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Lewes, Delaware
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June 13, 2003     Cape Gazette
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June 13, 2003
 

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"t'l- Public Health tests RES for mold By Amy Reardon A parent's concerns about mold prompted Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Public Health (DPH) to investigate the indoor air quality of Rehoboth El- ementary School June 9. Melissa Joseph's family doctor gave her a note saying her son Kyle "should not return to Re- hoboth Elementary School due to his health and repeated sinus in- fections." "I have no proof and no facts that his sinus infections are caused by mold," said Joseph. "I just hope the district will test for it. My son will not be returning to the school. I just want parents to be aware if their children become ill." Branch Chief of Environmental Health Evaluation and Toxicology Dr. Gerald Llewellyn and Envi- ronmental Epidemiologist George Yocher performed a general in- door inspection and found no gross mold and no suspicious odors in the building. An inspection based on sight and smell, however, does not guarantee the building is free from a high concentration of indoor mold. "A general inspection is the first step," said Dr. Hooman Sootodeh, of Enviroscience Inc. with a doc- torate in civil and environmental engineering from Stanford Uni- versity. "You really can't rely on visual or smell alone. I've been in freshly painted rooms with new carpets and no visible sign of mold. When we tested, we found thousands and thousands of spores." Llewellyn and Yocher toured the building and tested the indoor air quality in terms of tempera- ture, relative humidity, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, oxygen, lower explosive limit, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, ultra fine particulates and volatile organic compounds. While they did not test for mold specifical!y, they looked for signs that would indicate mold growth. "Mold needs a constant water source or it can't grow, and we saw no evidence of ongoing water leaks," said Yocher. "We didn't find any indication to do extensive mold testing: no mold growth and no musty smell." DPH removed two water stained ceiling tiles and did not find mold on the backs. Llewellyn also investigated tiles the school removed prior to his visit. "1 saw them, smelled and touched them," said Llewellyn. "I saw no gross mold, which is a good sign. The water marks were from old leaks." Without a constant water source, mold will become dor- mant, according to Sootodeh. "The mold is not viable without a water source, but it never truely dies," said Sootodeh. "It can still get into the air and be just as aller- genic as live or viable mold. Frankly, relying on your nose is a naive approach; the only time you really smell mold is when dried- out or dormant mold gets a new source of water and the mold be- gins gassing-off and colonizing again." DPH suggested the school in- vestigate the sources of the old water leaks. "We found evidence of drips from condensation on pipe.s, water has leaked in from windows being open and leaks from pipes," said Llewellyn. "But it's not exten- sive. It's about average, maybe even below average for schools. We asked them to correct the problems." Llewellyn estimated testing for mold could be several thousands of dollars. "Good mold testing is not inex- pensive. Even though the build- ing is old, we did not.deem it nec- essary to do more testing. I feel . that money would be better spent cleaning up," said Llewellyn Llewellyn and Yocher suggest- ed insulating pipes to prevent con- densation dripping onto ceiling tiles. They also suggested clean- ing classrooms with HEPA vacu- um cleaners and removing rotting leaves from a handicap entrance. "We met with a handful of teachers who had health concerns, but there really aren't enough peo- ple with respiratory symptoms to warrant more testing," said Llewellyn. "Allergies can be caused by several different things. We found a fair amount of dust. Dust could be an issue." The district sent a letter home to parents explaining the investiga- tion. It reads: "The physical inspection and physical parameters measured during the site visit reveals no gross mold, no suspicious odors and no chemical fumes present. Dr. Llewellyn did recommend at- tention to some housekeeping is- sues related to the cleanliness of the building. A list of general housekeeping suggestions made Court ruling negates abortion wait By Bridin Reynolds Hughes A Delaware law requiring a 24- hour waiting period for abortion was returned to its dormant status by a federal judge's decision that the law is unconstitutional. In an opinion published June 9, U.S District Chief Judge Sue L. Robinson's granted a permanent injunction preventing the enforce- ment of the 1979 state law due to its lack of safeguards for women's health. State Attorney General M. Jane Brady initiated steps to revive the unenforced law in January, prompting Planned Parenthood of Delaware to file suit to stop its im- plementation. "Because of the dangers to women's health presented by this law, Planned Parenthood felt that we had no choice but to file suit to stop it. We prevailed. We are very pleased that Chief Judge Robinson has recognized that any restriction on access to abortion must fully protect women's health and that this statute does not do so," said Sharon Kaplan, president of Planned Parenthood of Delaware. Critics of the waiting period maintain that it violates the rights of women by placing burdensome, unnecessary obstacles in the path of women seeking abortion. Burdens particular to women in Sussex County were also cited by Planned Parenthood. Because the county has no abor- tion providers, women must travel to Dover or Wilmington for both visits. "We see this as a real problem for women who may need to arrange child care, transportation and time off'from work. It can cause health threatening delays," said Cohen. Robinson agreed with Planned Parenthood's argument that any restriction on access to abortion must include an exception to pro- tect the health of the woman. Brady's office argued that the waiting period, or two trip, re- quirement did not pose a substan- tial obstacle to a large number of women. "Even if the Delaware statute may only deny one woman this right, the statute would be uncon- stitutional," wrote Robinson, de- claring the law's only exception for women in danger of dying from childbirth insufficient. CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, June 13 - June 19, 2003 - 21 Amy Reardon photo The Delaware Division of Public Health did a general air quality investigation at Rehoboth Elementary School June 9 to address parent concerns about mold. Shown is Environ. mental Epidemiologist George Yoeher, left, and Branch Chief of Environmental Health Evaluation and Toxicology Dr. Ger- ald Llewellyn during the inspection. by Dr. Llewellyn is available in the main office and will be ad- - dressed by appropriate staff. No actions beyond that are anticipat- ed." "When it comes to issues about indoor air quality it is better to deal with them as quickly and forthright as possible," said Su- perintendent Dr. Andrew Bran- denberger. "And I think we have done that." 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Some sellers convey the appliances and major systems "as is", offering no promise that they will be in working order. Other agreements require all of the major mechanical systems, such as heating, plumbing, and air conditioning, to be opera- tional. It depends on the terms that are negotiated between the buyer and seller. During this inspection you should check the appliances by turning each one on and letting it run a full cycle. This gives you a chance to make sure that any repairs that were to be made by the seller prior to the closing have been made. These details are much easier to work out before or during the closing than after you have taken possession of your new home. For professional advice on all aspects of buying or selling real estate, consult "The Results Team" at Long and Foster. Call Bruce at (302) 542-7474 or Steve at (302) 542-7473 or both at (800) 462-3224 (ext. 474) or email them at bruce@resultsteamon- line.corn, or steve@resultstea- monline.com.