New Haven fights pesky mold problem

NEW HAVEN — Town officials have cancelled events that were to be held at the New Haven Town Hall because of an air quality problem caused by mold.
The Harvest Fest and Craft Sale, which had been scheduled for Oct. 19, and the Halloween Party, which had been scheduled for Oct. 26, have both been canceled.
Town Clerk Pam Kingman said the events were cancelled because of a lingering mold problem in the building. Mold first appeared this summer after heavy rains.
“We have been trying to stay ahead of it,” Kingman said. “It has been an ongoing issue and we’re trying to get a handle on it.”
“(The mold) is a serious health hazard caused by the high humidity this summer,” the New Haven town newsletter from August said. The newsletter also said that a company had been hired to conduct air quality tests, and that the company would provide a report and plan of action to the town. Kingman said three tests have been conducted by Crothers Environmental Group in Morrisville — one in July and two in September.
The test in July found heavy concentrations of three types of mold, located in the hallway, cafeteria floor, underside of cafeteria tables and on the door of the men’s bathroom. The highest spore count was in the cafeteria, with 440 — higher than the outside spore count of 195.
The second test in September again found concentrations of mold at these locations, but the concentration was significantly lower. The number of spores in the cafeteria dropped to 161, less than the outdoor reading of 199. However, other locations still had higher concentrations of mold than outside. The back hallway by the boiler room, for example, had 229 spores.
On the third test, 119 spores were counted in the cafeteria and 37 in the gym, both much lower than outside readings.
Several cleanings and sprayings have taken place, the most recent occurring Sept. 23-24. The cafeteria floor was scrubbed and re-sealed, and ductwork is being cleaned as a preventative measure. However, town officials worry that the air quality is still not healthy for humans to breathe. Mold can cause allergic reactions and respiratory ailments, and can exacerbate existing conditions like asthma. In severe cases, mold exposure can cause infection of the lungs.
Mold thrives when moisture is present, and the Environmental Protection Agency recommends the best way to reduce mold is to eliminate all moisture by using dehumidifiers, exhaust fans and ventilation systems.
Kingman said she did not know when the air quality would be sufficient to hold public events in the building, but said she hopes it is soon.
There are no state regulatory standards for mold, according to Chris Zuidema of the Vermont Department of Health, so town officials used federal EPA standards.

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