Mold and Moisture
Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings
Appendix C - Communicating with Building Occupants
Mold in Schools
Special communication strategies may be desirable if you are treating a mold problem in a school. Teachers, parents, and other locally affected groups should be notified of significant issues as soon as they are identified. Consider holding a special meeting to provide parents with an opportunity to learn about the problem and ask questions of school authorities, particularly if it is necessary/advisable to ensure that the school is vacated during remediation. For more information on investigating and remediating molds in schools, refer to EPA's IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit and the asthma companion piece for the IAQ Tools for Schools kit, entitled Managing Asthma in the School Environment.
Communication with building occupants is essential for successful mold remediation. Some occupants will naturally be concerned about mold growth in their building and the potential health impacts. Occupants' perceptions of the health risk may rise if they perceive that information is being withheld from them. The status of the building investigation and remediation should be openly communicated including information on any known or suspected health risks.
Small remediation efforts will usually not require a formal communication process, but do be sure to take individual concerns seriously and use common sense when deciding whether formal communications are required. Individuals managing medium or large remediation efforts should make sure they understand and address the concerns of building occupants and communicate clearly what has to be done as well as possible health concerns.
Communication approaches include regular memos and/or meetings with occupants (with time allotted for questions and answers), depending on the scope of the remediation and the level of occupant interest. Tell the occupants about the size of the project, planned activities, and remediation timetable. Send or post regular updates on the remediation progress, and send or post a final memo when the project is completed or hold a final meeting.
Communication approaches include regular memos and/or meetings with occupants (with time allotted for questions and answers), depending on the scope of the remediation and the level of occupant interest. Tell the occupants about the size of the project, planned activities, and remediation timetable. Send or post regular updates on the remediation progress, and send or post a final memo when the project is completed or hold a final meeting. Try and resolve issues and occupant concerns as they come up. When building-wide communications are frequent and open, those managing the remediation can direct more time toward resolving the problem and less time to responding to occupant concerns.
Communicate, When You Remediate
- Establish that the health and safety of building occupants are top priorities.
- Demonstrate that the occupants' concerns are understood and taken seriously.
- Present clearly the current status of the investigation or remediation efforts.
- Identify a person whom building occupants can contact directly to discuss questions and comments about the remediation activities
If possible, remediation activities should be scheduled during off-hours when building occupants are less likely to be affected. Communication is important if occupants are relocated during remediation. The decision to relocate occupants should consider the size of the area affected, the extent and types of health effects exhibited by the occupants, and the potential health risks associated with debris and activities during the remediation project. When considering the issue of relocation, be sure to inquire about, accommodate, and plan for individuals with asthma, allergies, compromised immune systems, and other health-related concerns. Smooth the relocation process and give occupants an opportunity to participate in resolution of the problem by clearly explaining the disruption of the workplace and work schedules. Notify individuals of relocation efforts in advance, if possible.
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