Mold outbreaks in schools: The risks, how it's checked - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Mold outbreaks in schools: The risks, how it's checked

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- The wet and humid conditions this summer are making the perfect breeding ground for mold.  Already this year, five eastern Iowa schools have confirmed mold outbreaks. 

Springville Schools dismissed early on Thursday and cancelled school on Friday because mold was discovered.

River Hills School in Cedar Falls also made a mold discovery.  It's been cleaned up and school started on schedule Thursday.  But area school officials tell us they are always vigilant in checking for mold since it poses a potential health risk to students and teachers.

Other area schools  who discovered non-toxic mold include Excelsior Middle School in Marion, Regina Schools in Iowa City and West Branch Middle School.

Students at Waterloo's Lincoln Elementary can sit in a classroom with no major mold.  The district says maintenance crews constantly keep a close eye on weather conditions that could lead to mold. 

"Any time the moisture level is too high, that's when we're going to try and keep air moving to draw that moisture out of the air if we have central air conditioning or environmental systems in the building.  But fans are one way and dehumidifiers.  And our custodians keep an eye out for that as they do in all schools," said Sharon Miller, spokesperson for Waterloo Community Schools.

And those checks are done for good reason, since mold can be a health hazard.

"Anything from just itchy eyes and scratchy throat to full on asthmatic attacks.  And sometimes in kids, we see mold as a real asthma trigger," said Jon McNamee with the Black Hawk County Health Department.

If mold is spotted, there's a water problem.  Once you fix it, the mold won't be able to spread further.  But as the affected schools know, it's important to thoroughly clean moldy areas.

"Use about a quarter cup of bleach to a gallon of water.  Wipe it down and then let it air dry and you should be good to go," McNamee said.

Luckily, the wet and humid conditions have not led to mold outbreaks in the Waterloo district this year.  But maintenance crews and teaching staff will continue to watch for potential problems.  And if needed, experts will be brought in to clean up any mold that might surface.

In addition to schools, many area homeowners have also encountered problems with mold.  If you have questions about how to clean it up, call the Black Hawk County Health Department at 291-2413.

It's important to note that mold is everywhere and cannot be completely eliminated.  Mold becomes a concern when a moisture problem allows it to grow rapidly and then poses a more significant health risk.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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