Caution over air-quality problems causes Terre Haute high school to delay some practices

As a precaution, some athletic practices at Terre Haute North Vigo High School were delayed Thursday as the result of early-December air quality testing that showed mold/air quality levels in the gyms were somewhat “outside the norm.”

The district received results Thursday, which prompted a delay or postposting of practices in the auxiliary gym and main gym, said Rob Haworth, district superintendent. Both gyms were immediately cleaned, and some of the practices occurred later in the day.

The levels tested were not viewed as a significant issue, he said.

Each year, the district does air quality checks, Haworth said. The December indoor air quality testing was done by ACM Engineering and Environmental Services.

At North Vigo, the “normal” mold count range (based on comparative outdoor air samples) was 430, and air quality tests in the gyms were in the high 400s and 500 range, Haworth said.

In contrast, when West Vigo High School had serious mold problems in August 2016, some of the classrooms had mold counts at 5,000 to 7,000, with the highest about 31,000.

Last month, the North Vigo gyms also were cleaned after high concentrations of mold were found on the school’s gymnasium upper-level bleachers. That and an IOSHA complaint outlining other concerns prompted the school district to contact the health department and develop an action plan to address the problems, Haworth said at the time.

Last month, the health department said the school district responded promptly and appropriately in addressing the mold.

While significant cleaning took place last month and could have also addressed the issues identified in the early December air testing, those results didn’t come back until Thursday.

“We’re not taking any chances,” Haworth said. “We went back through and cleaned again today [Thursday],” in both North Vigo gyms.

“There is a greater sense of awareness right now, specifically I think for North,” he said. “We’re trying to be transparent.”

Because of problems with mold at West Vigo High School in August 2016, the district now does annual testing for air quality in schools, he said.

Two other schools, Deming and Terre Town elementary schools, also were tested in early December and results identified some issues.

“Crews were cleaning and addressing those areas as well,” Haworth said.

At Terre Town, air tests indicated an elevated concentration of mold spores in the cafeteria relative to the outdoor air sample, while at Deming, a surface tape lift sampling was conducted of a small amount of mold on a ceiling tile.

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Mom raises awareness to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

In January 2018, Karen Weiss’s son, Hunter, died of carbon monoxide poisoning. He and a friend were driving home when they decided to pull over to sleep and keep warm using a small propane heater.

“I’m sure the boys thought by having one window open that would be enough,” she says. “But I have since learned that you need to have a cross draft in order for that not to happen.”

Weiss says she wants to use this tragedy to help make sure this doesn’t happen to other families.

“I don’t want any other moms, or dads for that matter, to go through what I’ve gone through because it’s horrible and if we can just save one more life, then I’ve done my job,” Weiss says.

Experts warn heating devices that burn fossil fuels, such as portable camping and heating stoves, can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

“Those are the items that produce carbon monoxide and when it’s not properly ventilated, the person becomes sick with flu-like symptoms, headache and becomes nauseous,” Reno Fire Marshal Tray Palmer says.

“Don’t be afraid to call,” Palmer says. “That’s why you pay taxes. We’re here to respond.”

Palmer says RFD receives a higher volume of carbon monoxide related calls during the winter months because people turn on their heating systems and mistakenly warm their cars in garages. He recommends you to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home near the bedrooms.

The CDC has these additional tips:

– Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas or coal-burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year
– Do not use portable flame less chemical heaters indoors
– Never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage or less than 20 feet from any window, door or vent; fatal levels of carbon monoxide can be produced in just minutes
– Have your chimney checked and cleaned every year, and make sure your fireplace damper is open before lighting a fire and well after the fire is extinguished
– Make sure your gas appliances are vented properly
– Never use a gas oven for heating your home
– Never let a car idle in the garage
– Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

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Colder weather highlights importance of indoor air quality

When most people think of “air quality,” they think of the outdoors; the smog, haze, even pollen.

But what many people don’t realize is that factors inside the home can also lead to poor air quality, causing potentially serious health risks.

10TV found out why indoor air quality tends to become more of an issue when the temperature drops.

What it really comes down to, according to Alisha Hopkins, a certified nurse practitioner with the Breathing Association, is the simple fact that when it gets colder outside, people tend to stay in their homes for longer periods at a time.

That means more exposure to all the particles, molds and bacteria inside the home.

