Doctor: Mold symptoms usually are temporary
By Erin Kayata
STAMFORD — Since Alla Bourlatskii’s daughters began attending Westover Magnet Elementary School, she’s seen changes in their health. Her older daughter began developing food allergies to fruits and vegetables, she said. Her younger daughter was diagnosed with reactive airways disease after her first year at Westover, is using her inhalers more frequently and had to take more medications. Rashes have appeared on the girls and sore throats pop up on Monday and last throughout the week, disappearing on the weekend.
It wasn’t a surprise to Bourlatskii when she then found out mold was present in both daughters’ classrooms. “In my mind, this is absolutely not a coincidence,” Bourlatskii said. “I think all of these things chronologically tell me this is all related to this toxic environment.” With the city’s Mold Task Force investigating mold in city school buildings, Mike Handler, director of operations for Stamford and task force member, has been telling parents and staff that the situation is not intrinsically a health crisis. Mold exists in most buildings, he says. It’s a person’s sensitivity levels that determines their reaction. “It’s an educational opportunity crisis, because we’re running out of room to educate people,” he said, adding it’s almost impossible to completely eliminate mold from any building. More Information
Signs and symptoms of mold exposure:
Shortness of breath
Worsening of asthma
Stuffy nose that is sometimes accompanied by drainage that may contain blood
A dry cough or a cough that sometimes brings up blood or plugs of mucus
Red itchy, burning, watery eyes
Fever with or without chills
Chest or joint pain
Unintentional weight loss
Source: City of Stamford Health Department To date, mold has been reported in eight elementary schools — Westover, Hart, K.T. Murphy, Newfield, Northeast, Roxbury, Stillmeadow and Toquam, plus Turn of River Middle School and Westhill High School. But Bourlatskii is not alone in seeing the health effects of the mold. Over the past month, public meetings on the problem have been populated by parents complaining of their children’s migraines, and teachers with doctors notes about the hazards of working around mold. RELATED: What we know about the mold problem in Stamford schools Dr. Dominic Roca, a pulmonologist and allergist with Stamford Health, said in general, the effects of mold are not long standing. “It’s very unusual for patients to get infected by mold unless their immune system is not good,” he said.
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