Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New report: Little if any mold found in Old Knox County Courthouse

Old Courthouse
An independent air quality assessment found few problems with mold in the old courthouse building downtown and suggested that it was safe for human occupation.

The investigation, conducted in late March and requested by the Knox County Mayor's Office, comes in the wake of a lawsuit filed against the county and the Public Building Authority by Knox County Clerk Foster Arnett Jr., who says the building contains toxic mold that has hurt his health and forced him to do his work elsewhere.

PBA Executive Director Dale Smith said he asked Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett to have a third party assess the air quality throughout the building, which includes the clerk's office, some courtrooms and the elections administration. The county's purchasing office and its safety manager then hired Knoxville-based ES&H to take and analyze samples on March 24 in a number of rooms, including Arnett's office.

ANALYSIS: Air Quality Report

WBIR 10News and one of the area's top air quality assessors reviewed the 39-page report. The review indicated nothing particularly alarming about the results in the 19th-century era building.

"If I was an occupant, I would say that it was good, it was safe," said Mark Smith, director of the Environmental Health and Safety Unit for the University of Tennessee. "Unless I had some unusual health condition, I would say it would be safe for occupancy."

Foster Arnett Jr.
Smith, who oversees similar air quality tests for university facilities, said employees in the historic courthouse building are at "a far greater risk outdoors," and said the building's inside "didn't seem too bad."

"There were signs of moisture infiltration either in the past or the present, and there were surfaces that were damp, but the actual airborne levels of mold were low, which is good, and even the indicator organisms . . . those were all pretty good," he added.

He said the air samples the company tested "were good," but that the report noted some "humidity-moisture problems" that could eventually lead to mold problems.

But, he said "there was no visible colonized mold and the lift tape (a way inspectors test for mold) came back zero, which is good."

"Nothing stuck out," he said.

Rest of the story RIGHT HERE.

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