Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools

The EPA offers the Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools (IAQ TfS) Action Kit

IAQ TfS Action Kit shows schools how to carry out a practical plan to improve indoor air problems at little- or no-cost using straightforward activities and in-house staff. The Kit provides best practices, industry guidelines, sample policies, and a sample IAQ management plan. The voluntary guidance can save schools time and money so that resources can be directed toward educating children. The IAQ TfS Action Kit is co-sponsored by the National Parent Teacher Association, National Education Association, Association of School Business Officials, American Federation of Teachers, and the American Lung Association.
The IAQ TfS Action Kit has many useful components to help schools and school districts design and implement their IAQ programs. These items include a Fact Sheet on How to Implement the Kit District-Wide*, Road Map*, Coordinator’s Guide, Reference Guide, IAQ Backgrounder, summary of the Awards Program, IAQ Problem Solving Wheel*, Managing Asthma in the School Environment*, and two videos*.

The Kit also includes checklists and backgrounders designed for different school personnel to use to ensure a complete assessment of the school’s IAQ. PDF versions are available for most items, and schools can also download and modify the various checklists as MS Word documents. Schools can identify problems by using the checklists and conducting building walkthroughs as demonstrated in the IAQ Tools for Schools Walkthrough Video: Four Schools Making A Difference.

The Key to Mold Control is Moisture Control

“It is important to dry water damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. If mold is a problem in your home, clean up the mold and get rid of the excess water or moisture. Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water. Wash mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water, and dry completely. Absorbent materials (such as ceiling tiles & carpet) that become moldy may have to be replaced.”

Action News Mold video

Landlord won’t fix renter’s mold problem

/ / video

Antique Death Trap: Raze or Save?

Feldman’s Market Street Antiques and Collectibles has collected a roof leak resulting in–among other things–toxic mold. Declared nfit for human occupancy, apparently no remediation has been done since it was condemned. As the owner did not bring building into compliance, Salisbury city is losing one of their landmarks.

/ / George Hatcher

Chlorine Gas vs Toxic Mold

A 2005 study of the efficacy of chlorine dioxide gas to counter the growth of sick building syndrome-related fungi was shown to successfully diminish mold growth

In the original study, Stachybotrys chartarum, Chaetomium globosum, Penicillium chrysogenum, and Cladosporium cladosporioides were placed in gas chambers containing chlorine dioxide gas.

When the subject was tested for growth, results showed that chlorine dioxide gas inactivated all organisms with the exception of C. globosum colonies which were inactivated an average of 89%.

Chlorine dioxide was proven to be an effective fumigant. A remaining question is how to best implement this as a practical solution safely in real life situations.

/ / George Hatcher

Mold Disease

There are health effects of moldy indoor environments, but there is significant controversy about what these effects are. This concern has led to a number of studies of mold affected habitats, like those affected by Hurricane Katrina.

In fact, there are cases of severe illness being judged the result of indoor mold exposure with a range including pulmonary, immunologic, neurologic, and oncologic disorders.

Valid concerns exist regarding the relationship between indoor mold exposure and disease including ergotism (Claviceps species), alimentary toxic aleukia (Fusarium), and liver disease (Aspergillys).

The chief affect of Stachybotrys exposure seems to be a subjective matter of degree, because many of its effects seem to be related to allergies. Allergies are subjective in nature, usually caused by extensive exposure, and differ in degree depending on the individual’s susceptibility.

More research for the relationship between mold and disease is called for. With all of the consistent symptoms experienced by those who live with mold exposure, the connection with disease is unlikely to be coincidental or spurious. But the lag of scientific examination leaves many victims of exposure related symptoms without definitive medical recourse.

/ / George Hatcher

It’s All About the Water

Control the water and you control the mold.

