity, or dampness. Most often mold is confined to areas near the sources of water. As mold grows, it can contaminate the materials it is found on and potentially cause issues to any who use the contaminated materials. The first 48 hours after water damage can be critical in preventing or containing mold growth.

What does the law say regarding mold liability? Why should we prevent it?

Although the responsibility and liability in handling a mold problem varies in each jurisdiction, most would perceive a mold problem directly associated with the property owner. UP states that elevated levels of mold spores in indoor living or working environments can cause adverse health effects, particularly respiratory problems.

Additionally, the UP reports that when the moldy material becomes damaged or disturbed, spores released into the air may be extremely harmful if people inhale or accidentally ingest the spores. Because of its sensitive handling recommendations, mold removal and remediation is best carried out by a reputable and professional mold removal company.

Is there liability insurance coverage for mold?    

Most commercial insurance policies exclude liability and property coverage for mold. As of today, Adventist Risk Management, Inc.’s policies do not provide liability coverage and only provide property coverage on a limited basis, as described below. Our property insurance coverage could extend to mold if it resulted out of an insured cause of loss. As an example, if there was a windstorm, a covered peril on the property policy, that caused damages to the roof resulting in water infiltration. If mold developed due to that water infiltration, then property coverage could be available. On the other hand, if mold evolved without being caused by a directly covered peril as defined by the policy, property insurance coverage would not be available.

How can I prevent mold from creeping into ministry facilities?

God entrusted us with the responsibility to care for the well-being of His children. As good stewards, we should spend our time and resources in caring for our properties. Preventing mold from appearing in ministry facilities plays a significant role in managing this exposure. Here are five things from the Mother Nature Network to prevent mold from growing in churches, schools, and camps.
  1. Dry wet areas immediately: Mold cannot grow without moisture. Tackle wet areas right away such as a leaky pipe or a spill on the carpet. Controlling moisture and humidity is crucial for a mold prevention plan. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends keeping indoor humidity between 30 and 60 percent.
  2. Prevent moisture with proper ventilation: Make sure an activity as simple as cooking lunch for a potluck or at school, taking a shower in the camp bathrooms, or any other activity or device that produces moisture are periodically checked and cleaned as directed by the manufacturer.
  3. Equip your facilities with mold-resistant products: Building a new facility? Have a renovation project? Use mold resistant products such as mold-resistant drywall or mold-resistant sheetrock, and mold inhibitors for paints. Traditional drywall is composed of a gypsum plaster core pressed between plies of paper. Mold-resistant drywall is paperless and covered in fiberglass, making the surface highly water-resistant.
  4. Direct water away from your buildings, and clean or repair roof gutters regularly: Have your roof gutters periodically cleaned and inspected for damage. Repair them as necessary and keep an eye out for water stains after storms that may indicate a leak.
  5. Keep mold off plants: Yes, they are beautiful and help keep your indoor air clean, but mold loves plants too. The moist soil in indoor plants is a perfect breeding ground for mold, which may then spread to other areas of your facility.
Educating yourself on your region’s climate and how it responds to moisture play a major role in the prevention plan. Benjamin Franklin once said that “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ARM invites you to be prepared by providing the safest environment possible for both members and visitors.

For more resources on creating a safe church or school environment, visit  AdventistRisk.org/Prevention-Resources.

 



by: Leander Tomazeli
account executive
Adventist Risk Management, Inc.










References/sources:
http://www.uphelp.org/pubs/mold-contamination-insurance-coverage-101-basics
http://uphelp.org/library/guides/mold
http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragelaw.com/2013/02/articles/insurance/efficient-proximate-cause-there-may-be-coverage-for-an-excluded-cause-of-loss/
https://legaltemplates.net/blog/getting-rid-of-mold-who-is-liable/
https://www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/stories/how-to-prevent-mold-9-tips





THIS MATERIAL IS FACT BASED GENERAL INFORMATION AND SHOULD NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, BE CONSIDERED SPECIFIC LEGAL ADVICE REGARDING A PARTICULAR MATTER OR SUBJECT. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR LOCAL ATTORNEY OR RISK MANAGER IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS HOW A LOCAL JURISDICTION DEALS WITH ANY SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES YOU MAY BE FACING.