Mould has Christchurch school on the move

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2014

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A Christchurch school has had to relocate after a large amount of black mould affected its buildings.

Te Kura Whakapumau is operating from the old Linwood Intermediate site while contractors clean the mould - considered a danger to people's health - caused by leaking pipe work enclosed in walls and ceiling cavities, and do quake repairs at the school.

Tumuaki, or principal of the Maori immersion school, Terina Ranginui Tahau, said black mould had taken over a "large proportion of the school".

It was identified three days before the end of term four and the school was advised to close off some of the buildings, followed by more later. After a hui with the school community, the decision was made to stay off-site.

"It's safer for us to be out.

"The health and wellbeing of our staff and students is paramount. We all agreed that a temporary relocation would ensure our school community was well taken care of while the ministry gets the repair work done," Ranginui Tahau said.

She was grateful for the use of the Linwood site because it was safe and caused little disruption for families due to its close proximity to their school. The school had a roll of about 120 pupils.

"The facilities there mean we can continue to deliver our year 1-13 curriculum, as well as accommodating early childhood education and community and cultural programmes."

The school had minimal quake damage and had planned to stay on its site while repairs were done. "We wouldn't have been moving had it not been for the black mould."

Ministry of Education head of infrastructure Kim Shannon said mould spores were believed to have grown as a result of leaking pipe work enclosed in wall and ceiling cavities.

"We have contracted experts to open the affected areas of the building, remove the mould-affected linings, replace all pipework throughout the affected block and clean the area with appropriate cleaner which eradicates the mould."

The repairs and further modernisation of facilities was expected to take about 10 months, she said.

FUNGI FACTS

While some moulds are harmless, others can release toxic substances and should be treated with caution.

Stachybotrys – or black mould – often grows inside wall cavities that have become extremely wet and remained so for some time.

If the mould spreads to walls and floors and is visible, or if wall cavities are opened, the spores can be released.

Allergies, aggravation of respiratory problems, eye and skin irritation, headaches, nausea and flu-like symptoms can arise when large numbers of these spores are inhaled, ingested or come into contact with the skin.

People with asthma, weakened immune systems, infants and the elderly are most at risk.

Information is from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

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