Hidden water leaks lie behind walls, appliances or in ceilings. Not even home inspectors or sellers can find some of these if they don’t know where to look.
Water leaks cause structural damage. Wet wood rots. Wet building materials attract termites, assorted other crawlies, and–of course–provide an environmental haven where mold loves to colonize and spread. Most molds will eventually consume the materials on which they grow, so don’t think that mold damage is limited to the occasional sneezing allergy attack.

In fact, mold exposure can lead to a whole assortment of health problems, including neurological, immunological, and pathological conditions. So stop that leak before it starts a flood of mold that will silently destroy your residence.

/ / George Hatcher

Texas City Mold Case

A Sept. 26 inspection found the the Chateau Jonon Apartment Complex on Loop 197 has toxic mold and is “unfit for human occupancy.” Roof damage allows rainwater to flood apartments upstairs and downstairs. Complex owner Kent Yeates is supposed to go before the city abatement commission in January. On Oct. 8, Yeates was sent a 60 day warning to fix everything.

/ / George Hatcher

Guards file Mold Lawsuit

Northampton County prison guards have filed a second lawsuit against the Northampton County Prison claiming harassment ever since they filed alleging exposure to a ”massive infestation of toxic mold” three years ago, claiming their health was suffering from exposure to mold that appeared because of a sewage leak.
Read More

/ / George Hatcher

Moldy Environment Health Perspective

CDC research says that asthma affects 17.3 million people yearly (10 million adults and 7 million children), costs more than $10 billion for medical care, causes over 10 million missed school days and more than 5000 deaths.

Indoor dampness and mold study shows “evidence of the relation between workplace exposure to indoor molds and the development of asthma in adulthood.” Mold triggers allergic reactions ranging from wheezing, sneezing, shortness of breath, skin rashes, upper respiratory irritation, coughing, eye irritation, headaches, lethargy and more.

Medically defined allergic syndromes related to mold include Allergic Bronchopulmonary Mycosis, Allergic Fungal Sinusitis, Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis, Pulmonary Mycotoxicosis and Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitis.

There are over 10,000 mold related law suits pending in the nation. (Notwithstanding home exposure,) there is evidence of a relationship between workplace exposure to indoor molds and adult-onset asthma.

/ / George Hatcher

Mold Damaged Fire Station Taking Bids

Fire Station No. 1. in Hattiesburg is taking contractor’s bids as it is damaged beyond saving by water and mold. Case Study Project

/ / George Hatcher

Is DHS Responsible for Basement Mold Farm?

Is the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services killing Eugene Phelps?

That’s what Phelps believes.

The Chicago resident lives in a water damaged house, dating back from when a water pipe broke in the basement during a bathroom remodel. In April 2004, Phelps was found to be eligible for DHS home services. Buffalo Grove-based Lang Home Medical Equipment made the modifications to Phelps’ bathroom and installed a water heater, sump pump and tub.

Phelps was told that someone would come back in a few weeks to fix it, but they did not come back until three months later, and when they finally came, the pipe was duct-taped shut. The still leaking pipe has resulted in serious mold and mildew infestation. His doctor is recommending Phelps move out of the house, but he’s lived there for thirty years.

A mold inspection revealed toxic mold throughout the basement.

/ / news

Does Mold Really Hurt You?

Most healthy people are not harmed by mold, but ironically, prolonged exposure to mold will cause mold allergies. And people who have allergies or asthma may be more sensitive to molds. Some of the effects are skin rash, running nose, eye irritation, cough, nasal congestion, aggravation of asthma or difficulty breathing, immune suppression or underlying lung disease.

Additionally, mycotoxins are toxic substances produced by mold which cause toxic effects, including fatigue, nausea, headaches, and irritation to the lungs and eyes.

/ / George Hatcher

Is Riverview Plaza Contaminated with MOLD?

Sacramento’s Riverview Plaza is a 15-story apartment building located at 600 I Street–owned and operated by the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency and intended to provide 123 affordable apartments to low-income seniors. 14 tenants (including 4 deceased ones) have suffered respiratory ailments. Set for March completion, the building is undergoing a $5 million building rehab–painting and upgrading the emergency and fire systems– handled by Turner Construction.

