The short answer is yes. Schools are no different than households or other buildings. They contain walls, pipes, paneling, ceilings, and floors–all places that mold can develop and spread, especially if moisture is present.
What Health Issues Can Mold Cause For School Children?
For starters, mold and the accompanying moisture that often goes with it can be difficult to find. That means kids, their teachers, and school administrators could be having health issues related to mold for months without even knowing it. This long-term exposure to mold within a building in which people of all ages spend six hours or more every day could lead to uncomfortable allergies and complications with asthma.
Beyond breathing issues and sneezing, long-term exposure to mold can cause coughing, respiratory infections, headaches, lethargy, and pneumonia in children. If kids are carefree and healthy during the summer and then get sick again when school is in session, it may be a sign that mold is the issue.
How Prevalent Is Mold In Schools?
CNN estimates that one-third of U.S. schools have mold in them as well as issues with indoor air in general. Though moisture in school buildings is unsurprisingly the main problem, it’s not a problem that is easy or cheap to fix, especially with budget cutbacks in numerous areas of the country.
School nurses would know better than anyone how prevalent indoor pollutants are affecting children, and it’s estimated that 40 percent of them have dealt with children who have suffered from indoor pollution issues.
Obviously the harmful effects of mold can make schoolteachers and staff sick as well. The issue of poor indoor air quality and the rise of children with asthma nationwide has made homeschooling a more popular option with parents.
How Do I Recognize Mold in Schools?
Many times the musty smell will give mold away, so trust your sniffer. As mentioned, mold and moisture go hand in hand, so look for discoloration on surfaces ranging from the floors to the ceilings to the walls.
When in the school environment, try to get the lowdown from students, parents, teaches, and staff to see if more and more people are complaining about mold-related issues. This could entail increased health problems such as increased coughing, noticeable wheezing, and allergy symptoms. People vary in their levels of mold sensitivities, so the overall symptoms could be wide ranging.
How Can I Protect My Child From Mold in School?
If you notice your child coming home from school and wheezing, coughing or suffering from symptoms such as hoarseness, acid reflux, digestive issues, or irritated eyes, you may want to visit his or her classroom and other parts of the school. Be on the lookout for musty smells, mildew, and water leaks around windows or on the ceiling. Mold can have a fuzzy look or be slimy and discolored on surfaces, especially in areas where there is wetness. If you observe suspect areas, contact the school principal or perhaps a board member of the school to share your concerns. You may also want to tell other parents and begin a paper trail via a letter to the school or an email that will begin a digital trail.
After educating yourself on the perils of mold, you’ll be able to astutely converse with school officials about how indoor humidity, roofs that leak, and wet windows can all contribute to mold growth. Ask the proper school officials for reports they may have on mold investigations within the school or the work-order repairs that have involved mold removal. If you are genuinely concerned about mold in your child’s school, don’t hesitate to recommend to a school official that he or she contact a professional mold remover as soon as possible.
Another way to help keep your child safe from mold and other illnesses is to make sure he or she is eating healthily and getting enough sleep. These things can improve their immune system.