The new heating and air conditioning system at Lanigan Elementary School is the likely culprit for the mold found on many books in the school’s library, district officials said.
“It was barely noticeable,” said Jerry Seguin, the official in charge of the district’s two major renovation projects. “It looked like a little bit of dirt or dust. When I first saw it, I had to really look hard.”
The mold was a bread mold, Seguin said, a type of mold that’s “not a health hazard to most.”
But it was mold, and because some students and staff can have severe reactions to mold, the district took extra precautions to fix the problem, Seguin told the Board of Education Wednesday.
He said they checked with the school nurse to make sure there were no students with mold allergies. The district also got a risk management expert from OCM BOCES to come to the school the same day to make sure there was no wider risk. The district sent a letter home with students to disclose the issue.
The district sent extra custodians to the school to vacuum books and shelving and to clean and disinfect shelves and other surfaces.
“We’re being overcautious,” he said.
At the same time, the district worked with its construction companies to determine the problem. They believe the new heating and air cooling system cooled the library a little too much.
Cooler air holds less moisture. The moisture fell out of the air and onto cloth covered books, which absorbed the microscopic amounts of moisture. Eventually, the moisture turned to mold.
Seguin said there is no evidence that mold has occurred anywhere else in the building, though some of the building uses the same heating/cooling system.
He said the district and its contractors have re-balanced the system and “we think we’ve taken care of that problem.”