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Testing reveals no black mold at Indian Springs Elementary, superintendent says

Rick Wagner • Feb 5, 2019 at 11:06 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Air quality tests for toxic black mold — as well as relative humidity and moisture tests — at Indian Springs Elementary School revealed no problems. That’s according to Sullivan County Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski Tuesday night.

The school system tested all classrooms at Indian Springs last Thursday, after concerns were expressed online, including Facebook. 

Wingfield Environmental Inc. of Blountville did air quality tests at every classroom in the school, part of which dates back to 1935, while SERVEPRO of Kingsport/Bristol did relative humidity and moisture tests.

Rafalowski sent a letter to parents dated Thursday, Jan. 31, about the tests and pledged to make the results public as soon as they were available.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Feb. 5, Rafalowski said:

“1. Air quality tests (attached) indicate no presence of Stachybotrys (a.k.a., Black Mold) spores detected in any indoor samples at Indian Springs. Other spores counted were less than half of the count outside.”   

“2. Relative Humidity and Moisture testing (attached) resulted in the following conclusion:

“Based on the data collected, the air and structure in these areas are considered to be of normal moisture content. We did not find any excess moisture in the building locations tested. The meter used to take moisture content readings is based on a relative scale from 0-1,000. The levels observed are considered to be normal and give no cause for concern.”

Juanita Larkins Housewright has posted on Facebook that her daughter, a former Indian Springs student, died in 2017 from what she attributes to exposure to Stachybotrys chartarum, or black mold, and other toxins it caused at the school and said that other students have had health issues because of exposure.

However, Housewright has said that the air testing done in 2014 and again this year won’t catch the toxins associated with Stachybotrys chartarum. She has said she declined settlement offers of $5,000, $7,000 and then $10,000 for her daughter’s death and is a spokeswoman for other parents whose children have had reactions to toxins from mold.

“I appreciate the quick response from both vendors during this time of question,” Rafalowski wrote. “I am also trying to arrange a time that a representative from each of these companies might be able to attend a board meeting or a meeting at Indian Springs for parents to attend and hear an analysis of the test results and be able to ask questions as well.”

Under former Director of Schools Jubal Yennie, Indian Springs briefly was closed in 2014 because of suspected toxic black mold. However, all but the first- and second-grade pods were reopened the following week, and the issue was attributed to a leaky roof. During remediation of the mold, the first- and second-grade students attended classes at a nearby Indian Springs Baptist Church facility. 

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