Mold in the Workplace Symptoms
May 8, 2019
When water penetrates buildings, either due to flooding or gradual build-up, certain types of toxic mold may develop. Over time and with continued exposure, employees may develop various mold-related health issues such as asthma, bronchitis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, respiratory infections, and rhinosinusitis.
Public awareness regarding indoor exposure to mold has increased in the last decade as more workers have continued to develop respiratory diseases from exposure to mold in the workplace. Pennsylvania employees with symptoms of workplace mold exposure may be eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits, including payment for any medical expenses associated with their condition.
Symptoms of Mold Exposure
Buildings that collect water may become excessively damp, causing humidity levels to rise. High levels of humidity can breed mold, bacteria, and other hazardous conditions. When employees breathe in mold from damp buildings, they may develop symptoms including:
- Allergic rhinitis – Also called hay fever, allergic rhinitis is an allergic response that may include sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, and sore throat.
- Allergies – Other types of allergies may develop, causing shortness of breath, wheezing, and nasal congestion.
- Asthma – Workers who are exposed to mold may develop or experience worsening of asthma symptoms including shortness of breath and chest constriction.
- Bronchitis – When bronchial tubes become infected and swollen, workers may develop bronchitis, a condition that makes it difficult to breathe.
- Eczema – A term used to describe a group of medical conditions affecting the skin, eczema can cause itching, rashes, and dry skin.
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis – Repeated inhalation of mold may trigger an immune system response that may lead to this rare lung disease.
Preventing Mold in the Workplace
There are currently no federal standards for airborne concentration of mold or mold spores in the workplace. Research is ongoing regarding the health effects of exposures in damp buildings, including the effects of mold exposure. However, under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, employers have a duty to provide workers with safe and healthful workplaces, free from recognized hazards.
To assist employers in upholding that duty, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offer several recommendations for employers regarding workplace mold, including:
- Create an Indoor Environmental Quality Team and program or a response plan
- Encourage employees to report and seek medical attention for health concerns
- Identify causes of leaks as soon as possible and use appropriate remediation
- Install proper venting systems and vent moisture-generating appliances
- Promptly remove building material with water damage or mold
- Reduce indoor humidity (below 70 percent)
- Regularly perform HVAC inspections and maintenance
- Respond to employees who report health concerns/develop a response system
Reading Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Workers Obtain Compensation for Mold-Related Illnesses
If you developed symptoms of a mold-related illness or your existing health condition was worsened because you were exposed to toxic mold in the workplace, contact a Reading workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Our knowledgeable attorneys can help you obtain the benefits to which you are entitled, including medical expense and wage loss compensation. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW.
We assist injured workers and their families in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester, and Wynnewood.