It seems like you can’t load up Google News these days without another story about a mold-infested school. By now we are well aware of what causes mold and what mold causes, but why are schools so seemingly at risk? And what should they do about it?
According to a 2002 document by The California Department of Health Services, many schools experience water damage “because of roof or plumbing leaks, floods and poor drainage of rainwater runoff or landscape irrigation.”
Math: Must Do Better
Poor indoor quality = mold. It’s a simple equation. And in schools, there are several factors that could compromise this, including artwork covering thermostats and large vehicles, such as delivery trucks or school buses, blocking fresh air ducts from the outside.
Science: Cause For Concern
Perhaps most worryingly, young people – along with the elderly and those with existing respiratory conditions – are most at risk when it comes to mold. So not only are schools susceptible to the fiendish fungus, its pupils could really do without encountering it. However, because there are lots of other factors in a school that could cause symptoms similar to mold, such as pet allergens on uniform and headaches from caffeine withdrawal (or 30 difficult pupils!), it can sometimes be hard to determine if there is indeed a mold problem in the school.
Steps To Take: Getting The Grades
If there is even the slightest concern that your school may have mold, check for any sources of poor indoor air quality and call in mold remediation experts immediately. In their guidelines, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends schools to “use their limited financial resources more effectively in … remediating visible mold growth”, instead of conducting “an extensive and costly testing protocol.”
In terms of prevention, and to ensure your school exceeds expectations, the following should be a guide:
- Do not site portable classrooms in areas where water can collect.
- Avoid using carpet in classrooms that have direct outdoor access, unless they are covered with waterproof mats.
- Develop an indoor air quality protection policy.
- Respond promptly to staff or parental concerns about water leakage, mold growth or unusual illnesses and inform them of steps to be taken. Always be as open as possible.
- Even better – invite staff and/or parents to work with the school administrators on fixing the problem.