School officials investigate mold at Bordewich-Bray |

School officials investigate mold at Bordewich-Bray

Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer
Mike Mitchell, right, and Chris Costanzo, foreman ofFirst Genereal Services of Northern Nevada show a contained work area where mold is being extricated or erradicated. photo by Rick Gunn

Groundwater and poor building design are being blamed for high levels of toxic mold discovered in the walls of five buildings at Bordewich-Bray Elementary School.

But officials are unsure how to fix it.

“We know we have a problem,” said Mike Mitchell, Carson City School District’s director of operations. “We just don’t know how much of a problem it is.”

The three forms of toxic mold were discovered in late November within the walls of the school but the air inside the classrooms tested clean.

Although the mold is confined within sealed walls, Mitchell said he decided to have it removed to prevent it from seeping into the air through outlets or other holes.

At the same time, he is cautious not to create a scare.

“It’s kind of like we’re sitting on a crate of eggs and we don’t want to move,” he said. “We want to have a safe environment for our teachers and kids. It’s not a problem now but it will be if we don’t do anything about it.”

Crews from First General Services of Northern Nevada built containment walls Thursday in preparation for today when they will open up the walls to investigate and remove the mold.

“The problem can actually be two-fold,” explained Chris Costanzo, lead foreman of the crew. “Maybe the mold is not the biggest issue. The bigger issue could be dry rot.”

He said the same conditions that foster the mold also create dry rot which could destroy the structure.

Mitchell said once crews are inside the walls, he will have a better idea of what course of action to take and how much it will cost.

The solution could range anywhere from rebuilding the walls to tearing down the affected buildings.

The buildings with the highest counts are old modular classrooms that were made permanent. However, no foundation was laid first, allowing ground water to seep into the wooden walls and floor.

The three types of mold detected were Cladosporium, Penicillium-Aspergillus and Stachybotrys.

The mold has been known to cause symptoms ranging from coughing and watery eyes to diarrhea and short-term memory loss.

However, Principal Sue Keema said no symptoms have been reported at the school.

Mold is measured by the amount of spores per cubic meter Ñ with 2,000 spores per cubic meter considered dangerous. Within the classrooms, 80 spores per cubic meter were detected and outside, 111 were detected.

Within the walls, up to 148,000 spores per meter were discovered.