Mold Course Chapter 8:
Communicating with the Building Occupants
Lesson 1 - Communicate When You Remediate
Communication with building occupants is essential for successful mold remediation. Some occupants will naturally be concerned, and their concern may increase if they believe information is being withheld. The status of the building investigation and remediation should be openly communicated, along with information on known or suspected health risks.
Small-scale remediations will not usually require a formal communication process, but do be sure to take individual concerns seriously and consider whether formal communication is required. Managers of medium or large remediation efforts should make sure they understand and address the concerns of the building occupants and communicate clearly what has to be done. Depending on the situation, communication, communication strategies and communication issues may also be handled by others such as:
- Building owners
- School principals
- Public relations specialists
Some organizations or buildings may have a communications strategy that can be used, or they may wish to develop a comprehensive strategy.
Communication techniques may include regular memos and meetings with occupants (with time for questions and answers). The communication techniques used will depend on the scope of the remediation and the level of occupant concern. Tell the occupants about:
- The size of the remediation project
- The activities planned
- The schedule
Send or post regular updates on the remediation's progress. Send or post a final memo when the project is completed or hold a final meeting. Try and resolve issues and occupant concerns as they come up. When building wide communications are frequent and open, remediation managers can spend more time resolving the mold problem and less time responding to occupant concerns.
Communication is especially important if occupants are relocated during remediation. When deciding whether to relocate occupants consider:
- The size of the area affected
- The extent and types of health effects exhibited by the occupants
- The potential health risks associated with debris and activities during the remediation
Be sure to ask about, accommodate and plan for individuals with:
- Compromised immune systems
- Other health concerns
Smooth the relocation process and give occupants an opportunity to participate in resolving the problem by clearly explaining the disruption of the workplace and work schedules. Notify individuals of relocation efforts in advance, if possible.
Special communication strategies may be warranted when treating a mold problem in a school. Teachers, parents and other affected groups should be notified as soon as significant issues are identified. Consider holding a special meeting so parents can learn about the problem and ask questions of school authorities, particularly if it is necessary or advisable to vacate the school during remediation.
In some cases, particularly when large areas are contaminated with mold or complaints run high among teachers or students, it may be a good idea to hire a remediation professional who can provide expert information to concerned parents and teachers, as well as do the remediation work. Often, giving parents and teachers access to a professional early in the investigation and remediation process will reduce their concern during the latter stages of the remediation. It is important that the best information available be provided to everyone who might be affected by the investigation and remediation.
Please note: EPA does not regulate mold or mold spores in the air. EPA does not certify mold remediators or inspectors.