The health dangers of mould became widely experienced in the Cayman Islands after water intrusion into homes caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
Moulds are a type of fungi that, at their microscopic spore level, are part of the natural environment. Some moulds have beneficial properties, like the ones used to make antibiotics and certain dessert wines, or the ones that appear on or in some kinds of cheeses. Several other types, like black mould, are toxic to humans and other animals. The toxic moulds can cause health problems ranging from nail fungus and minor allergy-like respiratory ailments to severe conditions like asthma, pulmonary edema and emphysema. Long-term exposure can negatively affect the liver, kidneys and reproductive system.
Moulds grow mostly in moist, dark areas. In a home environment, they are usually found in bathrooms and kitchens, but when there is the intrusion of water from flooding or plumbing leaks, moulds can appear on or behind walls or in air-conditioning ducts that contain organic materials.
Dart Real Estate’s Director of Property Operations Chip Ogilvie said environmental conditions in Cayman are ripe for mould to grow.
“In a humid climate like that of the Cayman Islands, mould spores floating through the air can land on damp spots and find an environment where they can develop into mould colonies,” he said. “There are ways to prevent colonies from growing, but sometimes the right conditions occur in ways that aren’t easily prevented. In those cases, it’s important to assess and address the problem to prevent it from spreading to other areas and to avoid negative health issues.”
INSPECTORS AND REMEDIATORS
In the years since Hurricane Ivan, facility managers and private businesses have stepped up efforts to detect, remediate and prevent mould, without any standard guidelines. The Department of Environmental Health issued a publication called “Guidelines for Indoor Mould Remediation in Buildings” in order to align the Cayman Islands with criteria used in the United States and Canada with regard to mould.
The Cayman Islands Facility Management Association recently organised a three-day course in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Health, so that its members could gain the requisite knowledge outlined in the new guidelines and complete the lesson as certified mould remediators.
The course was held at the Dart offices at Camana Bay, partially because several of the association’s executives are Dart employees, including its president, John Santiago, and
board member Roderick Pierson. Ogilvie is also a board member and the association’s immediate past president.
Providing most of the instruction were Armando Chamorro and Alex Fernandez, both from the Miami-based firm CIH Environmental Solutions, as well as Cayman Islands Department of Environmental Health Laboratory Manager Antoinette Johnson.
The first day and a half of the course included basic level learning for all participants. After that, the attendees split into two groups for specific instruction, with one course of study designed for mould assessors and facilities managers and the other for mould remediation workers.
“The result of the course was that the Cayman Islands now has 24 locally certified mould remediators when previously there were none,” said Ogilvie. “The quality of the instruction was excellent and now these 24 individuals have the proper training and knowledge to assess and remediate mould problems without having to bring in experts from overseas.”