Indoor air test finds mold in Trafalgar Town Hall

Several types of mold were recently discovered at the Trafalgar Town Hall and officials are working on a solution to remove it.

After suspected mold was found, Trafalgar officials called in Indianapolis company Green Home Solutions for an indoor air quality test of the town hall, located at 2770 State Road 252. Green Home Solutions presented their findings at the town council meeting Thursday night.

Ben White, an indoor environmentalist with Green Home Solutions said there was mold found in some areas of the basement and HVAC systems. He believes small amounts of moisture are coming in from outside the building and creating an environment suitable for mold growth.

“I think what’s happened is that moisture that’s able to come in from outside is causing elevated humidity in the building, specifically down in the basement and it’s causing condensation,” White said. “That condensation combined with dust and particulates is causing mold growth.”

There is “a lot” of mold growth in and around the HVAC system, White said.

Certain molds can produce toxins. There are three to four molds that are considered toxic black molds. One sample taken from the town hall showed a small amount of the toxic black mold Chaetomium, White said. The most common mold that affects people’s health — Aspergillus — was found in a few samples with “really high levels” inside of the HVAC system, White said.

Molds can produce allergens and irritants that may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Allergic responses can include hay fever-type symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and skin rash. Mold can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma.

Mold is always present in the air, but needs food, which could be any material, water and humidity to live, said Betsy Swearingen, Johnson County health department director. As long as humidity and the water source are controlled, there’s less of a chance for mold to grow, she said.

The Johnson County Health Department is aware of the issue, but no inspection has been done, as specialists like Green Home Solutions do that type of work, Swearingen said.

Town officials are now working with Green Home Solutions on a mitigation and prevention plan.

Taking care of the moisture and placing a dehumidifier in the basement will help prevent future mold growth, White said. Remediation for mold would include clean up, disinfecting the area and spraying it with a special coating to keep the mold from coming back, White recommended.

Council member Jessica Jones asked if putting a dehumidifier in the basement would help while a mitigation plan is finalized. It would, White said.

Clerk-Treasurer Donna Moore asked about a large amount of paper documents stored in the basement and the potential for them to be moldy. For any documents stored in cardboard boxes or banker’s boxes, White recommended throwing them away. Anything in a sealed plastic tub would be okay, he said.

With the inspection out of the way, the town will look at mitigation and pricing to take care of the mold, Jason Ramey, council president, said at the meeting.

Town employees including the billing clerk and police officers are still working in the building, Moore said.

Moore works from home but expressed concerns over the mold in the building, especially in the HVAC system. Moore said she has had to move some meetings to the Trafalgar Public Library because of mold concerns.

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