The Department of Diné Education (DODE) was closed on June 3, following the findings of elevated amounts of mold in the air and on surfaces leading Navajo Nation and president Ben Shelly to make sure the appropriate measures are being taken to ensure that conditions at the DODE offices are cleaner for employees.
The offices are in the Education Center.
“We are going to make sure that we clean the offices to reduce mold spores and want to ensure that our workers have a safe and healthy work place. The Department of Diné Education has many projects they are working on to better the educational future of our children and our workers need healthy conditions in their work space,” President Shelly said.
Testing on May 29 by the Navajo Nation Occupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed higher than average mold spores were present leading to the closer on June 3. The Navajo Nation Facilities Maintenance department were scheduled to clean the offices to reduce mold spores in the offices according to a Navajo Nation press release.
Mold is commonly in the air but elevated levels can be a health risk Navajo health officials said during a meeting last week.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency website, along with the health issues connected with high levels of mold is the fact that mold can eventually cause structural damage to a school or large building. Mold feeds off moisture and wet wood weakening the structure.
Following the tests, EnviroScience, an ecological consulting company with more than 20 years of service serving throughout the United States and Canada, has performed further tests for mold and is expected to deliver a full report. The report will include findings from a HVAC system inspection and EnviroScience will provide information on other steps that can be taken to eradicate mold spores. The preliminary reports show that the mold spore counts were not near as high as those of Administration Complexes 1 and 2 according to the release.
“We know our employees are concerned about the mold in DODE. But we need to keep in mind that the mold infestation in Administration Buildings 1 and 2 were much higher. A thorough cleaning of the offices and ducts will help reduce the mold count,” President Shelly said.
One factor that could have assisted in the high count is the finding of air ducts in the offices being covered. This limits the amount of air circulation in the building, reducing airflow and allowing for dust and mold build up.
“We want to see the report from EnviroScience so we have a better understanding of what needs to be done to ensure a healthy environment for our employees,” President Shelly said.
The Office of the Controller remained open after testing showed average mold counts. The closings affected about 90 employees at DODE.