SC lawmakers pushing for mold reforms in public buildings, schools

Grand Strand

COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW) – State lawmakers are trying to prevent how much mold is in public buildings and schools, in the wake of air quality complaints at several schools across the state, including one in Horry County.

A bill in the state Senate aims to create a mold abatement and remediation committee. The committee’s goal would be to study the impact of mold in public areas. The bill is sponsored by several lawmakers across the state, a majority of which are from the Upstate, where there are complaints of mold in several buildings, including a school.

The committee would also work to make public buildings more resilient to flood damage and mold growth.

“We want proper mold remediation guidelines to be prepared and presented by a certified industrial hygienist,” said Meredith Smith, a parent of a child at St. James Elementary School, which is near the Burgess community of Horry County.

St. James Elementary parents, who are worried mold in the building is giving children chronic sicknesses, also want reforms. They spoke to the Horry County Schools board Monday about changes they want the district to make. They gave the HCS board a petition with about 1,250 signatures and a list of actions they want the distict to take about the mold issues.

The parents are also pushing for the mold committee bill.

“This bill was set forth to study the impact of mold and remediation in public buildings, including the schools in South Carolina,” said Ann Steinmuller, a retired teacher in the HCS system.

The committee would also study mold’s impact on public health. The bill places a special emphasis on how mold affects schoolchildren.

The St. James parents say they hope a committee would create numerical indoor air quality standards, which don’t exist in the state.

“No different than standards back in the 60s, 70s and 80s against lead and arsenic,” said Will Taylor. “It was ok to spray orange groves, peaches, apples with those things and now, it’s not ok.”

An HCS spokesperson says air quality testing is done whenever it’s recommended by the health services, facilities or maintenance departments. HCS superintendent Dr. Rick Maxey says the district does follow EPA guidelines for indoor air quality.

In response to the bill, the HCS spokesperson says, “Additional guidance and “best practices” for remediation efforts would be useful and beneficial when addressing air quality concerns in public schools.”

The bill passed in the state House of Representatives on February 12 and is now in the Senate’s medical affairs committee.

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