Cleaning & Restoration Breaking News

Mold Causes Chicago High School to Shutdown

April 6, 2001
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Chicago -- Students at a Chicago area high school will not be returning to school next week and possibly for the remainder of the school year as environmental testing revealed mold in several classrooms at St. Charles East High School.

According to a Daily Herald newspaper report, “students, teachers and other staff members had moved in and out of the main building all week even after classes were canceled for the week because potentially harmful molds -- including stachybotrys, aspergillus and penicillium -- were found in nine classrooms,” and the school’s theater.

The article goes on to say, “Regional Superintendent Clem Mejia applauded the decision to close the school and said he had written a letter formally closing the school before he learned of the administration's decision. “This formal step allows us to involve the state board of education, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois fire marshal,” Mejia said.

Studies previously conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health revealed mold presence in parts of the building. In a May 1998 report, the Daily Herald reports the institute included this among its recommendations: "Conduct a comprehensive inspection of school building wallboard, ceiling panels and carpet to identify water-damaged or mold-contaminated material. This inspection may require the removal of some wallpaper and carpeting. All water- or mold-damaged material should be removed and discarded. Attempts to clean or disinfect mold-contaminated porous materials are generally unsuccessful."

Further, by January 1999 members of the high school's air quality task force began questioning their role after district officials ignored a request for a comprehensive room-to-room study that would have included testing behind the walls for mold.

Following testing and visual inspections, mold presence was detected. District officials followed up on the consultants' recommendations to remove moldy ceiling tiles, carpeting and drywall. The report also suggested that the district fix leaks and that it conduct follow-up sampling for mold on the north exterior wall in classroom 155 -- one of the rooms AAA Environmental consultants (a firm recommended by the task force) found mold in last week, the Daily Herald reported.

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