by John Booth, Tribune Chronicle
YOUNGSTOWN – The presence of black mold spores has forced the closure of nine Youngstown State University classrooms, affecting several hundred students, university officials said Thursday.
Test results received Wednesday identified spores of Stachybotrys chartarum in samples taken from three classrooms and a hallway in Beeghly Center, YSU spokesman Walt Ulbricht said.
About a dozen classes in the affected rooms were canceled Thursday.
Those will resume today in Fedor Hall.
”In some cases, it’s in the ceiling area, behind ceiling tiles. In other cases, it’s behind some wallboard,” Ulbricht said. ”The samples were taken Aug. 28 and 29 and then sent out for analysis.”
Molds can cause allergic reactions similar to hay fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and people with respiratory conditions such as asthma can experience difficulty breathing.
Ulbricht said a handful of faculty members and students complained of ”eye irritation and minor respiratory problems” after attending classes in the rooms.
The test results did not quantify the amount of black mold spores detected but assigned each area a designation on a five-tier scale ranging from ”none” to ”massive” amounts of spores.
The four areas that tested positive for the spores were in the three mid-level ranges: one showed the presence of ”few” spores, one showed ”many” and two showed ”numerous” spores present.
Other areas of Beeghly Center will remain open, Ulbricht said, including the swimming pool, gymnasium and fitness center.
Len Perry, director of the university’s Office of Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, will oversee the placement of between 40 and 50 air quality monitors throughout Beeghly Center to check for possible spreading of the spores.
”Mold spores are found everywhere that we live,” Perry said in a news release. ”It only becomes a problem when they are highly concentrated.”
A flooding problem in one of the classrooms in July spurred Perry’s checks on the rooms, Ulbricht said. During a follow-up investigation, he said, Perry noticed the potential for black mold.