by Cathryn Stephens
January 3, 2003
The original architects and general contractors returned to Kelly Middle School’s main gym to take a look at severe water damage. They’re trying to help figure out what went wrong with the addition to the school built in 1995. Eugene School District officials are also trying to figure out how to deal with mold that has grown inside the gym walls. They’re getting help from an expert, an industrial hygienist, who says mold is nothing to sneeze at.
"So those little black spots you saw is rather substantial," said Kathy Ellis who analyzes buildings for contaminants like mold and advising others on how to clean up problems.
"A lot of species of aspergillus, a lot of species of penicillium produce toxic chemicals. so wherever we find spores from those molds in a building that’s had water damage then we’re very much concerned about potential health problems," said Ellis.
Ellis is advising the Eugene School District on how to get rid of mold growing inside the walls of the seven-year old Kelly Middle School gym. She says some people exposed to mold suffer allergic or asthmatic reactions and there are growing reports of other health problems including headaches and confusion, but so far none scientifically-proven.
As for district facilities managers, they have more work to do before they’ll know exactly how large a problem they’re dealing with and what has to be done to fix it.
"They’ve asked that we open up, that we cut some more holes in the existing siding so they can get a look at the inside of the next wall. Construction, which is behind the brick on the outside to see what that looks like," said Jon Lauch, with the Eugene School District.
The architects and contractor also want to watch as a window is taken down to try to better track those leaks. That work is set to begin monday. Meantime, sealed vents and a special negative air pressure system is keeping any potentially mold-contaminated air out of the rest of the school.
District officials hope to have the problem solved and the gym reconstructed for use by next fall.