FLORENCE – Two schools contaminated by toxic mold last April have been given a clean bill of health. An environmental consultant told the Board of Education and 15 spectators last night there is no trace of Stachybotrys atra in the Roebling or Marcella L. Duffy elementary schools. “All parties involved are satisfied the schools are free of mold and ready for operation,” said Marylee Morinelli, president of the Pleasantville-based Coastal Environmental Compliance.
One party was board member Robert Honey, who recently toured the buildings. “Both schools are in fantastic condition,” he said. Another was the Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health Agency, which signed off on the project. Commonly referred to as Stachy or black mold, Stachybotrys atra is a fungus that can cause wheezing, nosebleeds and allergic reactions. In higher exposures, it can cause brain-tissue damage and memory loss. Two half-dollar-size concentrations were found in the Roebling school, one in a basement hallway ceiling tile and one under a window.
A third was uncovered behind a kitchen wall at Duffy. The spots were disinfected and the surrounding air was vacuumed. In a hallway outside last night’s meeting in the high school cafeteria, Morinelli said black mold needs moisture, heat and fibrous food such as ceiling tiles or wallboard to live. Presence of the three factors does not mean the mold exists, she added. At the Roebling school, moisture came from pipe condensation and a broken drainpipe. A stippled area in the Duffy school led Morinelli’s crew to tear out the wall and find the mold. She concluded the schools were clean after an investigation and cleanup of any potential contamination. The board will tell residents of the findings at a Sept. 3 meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. in the high school. Every room in the schools was examined and any water-stained ceiling tile was cleaned. Even bubbled paint triggered the search for moisture, she said. “Those schools are so clean right now they’re probably better than 99 percent of the schools out there,” Morinelli said.
Written by Bruce Martin, Special to the BCT