What you need to know about Mold Growth in Your School:
To help you prep for Back-to-School season, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Indoor Air Quality division published an important Fact Sheet on mold growth in schools - Including information on mold growth causes, mold allergies, and prevention resources.
Why Does Mold Grow in Schools?
Mold needs moisture - It thrives in constant damp environments that typically stay humid, and don't get a lot of air circulation. During summer vacation, most schools are closed for extended periods of time. Also, there is higher humidity during summer months, and reduced or no use of the HVAC system. This is a perfect environment for mold growth.
Where Does Mold Grow in Schools?
There are many ways for mold to intrude: Leaky roofs, pipes, windows, foundations, and any other cracks/crevices within the structure where moisture can be trapped. It can begin to grow on roof materials, windows, walls, ceiling tiles, and other surfaces. It can also begin to grow in places that are a part of everyday use in schools that you may not think to suspect:
- Near or on water fountains and classroom/lab sinks
- Paper, cardboard, and books,
- Carpet, floor mats, rugs.
What are the Health Effects of Mold Growth in Schools?
Exposure can cause mold symptoms that could be mold allergies. Some people are particularly sensitive to mold. But how does mold cause allergies? In 2004, the Institute of Medicine found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with allergic reactions, such as upper respiratory tract symptoms, in otherwise healthy people. Recent studies also suggest a potential link of early mold exposure to development of mold symptoms such as mold allergies and asthma in children, particularly among those who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development.
- Itching skin,
- Redness and skin irritation,
- Watery, itching eyes,
Common Mold Allergy Symptoms:
- Constant headaches,
- Feelings of constant fatigue,
- Skin rashes,
- Sudden asthma attacks,
- Ear and sinus infections.
Common Advanced Mold Allergy Symptoms:
How Can Mold Growth be Managed in Schools?
Controlling moisture is the key to managing mold in schools. This can be done by implementing a good long-term and short-term maintenance action plan.
Encourage your school to participate in the EPA's IAQ Tools for Schools Action Program. It offers guidance on good maintenance practices that help prevent mold growth and other indoor air quality problems.