NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM)--Northampton school officials confirm they are dealing with a mold problem in two of their buildings.
This comes as Western Mass News has received multiple complaints about different buildings with mold problems. We're getting answers on how mold growth in a building could affect peoples’ health.
Western Mass News spoke with an allergist and the good news is that he said toxic mold is not common in schools and homes and that generally, people with allergies to mold are most at risk for a bad reaction.
However, it is still important to remove it as buildings in the area are still closing down, delaying everything from court processes to the start of school.
Northampton high schoolers and JFK middle school students will have the start of school pushed back to Friday. The district is using a snow day, but to deal with a different kind of white stuff.
"Ultimately we found that there were four classrooms on the ground floor that had some mold and an area that we know as the little theater," said John Provost, superintendent of Northampton Public Schools.
Superintendent Provost confirmed mold was found in both buildings.
Provost said the school's use of increased airflow from the outdoors, intended as a COVID-19 safety protocol, resulted in humid air settling on surfaces.
"This was all surface mold it wasn’t like, in the tiles or any of the other surfaces," said Provost.
Provost said the surfaces are getting chemically treated. Mold growth concerns also lead to the shutdown of South Hadley high school this week and the Roderick Ireland Courthouse in Springfield last week.
Western Mass News spoke to Jonathan Bayuk an allergist with Allergist, Allergy & Immunology Associates of New England about the risk this mold could pose to someone's health.
"To have toxicity from mold is very difficult and people who would get that are more like people who would be working in areas like New Orleans...that’s very different than having mold exposure in your house or even in a school or a courthouse as long as it’s not overwhelming," said Bayuk.
Bayuk said cleaning up the mold is still important after long periods of wet weather and buildings sitting empty, because different health conditions can affect a person's mold sensitivity
"If you are allergic to mold and you have asthma or you have other allergic and skin conditions or other pulmonary conditions, then it can be serious," said Bayuk.
Provost said the classrooms in the middle and high schools where the mold was found will be closed off when kids return to school Friday.
He said mold was found on one or two items in an elementary school. Provost said those items were promptly removed and elementary students will start class Thursday.