Saturday, April 07, 2001

Mold forces Milford students to move

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIAMI TWP. — Mold contamination in temporary classrooms outside Milford schools' Charles L. Seipelt Elementary forced about 100 third-grade students to be moved Friday to a church.

        The students will be taught at Trinity United Methodist Church on Wolfpen-Pleasant Hill Road at least through Thursday.

        Risk to students was “very minimal,” said John Kominsky, vice president and director of industrial hygiene and safety at Environmental Quality Management in Forest Park.

[photo] Third-grade teacher Marie Rich helps Natalie Janzen, 9, with a math problem in Trinity United Methodist Church on Friday.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        Superintendent John Frye said there were no reports of illness among students or teachers caused by mold.

        The mold was discovered during microbial air testing and visual inspection requested by Mr. Frye in 12 temporary classrooms throughout the district and six classrooms inside Boyd E. Smith Elementary, Mr. Kominsky said. The cost of the tests was about $500 per classroom, Mr. Frye said.

        These studies came a few days after early March tests for mold at temporary classrooms outside Milford South Elementary, which forced the relocation of about 90 kindergarten pupils.

        The tests at Milford South's temporary classrooms were prompted by parents' calls to the Clermont County General Health District regarding a water heater leak there. Air quality in those classrooms was determined safe, Mr. Kominsky said at the time.

        However, Mr. Frye said concerns about mold hazards prompted him to have more classrooms checked.

        “We want to be sure we can assure our parents that the classrooms (their children) are attending are safe,” Mr. Frye said.

        Three of the temporary classrooms near Seipelt showed visible fungal growth and water-damaged material when wallpaper and window frames were removed. Low levels of the fungi Aspergillus versicolor were present in air samples in two of the classrooms, Mr. Kominsky said.

        “We did not close those rooms because of immediate risk to students,” Mr. Kominsky said. “We implemented an action before there was a problem.”

        High levels of Aspergillus versicolor could cause lung problems, he said.

        Mr. Frye said GE Capital Modular Space, which has a West Chester branch, leased the temporary classrooms to the district. Spokesman John Oliver said it's unclear if the problem rests with the temporary units, but any contaminated units will be replaced as soon as possible.

        A nine-classroom temporary unit outside Boyd E. Smith Elementary was not checked for mold, Mr. Frye said. The 1992 unit is used for extended-day programs in grades kindergarten through 6, he said.

        “We will consider checking those,” Mr. Frye said.

        The district is asking taxpayers to pass a 4.1-mill bond issue May 8 that would replace Milford South Elementary, Miami Elementary and Milford Main Middle schools, and build another elementary school. Estimated cost is $43.6 million.

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