Cleanup ordered after potentially hazardous mould detected in Canadian warship

The Defence Department says inadequate ventilation, poor maintenance and old equipment has led to the buildup of potentially hazardous airborne mould aboard Canada's most advanced warships.

A recently released report from the Directorate of Force Health Protection says an air quality assessment aboard HMCS Winnipeg found higher-than-normal levels of mould spores in three compartments while the frigate was sailing from Tokyo to Hawaii in July 2017.

The findings are important because some sailors have long complained of health problems they say could be related to mould exposure while serving aboard Canada's 12 Halifax-class frigates.

Airborne mould concentrations aboard Winnipeg were found to be above background levels in an air conditioning plant, the ship's solid waste handling plant and an equipment room near the helicopter landing pad.

While there are no standard exposure limits for airborne concentrations of mould or mould spores, the December 2017 report says mould is hazardous for people with compromised immune systems or mould allergies.

The report says the Royal Canadian Navy should improve the ships' ventilation and require more frequent cleaning and inspections of ducts and filters.

A report from March 2015 found the frigates' ventilation and air conditioning systems had "significantly degraded" because of a lack of maintenance, leaving the equipment "old and unsupportable."

However, other internal documents released this week under the Access to Information Act indicate the navy has taken steps to deal with its ongoing problems with mould, which included new cleaning instructions and upgrades to some equipment.