As evidenced by tenant complaints, water damage from an overflowing rooftop pool, humid exhaust from nearby industry and other sources seem likely to have created optimum conditions for mold. But the building has not been tested recently or thoroughly for mold. Does Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency feel like its poor and vulnerable residents are only worthy of substandard housing?

/ / George Hatcher

Environmental Relative Moldiness Index

Agency officials reported ongoing work using, in part, a DNA-based method for analyzing 36 species of mold that EPA developed, patented, and has licensed commercial laboratories to perform. Working with HUD, EPA used this method to develop a standard sampling and analytic process that then led to the development of the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) scale for U.S. homes. According to EPA, this index provides a simple, objective evaluation of the mold burden in a home. EPA reported ongoing epidemiological studies using the ERMI scale aimed at determining if the ERMI values can be used to understand the risk of asthma or related respiratory symptoms.

Indoor Mold: Better Coordination of Research on Health Effects and More Consistent Guidance Would Improve Federal Efforts
United States Government Accountability Office

Green Building

What makes a green building?

According to the Florida Green Building Coalition, it requires 101 required points for certification. In case you’ve never heard of it (and we never heard of it, not being in Florida), the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) is a nonprofit Florida corporation dedicated to improving the built environment. Their mission is “to provide a statewide green building program with environmental and economic benefits.”

That’s available here by pdf

But that is not why I started this…It’s because I read about Core-fill 500 spray foam insulation that is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, mold and pest resistant. Anything mold resistant is good stuff. And no, this is not an ad. For all I know, this mold resistant stuff gives off toxic fumes. Better find out before you use it.

Mold Update: Florence Unified School District

Remediation began at Walker Butte K-8 in Queen Creek. Indoor test results were: 1300, 1300 and 1384 mold spore counts per cubic meter

In mold remediation and prevention phase 1, crews sealed off contaminated sections of classrooms and bathrooms. Arrangements had been in case the contamination had been deemed dangerous, but since it is not, remediation is being done after school and on the weekends

/ / George Hatcher

Austin Texas Mold Mansion

On June 8, the Governor’s Mansion burned. Then the fire was put out, inundating the 156-year-old Greek Revivalist building with water. Now the cleanup is underway, with crews hauling out buckets of ashes, debris and the mold resulting from all of that water. In fact just dealing with the mold is a major undertaking in itself. 1.84 million–so far–is pledged to restore the historic building.

/ / George Hatcher, news

Lodi School Besieged by Mold

Major water damage to the Lodi Middle School administration building caused thousands of dollars in repairs and forcing office staff to work from a portable building for the duration of the repairs. Plastic tarps were placed on the roofs to try to prevent more water damage. The cost of repairs is going to run into six figures. Toxic mold was found in the walls prior to the 2007-08 school year.

Mold in Nez Perce Tribe Head Start program

Nez Perce Head Start program was forced to relocate several months ago in response to black mold, a toxic mold that can cause serious health risks, found in the basement.

/ / George Hatcher

Mold in School District

Florence Unified School District is continuing to remove mold that appeared in a couple of classrooms at Walker Butte K-8 School. Most of the mold found was in spots behind the baseboard. After clean up, its prevention is related to changing from the old water intensive mopping procedure. “Miscellaneous” plumbing issues are the rest of the problem. The school plans to find and stop all water leakage.

