Between a rock & a damp place
February 5, 2015 1:02 AM   Subscribe

Is it safe for me to use as an office a room that had one-off water damage a couple of months ago?

I work in a company with very little office space. Generally on 'admin work' days I work in whichever training room is currently unused. However I use a SAD light & have significant neck problems, which means that I need to be very careful to set up my work area in a way that won't leave me with nauseous headaches & dizziness by the end of the day, so working in different rooms all the time is just a pain. There is an office that I could every day & set up very comfortably BUT in a very heavy rainstorm a couple of months ago, a gutter was overwhelmed & one wall got significant water damage. Everything dried out within a week or so & there has been no further water entry since then, but the room smells quite strongly. There is no visible mould, just flaking & peeling paint. So, the big question is, will it do me any harm to work in there several days a week?

TL:DR Is it safe for me to use as an office a room that had one-off damage a couple of months ago?
posted by cantthinkofagoodname to Health & Fitness (4 answers total)
It would be hard to say. If there is mold or mildew and you're sensitive to it, then it would be a problem. But unless you're specifically allergic or sensitive to mold, or unless the type of mold that may be growing is a dangerous one, you just can't know.

You could set up in there and see what happens. There are mold test kits that you can buy in hardware stores, although I don't know if they're a thing where you are.

If the room seems damp, that would be a bad sign. If it seems dry and sound, it's probably fine.

I will say that if this room does have a mold problem, that anyone near it might feel sick, even if they weren't in it directly. So if no one is complaining, it's probably okay.

But again, it's really hard to say.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:19 AM on February 5, 2015

If it smells like mildew / mold, then no, probably not. Mold exposure can cause asthma or allergies over time. Even if the mold is dead or not actively growing, it still isn't healthy to breathe. I'm no expert, but I summarized my understanding in this general comment and then summarized detailed info from a mold testing report here. If the room wasn't properly dried out within 24-48 hours, the insulation may well have remained damp for quite some time.
posted by slidell at 9:36 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's probably not a good idea. If there's enough mold that it smells like mold, there's enough mold to cause you problems. There are lots of different kinds of mold, and not all of them are allergens for humans (and different people have different reactions). But if you are already sensitive to environmental stuff, you probably should have the room remediated or find a different space to use as an office.
posted by aka burlap at 4:22 PM on February 5, 2015

typing too fast - meant to say "should probably ask them to have the room remediated or find a different space."
posted by aka burlap at 4:23 PM on February 5, 2015

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