MOLD MATTERS 2001…. Part 1 The timeline continues…
A letter from Leslie Balch, Director of Health at Quinnipiack Valley Health District was received regarding two walk-through inspections in both October and December of 2000. Among the findings, it is noted that the relative humidity inside the school in 12 of the readings, ranged from 15-20 percent which was below the recommended range of between 30-60 percent. I have spent some time researching these levels and what seems to be a very reliable website (http://www.trane.com/commercial/equipment/sys-eb-3-03.asp). Within this site there is a chart which shows the effects of relative humidity indoors. In the 0-25 percent range, Physical Discomfort is noted. Also, among other things QVHD observed:
-A wall in the auditorium…"buckling cove molding was crumbling and damp, and had an odor of dampness."
-Water "run stains" were observed on the back gym wall from the ceiling to the wall mats indicating a past or present leak."
-In the Choir Room, a roof-drain discharge pipe in the closet between the choir room and the band room. This was reported to have caused flooding in November 1999.
Of the many recommendations (in January of 2001) some are:
Repair problems with roof drainage
Inspect walls behind mats in back gym for water damage. Replace if necessary.
The services of an Industrial Hygenist to review QVHD's findings and assess the need for air or bulk sampling for mold should be sought.
Staff should be informed of all findings, corrections and continued monitoring on a timely basis.
Since "the book" is my only source, so far, for referencing testing, reporting etc., at Amity, I have not seen any updates on the recommendations made since January 10, 2001. The walls in the auditorium are actually in the same condition as of July 20, 2001 as they were back in Dec.2000.
A Public Hearing was held at the Jewish Community Center in Woodbridge. Senator Joseph Crisco led the hearing with local legislators and health officials in attendance. More than 250 residents attended. Testimonies from several Amity employees, both past and present spoke on behalf of themselves and their co-workers. I'm sure copies of their moving statements are easily obtainable and well worth the effort, for those who could not attend. They spoke of sickness and the dire need to find the source of their symptoms.
Leslie Balch indicated that "Amity High School administrators have done everything they were asked to do to try and resolve the problem." In Balch's letter and report dated of Jan. 26, 2001, I don't see anything that was actually asked of Amity, only recommendations.
Board Chairman at the time, Santo Galatioto, was quoted as saying after the hearing that "we did have a mold problem, more than three years ago. There was water infiltration through the panel system, the roof was improperly designed, so we had roof leaks. There is no doubt people had problems from those situations, but they have been fixed. You can't grow mold in a desert."
After recently walking through this dry "desert", many water infiltration problems have been observed, including:
Water stains on many ceiling tiles along with sagging.
The walls in the auditorium (despite the three million dollar remediation effort in 1999) damp and buckling behind rubber cove basing.
Visible mold growing along a crack in the wall of a stairwell.
Water staining in many areas.
Michael Luther, of Woodbridge, seated next to Attorney Briggs, was the only audience member who spoke at the hearing on the school's behalf. He made a point of bringing up "the book" when he spoke. After holding up "the book" to the audience, he took issue with the statements made, that the information on these air quality issues were not available to the public. It was upon hearing this that I decided to try and make sense of the documents available. Unfortunately, I haven't been too successful. What probably has me more concerned is a suggestion by Luther at a Building Committee Meeting back in Sept. 1998, 'that the Committee establish its own protocol regarding information, etc. The public should be aware that reports, etc., are brought to this Committee first and then determined if the information can be released to the public at large." Of course I'm sure this suggestion was never put in place, but I feel it is worth noting.
While I had hoped to end the high school's timeline here, I find only two months have taken up all my space. Reports are due back from OSHA regarding both Amity Sr. High and Bethany Jr. High in the beginning of August. Hopefully, the findings will be available for the next article, along with answers to the 21 questions Senator Crisco and the BEST committee, formed by him, presented to the Board back in May. The answers were expected on June 21 but we've been told more time was needed. Hopefully, next week, along with the questions, I will also have answers for you. Until then…..please remember…only the facts.
Editors note: The opinions in this column are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent those of the Bulletin.