The air quality in human dwellings, educational and work places has become a high profile issue over the last decade especially in regarding to mould. Mould spores are present everywhere. Moulds grow on a wide variety of organic substrates including wood and are easy to find in all buildings especially those that have moisture available for microbial growth. The wood industry is facing a potential problem as stain fungi (which may often be mistaken for mould) and moulds can be found growing abundantly on green timber and lumber and the public could perceive wood used in building envelopes as a major substrate and source of mould. To ensure that wood is treated fairly among other building materials Forintek has initiated several projects regarding mould and one of them is to review the existing body of literature on moulds and to develop an organized database of information in a searchable form that could be continuously updated. Thus, to update Forintek’s knowledge in this area, to maintain awareness of the latest developments and trends and to establish new contacts Adnan attended the 9th Indoor Air Conference in July 2002 which is considered to be among the most prestigious in the field.
As expected, the conference and associated interactions yielded a substantial amount of information directly or indirectly related to current and future projects at Forintek in regard to moulds, substrates for their growth and potential health effects. Overall there was a general understanding that microbial ecology and health-related issues in association with a moisture-damaged site are complex phenomena and require further and thorough research. Modern building technology that uses a plethora of building materials in more or less successful building designs and in association with failures in moisture control provide specific, and in some cases, new ecological niches for microbes.
Wood was not singled out or exempted as a source or important substrate for mould growth. The water damage and available moisture is the major factor in supporting microbial growth. Apart from mould there are other equally or more important elements associated with reported ill health and these may include bacteria, tobacco pollution, diesel particles, material and microbial volatile organic compounds, mites and other allergens of animal origin. This report summarizes major findings and developments in indoor air quality issues with special emphasis on mould, health issues and water-damaged human habitats. Parts of it are judged as potentially useful to Forintek members.