The state’s Division of Safety and Environmental Services inspection process at the Wiscasset Middle School, initiated due to concerns of mold in the basement, resulted in a recommendation for a mold remediation contractor and asbestos abatement contractor to perform work at the school.
The report from the phase II inspection, conducted by Air Quality Management Services Inc., was released Wednesday, April 22. The report found “minor surface mold issues” in room 1 and “observed mold growth on the wall behind the desk” in the office attached to room 6, the chorus room.
In the small office attached to room 7, the band room, the report said it, “suspects mold/ mushroom growth on the floor” due to groundwater leaking into the area. The groundwater leakage “could be causing fungal growth under the floor tiles in this area resulting in mushrooms growing out of the sides of the tiles,” the report said.
Water stains were also observed on the ceiling and above the ceiling tiles “hay/straw debris suggesting a nest for some rodent or bird” was found in the band room’s office, the report said.
According to the report, mold growth was also found on the lower walls to the stairs attached to the girls locker room.
The Division of Safety and Environmental Services conducted an initial air quality inspection and visible inspection for mold at Wiscasset Middle School in January. If areas of concern were identified, the phase I inspection would progress to more in-depth testing in phase II.
The January inspection concluded further inspection would not be necessary. Larry Mare, an engineering technician with the Division of Safety and Environmental Services, returned to Wiscasset Middle School in March to test for mold due to continued concern expressed by parents and staff.
The samples tested positive for mold and the phase II inspection, previously believed to not be necessary, was conducted. Air Quality Management Services Inc., a private company, was contracted to perform the inspection.
In addition to the visible signs of mold discovered in the inspection, a surface mold sample found high levels of the cladosporium mold species and low levels of the aspergillus/penicillium mold species in the chorus room’s office.
The results of six air samples taken to test for airborne mold spores found trace amounts of airborne mold levels and noted the results did not indicate indoor airborne mold exposure was a concern.
The Wiscasset Middle School basement has a history of mold, due to the landing stoop on the south side not shedding water away from the building, interim Superintendent Lyford Beverage said in previous interviews. Rain water has been known to trickle down the building’s foundation and occasionally leak into the band room, Beverage said.
There have also been complaints of a musty odor in room 1 in the basement, which is not a classroom but is used for various services.
In his March inspection, Mare found the source of the musty smell in room 1 to be an improperly sealed hatch to a utility space that had a dirt floor and housed duct work and plumbing drains. The phase II investigation found the dirt floor was damp and “could be sustaining mold growth.”
“What appeared to be asbestos pipe insulation on the floor in this space” was also found, the report said.
The report recommended all mold growth in the areas tested be cleaned and the affected floor tiles in the band room’s office, the water-damaged ceiling tiles, and the apparent nest in the band room’s ceiling be removed.
If the floor and ceiling in the room contain asbestos, an asbestos abatement contractor must remove them, the report said. The report called for the removal of the walls at the girls locker room exit and a thorough cleaning of the exposed surfaces.
If the wall contains asbestos, the work must be performed by an asbestos abatement contractor, the report said. The asbestos abatement contractor will have to remove the pipe insulation in the utility space in room 1, the report said.
The report recommended installing a moisture management system for the utility space and called for thorough cleaning of all mechanical systems and ductwork serving the rooms tested.
The report recommended follow-up testing after the work is complete to verify the remediation was successful.