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