Mesa school passes air quality tests - East Valley Tribune: News

Mesa school passes air quality tests

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Posted: Monday, August 3, 2009 6:47 pm | Updated: 2:26 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Air quality results from Mesa’s Red Mountain Ranch Elementary School — where mold was found earlier this summer — came back within normal range, the district reported Monday.

Old, dried mold was found contained inside a wall of one basement classroom. Mold was also suspected outside another classroom, where there was a smell but no visible mold.

The district brought in a certified industrial hygienist to do air quality tests in early July.

The test compares mold spore counts inside the buildings to the air outside, where mold spore counts are typically higher.

Substance at Mesa school tested for mold

In the final report, after repairs were completed at the school, the mold spore counts both in the classroom and in the hallway were found “acceptable,” with levels lower than the outside air, said Rick Michalek, director of operations for the district.

Rex Young, a parent who pulled his daughter out of Red Mountain Ranch in May because of health issues that sprang up related to the mold, he said, praised Michalek’s efforts to fix the problems.

“In my opinion, Rick lived up to his word” in fixing the problem. “I went and re-enrolled Katie in Red Mountain Ranch Elementary,” he said.

Young said early on he was in contact with the district — initially through his attorney — to mediate the issue.

“They replaced every ceiling tile, took 21 boards down. They had a hazmat team in there for over a month,” Young said.

Michalek said the district indeed did replace all the stained or missing ceiling tiles throughout the campus.

Before the repairs, elevated spore levels were found in the hallway after crews lifted up one of the vinyl flooring pieces. Levels were low and “acceptable” in the classroom because the mold was dried and contained within the outside wall, Michalek said.

This summer, the district removed plants from wells near basement windows and filled the wells with concrete at the school. The district also fixed a drain that was plugged outside two classrooms, near the exterior basement window well. That faulty drain is suspected for causing the mold in the one classroom’s walls, Michalek said.

The district also removed all the vinyl flooring in the hallway and polished the concrete, rather than put in new flooring, said district spokeswoman Kathy Bareiss.

“Not only did they fix the problem by taking up the flooring, but it won’t happen again; same with the wall board,” Bareiss said.

Testing was done throughout the campus.

“We’ve really looked hard to find any mold,” Michalek said. “People complained about smell, but none of our instruments detected it” because the mold was behind walls and contained.

“Mold removal is a pretty common thing for a commercial building, especially for a school,” he said.

The final report will be posted on the district Web site.

Red Mountain Ranch Elementary was built in 1994.

“There’s not a lot of problems with the school. The school is a very clean school overall,” Michalek said. “We’ve gone above and beyond what most districts would normally do. We feel it’s a very safe campus for our kids and staff.”

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