Yesterday (May 08 2014) KFI-AM (640 on the dial), a Los Angeles radio station, reported on both the air and their website (see http://www.kfiam640.com/onair/steven-gregory-559/parents-in-lancaster-push-to-clean-12331843/) that an area school, Sunnydale Elementary in Lancaster, has been found to have a significant mold problem. Considering that when a home or apartment is on the market, the owner must assure any buyer or renter that there is no mold on the premises, it could be that this situation, being non-residential, has easily slipped through the cracks. No matter what, the existence of mold is a health hazard not to be treated lightly. The impact of this toxic substance, despite being natural, can range anywhere from a minor nuisance to a life-threatening situation.
According to reporter Steve Gregory of KFI-AM, who interviewed various parents as well as administrators for the Lancaster School District, there have been varying accounts of how the mold’s discovery has been treated. Parents claim, as stated in the article, their children are suffering from illnesses ranging from stomach upsets to migraine headaches. Mold is a powerful allergen as well as being a lung irritant in general. For those, especially children whose lungs are not fully grown yet, who have allergies to mold, or other respiratory ailments, this substance will further aggrevate their condition. Asthma—which can be fatal—is frequently triggered by mold spores, and results in the loss of time from school and work for many people of all ages annually, more so than other illnesses by far. Those with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable, and anyone with problems such as diabetes, COPD, asthma, bronchitis, severe allergies, HIV, to name but a few illnesses, are more likely to have problems dealing with mold in their environment.
The parents, including PTA president Karaleigh Roe, have stated to KFI that their concerns expressed to the school officials have met with a decided lack of concern. How normal this type of reaction seems to be these days. People who are on the front lines of a situation such as this one are being stonewalled, ignored, and downright pooh-poohed by the powers-that-be. What will it take, lawsuits over the deleterious effects of mold on children’s health at Sunnydale, perhaps in a class action, to inspire action on the part of the school district? Why should these students (not to mention employees on the site who are also exposed to the toxins) be forced to suffer while the officials breathe clean air in their offices somewhere else?
To downgrade the effects of mold on these children’s health is to say, in essence, they are insignificant in the eyes of the school district. The Centers for Disease Control have issued strong words regarding the ramifications of exposure to mold (see http://www.cdc.gov/mold/dampness_facts.htm), linking it to a host of not only respiratory illnesses but dermatological, developmental and other severe health risks. The World Health Organization, in 2009, issued a document outlining all the effects of mold on human health: The WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould (http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pdf) which goes into great detail as to all the dangers of this substance.
Is it too much to expect of any school district to at least take such complaints seriously? Could a clean up of a known hazardous material be beyond their capabilities? To prevent further such unwanted growths on the premises, they can surely spring for dehumidifiers in the building, and keep an eye on the condition of the building. Or would it be cheaper for them to continue to ignore the problem and just pay out for lawsuits against them in the future? The answer all boils down to whether or not the Lancaster school officials really even care about the children in their jurisdiction.