Recent air quality test results in twelve Howard County schools show high levels of mold but the numbers don't indicate any adverse health impacts.
“The results don't show anything of concern. They do continue to show me that the schools are safe environmentally,” said Ed Light, the president of Building Dynamics and a Howard County public schools industrial hygienist.
However, there are no set guidelines to determine what's safe. According to Dr. Ana Rule, an environmental health scientist with Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, it’s because people have different reactions to different types of molds and exposure levels.
“If you have no allergy or special sensitivity to that particular mold than it's not a problem,” said Dr. Rule.
With no set guidelines, it makes it hard to pinpoint what standard schools should be held to.
“Do you set up the guideline for the most sensitive? Then what do you do with the rest? It would be so expensive and at some level unreasonable to request the indoor of a building be set to the level of the most sensitive person,” said Dr. Rule.
She added that in looking through the air quality reports she didn't find anything to be alarming.
“I would say the test results show that the school has been doing an effort to improve the air quality inside the school and so if there's a child with a specific sensitivity I think that could be accommodated,” she said.
Special accommodations could include putting in an extra air cleaner.
“That could be done for specific kids with specific sensitivities and it wouldn't have to affect the whole school,” said Dr. Rule.
And while Stachybotrys, or black mold, was found in two schools, she said the levels were typical. Her recommendation moving forward is to continue testing.
“People still complaining about respiratory issues, people going into school and there's this moldy smell then it's good to continue [testing] maybe identify if there's another source or issue,” she said.
Click here for complete coverage of our reporting on mold in Howard County schools.