“Your home is your safe harbor and then all of a sudden, now, it’s this area of just triggers everywhere,” Hopkins said. “So no matter where you go there’s a trigger. …We always think of the outside but we forget that our home is one of the places that we literally lay our heads down, we relax in, and if you’re relaxing in a bunch of dirt, relaxing in pet dander, the fur, that too will make our breathing that much worse.

One woman told 10TV she notices a difference in her breathing as soon as the holiday decorations come out.

“I just start to get the stuffy nose, the watery eyes and then my asthma really kicks up,” said Cindy Groeniger, vice chair for the American Lung Association local leadership board.

Groeniger has suffered from asthma since she was just 10 months old, she said.

“Every fall season it’s bad because I decorate and then you have, you know, mold or dust maybe on your decorations so I have to watch that,” Groeniger said. “Sometimes I have to increase my medicine for the holidays.”

Tips for improving indoor air quality can be simple, Hopkins said.

  • Vacuum your mattresses, carpet, couches and chairs inside to get ride of dirt, particles and pet dander that could build up over the year.
  • Groom pets heading into the colder months. Many pets tend to shed more in the fall but grooming them can decrease the amount of pet dander in the air.
  • Use air filters and humidifiers, making sure to clean them out regularly to avoid mildew and mold buildup.
  • Wipe down handles, door knobs and surfaces, keeping them free of germs. Because people tend to stay inside more through the winter, illnesses can spread easier from person to person.
  • Replace furnace filters before cranking up the heat.

Fall is also a good time to make sure that furnaces are carbon monoxide-free, Hopkins said that. Double check carbon monoxide detectors in the home to make sure they are working properly.

For more information on indoor air quality, click here.


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7 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Offices

Group of People Inside Building
We’re all aware of the potential risks associated with air pollution like factory fumes and car exhausts, but don’t always give the same attention to the pollution that can affect our air indoors.

In fact, research found that the quality of indoor air can be up to 5 times worse for you compared with that outside, and can cause a number of health hazards – headaches, sinus problems and sore throats being just a few.

It’s probably unsurprising that office air quality can be quite poor, what with multiple people sharing an enclosed space. Dust and dirt can build up, and outdoor air pollution can even become trapped and concentrated inside.

When many of us spend such a large portion of our lives working in an office environment, it’s important to take steps to ensure the air quality is as clean as it can be. Here, Envirovent share their top tips on how to improve the air quality in your office.

Keep the office clean

A clean, clear workspace is integral to good quality air. Dusting, de-cluttering and general good housekeeping can help to prevent pollutants and allergens. Regular hoovering helps too – try to do it at least 2 times a week, and clean out the filter of the vacuum often.

Introduce office plants

Plants are thought to be really effective in absorbing toxins and chemicals from the air, including the likes of carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Plus, they’re a nice way to brighten up the office! Ferns, lilies and palms are all great choices for additional air purification, according to NASA’s famous study.

Clean up spillages

Moisture and dampness creates the perfect home for fungi or mould to grow. Not just unsightly, mould can also exacerbate conditions such as asthma and eczema, so it’s important it’s not given an environment in which it can thrive. Make sure spillages are mopped up promptly, and be sure to report any water leaks as soon as they occur.

Healthy humidity

Warm, humid air also encourages mould, as well as dust mites and other allergens. To prevent this, the humidity should ideally sit at around 30-50%. Using dehumidifiers and air conditioning, especially during spring and summer, can help keep it at an optimum level, while simultaneously working to filter out pollutants.


Adequate ventilation is a key part to ensuring good air quality in any office environment. Regulations, such as approved document F provide guidance on the requirements for ventilation to provide a good healthy environment.

Don’t block air vents

Furniture, boxes or other items that have been placed in front of air vents can block the airflow, negatively affecting the circulation of fresh air. Bear this in mind when designing the office layout, or when it comes to storage.

Share the responsibility

Ultimately, it’s everyone’s responsibility to contribute towards cleaner indoor air; after all, it affects everyone’s health and happiness. Common sense and vigilance go a long way, so encourage everyone in the office to be aware of policies and best practices. Whether it’s storing food correctly, disposing of rubbish, or simply not smoking in certain areas, small steps can have a great influence.

