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ARA Conference

Sep 11, 2017

This September 2017, Dr Jagjit Singh was invited to give a presentation to the ARA annual conference.



Dr Jagjit Singh is a Director of Environmental Building Solutions Ltd and specialises in building health problems, heritage conservation and environmental issues. He has more than 30 years' experience as a building pathologist and expertise in heritage conservation, collections care and preservation, indoor air quality and health in the UK and abroad.

He has published in excess of 200 technical papers and communications, contributed to books and lectured widely on care and conservation of collections, building pathology and building health problems. He has edited several books including Building Mycology, Management of Decay and Health in Buildings, Environmental Preservation of Timber in Buildings, Allergy Problems in Buildings and Environmental Monitoring of our Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Conservation Solutions.

He is a BBC Expert and has appeared twice in the Raising the Roof series. He was an ex- president of the INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT (ISBE).

The presentation covered the following subjects including the interrelationships of the internal archive environment created by the interactions of repository architecture, materials, structures, services, collections with their external environments and the resulting infestation and mould.


Mould and Health

Mould Infestation in Collections & Repositories

Repositories, Collections and artefacts, which suffer from water damage or environmental issues, allow the growth of a variety of moulds and other biological agents.  Microbial pollution caused by hundreds of species of moulds and fungi, in particular filamentous fungi (mould), growing indoors when sufficient moisture is available is a key element of indoor air pollution.  There is a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence on building deterioration and health problems associated with building moisture and biological agents. The most important effects are increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms, allergies and asthma as well as perturbation of the immunological system.  WHO guidelines for protecting public health and for avoiding adverse health effects stress the prevention or minimising of persistent dampness and microbial growth on interior surfaces and in building structures (WHO 2009: Guidelines for indoor air quality: dampness and mould).

The growth and proliferation of a variety of bacteria, moulds and other biological agents in the indoor environment is due to residual moisture, high levels of humidity and inadequate ventilation. Excess moisture on almost all indoor materials leads to growth of mould, fungi and bacteria, which subsequently emit spores, cells, fragments and volatile organic compounds into indoor air.



  • Moulds, health and indoor air quality
  • Allergies and medical consequences of moulds
  • Insurance and liability for moulds
  • Legal repercussions of moulds




  • Moisture, condensation and the causation of moulds
  • Climate change, flood damage and moulds
  • Moulds and health of our cultural heritage
  • Monitoring and Risk assessment
  • Sustainable solutions




  • Proper understanding of the causes
  • Correct identification of the infestation is the vital key
  • Independent scientific approach
  • Non-destructive inspection environmental approach avoids the need for Remedial chemical treatments


Mould Identification

Correct identification of the mould infestation and risk assessment by an independent mycologist is the vital key to all such problems, as all infestation is not equally destructive.

Mould Infestation, Mycoflora and Environmental Investigation of collections is carried out to assist in assessing the overall risk and in preparation of an appropriate method statement/work regime in relation to the proposed occupational health and safety and works as required. 

The aims and objectives of the risk assessment is to determine the following:

  • Extent of infestation
  • Nature, pathogenicity and toxicity
  • Extent of airborne load of mould colony forming units per cubic meter in the mould and moisture affected areas


Mould Investigations

The purpose of the mould investigation is to determine the following:

  • Identification and viability tests for toxic moulds
  • Airborne (Viable and non-viable moulds) mould colony forming units per cubic meter (CFU-3)
  • Compliance with WHO guidelines
  • Environmental assessment of the indoor environment and level of microbial contamination the type, extent including toxic and pathogenic mould infestation
  • Environmental factors predisposing to mould growth and infestation
  • Spot and continuous environmental monitoring if required
  • Sampling of cavities and voids as necessary
  • Associated health effects and to make appropriate recommendations for environmental management of mould infestation problems


By employing a range of non-destructive inspection techniques, much of the original fabric can be retained. The environmental approach for the management of mould infestation is beneficial to the building fabric, occupants and to the wider environment.

Much damage has been inflicted in the last century by dealing with the symptoms of the problems and not with the causes. By proper understanding of the causes, its repetition should be avoided in this century.