Cherokee Nation Environmental Programs test for mold in HACN homes

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
08/05/2019 08:15 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Nick Clark, environmental specialist, demonstrates how part of a mold test is conducted with a moister meter measurement against a wall. Mold tests, conducted by Cherokee Nation Environmental Programs, takes measurements of a home’s temperature, relative humidity and air samples to determine if a home contains mold. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
An example of what mold looks like when growing in a home as it begins protruding through the walls. Cherokee Nation Environmental Programs conducts mold testing for the Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Environmental Programs offers mold testing for Housing Authority of Cherokee Nation homes that are suspected of having the fungus growing inside them and could be affecting air quality.

Ashley Wagnon, Environmental Programs manager, said the department has been sampling homes for 10 years, but the service is not publically offered. The service is available upon request for HACN participants and is dependent on funding.

“It’s just usually for Housing Authority (of the Cherokee Nation) or if a participant just calls us out of the blue and says ‘my house has a leak, and I’ve been sick and I want to know what’s going on,’” she said.

According to americanairandwater.com, mold and mold spores adversely affect indoor air quality.

“In low levels, molds and mold spores are generally harmless, but if their levels increase they can affect people, especially people with allergies, asthma and respiratory conditions or suppressed immune system,” the website states.

Wagnon said mold can develop when a house receives too much moisture from a water source.

“It has to have something to grow on and has to have water to activate it. It can be from flooding, plumbing leaks, roof leaks, just anything that brings water into the house,” she said.

The process of mold testing involves checking for types of environmental levels inside the home.

“After some questions on the phone, we do a visual, take some parameters like temperature, relative humidity, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and then get a little history if the homeowners had leaks in the past and things like that. We have an air pump that pulls in the air for five minutes per sample, and we take that to lab for analysis. There’s always going to be some spores because it’s always naturally occurring, so we have to take an outside sample to compare,” Wagnon said.

She said for Environmental Programs to test a HACN participant’s home, the homeowner should suspect a water leak somewhere in the house.

“We really try to discourage us coming out, like if you have mold (visually) growing on the wall. We can come out and try to locate the source of water, but all the mold testing does is confirm that you have mold or you don’t. So if you have it growing, you know you have it, just the moisture needs to be taken care of,” she said.

When mold is detected, homeowners can check with the HACN to see if there are any services they qualify for to fix the problem or it is up to homeowners to take care of it themselves. Wagnon said a report is provided with recommendations to the homeowner.

“When we go out we’re just looking at indoor air quality as a whole, not just mold. So if there’s carbon monoxide levels detected we’ll try to find that source and just a safety check mainly,” she said.

As of July 22, Environmental Programs have test approximately 35 homes.

For more information, email ashley-wagnon@cherokee.org or call 918-453-5009.
About the Author
Lindsey Bark grew up and resides in the Tagg Flats community in Delaware County. She graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, emphasizing i ...
lindsey-bark@cherokee.org • 918-772-4223
Lindsey Bark grew up and resides in the Tagg Flats community in Delaware County. She graduated magna cum laude from Northeastern State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, emphasizing i ...

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