Vol. 2 No. 1
Here in Delaware, we’ve had one of the wettest summers in history. Most of the eastern shore can sympathize with us as we all have been saturated with one rainy day after another. The excess rain has made the perfect environment for molds and fungus to grow rampant, threatening some schools with serious health risks.
Although school has been back in session for only a few short weeks, stories of closings are already headlining news sources because of mold and fungus risks. Allergy sufferers are not the only ones who are threatened when molds and fungus grow out of control; anyone can be affected by spores that become airborne.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states, “Poor indoor air quality can impact the comfort and health of students and staff, which, in turn, can affect concentration, attendance, and student performance. In addition, if schools fail to respond promptly to poor IAQ, students and staff are at an increased risk of short-term health problems, such as fatigue and nausea, as well as long-term problems like asthma.”
Check out the EPA’s “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings” online publication here for how to properly cleanup and restore your facility after mold is detected.
Remedying mold growth is a large project but can be handled fairly easily with limited impact on your students and school employees. However, detecting mold and fungus growth before it’s a serious health risk isn’t as simple.
If you're in an area that has seen above-average rainfall this summer, you’ll want to inspect your facility thoroughly. Here are some of the areas you’ll want your Facility Manager to inspect extra carefully.
Window sills. Moisture spots inside and outside of windows means there’s most likely an issue with the window seals. Water spots don’t have to look moldy to in fact be contaminated with potentially dangerous spores. You might have to replace windows, window sills, or window seals.
Exposed eaves. If there is visible rot on exposed eaves, damaged wood and tiles within three to four feet must be replaced.
Discoloration or mold on stucco. Poor drainage and excessive ground water can encourage mold spores to grow and spread. Infected areas must be removed and replaced in one-foot bands, and possibly new drainage systems will need to be installed.
Molds can be green, gray, white, or black. (Black mold is especially dangerous and if discovered should be treated immediately.) They can have a specific odor, but many do not. Do not rely on your sense of smell to detect mold! The best way to detect mold and fungi growth is to use a mold inspection kit. Many are reasonably priced and easy to use. However, if you’re not comfortable with inspecting for molds yourself, look into hiring a specialist.
Check with your broker about your school plans. Some insurance plans include mold damage and cleanup. If yours does not, ask for more information about updating your policy for the future.
Additional ISM articles of interest:
I&P Vol. 30 No. 12 (Consortium members only) Disaster Planning: What Are Your Insurance Options?