Trinity County Office of Education
Sarah Supahan – County Superintendent of Schools
www.tcoek12.org • (530) 623-2861
How and why are schools finding mold?
Back in the Winter of 2016, Mountain Valley Unified School District in Hayfork was planning to use special funding (Proposition 39 Clean Energy Jobs Act) to replace old Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) units which had failed in the high school cafeteria. When contractors looked into the old HVAC system, they found mold in ducting and so they were not able to continue work until it was removed. During the Spring of 2017, Burnt Ranch School District wanted to build an additional classroom, and while inspecting to see where the room could be added, mold was discovered in the ceiling. In June of 2019, the presence of mold was reported in a cafeteria at Trinity Alps Unified School District and an inspection was ordered. All of these facilities were built in the 1950s-1960s when building technology was not what it is today.
Our schools are not unique. In 2014, the National Center for Education Statistics surveyed a sample of school districts and estimated that the average date of construction for our nation’s schools was 1959. Additionally, nearly one-fourth of the nation’s schools have one or more buildings in need of extensive repair or replacement and nearly half have been reported to have problems related to indoor air quality.
What is the problem with mold?
Molds are a part of the natural environment and can be found anywhere - inside and out - throughout the year. About 1,000 species of mold can be found in the United States and about 100 can cause health problems. “Black mold” refers to several species of mold that have a dark green or black appearance.
Molds reproduce by creating tiny spores (seeds) that usually cannot be seen without magnification. Mold spores float through the air. Outdoors, molds play an important role by breaking down organic matter such as fallen trees and leaves. Indoors some molds can grow on wood, paper, carpet and insulation. Mold can eat away at buildings and can eventually affect the structural integrity.
Most exposure to mold does not present a risk of negative health effects, however, some types of mold can cause irritation of the nose, eyes and throat, coughs, wheezing, and red or itchy skin, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) some people, such as those with allergies to molds, those with asthma, and those with other lung disease or respiratory issues, may have more intense reactions. People with a weakened immune system are more likely to get mold infections.
When a school district finds mold