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Lawsuits prompt formation of CCA group

Task force to develop mould standards
Daily Commercial News
By Janice Walls - Staff Writer

A Canadian Construction Association (CCA) task force will develop national standards to help contractors deal with mould and the lawsuits that can grow out of it.

The goal is to write an industry guideline for contractors who are constructing new buildings or renovating existing structures on how to avoid formation of mould or remediate it when they find it, said Lionel Neveu, chair of the CCA mould task force.

"We're not going to second-guess architectural or engineering design, or any of those things," said Neveu, director of environment and safety for the Canadian operations of PCL Constructors Inc.

"What we are going to do is say, as we build, here are the things we are going to look at to prevent moisture intrusion."

Guidelines for the construction process may include advising contractors to require from their suppliers that materials be clean and dry when delivered and protected from weather when they are dropped off at a site, said Neveu.

The guidelines will also address taking preventitive measures when something does get wet, said Neveu, such as how to clean up after a water line breaks and how to assess whether materials should be torn out.

It comes down to planning and monitoring what is done to prevent and remediate mould and ensuring there is accountability throughout the process, he said.

There are about 100,000 types of mould, 700 of them with potential health consequences. There are regulations from health, environment and occupational health and safety departments but there is no national standard.

"It makes it difficult for the average contractor in Canada to have a feel for what is the right thing to do because there is no standards out there and the legislation is split between the provinces and the federal government," said Neveu.

The goal is not to come up with a regulation, which might take years to put in place, but to write an industry standard with help from government representatives on the task force, he said.

New York City's Department of Health has issued a protocol on remediating fungi in indoor environments, now widely used. More recently, the workplace safety and health division of Manitoba's Department of Labour has issued guidelines for investigation, assessment and remediation of mould in workplaces, which are even more stringent, he said.

The Manitoba document contains guidelines on everything from the types of sampling used for mould investigations, to interpreting laboratory results and specific procedures and precautions that should be followed in removing variuos levels of mould.

Increasing public concern about the potential health consequences of mould and a jump in the number of American lawsuits has prompted the guidelines, in both Canada and the US.

A $50-million class-action suit for toxic mould in York Region Courthouse especially caught the construction industry's attention because the contractor was named as a defendant, said Neveu.

Mould problems also come with insurance implications and there is no certification for the people who do the remediation, he said.

The mould task force hopes to have a draft of the national standards put together next fall.

Jeff Morrison, director of communications and environment for CCA, said the task force hopes to demonstrate due diligence by contractors.

"I guess the alternative is, if we don't, then suddenly the courts and legislatures are going to do it for us and could be a lot tougher than what is considered reasonably to be expected on the part of the contractor," he said.

Contact Mr. Don Bremner
Tel 1-800-894-4924 or (905) 888-0066 Fax 905-888-0071
P.O. Box 746
10 Stalwart Industrial Drive Unit 5,
Gormley (Markham), Ontario
Canada L0H 1G0

 

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