Ohio Legislators Contemplate Enacting an Indoor Mold Program

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If you own or manage a rental property in Ohio, a mold problem could present you with costly cleanup and repair bills as well as lawsuits from tenants claiming that the mold made them ill. There’s currently no federal law covering a landlord’s responsibilities addressing a landlord’s duties or liability for mold prevention and remediation.

A group of legislators have proposed House Bill 251, dubbed “The Ohio Indoor Safe Air Act,” that they formally proposed in the Ohio House of Representatives on April 4, 2021. The bill proposes to establish an indoor mold program through the Ohio Department of Health. 

Quickly To Minimize the Damage

Every landlord should take mold seriously. A top environmental hazard, mold thrives in warm, damp places, and often multiplies in basements, attics, and other parts of buildings with poor ventilation and humidity problems. Although mold is often associated with buildings in wet climates, no rental property is immune from a mold outbreak, as one can occur following an unattended spill, faulty plumbing, or even a misdirected lawn sprinkler.

Whether it’s a leaky pipe, excess humidity levels, or a more significant issue, once mold growth begins, it can spread rapidly. If you’re experiencing mold, it is highly recommended that you address it quickly to minimize the damage.

Mold is made up of naturally occurring microorganisms that exist everywhere in our environment and reproduces by tiny spores. These microorganisms float through the air and land on any surfaces where excess moisture is present. As long as there is moisture present mold will continue to grow and thrive. Even though mold is natural, it can be dangerous when growing indoors and can sometimes cause serious health issues.

Worse Health Effects than Others

Molds are very common in buildings and homes. Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.

Mold produces allergens that negatively impact your home’s air quality and affect different people differently. There are many types of mold, and some will have worse health effects than others.

Mold is found both indoors and outdoors. Mold can enter your home through open doorways, windows, vents, and heating and air conditioning systems. Mold in the air outside can also attach itself to clothing, shoes, and pets can and be carried indoors. When mold spores drop on places where there is excessive moisture, such as where leakage may have occurred in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots, or where there has been flooding, they will grow. 

Workers Exposed To Large Amounts of Molds

Many building materials provide proper nutrients that encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, are particularly conducive for some molds’ growth. Other materials such as dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation materials, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery, commonly support mold growth.

Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, or none at all. Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin. Some people, such as those with allergies to molds or with asthma, may have more intense reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath.

National Toxic Mold Hazard Insurance Program

People with allergies may be more sensitive to molds. People with immune suppression or underlying lung disease are more susceptible to fungal infections. Individuals with chronic respiratory disease (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, asthma) may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals with immune suppression are at increased risk for infection from molds. If you or your family members have these conditions, a qualified medical clinician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment.

According to the American Industrial Hygiene, the bill mandates the EPA to promulgate standards for certification of mold inspectors, mold remediators, mold testing labs, mold risk assessors, and industrial hygienists involved with the mold remediation planning Association. The proposal addresses the qualifications needed to do mold work, but does not define what one would call “pre-qualified” individuals. It would also create a national toxic mold hazard insurance program and indoor mold hazard assistance. There are also provisions regarding housing and real property sales.

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