/ / news

Addressing Mold Research

EPA, HHS, and HUD officials reported that 75 percent of their mold research activities address at least one of five particular data gaps-three of which relate to asthma, and two of which relate to sampling and measurement methods. These five data gaps are as follows:

  • Identify environmental factors that either lead to the development of asthma or precipitate symptoms in subjects who already have asthma using good measures of fungal exposure.
  • Determine the association of dampness problems with asthma development and symptoms by researching the causative agents (e.g., molds, dust mite allergens) and documenting the relationship between dampness and allergen exposure.
  • Advance the understanding of specific bioaerosols (small airborne particles) in relation to asthma by studying the epidemiology of building-related asthma in problem buildings where there are excess chest complaints among occupants in comparison to buildings where there are not complaints; or provide exposure-response studies of many building environments and populations.
  • Improve sampling and exposure assessment methods for mold and its components (for example, by conducting research that will lead to standardization of protocols for sample collection, transport, and analysis or developing or improving methods of personal airborne exposure measurement, DNA-based technology, or assays for bioaerosols, etc.).
  • Develop standardized metrics and protocols to assess the nature, severity, and extent of dampness and effectiveness of specific measures for dampness reduction.
    Overall, agency officials reported that 38 of the ongoing projects-or nearly 60 percent-address asthma. In this respect, the federal mold research portfolio for EPA, HHS, and HUD, ongoing as of October 1, 2007, appears to be weighted toward addressing research gaps identified in the Institute of Medicine’s 2000 report,
    Clearing the Air: Asthma and Indoor Air Exposures
  • The research activities federal officials reported as addressing one or more of the asthma-related research gaps include studies using animals. For example, one focuses on gestational exposure in mice to mold extracts and the effect this exposure has on the development of allergy or asthma in adult life; one assesses in mice the relative allergenic potency of molds statistically more common in water-damaged homes; and another is developing animal models (using mice and rats) to evaluate the pulmonary inflammatory response to mold products collected from indoor dust samples from buildings where people have reported respiratory symptoms and from buildings with no reported health complaints.

Other asthma-related research activities are aimed, for example, at better understanding the relationship between respiratory symptoms and exposure to water-damaged homes in posthurricane New Orleans and at evaluating the respiratory health of staff and students attending schools that expose them to varying degrees of dampness.

Indoor Mold: Better Coordination of Research on Health Effects and More Consistent Guidance Would Improve Federal Efforts
United States Government Accountability Office

Mold Problems SIDE BY SIDE with VOC

Contributing to limitations in the understanding of the relationship between mold and a number of adverse health effects is the variety of potential disease-causing agents-including many species of mold and other biological agents, such as bacteria or dust mites-that are likely to be present in damp indoor environments.

The number of such agents makes it difficult to know which ones are specifically responsible for the adverse health effects attributed to these environments.

For example, of the approximately 1 million species of mold, there are about 200 species of mold to which humans are routinely exposed, although not all of these are commonly identified in indoor environments, and not all types pose the same hazards to human health.

The mold genus Alternaria, for instance, which has been found in moldy building materials, has been linked to severe asthma. Furthermore, several different components or products of mold, such as mycotoxins, may function as disease-causing agents in indoor environments. The release of these mold components or products varies with environmental and other factors, and the individual roles they may play in adverse health effects are not fully understood.

People are also exposed to mold in outdoor environments, where the concentrations, while they vary considerably, are usually higher than those found indoors. While the specific species of mold that grow indoors may differ from those found outdoors, the potential for outdoor exposure further complicates efforts to determine the relationship between adverse health effects and indoor exposure to mold.

In addition to mold, damp indoor areas can support other biological agents that may result in adverse health effects, including bacteria, dust mites, cockroaches, and rodents. Dust mites, for example, are known to cause the development of asthma. Damp conditions may also lead to potentially harmful chemical emissions from building materials and furnishings. For example, excessive indoor humidity may increase the release of formaldehyde, a probable human carcinogen, from building materials such as particle board. Exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to some of the same health effects that have been attributed to indoor mold, such as wheezing, coughing, and exacerbation of asthma symptoms, as well as more severe effects.

