COURT HOUSE — The mold problem in Middle Township Elementary School No. 2 is now a memory. Or so states the final report sent to the district by ALS Environmental of Harrisburg, Pa.
In an April 6 report by the air quality control firm, it noted not only was mold found in the building, but it was the type that commonly causes asthma and hay fever. The initial March 25 inspection showed during a general inspection of the school building there were “clogged rain gutters, blocked or disconnected downspouts and bird nests in holes of exterior walls. Water stains on exterior wall surfaces near gutters indicate water overspill.”
The April 6 report continued, “Four classrooms were found to have visible mold growing.” Testing of the mold revealed it to be Cladosporium, a type of mold often found indoors. “The ability to sporulate heavily…makes this fungus the most important fungal airway allergen.” The report noted Cladosporium commonly causes asthma and hay fever.
According to parents, visible mold growth could be seen seeping through the building’s brightly painted ceilings and throughout surfaces in classrooms. Many parents have stated their children are experiencing asthma-like conditions including coughing and wheezing, as well as respiratory illnesses, which they felt were caused by exposure to mold in the school.
In an April 5 interview with this newspaper, School Superintendent Michael Kopakowski stated cleanup of No. 2 would focus on HVAC ductwork, roof decking and other structural ceiling components.
During spring break, the bioremediation firm of INX Technology was called in to clean the building. Accord-ing to School Superintendent Michael Kopakowski, approximately 40 classrooms were cleaned at a cost of $72,144.
In order to clean the building, “nonporous surfaces with visible water stains or fungal growth were HEPA vac-uumed, scrubbed and wet wiped with a water/detergent solution and then quickly dried. Porous surfaces such as ceiling tiles with visible water stains or fungal growth were discarded…and a general HEPA vacuuming of horizontal surfaces was performed prior to reoccupancy,” said the final report.
After cleaning, ALS Environmental was called back in to perform post-bioremediation testing in order to deem the building safe for students and staff. Post-remediation testing was performed in the school April 9 through April 14.
According to the April 25 post-remediation report, “After bioremediation was performed in each classroom, ALS Environmental performed a visual inspection and collected post-remediation verification samples. In or-der for areas to meet ALS Environmental clearance criteria, the following conditions had to be met.”
The final report states remediation areas had to be clean and visually free of accumulated dust, relative humid-ity had to be less than 60 percent and no unusual odors could be present. It also states that fungi air samples had to be quantitatively less than samples collected outdoors.
Testing in Elementary No. 2 showed, “Air sampling results following bioremediation activity in each classroom to be unremarkable. Indoor air quality (airborne fungal spores) was not degraded when compared to outdoor levels of fungi or levels of fungi typical for a healthy, dry building.”
The report also states, “Surface samples for optical analysis could not show the significant presence of hypae, spores in clusters of the presence of toxigenic fungi in the opinion of ALS."
“Based on our visual inspection findings and the sampling results obtained it is our opinion that all areas have been satisfactorily remediated,” concludes the report.
The report recommends the district put into place an indoor air quality management program that would include a written program, training for custodial and maintenance staff, visual inspections during the summer months for signs of moisture and mold and indoor air quality surveys during periods when the buildings are occupied.
According to Kopakowski, the district is looking into an indoor air quality management program. “It’s something that I would be interested in district-wide level rather than an individual school level,” said the superintendent. “I think it has to be almost a year-round maintenance program.”
Whether or not the district would use an outside agency or district employees remains to be seen. “I would prefer to use our people and have them trained appropriately, because it’s more cost-efficient,” said Kopakowski.
When asked if the district would conduct additional mold remediation in its four schools over the summer months, the superintendent replied, “I don’t think so. Not at this point in time. There doesn’t seem to be any-thing that needs to be done.”