No major problems have turned up, but two employees will get specialized training.
By Steve Mocarsky
As more people become aware of health problems associated with mold, officials with the Luzerne County Housing Authority have received more complaints about it.
So the authority is sending two maintenance workers to Florida in December to become certified in mold inspection, Executive Director Dave Fagula told the authority board on Thursday.
Fagula said no authority buildings have had major problems. But there were reports of mold at a unit in Exeter and at scattered sites in Edwardsville. The units were tested and some remediation work was necessary, he said.
Maintenance supervisor Joseph Grady and foreman Dave Drank will attend a two-day certification workshop at the Southeastern Mold Institute Inc. in Panama City on Dec. 11-12, Fagula said. The cost of the class is $950 per person, but the authority received a $200 discount for sending two individuals.
“The reason why those folks should be trained is because they’re responsible for overseeing the health and welfare of the people who live in those buildings,” institute President William E. Fisher said in a telephone interview.
Fisher said it’s important when mold is found in a building to test it properly and to remove it properly. He said that all too often people use household bleach to try to take care of the problem.
“Bleach is only 12 percent strength on the store shelf; that’s far too weak. And then people often dilute it because it’s so caustic, making it even weaker,” Fisher said.
Molds are microscopic fungi, most of them thread-like organisms, that produce spores that can be air-, water-, or insect-borne, according to the state Department of Health. Fungi are present almost everywhere in indoor and outdoor environments, and molds can develop anywhere there is moisture. They can cause discoloration, odor problems and possible destruction of building materials.
Symptoms associated with mold exposure are similar to what is seen with a common cold, including runny nose, eye irritation, cough, congestion and/or aggravation of asthma.
Reports have linked health effects in office workers and residents to moldy building materials and elevated levels of fungi in the air. Symptoms such as fatigue, respiratory ailments and eye irritation were observed in some cases, according to the department Web site.
Fisher pointed to the extreme case of Mark Tucker, a Kentucky man whose eyes, nose and upper jaw were surgically removed in 2000 after he inhaled a toxic fungus that reproduced in his sinus cavity while he had a suppressed immune system and he developed mucormycosis.
The certification course will cover several topics including: how mold contamination affects health; techniques and protocols for mold inspection, sample collection; mold remediation protocols; lab reports, industry documents and chains of evidence; customer relations; and dealing with attorneys on mold cases.
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