Pitkin County Senior Center clears the air
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” Although airborne mold from a leaky roof does not pose a viable health threat, the Pitkin County Senior Center will remain closed for nearly two weeks as a precautionary measure, Aspen Valley Hospital officials said Wednesday.
AVH owns the senior-center building on Castle Creek Road as well as the adjoining Whitcomb Terrace, an assisted-living facility for the elderly. Pitkin County runs the senior center, which welcomes day visitors for classes and events.
A leaky roof spawned mold spores in an open area at the senior center, prompting hospital officials to call in an industrial hygienist, who said the mold was not dangerous. The problem was discovered last week, and Monday the center was closed.
Despite the building’s clean bill of health, John Schied, the hospital’s director of facilities, decided closing the center until March 10 would give crews time to build a wall and cordon off a 150square-foot area.
“We did it as a precautionary measure to err on the side of safety,” Schied said.
For now, all senior lunches and exercise classes have been canceled, said Marty Ames, senior services director. Senior center offices have been moved temporarily to the Health and Human Services building near AVH, but Ames stressed that senior transportation service will continue uninterrupted.
Schied said once the roof is clear of snow, crews will be able to make a permanent fix to the roof, dry out the room and eventually reopen the cordoned off area.
Schied said while the buildings share walls, there is no danger the mold contamination at the senior center could affect the 15 residents at Whitcomb Terrace.
In fact, officials from Healthsafe Inspections, the company Schied hired to test the air, did not recommend Shied close down the senior center, but he did so to play it safe.
The consultant reported that airborne mold counts were not “extremely high” and did not recommend any evacuation. Schied said simply closing the doors between the two buildings is more than sufficient to protect Whitcomb Terrace residents from any possible effects.
“There are mold spores in the air all the time,” noted Lee Cassin, the city’s environmental health director. “There are no health standards for mold.”
Cassin said she has received calls about landlord-tenant squabbles over mold issues, but she usually refers them to state health offices.
“We always just try to help people solve the problem,” Cassin said. That means drying out the area first, then cleaning up the mold ” a solution often as simple as washing an area with bleach.
“I wouldn’t be alarmed if I had a relative living at the facility,” Cassin said. “It definitely doesn’t raise a red flag, especially because they are fixing it.”
The moldy area is cordoned off and industrial fans are pumping air out of the building. A roofing crew was busy repairing the leaking roof at the senior center Wednesday. Schied said the work was on schedule and the center should be ready for business again March 10.
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Bluebird skies, spring-like temperatures and a few inches of snow from Monday night’s storm helped Snowmass skiers and snowboarders cruise into the season Wednesday for opening day.