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'The Spores Move About Very Quickly': Air Quality, Mold Issues Not Just An Issue In Schools

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- School district after school district in the past couple of weeks have found themselves dealing with mold issues.

The latest announced Wednesday is Highlands High School. The school year was set to begin Thursday, but will now be delayed until next Tuesday, Sept. 4. The district says crews are working to remove the mold. Classes for all other Highlands schools will start Thursday, Aug. 30, as scheduled.

Allegheny Health Network's Dr. Allison Freeman says she has heard complaints from teachers about classroom air quality for years.

"We had quite a bit of rain in the winter, we continued to have that in the early spring, we had flooding, and everything is wet. And I think schools are being more attentive and doing testing. And I'm glad to see it," she said.

The crews at Bactronix have been hustling to help schools clear the air.

Bactronix Vice President Vincent Valicenti says, "So much moisture around and in the schools, it's been exasperated by the schools turning the air conditioning on after a warm summer of it being off."

But, he says it's not just an issue in the schools.

"We have been inundated by many calls from the residential community," he added.

While black nasty globs of mold are what we mostly associate with mold, Valicenti says, "It comes in a variety of colors and spots."

Often originating in damp basement areas, he says, "The spores move about very quickly on any current of air."

Meghan Schiller's Report:

And Dr. Freeman says usually the household furnace or air conditioner is nearby, "Its blowing around and getting into the vent system."

From there, it's a short trip to the most vulnerable, small children.

Dr. Freeman says, "People with asthma, COPD, and other lung conditions."

She says there's a difference in normal discomforts of those conditions and those driven by mold.

"The pattern for mold is the flare-ups come back as soon as they are treated. As soon as you feel better, it comes back again," she said.

The only solution is to wipe out the mold completely, and that usually means getting a professional involved. The process starts with a test to determine if you have a mold issue, and what kind. Then, a course of eradication is chosen.

Dr. Freeman recommends using a dehumidifier in close proximity to your furnace or AC set on 45 percent to 50 percent.

And a final point about your home. It's important to find the mold early because it spreads quickly. Also, don't feel reassured if the area has dried up. The mold spores can continue to live and continue to spread.

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