According to wcjb.com, Fort White Elementary School in Fort White, FL, is dealing with a mold crisis that may be putting children and teachers in harm’s way.
Michelle Works, a mother of four students at Fort White Elementary, was one of the first people to suspect the presence of mold in the school after noticing a strong smell during an open house in August. In some classrooms, she said the smell was practically unbearable.
Over that summer, the roof of the two story brick building experienced leaks through its metal shingles. Columbia County Schools has said that the roof has since been repaired, but Works claims there is still plenty more work to be done before the building is safe.
“They repaired the pipes and fixed the roof damage, but they haven’t done anything about the mold and mildew in the classrooms,” said Works.
Works reported that the mold has already begun affecting her kids who now suffer from respiratory and breathing problems.
Experts recommend professional carpet cleanings in homes and businesses every 12 to 18 months to avoid the proliferation of mold, dust, and other toxins in carpeting. However, if rugs retain moisture, then more than a simple cleaning could be necessary to eliminate the hazard of mold.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only case of mold in a school in the area in recent years. In 2013, Starke Elementary School closed for almost eight months due to the discovery of mold. After extensive cleaning and renovation of the school, costing a total of $2 million, the school’s doors finally reopened.
While this case is terribly unfortunate considering that these children were likely already exposed to mold before anyone even realized the issue, some organizations have put in effort to prevent people from being exposed in the first place.
An article from kingstreenews.com reported that the American Red Cross issued a warning to South Carolina residents whose homes were damaged in the recent floods. They accentuate the importance of recognizing and effectively eliminating mold from the structure.
“When we talk to those affected, we want them to know that if things are wet – insulation, sheet rock, furniture – and have been wet for 48 hours or more, then they do have to be removed,” said American Red Cross Health Services Volunteer Pam Deichmann.
They explained how to recognize mold from the black discoloration and the coinciding pungent and musty odor. In order to assist residents, they also provided a list of tips to follow for removing mold.
The first step is to permanently remove any furniture, wood, leather, and especially carpet that had been exposed to moisture for over 48 hours, and then use bleach to clean mold of off any remaining hard surfaces, such as floors or counter tops. They also advise wearing rubber boots, rubber gloves, goggles, masks, and opening windows and doors during the entire process to help assure safety.
According to Deichmann, people should stay alert for any respiratory issues or burning sensations in the sinus area as an early indication of the presence of mold. Effectively eliminating mold could mean the difference between life and death.