What is that musty smell?

Floria Buidling Syndrome (FBS) and Sick Building Syndrome are terms used to describe a range of non-specific musty and other odor and health issues. The root cause maybe a spore fungus, mildew or mold living in a home environment that cannot be usually visually inspected.

This blog post will help others outside of the odor removal business gain insight to a rampant issue that we are asked about every week and service in residential and commercial real estate interiors throughout South Florida.

Florida has high humidity because it is a peninsula surrounded by water, and the wind flows over the warm Gulf waters, picking up and transporting evaporating moisture to the coast and over land, resulting in higher dew points and much higher humidity levels. No point in the state is more than 60 miles from salt water, and no more than 345 feet above sea level. When the relative humidity is closer to 100%, it doesn’t evaporate as efficiently.

Diagnosing SBS involves a process of simple elimination.

If you cannot spot a water leak, storm damage, previous or current plumbing issues or A/C drainage problems, in South Florida our interior spaces are subject to “infection” from fungus, mildew or mold spores. Using a UV/Blacklight inspection protocol may show patches of the growth in walls and flooring, although the results of this testing are limited.

Generally microscopic in nature creating a super musty, or mystery musty odor experienced when first walking into the domicile and present in fabric furniture, linens, and clothing.

When relative humidity is above 60% it creates a productive environment for spores already in air to multiple and gain a hold or footing in broad spaces of ceiling, walls, grout, and flooring, infecting the A/C system along the way.

If the A/C system is broken, or off for even a few days the clock is ticking on not if but how soon these types of bacteria are going to create a stale and / or musty odor in the home. Once established the “infection or colony” will only thrive if remediation or odor removal is not used.

Spores are virtually everywhere in South Florida air and other states with high RH levels, and Florida homeowners need special vigilance if living close to the ocean, canal or a lake as have an evaporative water source feeding the fungus spores or mildew.

So, what is the standard spore count? The average spore count is between 200 and 500 per cubic meter of air (sp/m3).

Try to maintain between 30 and 50 percent humidity to prevent mold from growing in your home. If indoor relative humidity (RH) exceeds 60 percent, it creates a conducive environment for fungus, and mildew to grow and thrive.

Symptoms that individuals experience while spending time in a particular building or enclosed space. These symptoms typically occur when people are inside the building and improve when they leave. Florida Building Syndrome (FBS) doesn’t have a specific set of diagnostic criteria or a single identifiable cause; instead, it is a collection of symptoms that may be related to various factors associated with the indoor environment.

Common symptoms of Florida Building Syndrome can include:

Bothersome odor issues
Headaches
Eye, nose, or throat irritation
Fatigue
Dizziness or nausea
Skin rashes or irritation
Respiratory discomfort, such as coughing or wheezing
Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly
General discomfort or malaise

FBS is often associated with older, cement only built homes, although with the changing climate even in ultra-modern, energy-efficient buildings can experience this odor issues, as they may have limited ventilation and / or lack of fresh air.

Master Odor Removal has vast experience, and we are experts in treating Florida Building Syndrome and Sick Building Syndrome in residential and commercial real estate settings. We use our two-step molecular chemical system directly on the ceilings, walls, floors, doors, cabinets, and treat the A/C coils and duct system.

If suspected Florida Building Syndrome (FBS) (musty odors without visual causes or prior mold / mildew / flood / plumbing leaks) with verbal acknowledgement, all clients understand that while we professionally strive to eliminate, mitigation, not removal may only be possible when approving our services.