Our residences, workplaces and communities host a broad variety of biological agents that can cause allergic reactions in people, some well known and some not…dogs, cats, cockroaches, dust mites and mold growth, just to name a few. These sources and the allergens involved can present significant challenges to investigators as many of them are ubiquitous in the environment and can vary in intensity based on a broad range of environmental factors from moisture levels to cleaning frequency. Further complicating investigations is the fact that reactions vary significantly in people from no reaction, to mild hay-fever type symptoms, to severe asthmatic responses.
Successful evaluation and resolution of matters involving allergens requires an understanding of source dynamics, sampling methodologies and data interpretation. FACS professionals routinely bring this knowledge and experience to bear when tackling complex multi-agent indoor environmental quality issues.
Legionella bacteria grows in warm water and can commonly be found in cooling tower reservoirs and in domestic water systems, especially where heated water is present. When Legionella grows, and Legionella-containing water aerosols are inhaled, susceptible individuals (such as older adults and/or the immunocompromised) can develop Legionnaire’s Disease.
Legionella bacteria control includes water temperature control and continuous or intermittent chemical treatment of aerosol-producing sources, such as cooling towers, whirlpool spas, misters, fountains, and showers. Techniques that can help prevent the proliferation of the bacteria include designing out points of stagnation in water systems, preventing plumbing contamination during construction, and flushing new or modified plumbing systems with chemicals prior to occupancy.
FACS has assisted managers and owners of hospitals, hotels, and high-rise buildings in the identification and prevention of Legionella growth. We can also document levels of Legionella in water sources and respond rapidly and effectively to actual or alleged Legionella outbreaks.
Mold and Moisture
Molds or fungi are living naturally occurring organisms that are generally considered ubiquitous in the world around us. It is estimated that almost twenty to twenty five percent of the Earth’s biomass is composed of fungi. The scientific community has described approximately 100,000 species of fungi of which only several dozens are commonly identified during building investigations. It is estimated that there is up a million more species that have yet to be described. In fact, fungi are necessary for existence on this planet serving and the chief decomposers of organic materials. Without fungi, we and all other living organisms on this planet would be mired in organic material.
Although fungi are necessary to our existence on Earth; fungi, their spores and other associated materials (hyphal fragments, MVOCs, Mycotoxins and steroids) can be real health issues. Most often issues of excess moisture and/or water incursion are to blame. The use of organic materials in building construction with the addition of water or excess moisture can become a recipe for unwanted and undesired fungal growth. This undesired fungal growth or amplification; may subsequently result in aesthetic and structural issue and potentially have a deleterious affects on the health of susceptible building occupants.
For the last decade, the consultants at FACS have provided a broad range of services to assist in addressing a multitude of fungal and bacterial related issues using a wide array of methods and techniques including leading edge genetic methods and infra red thermal imaging. Our consultants routinely inspect and sample for fungi and bacteria, providing highly thoughtful and pragmatic solutions to the often complex issues associated with water intrusion and biological contamination inside the built environment. We have experts that provide high level sophisticated litigation support in a segment of the industrial hygiene industry that is noticeably absent of any government regulation relying on objective facts and fundamental science.
We have the capabilities and experience to assist on almost any project regardless of the scope from a single apartment to a several thousand room hotel, from schools to commercial office buildings. Issues include tenant landlord disputes, real estate disclosure and construction defect litigation. Our client base is diverse including home owners, landlords, facility/building engineers, property managers and attorneys. Our services include developing sampling plans, data interpretation, critical analysis of opposing expert documents, evaluation of occupant exposures, providing specifications for remediation, post remediation verification, the development and implementation of operations and maintenance programs as well as training.
Staphylococcus, aka staph, is a genus of bacteria found worldwide and of which many species reside harmlessly on human skin. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph that is resistant to certain antibiotics. Staph infections, including MRSA, occur most frequently among persons in hospitals and healthcare facilities who have weakened immune systems (this is referred to as healthcare-associated MRSA). When MRSA infections are acquired by persons who have not been hospitalized or had a medical procedure within the past year, they are known as community acquired (CA-MRSA) infections. Staph or MRSA infections in the community are usually manifested as skin infections, such as pimples and boils, and occur in otherwise healthy people. More serious infections may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, or surgical wound infections.
FACS provides a variety of services related to general infection control and specifically to MRSA and/or other resistant bacteria stains. FACS can assist in developing appropriate response protocols, providing awareness training, developing cleaning protocols, conducting cleaning verification including sampling, and providing training or assessment of cleaning protocols in both healthcare and non-healthcare environments.
Norovirus is the name for the group of viruses that are sometimes referred to as “Norwalk-like” viruses, after the original strain “Norwalk virus,” which caused an outbreak of gastroenteritis in a school in Norwalk, Ohio, in 1968. Common symptoms are sudden onset of nausea and vomiting, watery diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. Recently, reported outbreaks of norovirus infections on a cruise ships has many people concerned about potential infections while traveling.
Norovirus infections are extremely contagious. This is why rapid outbreaks can easily occur when many people are confined to a relatively close quartered environment. Adding to the difficulty, noroviruses are able to survive freezing, high temperatures, and chlorine levels greater than those normally present in public water systems. Because the viruses are so hardy and highly contagious, it is difficult to completely prevent infections.
FACS provides a variety of services related to general infection control and specifically to Norovirus and similar infectious agents. FACS can assist in developing appropriate response protocols, provide awareness training, develop cleaning protocols, conduct cleaning verification including sampling, and provide training or assessment of cleaning protocols in both healthcare and non-healthcare environments.