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Mold Develops in State Health Building


By Dan Hounsell IAQ
mold in air conditioning system

Institutional and commercial facilities of all kinds can develop mold problems. The issue and its potential health hazards can arise in public schools, universities, commercial office buildings and retail facilities. While these outbreaks are certainly problematic, the problem moves to another level when the facility in question houses occupants whose job is to protect public health. Consider the case of the Austin (Texas) State Hospital 63 building.

As of early July, as many as 127 state workers in the building have been affected by mold in the building, with some finding mold infiltrating their desks, chairs and keyboard hand rests. Mold also spotted the carpet, according to The Texas Tribune. One state worker even found mold on shoes left in the office. As a result, employees whose job it is to analyze data on tuberculosis, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases have lately found themselves also researching the potential health risks their own offices might pose.

The state agency has tried to ward off the mold but with little success. A department staff memo, emails obtained by The Texas Tribune and inquiries to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and Department of State Health Services reveal $15,721.19 spent on dehumidifiers and a mold assessment. Some workers were placed on emergency leave or relocated to vacant cubicles or a nearby building.

The mold is another setback in Texas state agencies’ losing battle with building maintenance issues, which have forced them to spend money from their budgets to contract out for help. Another example emerged last year when the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said its Austin building was overrun by several hundred rats.”

This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell — dan.hounsell@tradepressmedia.com — editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions, and chief editor of Facilitiesnet.com.

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