Mold in school buildings and portable classrooms can cause health problems for staff and students and more severely for those with existing allergies or respiratory problems. It’s not only unpleasant for those individuals, but it can also create legal problems for the school administration.
Is Mold Growing in My Child’s Orange County School?
Mold grows in schools and portable classrooms when airborne spores land on a damp “food source” and begin digesting it in order to survive. Mold requires oxygen, water, and a food source to grow. Food sources include wood, paper, carpet, foods, and insulation.
Controlling moisture is the key to managing mold—in schools AND your home.
Water can enter school buildings through leaky roofs, pipes, windows, foundations, and other structural openings, which can lead to mold growth. Other ways water may enter schools are floods (especially after a large storm), poor drainage, or mis-directed sprinklers.
Scheduled maintenance activities or changes in environment during school breaks that can cause moisture problems in schools include:
- Painting or carpet cleaning (can create excess moisture)
- High humidity during the summer
- No air conditioning or heating system operation (or reduced use) when school is not in session
Where Does Mold Grow in Orange County Schools?
Mold can result from excess moisture or water build-up in these places:
- On roof materials above ceilings
- Around windows
- On walls, ceiling tiles, and other visible surfaces
- On hidden surfaces, such as the back side of dry wall or wall coverings
- Around bathroom tiles
- In books and carpet
- Near water fountains
- In cooling coil drip pans and inside ductwork
Controlling Mold Growth in Orange County Schools
The EPA says the key to controlling indoor mold growth in schools is to control moisture. Here’s what they recommend:
- Perform routine scheduled maintenance and regular school building inspections for signs of mold, moisture, and leaks.
- Report all water leaks and moisture problems immediately to your maintenance staff.
- Clean and dry damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24–48 hours after a leak or spill to prevent mold growth.
- Keep indoor relative humidity between 30% and 50%:
- Ventilate bathrooms, locker rooms, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside.
- Use air conditioners and dehumidifiers.
- Scrub mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely.
- Remove and replace porous materials that become moldy, such as ceiling tiles or carpet.
- Avoid installing carpet in areas prone to moisture problems, such as:
- Near drinking fountains and classroom sinks.
- On concrete floors in contact with the ground and subject to frequent condensation
- Cover cold surfaces like cold water pipes with insulation.
- Ensure that the school operates exhaust systems, such as bathroom fans, together with air conditioning or heating systems.
- Restrict moisture-generating activities during school vacations, such as carpet cleaning, unless you operate moisture-removing equipment as well. Consider cycling the air conditioning system several hours every day or running portable dehumidifiers.
Schools can also participate in the U.S. EPA’s IAQ Tools for Schools Program. This program provides guidance on good maintenance practices to help prevent mold growth and other IAQ problems.
School may not be the only place where mold is hiding in your life! There may be a mold problem right in your own Orange County home. Does your child have allergies or trouble breathing at home or at school? Call us and we can check out your home, your business and your child’s school to determine if mold is the culprit – and eradicate it. When it comes to allergies, it is not enough to just kill the mold—it has to be removed completely.
We should also be the first ones you call when your Orange County school has been flooded or suffered fire damage. We will get your students back in class in no time, in a classroom that looks just like it did before.