‘Out of 1,800 total mold spores, there were 11 black mold spores, which is nothing.’ — Joe Mike Akard
KINGSPORT — A small number of mold spores in samples from Sullivan North High School were confirmed to be toxic “black mold,” though the percentage of those spores was extremely low.
“There’s always about six or seven common molds that are in every room,” said Maintenance Supervisor Joe Mike Akard. “What we were looking for was the Stachybotrys, which is the black mold. We didn’t find that in any room except the one that we were having the work done in. We suspected it was in that room. ... Out of 1,800 total mold spores, there were 11 black mold spores, which is nothing.”
Mold growth was found last week in an area of the school that had been flooded earlier this summer after a failure in the gutter system. The room is in an area of the building not currently occupied by students and is served by a separate heating and air-conditioning unit.
According to a press release from the Sullivan County Department of Education, 14 samples were taken from all areas affected by the flood. Test results from Aerobiology Laboratory Associates Inc. showed that mold spore counts were below normal limits in all areas except the room where growth was discovered last week.
Though Akard said the mold does not pose any threat to those in the building, a certified remediation company began removing the mold Tuesday. The remaining work was completed on Wednesday when students were out of school for parent-teacher conferences.
During the removal process, air monitoring was performed by Wingfield Environmental Co. Akard said no other areas of the building have shown signs of mold growth since the flood.
“It’s one of those things, black mold or any mold is not going to hurt you if you just walk through the building,” Akard said. “It’s continuous, day-to-day exposure to a mold that causes you to have respiratory problems. ... As far as any harm, long-term exposure is where the problems would be. That’s why it’s top priority. If we see any type of mold problem we try to address it as soon as we possibly can so that no one will have long-term exposure.”