January 20, 2010 – Press Dispensary
Building Forensics (buildingforensics.co.uk) has been inundated with requests to investigate sick or tight building syndrome since a recent appearance on ITVs ‘Buildings From Hell’. The programme highlighted the new and worrying – but previously unrecognised – building defects which can be identified from modern construction techniques and which create ideal conditions for toxic mould … with consequent serious health concerns.
The quest for reduced carbon emissions from buildings – and therefore a lower level of air changes – has in recent times created a general increase in ‘building tightness’: new and restored buildings fail to ‘breath’ properly, leading to a general moisture build-up which in turn results in the health concerns of mould and rot or decay. Typically, Building Forensics has found that the application of new building tightness conditioning such as BREEAM, LEED and part L of the Building Regulations, coupled to poor construction management, is increasingly causing such building defects and health issues.
Jeff Charlton of Building Forensics states: “Building Forensics has found increasing evidence that construction management is failing to control quality standards or, indeed, even to comply with manufacturers’ or architects’ design or installation requirements. Worse still, we’ve found that few surveyors or inspectors have the equipment or training to undertake non-intrusive investigation or to be able identify hidden defects such as missing insulation, thermal bridging and the presence of toxic chemicals.” He continues: “And Building Forensics is further finding that facility managers are increasingly mis-diagnosing design and build faults which cause condensation or pooling and mould. They wrongly attribute these symptoms to presumed leaks which insurers then wrongly pay to fix. And meanwhile the health problems continue to get worse.”
The combination of high cellulose materials and misuse of vapour barriers, thermal bridging from poor or missing insulation or failure to seal the building envelope properly can result in the growth of toxic mould such as Penicillium, Tricoderma and Stachybotrys.
While visible mould is a good indicator of the health risk, it should be recognised that the moisture required for mould growth, sometimes from leaks but usually from condensation, often occurs out of sight in voids or behind plasterboard cavity walls. The problems start with the building or renovation of buildings with no regard to the historic knowledge that buildings need to breath and remove moisture, especially in a cold wet climate.
And as was shown in US timber frame construction 10 years ago, identifying the problems generally requires more equipment than a standard two pin wood moisture meter and current inspection techniques.
Jeff Charlton is available for comment and interview on the findings of Building Forensics, and more information on typical health concerns and construction defect can be found at buildingforensics.co.uk.
A letter to the NAA regarding an email they deleted without reading – please retract your amicus in the Abad case in Arizona – it is fraud by a political action committee, the National Apartment Association, that is furthering another fraud by another political action committee, the US Chamber of Commerce
Political Action Committee – NAA – files Amicus Brief in mold case (two infant deaths in mold filled apt – Wasatch Prop Mgmt) citing US Chamber/ACOEM ‘litigation defense report’ to disclaim health effects of indoor mold & limit financial risk for industry
“Changes in construction methods have caused US buildings to become perfect petri dishes for mold and bacteria to flourish when water is added. Instead of warning the public and teaching physicians that the buildings were causing illness; in 2003 the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, a think-tank, and a workers comp physician trade organization mass marketed an unscientific nonsequitor to the courts to disclaim the adverse health effects to stave off liability for financial stakeholders of moldy buildings. Although publicly exposed many times over the years, the deceit lingers in US courts to this very day.” Sharon Noonan Kramer
Information on Riverstone Residential knowingly exposing tenants to extreme amounts of mold toxins at Toxic Mold Infested Jefferson Lakes Apartments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana