Officials find mold in Army Community Housing

Originally Posted By: gromicko
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Officials find mold in Army Community Housing

By Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty and PAO staff reports
Public Affairs Office

PHILADELPHIA ? A Fort Drum community housing unit here is undergoing repairs after significant mold growth was found in the home, post officials said.

?Inspection of a housing unit in the Philadelphia Army Community Housing area revealed the presence of significant visible mold growth and numerous water leaks,? said Greg Condon, Preventive Medicine Department, U.S. Army Medical Department Activity at Fort Drum.

?While health risks due to mold contamination are relatively low, in order to perform destructive testing and minimize any occupant safety or health concerns, we have relocated the families from this fourplex into quarters on main post,? said Col. Emory Helton, U.S. Army Garrison commander.

?Although we lease these buildings from a civilian firm, we are dedicated to maintaining the health of everyone who lives or works in buildings in Army Community Housing or on post,? he added.

Inspectors have found pinhole leaks in copper piping within 25 feet of hot water tanks on the hot water side of several housing units and consequent water damage, Helton said. When officials inspected behind the walls, a substantial amount of mold was discovered, indicating the need for cleanup.

The Philadelphia site contains 38 buildings with 150 housing units, built in 1987.
Mold thrives on water and a food source such as cloth, wood, and wallboard, making sheetrock moistened by leaking pipes a perfect place for it to grow, Condon said.

?The most common health problem resulting from exposure to elevated levels of airborne mold spores are common allergy symptoms, especially in people who already have allergies,? he said.

?There will be a 100-percent interior and exterior inspection of all 38 buildings at Philadelphia,? Helton said. ?This is a big project, but six units a day will be inspected, finishing in mid-October.?

?There will also be air sampling starting next week,? Helton said. ?Two air samples per affected unit will be compared with outdoor samples.?

?I understand there have been some complaints about work orders,? he said, ?but I can tell you we are working with the owners and are aggressively moving to identify and remediate any mold problem in Army Community Housing or on post.?

The owner, URMC / LUK, is replacing contaminated sheetrock and repairing leaking piping, said Randa Ortlieb, chief of housing.

Also, condensation is dripping from some of the pipes that run between the ceiling and floors of garden units. URMC / LUK will replace copper piping with polyethylene or cover the pipes with insulation materials to eliminate the condensation.

Mold has occurred in some of Fort Drum?s buildings, Helton said, but Fort Drum has thousands of buildings, most of which have no problems with mold, so post officials rely on occupants to report any water problems.

?Mold overgrowth can be prevented by keeping areas dry,? he said. ?We encourage residents to use their bathroom fans and to immediately dry up any leaking water.

?However, the problem in Philadelphia is leaking pipes, so if you have a leak in a building which keeps an area constantly moist, report it to the proper work order number or to your property manager so we can eliminate the moisture source that fosters mold growth,? Helton added.

Condon recommends residents educate themselves about mold, but to be sure they get accurate information from credible sources.

?The Internet provides lots of information, some good, and some misleading,? he said. ?I recommend going to the site of a well-recognized authority such as the Environmental Protection Agency or the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine.?

Mold has been around longer than humans, Condon said. ?Mold is a natural and necessary part of life. It is necessary to recycle organic materials, we use it to make some antibiotics, and we like it in blue cheese, but we don?t want it in our homes.?

If you think you have a mold problem in your home, telephone in a work order, Ortlieb said.

Nick Gromicko

I much prefer email to private messages.