Toxic mould closes library
Nearly 30,000 books, DVDs and tapes will be decontaminated following the discovery of toxic mould at a Ka¯ piti Coast library.
Waikanae Public Library will remain closed for the foreseeable future following the discovery of stachybotrys mould, known to be dangerous to humans.
The mould was found in the children’s area, staffroom and ground floor computer area – three of four sites tested.
Another mould known to cause health issues, cladosporium, was found in all four sites.
Despite knowing the building was leaking, Ka¯ piti Coast District Council said it had not been tested before.
The library has been closed since last week, when testing discovered the mould in the council-owned building.
Found in wet-damaged, cellulose-rich material such as plasterboard, ceiling tiles, wallpaper and carpet, stachybotrys can produce toxins that suppress the immune system and cause cancer.
Cladosporium can affect the respiratory system.
Ka¯piti Coast council spokeswoman Natasha Tod was unsure how long the council had known about the leak problems but said it would have been several months at least.
‘‘Hindsight is a wonderful thing. We know what we know now, and we’re doing what we can to address it.’’
About six staff worked in the building – which also housed a council service desk – but none had officially complained of health issues, although some had previously expressed concern about their working environment.
The council had offered support and advice to the staff who had been relocated to the district’s other libraries, Tod said.
While the cost of remediation was as yet unknown, about 27,800 items would have to be removed from the library and decontaminated after low levels of mould were found in the books tested, Tod said.
‘‘The specialists have assured us it’s easy to decontaminate.’’
A planned upgrade of the library had been in the works for years, and almost $1 million was set aside in the district’s Long Term Plan for the work.
No decision on the library’s future would be made until next year, and staff were looking at other ways to provide library services.
Waikanae customers should use libraries and service centres in Paraparaumu and Otaki, or access services online at kapiticoast.govt.nz.
A book¯return bin has been set up at the Cameo drop-in centre across from Sunday Cantina.
Ka¯piti Coast Mayor K Gurunathan could not be reached for comment.