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Forest on Fire

Each year forest fires and wildfires in the United States, especially in the western regions, have become an increasingly serious issue. Outdoor air quality becomes severely poor from the massive amount of smoke and debris produced by the fires. But did you know it can negatively impact indoor air quality as well? Wildfire smoke can produce a variety of chemicals that are hazardous for health and hygiene. The chemicals released during forest fires and wildfires includes but are not limited to carbon monoxide, acrolein, and formaldehyde which can be toxic depending on the exposure dosage and susceptibility of the individual. In general, it has been observed that most deaths attributed to wildfires are from smoke inhalation. There are steps that can be taken to keep building occupants healthy and safe during wildfires and associated activities. The most important step is to visit a healthcare professional as soon as possible if you experience any symptoms that might be related to smoke inhalation. Individuals with a history of lung and heart problems must be extra careful and avoid exposure to the poor air quality.

Protection of closed environments from the infiltration of smoke and contaminated air is one of the first, most crucial, precautions to undertake. This can be initiated by inspecting the building filtration system and the “tightness” of the building envelope, paying close attention to any openings or leakage. Environmental inspection, diagnosis and proper management of Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system is essential in order to restrict the circulation of bad air within a closed structure.

Testing various indoor contaminants either using simple Do-it-yourself (DIY) test kits or with the help of an indoor air quality professionals are highly encouraged to determine the quality of air within an occupied space. Use of professional grade air purifiers can also be helpful in such events. It might be necessary to evacuate the premises should the indoor quality degrade to poor conditions during the fire event. Upon your return to the building if lingering indoor air quality conditions persist then a remedial plan to minimize the smoke damage will need to be pursued to ensure the building can be safely occupied again.




The Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab) (established in 1992) at Pure Air Control Services, Inc. (PACS) is an environmental lab offering complete and comprehensive indoor environmental microbiology laboratory services. They include: microbiology, aerobiology, chemistry, allergen assays and microscopy designed to meet all your indoor air needs. EDLab supports IAQ investigations by assisting with strategic sampling plan development and supplying media collection equipment while performing a wide range of environmental analyses.

Pure Air Control Services, Inc. is a nationally recognized indoor air quality (IAQ) firm headquartered in Clearwater, Florida. Since 1984, PACS has provided IAQ services to governmental agencies, educational institutions, commercial properties, energy engineering firms and other mechanical contractors. PACS is a privately-owned company with established credentials and experience in all areas of IAQ and indoor environmental problem solving.

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Deciding Whether or Not to Have Your Air Ducts Cleaned

Knowledge about the potential benefits and possible problems of air duct cleaning is limited. Since conditions in every home are different, it is impossible to generalize about whether or not air duct cleaning in your home would be beneficial.

If no one in your household suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms or illnesses and if, after a visual inspection of the inside of the ducts, you see no indication that your air ducts are contaminated with large deposits of dust or mold (no musty odor or visible mold growth), having your air ducts cleaned is probably unnecessary. It is normal for the return registers to get dusty as dust-laden air is pulled through the grate. This does not indicate that your air ducts are contaminated with heavy deposits of dust or debris; the registers can be easily vacuumed or removed and cleaned.

On the other hand, if family members are experiencing unusual or unexplained symptoms or illnesses that you think might be related to your home environment, you should discuss the situation with your doctor. EPA has published the following publications for guidance on identifying possible indoor air quality problems and ways to prevent or fix them.

You may consider having your air ducts cleaned simply because it seems logical that air ducts will get dirty over time and should occasionally be cleaned. While the debate about the value of periodic duct cleaning continues, no evidence suggests that such cleaning would be detrimental, provided that it is done properly.

On the other hand, if a service provider fails to follow proper duct cleaning procedures, duct cleaning can cause indoor air problems. For example, an inadequate vacuum collection system can release more dust, dirt and other contaminants than if you had left the ducts alone. A careless or inadequately trained service provider can damage your ducts or heating and cooling system, possibly increasing your heating and air conditioning costs or forcing you to undertake difficult and costly repairs or replacements.

You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:


There is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. There are several important points to understand concerning mold detection in heating and cooling systems:

  • Many sections of your heating and cooling system may not be accessible for a visible inspection, so ask the service provider to show you any mold they say exists.
  • You should be aware that although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can be made only by an expert and may require laboratory analysis for final confirmation. For about $50, some microbiology laboratories can tell you whether a sample sent to them on a clear strip of sticky household tape is mold or simply a substance that resembles it.
  • If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.
  • If the conditions causing the mold growth in the first place are not corrected, mold growth will recur.

Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents or insects)


Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.

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