Mold found above ceiling of school

September 04, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

A moldy spot found above a ceiling at Northern Middle School has prompted Washington County Public Schools officials to test the building's air quality and send letters home to parents about their findings.

A leaky spot and mold was found on the underside of the roof deck above the Hagerstown school media center's ceiling last week, said Rodney Turnbough, the school system's director of facilities management. Since then, mold levels inside and outside the school were tested and the area of the roof was repaired at a cost of less than $2,000, he said.

The school's roof, which dates to when the school was built in 1980, is slated to be replaced in summer 2005 as part of the school system's Capital Improvement Plan, he said.


Tests determined that the mold found above the ceiling is stachybotrys, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control Web site, is a less common mold than other species, but is found in buildings where there is moisture.

Through six tests of air quality inside the school and two tests of the outside air quality, it was determined that 2.5 percent of the mold counts found outside of the school were found inside, he said.

"We would be very concerned if we had the same mold count inside as outside," Turnbough said. "We would have been happy if the mold count was half of the mold count on the outside."

Between 750 and 800 students attend Northern Middle School, said Carol Mowen, public information officer for the school system.

Letters were sent home to parents Friday to let them know of the testing process, according to the letter.

"We really wanted to be proactive and provide parents with information that we have," Mowen said. "We've been paying a tremendous amount of attention to Northern Middle this week. We just thought (parents) should know."

She said that school system officials will continue to monitor the school's humidity.

The common health concerns from molds include hay fever-like allergic symptoms, according to the CDC Web site. Certain individuals with chronic respiratory disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder or asthma, may experience difficulty breathing. Individuals with immune suppression may be at increased risk for infection from molds, according to the Web site.

The Herald-Mail Articles