With schools around the country back in full swing; homework and school supplies aren’t the only concern for parents. On August 15 KSDK News Channel 5 in St. Louis reported that mold was found in Schiller Elementary School located in Centralia, IL – less than two hours away from St. Louis. Students were not permitted to start school in the building due to the health risks involved with the mold discovery. “The insulation is made out of asbestos, and you can see the mold that’s growing on it,” said Amanda Marshall, Schiller Elementary School Principal. A nearby church is housing the students until the mold remediation is complete. As of now there is no expected completion date.
Unfortunately, mold present in schools is nothing new. Last year, a mold problem prevented about 300 students from attending Queen of All Saints Catholic School in South St. Louis County. In January, 20 students at McKinley Classical Leadership Academy located, a St. Louis Public School, became ill due to mold in the cafeteria’s juice. Mold in schools is a prevalent concern and it is important for parents and faculty to know the facts.
Why are school buildings susceptible to mold?
- Because of extended school breaks, the buildings are left standing with no ventilation for long periods of time
- Schools often deal with budget restraints which can effect the amount of maintenance the buildings receive
- Changes in building construction practices in the past 20-30 years.
- Increased moisture due to painting and carpet cleaning
Where can mold be found in school buildings?
- Around water fountains and bathroom tiles
- On roof materials above ceilings
- On walls and around windows
- In carpeting and books
Why are children more susceptible to mold effects?
- 1 in 10 school age children have asthma and mold can irritate their symptoms
- Young children rarely wash their hands unless instructed to do so
- Children breath more air per pound of body weight than adults
- They commonly have hand to mouth behavior
How do I know if there is mold in my child’s school?
- Your child leaves your home healthy and returns with mold exposure effects which may include sneezing, coughing, eye irritation, skin rash and difficulty breathing
- Upon visiting your child’s school you notice an odor and/or patches of sitting water
- Your child complains about a “funny smell” or has a distinct odor on their clothing
How can schools prevent a major mold problem?
The key to mold control is moisture control and the EPA agrees. Schools can control moisture by taking the following measures:
- Respond abruptly to health complaints from students, teachers and parents
- Complete regular walkthroughs keeping an eye out for water leaks
- Keep schools ventilated with fans and open windows over breaks
- Repair water damage as soon as it’s discovered
- Keep up to date with routine maintenance
Because there are no active laws protecting students and teachers from mold exposure in school buildings, it is important for parents and faculty to know the risks involved and be aware of the condition of the building. If you notice signs of possible mold presence in a school building, notify schools immediately to prevent missed schools days and health effects so they can have the mold inspected by a St. Louis area mold removal expert.