More air quality problems in SAC

Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - 8:22pm

For SAC residents, the stench smell was being solved and progress was being made on improving the air quality of the building. However, last week a new problem reeled as air samplings for mold were conducted on Dec. 1 and proved positive throughout the building.

According to Rachel Curry, USU safety/industrial hygiene, environmental health & safety person, “sampling conducted in seven occupied areas of the building yielded results indicating that occupied areas on the west side of the building (using the center hallway as a dividing line) had background amounts of detectable mold.

“In other words, the measured levels were the same or lower when compared to outdoor levels. Occupied areas on the east side of the building showed mild to moderate elevations of airborne mold spores when compared to outdoor levels.”

Dixon Information, Inc., tested the air-cell analysis and found the highest concentration of mold in the center hallway tunnel hatch near The Eagle classroom. The next highest level was in room 107 under the tunnel hatch, followed by the cosmetology classroom and health and wellness center.

In a letter to Sheila Burghardt, facilities manager at USU-CEU, Curry wrote, “According to the American Industrial Hygiene Association document Facts on Mold: small amounts of mold growth in workplaces or homes are not a major concern. However, no mold should be allowed to grow and multiply indoors.”

“Most people have no reaction when exposed to molds. Allergic reactions, similar to common pollen or animal allergies, and irritation are the most common health effects for individuals sensitive to molds. Flu-like symptoms and skin rash may occur. Molds may also aggravate asthma. Most symptoms are temporary and eliminated by correcting the mold problem,” Curry continued.

She discussed the lack of federal or state regulations that outline acceptable or unacceptable levels of mold exposure. “It is rational to compare outside and inside mold levels as a guide for determining elevated mold concentrations.

“Given the levels measured in the occupied spaces, a practical approach would be to allow occupants to remain in the building.

“However, occupants that are sensitive or uncomfortable with the situation should have the option to relocate.”

Curry suggested five recommendations to improve the air quality in the SAC. First, proceed with the mold abatement in room 107, the ceiling of the little theater, and water and debris clean up in the center hallway tunnel.

Second, characterize the space beneath the rooms on the eastside of the building. Is the space accessible?

Third, identify the termination point for the drain in the cosmetology classroom. If the drain is open to a space beneath the floor, it should be sealed to prevent movement of air from that space.

Fourth, a long-term solution of improving the air quality should be engineered that addresses water control under the building and ventilation of the tunnel and vault areas must be implemented.

Fifth, the chemicals used in the cosmology area could be smelled throughout the building. An exposure assessment should be conducted to characterize potential chemical exposures in this area.

She wrote that progress is being made to improve the air quality of the building. “Ultimate resolution of this matter will take time and a continued effort to address and resolve the issues as they are identified. The ground water issue is significant and without appropriate mitigation, we will continue to see issues related to poor indoor air quality. Because engineering controls take time to design and implement, I recommend that this process begin as soon as possible.”

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