Identifying and Preventing Fungal Contamination Problems in New Home Construction

Päivi Salo, M.Sc. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Sciences & Engineering,

The objectives of this study were to identify construction materials and practices prone to introduce fungal contamination into new single family homes, and to identify preventive maintenance procedures which limit fungal colonization and amplification. This study was performed over a two year period in North Carolina. Eight construction sites were observed during construction and during the first year of occupancy.

Building materials were improperly stored and exposed to rain and/or high humidity. Inadequate drainage caused many crawl spaces to remain damp. Many HVAC systems were inadequately sealed, enabling rainwater and construction debris to enter the systems, and thereby providing suitable fungal substrates. Negative pressure within the building envelopes caused air infiltration from the crawlspaces. Many of the observed problems found could be avoided by educating builders and homeowners. Early identification and prevention of potential fungal reservoirs and amplification sites is preferable to costly analysis and repairs afterwards.