A badge won't help protect officers from mold exposure.

The Douglas County Courthouse and Douglas County Services Center in the Alexandria area have been infiltrated by mold, according to recent reports, prompting air quality tests and causing concern.

The mold may be a result of the heavy rainfalls that have come down on the region this summer, an article in the Alexandria Echo Press said.

Mold was found in the license area and in the library, where walls with vinyl wallpaper were still wet. Water had also entered the child support offices, causing the sub-floor to buckle and leading to a musty smell, one of the obvious signs of mold.

The Law Enforcement Center (LEC) also suffered from poor air quality caused by a foul smell, and mold was visible on several walls on the first floor.

Two Stachybotrys spores were found in the crawl space beneath the LEC.

Health effects of mold exposure

Commonly referred to as “black mold”, some strains of Stachybotrys mold are believed to produce mycotoxins that can cause a wide range of symptoms, including headaches, sore throats, fatigue, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, dermatitis, immune suppression and possible fatal pulmonary hemorrhage in infants, according to many experts.

Federal standards regulating mold concentrations in the air do not exist, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“Most typical indoor air exposures to mold do not present a risk of adverse health effects,” according to an OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin issued March 2010.

Molds can cause adverse effects by producing allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions). Potential health concerns are important reasons to prevent mold growth and to remediate existing problem areas.”

Symptoms associated with allergic reactions to mold may include red eyes and sinus drainage, respiratory illnesses, skin or mucus infections, asthma attacks, irritation in eyes, skin, nose, or throat. Immuno-compromised individuals may experience infections associated with mold.

Mold needs to be removed, not just killed

OSHA recommended cleaning water leakage within one to two days to prevent mold growth.

“As a general rule, simply killing the mold, for example, with biocide is not enough,” the bulletin stated. “The mold must be removed, since the chemicals and proteins, which can cause a reaction in humans, are present even in dead mold.”

The officers and employees at the LEC had reported sore throats, scratchy eyes and respiratory issues after the July rain.

However, the complaints stopped after some air scrubbers, HEPA filters, and dehumidifiers were employed in the area and adjustments were made to the air-conditioning units for dispatch. Existing ductwork was changed and new ductwork installed.

The discussion is ongoing whether they should stay in the building or find another location.

Source: Alexandria Echo Press

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