Mold causes Mathews County Social Services to make temporary move

Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Oct 12, 2011 - 05:37 PM

Mathews County Social Services has temporarily relocated to the Mathews County Administration Building because of mold in the heating and air conditioning system at its facility on Church Street. On Tuesday, the Mathews County Health Department, which shares the human services building, was also in the process of searching for temporary quarters, and expected to be out of the building by this coming Monday.

County administrator Steve Whiteway said that Social Services director JoAnn Wilson-Harfst noticed an increase in dust accumulation around vents about a month ago, accompanied by a strange smell, and she reported it to his office. The county contracted with Bay Restoration of Kilmarnock to run tests, and the company found mold in the duct work.

Air cleaners were brought in and heavy-duty filters called air scrubbers were installed to pull mold out of the offices while tests were being run and estimates were being accepted for the work, said Whiteway. Staff members were still in the building during this time.

Whiteway said that both a licensed hygienist and the director of the health department had said that exposure to the mold wasn’t a problem for normally healthy individuals, but that people with immune deficiencies shouldn’t be in the building. Last week, Social Services personnel relocated, and the health department won’t be far behind.

Whiteway said that replacing the heat pumps and ducts and cleaning up the mold will cost about $110,000 and will be paid for out of the county’s reserve fund, which is there for such emergencies. Mellon Mechanical of Gloucester has been contracted to perform the HVAC work, while Bay Restoration will clean the building after the heating system is replaced. Whiteway said the company will scrub everything down, from desks and carpeting to books, binders, and even pencils.