Health Board finds mold in 4 schools

The Hancock County Health Board discussed reports of mold in the county’s schools during Tuesday’s meeting. The board has found mold in four of the county’s seven schools.

Sanitarian Chelsea Everly announced they have received reports of mold in Oak Glen Middle, Oak Glen High School and New Manchester Elementary. Carolyne Baker, registered sanitarian reported she found mold in Allison Elementary during the school’s inspection, which occurs every two years. Everly and Baker theorize there could be mold in the air ducts.

“It’s definitely an issue, and I think part of the issue is the temperature fluctuates so much in those schools, and the air is being turned off and turned on and turned off and turned on. It’s just causing a lot of problems. And some of the rooms are completely covered in mold,” said Everly.

There have been a total of three reports of mold in Oak Glen High School, two at Oak Glen Middle and one at New Manchester Elementary. The health department is unsure of who is making the complaints, but they have investigated each one. When mold is found the department advises the school to clean it up, and then conducts a follow up inspection to make sure the mold was cleaned up.

“We tell them how they should clean it, but if it’s even being cleaned the proper way, we have no idea,” said Everly.

The board fears the source of the mold is not being taken care of, and that children are going to become ill from mold exposure.

Children and adults with existing allergies will be more sensitive to the molds, and those with immune suppression or underlying lung diseases are more susceptible to fungal infections. Children with asthma inhaling mold spores may experience more frequent attacks. Mold allergy symptoms vary from sneezing and coughing to headaches and nausea. Black mold mycotoxins create irritation and burning sensations in the nasal cavity, mouth and throat.

The health department is unsure which types of molds have been in the schools and cannot determine the toxicity or health hazard of the molds.=

The board voted to write a letter to the Hancock County Board of Educatio encouraging a professional abatement. It will be up to the school system to take the health board’s recommendation. The health board could shut down the schools if the violation becomes severe enough, but that is not an avenue they want to take and are not considering it.

In other business, the board:

¯ Announced the state has approved the Health Department’s new service fees. The state gave confirmation the fee increases were approved, but the department has not received the official letter.

¯ Health Department Administrator Jackie Huff gave an update on the carpet removal in the clinic. She provided the received bids for review.

¯ Approved the recommended wage increases for the Health Department’s employees.

¯ Voted to keep John Plesa as the board’s chair and Anthony Palavis as the vice chair.

¯ Recommended residents get their flu shots. The health department has flu shots available. They will hold flu shot clinics and will have the department’s van out offering shots. It is recommended residents get their shots this month.

¯ The health department will hold a one-mile Breast Cancer Walk on Oct. 19. Registration will be at 9 a.m. at the health department and the walk will start at 10 a.m.

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