With students heading back to the classroom, concerns about safety return as well. While the threat of COVID eases, other indoor air quality risks remain. For example, periods of high humidity in closed buildings over the summer allowed mold a chance to spread. This makes school mold testing a top priority for administrators.
In much of the country, temperatures remain high well into the fall season. With building occupancy low over the summer break, ventilation systems ran less. This allowed mold to flourish as current conditions provide an ideal environment for the fungus to spread. As students and staff return the increase in traffic disperses mold spores throughout the building. That creates a health risk. While school mold testing is a way to determine the presence of mold, a complete HVAC health check protects against future growth.
School Mold Testing
While mold performs a valuable service breaking down organic matter in nature, indoors it poses a health risk. Even so, detection is not easy. Mold grows inside building materials in the walls, ceiling, and floors. Changes in building construction over the years often result in more air-tight buildings. While this allows for more efficient heating and cooling, it also prevents moisture from escaping. Other issues that contribute to the problems are plumbing and roof leaks. These factors allow mold to grow in ventilation systems and ductwork where spores spread throughout the building.
Some individuals experience more severe symptoms than others. Symptoms of mold exposure include coughing, wheezing, and sore throat. Some may have a runny nose while others experience nasal congestion. Skin rashes are not uncommon as are burning and watery eyes. School mold testing is a way to eliminate the fungus as a source of these symptoms. Some studies have linked mold exposure in children to the development of asthma. Long-term exposure may lead to chronic respiratory conditions. Therefore, school mold testing is a vital part of keeping students safe in classrooms.
Measuring the impact mold has on indoor air quality requires a service like WTI | Pure Air Control’s Building Health Check. In addition to screenings for allergens and dust, the service also conducts a mold assessment. The conditions that lead to mold growth also get addressed by the building health check. That includes wall and floor moisture testing and temperature and humidity logging.
Samples collected from inside the building undergo analysis by the Laboratory at WTI | Pure Air. At the lab, cutting-edge technology and highly-trained lab technicians use microscopy and other technique to identify mold, but also pollen, bacteria, and other fungi. A comprehensive report follows detailing the current indoor environmental conditions and provides a plan for improvement.
What to do After School Mold Testing
If school mold testing reveals a problem, remediation is the next step. The combined services in PURE-Decon work together to disinfect school buildings. This includes ductwork and HVAC equipment too. One tool used in the fight against mold is the use of EPA-registered Disinfectants for Emerging Pathogens or DEP. DEP sprayers reach areas other disinfectants cannot. DEP kills 99.9% of mold anywhere the mist reaches. It also eliminates bacteria and viruses while leaving no residue behind.
If after remediation, symptoms persist, it’s time for a second opinion. Similar to your health, sometimes it is beneficial to seek the opinion of another doctor. So too with building health. If after completion of school mold testing, no issue is found yet complaints persist, it’s time to consult a professional IAQ specialist.
Preventing Mold Growth in Schools
Preventing future mold growth is as important as school mold testing. Facilities managers who take the necessary steps to reduce humidity indoors, reduce the risk for future growth. Adequate ventilation helps in this effort and regular HVAC inspections keep indoor conditions optimal. A simple preventative step is to clean up pooling water immediately. It’s also necessary to address leaks in the roof and building foundation. Damaged floor and ceiling tiles should be replaced and the carpeting cleaned or replaced if necessary. Adding insulation helps reduce condensation as well.
Learn More About School IAQ
School mold testing helps keep students and staff safe. It is not the only step in maintaining good IAQ, however. Prevention and monitoring are also important tools in the fight against mold growth. For more information on how to protect students from mold exposure, contact WTI – Pure Air Control.