Canton Township will conduct air quality tests weekly following $100,000 cleanup project
by Sheri Hall, The Detroit News
CANTON TOWNSHIP — Environmental cleanup crews removed black mold from a hall ceiling in Salem High School last week and will continue weekly air quality tests.
The mold grew on tiles and insulation above the ceiling, which were wet with condensation that dripped from heating and cooling system pipes.
After crews removed the contaminated material, air tests showed very low levels of mold inside the buildings, interim Supt. Jim Ryan said.
"The air inside the building is cleaner than the air outside right now," he said.
The condensation formed because heating and cooling pipes were inadequately insulated, Ryan said. The district installed higher-quality materials.
Teachers and janitors will be asked to watch for additional wet ceiling tiles, Ryan said. "If a staff member has a concern, we’ll check the air quality more frequently (than once a week). We’re not messing around with this," he said.
Mold can lead to breathing problems and even neurological damage in severe cases.
The Environmental Protection Agency, based on a random survey, estimates that half of the nation’s 88,000 schools may have indoor air quality problems.
But that’s just an estimate. No one knows how many schools are affected because no one is responsible for monitoring school air quality except the schools themselves. No state or federal laws regulate indoor air quality in schools, so agencies like the EPA can only suggest, not enforce, air standards inside buildings.
Black mold has infested several other schools in Metro Detroit, including the administration building at Hamtramck Schools, the University of Detroit Mercy and Washington Elementary School in Romeo. The problem has cost Metro Detroit districts millions of dollars.
Ryan estimated the problem will cost Plymouth-Canton Schools at least $100,000.
"It’s a costly emergency, but that’s why we have our rainy-day fund," he said. "Our biggest concerns are safety and panic. Mold is a tough problem, and I don’t want people to panic. I want them to know what’s going on."