Prevention is everyone’s job
Director, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii Public Affairs
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — Hawaii is a tropical paradise: perfect temperatures, lots of sunshine, a warm ocean and gentle breezes.
While those elements combine to make a wonderful environment, they also combine to produce an unwanted consequence: mold.
Mold is found virtually everywhere in our environment, indoors and outdoors, and in new and old structures.
Molds are naturally occurring microscopic organisms, which reproduce by spores. Without mold, we would be struggling with large amounts of dead, organic matter.
While we’ve lived with mold spores all our lives, Hawaii’s continuous moisture and humidity can make excessive mold growth a problem in our homes, buildings and barracks. Inhaling mold spores or touching mold growths can cause allergy symptoms in some people.
Fighting mold in Hawaii’s humid climate is an ongoing battle.
Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, commander, U.S. Army-Pacific, recently directed that a mold task force be established to synchronize the combined efforts of all Army Hawaii resources in this fight.
“This task force brings together the U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii staff with all units and organizations and our on-post housing partner, Island Palm Communities,” said Col. Daniel Whitney, commander, USAG-HI. “Combatting mold in a tropical environment requires that all our residents and organizations work together for success.”
USAG-HI’s Directorate of Public Works, or DPW, is the task force lead in providing training and mold remediation support for all installation organizations. IPC provides these same efforts for all on-post family housing.
Initiatives throughout Army Hawaii include education on mold prevention; inspection of on-post buildings, facilities, barracks, community centers and housing; and mold remediation efforts — all combining to provide a constant surveillance and elimination of mold, as needed.
Each week, USAG-HI holds a Barracks Synchronization Meeting with representatives from all installation units. This forum is used to discuss any barracks maintenance issue, including mold.
USAG-HI further coordinates training of unit and maintenance management personnel to prevent, detect and remediate mold in all barracks and on-post buildings. Also, when Soldiers are assigned a barracks room, they are provided with information on mold prevention, detection and mediation.
“We also conduct a weekly barracks inspection, looking at a different building each week,” said Col. Jay Hammer, executive officer, USAG-HI. “These inspections include the DPW staff, the unit’s building representative and a member of the unit’s chain of command.”
Hammer noted these inspections cover the overall condition of the barracks with a focus on the Soldiers’ living quarters.
“We check for mold and mildew and the serviceability of furnishings and utilities,” he said. “We work together with the unit to ensure a clean-safe-secure environment for our Soldiers.”
“These weekly walk-throughs and spot checks of common areas will continue to be conducted to detect mold and other maintenance issues,” said Carol Jones, chief, Housing Division and project manager, Residential Communities Initiative, DPW.
IPC offers resident training in mold prevention and has comprehensive mold information in its Resident Guide and Community Standards Handbook. For mold remediation efforts, IPC uses its in-house maintenance staff for minor occurrences and a licensed mold remediation subcontractor for larger requirements.
“The fight against mold really begins with you, the individual,” said Whitney. “The garrison and all units in Army Hawaii are committed to providing the support you need, but it’s the simple steps each of us can take at home or work to help prevent the spread of mold.”
Mold thrives in moisture and needs a food source to flourish, such as cloth, cardboard, wood or wallboard. When indoor moisture is not dried promptly, molds can reproduce quickly.
The key to mold control is moisture control:
•When running an indoor air conditioner, shut all windows; otherwise moisture and dust will be drawn inside.
•Indoor temperatures should be set at 72-74 degrees as too low a temperature with high outside humidity can cause more moisture and mold growth inside.
•Use bathroom exhaust fans when showering.
•Eliminate any damp or moist surfaces; look for water leakage under sinks and faucets.
•Clean dusty areas as they can attract mold spores; keep homes and work areas free of dust build-up.
•Watch for visible mold growing on walls, ceilings, carpet, cabinets and furniture.
For mold remediation in barracks or on-post buildings, Soldiers should contact their unit’s Barracks Management Representative or facility manager.
For on-post housing, residents should contact their assigned community manager.
Army Hawaii offers the following additional resources to learn more about mold:
•IPC has mold information on its website at www.islandpalmcommunities.com.
•More information on mold prevention and remediation can be found at DPW’s website: www.garrison.hawaii.army.mil/sustainability/FAQ.aspx#MOLD.