Summary as Passed
Local school boards; mold testing; parental notification. Requires each local school board to develop and implement a plan to test and, if necessary, a plan to remediate mold in public school buildings in accordance with guidance issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The bill requires each local school board to (i) submit such testing plan and report the results of any test performed in accordance with such plan to the Department of Health and (ii) take all steps necessary to notify school staff and the parents of all enrolled students if testing results indicate the presence of mold in a public school building at or above the minimum level that raises a concern for the health of building occupants, as determined by the Department of Health. The bill has an effective date of July 1, 2021.
A link to the complete bill can be found here.School Reporting Resources
Each school must create a user account. Use the link above to register an account for your school. You will receive a confirmation email that includes a unique link you can use to enter data and upload your results. Please retain your confirmation email so you can return to the survey and add more information. You must log in with the same email address and password you initially created in order to access previously entered data.
The document linked above has instructions for how to log in and enter the school’s sampling plan and mold results.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is mold?
Mold is a fungus which can include multicellular fungi that produce hyphae, unicellular yeasts, and in some excessively damp environments, mushroom producing basidiomycetes. It grows by sending out tiny hairlike structures called hyphae. It often grows in circular patches, but can also look like a powdery dusting over a surface.
Mold is sometimes confused with efflorescence, which are salts that leach out of concrete and form a white powdery substance. Efflorescence will dissolve in water, while mold does not.
What are the health effects of mold?
For most people, mold causes symptoms similar to allergies, with itching or burning eyes, sneezing, and coughing. People who have asthma may have asthma flares when exposed to moldy environments.
Some molds can produce substances called mycotoxins that can cause more serious symptoms if present at high enough levels. These can cause cold or flu-like symptoms, eye irritation, headache, skin rashes, fatigue, and dizziness.
Where can it be found?
Mold can be found in the air in most places as spores, which mold releases to spread to new areas. In damp places, mold will grow on surfaces. It is not unlikely to find it in your home, office building, school, grocery store, and any other place if conditions are humid enough. It grows best on porous surfaces like paper (including drywall paper) and fabric, but can grow on concrete, wood, and even metal. Mold is often found in damp areas like basements and crawl spaces, or in bathrooms where surfaces are frequently wet or if there is a plumbing problem. It can even be found in places such as heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) systems, between walls, in the crawlspace, or on insulation.
What are acceptable levels indoors?
There are no current local, state, or federal acceptable levels (air concentrations) of mold in the air. However, when comparing similar mold collected at the same time inside and outside; the level found inside should be less than ½ the level found outside. This level raises a concern that there may be an ongoing moisture problem inside the building; which may impact the health of individuals if not addressed. There are limitations to this mold sampling in air: (1) it is only representative of the time the samples were collected, (2) air levels of mold are higher in the summer and fall, and lower in the winter and spring, (3) mold levels outside are drastically reduced when there is snow outside, (4) time of day and activity inside the building have been documented as impacting levels, (5) if there is agricultural activity outside, (6) and others.
Professional judgement should be used when evaluating any indoor air mold levels.
Note: Mold levels in air are typically reported as spores per cubic meter (spores/m3) or colony forming units per cubic meter (CFU/m3).
How to prevent mold growth?
The key to preventing mold growth is moisture control. Mold cannot grow when the environment is too dry.
- Fix leaky plumbing and leaks in the building envelope as soon as possible.
- Watch for condensation and wet spots. Fix source(s) of moisture problem(s) as soon as possible.
- Prevent moisture due to condensation by increasing surface temperature or reducing the moisture level in air (humidity). Maintain low indoor humidity, below 60% relative humidity.
- Keep heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) drip pans clean, flowing properly, and unobstructed.
- Vent moisture-generating appliances, such as dryers, to the outside where possible.
- Perform regular building/HVAC inspections and maintenance as scheduled.
- Clean and dry wet or damp spots within 48 hours.
- Don’t let foundations stay wet. Provide drainage and slope the ground away from the foundation. Make sure gutters are maintained and cleaned. Direct downspouts away from foundations.
How to select a contractor or mold specialist?
Virginia does not license or certify mold contractors. If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up and testing for mold. Contractors should have experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations. Many of these non-governmental organizations provide professional certification in mold sampling/remediation and certification should be considered when selecting a contractor.
Where do I find guidance to clean up mold in schools?
Follow the guidance in the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings Guide.
The Virginia Department of Health encourages schools to use its dampness and mold assessments tools to help assess areas of dampness in buildings and to help prioritize remediation of problems areas. There is one assessment tool for teachers to evaluate their classroom and one for staff/maintenance personnel for use throughout the building. These are available below as forms that can be filled out electronically or printed and filled out by hand. Routine use of these tools will help school districts monitor moisture/mold in school buildings so these problem areas can be addressed before they impact the health of staff and students.