MIDDLE TOWNSHIP - The Board of Education will test air at Elementary School No. 1 on Eldredge Road after a teacher found possible mold growing on corkboards in two first-grade classrooms.

The boards were removed and the classrooms and all surfaces cleaned with a disinfectant solution that kills mold, Superintendent Michael Kopakowski said.

The district plans to hire experts to take air samples to ensure that the air quality in the school is safe, he said.

The issue was brought to the district's attention late last month, he said, adding that it was the first time the school has encountered a possible problem with mold.

Kopakowski said the problem may have been caused by a leaky downspout.

"We're scheduling an air-quality assessment of the entire school. My only concern is providing a safe and healthy environment for our children and staff," he said. "We scheduled the testing, and when we get the results, we'll do whatever is necessary to address it - if there is anything to address."

Mold is pervasive and occurs naturally in the environment. But in some cases, it can exacerbate asthma or other respiratory conditions, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.

"Some individuals who have pre-existing health conditions may be at an increased risk. Individuals who have allergies or lung conditions such as asthma or emphysema can exhibit health effects from exposure," the department said in its general mold health advisory.

In rare cases, districts have closed schools to address mold contamination. But New Jersey mold expert Joseph Dumanov, a medical mycologist, said that is the exception.

"Mold is only a problem when it's a problem. And most of the time, it's not," he said. "It might not even be a mold. It's probably just a fungus. And most fungi don't cause any health issues."

He said the district needs to hire a qualified, competent inspector to examine the classrooms.

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