Indoor Mold: Better Coordination of Research on Health Effects and More Consistent Guidance Would Improve Federal Efforts
United States Government Accountability Office

Mold Exposure Symptoms

The 2004 Institute of Medicine report, Damp Indoor Spaces and Health, found sufficient evidence of an association between exposure to indoor mold and certain adverse health effects-that is, an association between the agent and the outcome has been observed in studies in which chance, bias, and confounding factors can be ruled out with reasonable confidence. These health effects include
• upper respiratory tract symptoms, including nasal congestion, sneezing, runny or itchy nose, and throat irritation;
• exacerbation of pre-existing asthma;
• wheeze;
• cough;
• hypersensitivity pneumonitis in susceptible persons; and
• fungal colonization or opportunistic infections in immune-compromised persons.

Of these health effects, the upper respiratory tract symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis are the most common, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.12 In addition, the association between indoor mold and exacerbation of asthma symptoms is a particularly significant public health concern because asthma is the most common chronic illness among children in the United States and one of the most common chronic illnesses overall, according to the Institute of Medicine’s 2000 report, Clearing the Air: Asthma and Indoor Air Exposures. Importantly, mold can affect certain populations disproportionately. For example, the 2004 Institute of Medicine report found sufficient evidence of an association between exposure to the mold genus Aspergillus and serious respiratory infections in people with severely compromised immune systems (such as chemotherapy patients and organ transplant recipients). This report also found sufficient evidence of an association between exposure to indoor mold and hypersensitivity pneumonitis-a relatively rare but potentially serious allergic reaction-in susceptible persons. In addition to these more established health effects, this report also found limited or suggestive evidence of an association between indoor mold and lower respiratory illness (for example, bronchitis and pneumonia) in otherwise healthy children.
Most of the 20 reviews of the scientific literature published from 2005 to 2007 that we examined generally agreed with the conclusions of the 2004
Institute of Medicine report.

Indoor Mold: Better Coordination of Research on Health Effects and More Consistent Guidance Would Improve Federal Efforts
United States Government Accountability Office

Mold Disease

Several components and products of mold may cause disease. Mold grows as a mass of microscopic filaments, fragments of which may cause adverse health effects. In addition, the spores that mold releases to reproduce, along with certain components of mold’s cell walls, may also cause adverse health effects. Mold products-for example, allergens, volatile Several components and products of mold may cause disease. Mold grows as a mass of microscopic filaments, fragments of which may cause adverse health effects. In addition, the spores that mold releases to reproduce, along with certain components of mold’s cell walls, may also cause adverse health effects. Mold products-for example, allergens, volatile gases that often create a musty odor, and toxins released by certain types of mold under certain conditions-can also cause disease. An example of a toxin-producing mold is
Stachybotrys chartarum, which produces multiple toxins that may suppress the functioning of immune cells.

Indoor Mold: Better Coordination of Research on Health Effects and More Consistent Guidance Would Improve Federal Efforts
United States Government Accountability Office

Losing the Mold War

Telluride,CO–Mountain Village loses 18 units of housing to mold.  Even the 12 remaining units in the complex will be lost if the complex is not brought up to code in the next 180 days.  Problems include mold,  faulty plumbing, smoke alarms that don’t work.  Management paid $5,572 for a a permit to cover $300,000 in repairs. However earlier this year, inspectors found permit-less workers using fungicide on mold in walls, on walls, carpet, and in the insulation.

Chicago Struggles with Flood Cleanup

Though Cook County has not been declared a disaster area, home owners are struggling with flood cleanup. From toxic mold growing in basements, to first floor offices and parking lots, residents and businesses alike in the affected areas of Chicago are engaged in the struggle to clean up the toxic mold and other problems left by the flood. Millions of dollars worth of damages have been recorded. Apparently insurance payments are inadequate to cover the repairs.

/ / George Hatcher

Galveston After the Storm

Residents are being allowed back in to Galveston, but those who are coming in are wearing masks to ward off mold, and bringing their own water since Galveston water is undrinkable. Homes have been washed out to see or dismembered. Many of those left standing were left standing in high water, leaving behind sludge and mold. It is guestimated that 75 percent of the homes are uninhabitable.

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