Toxic mould closes li­brary

The Dominion Post - - News - Vir­ginia Fal­lon vir­ginia.fal­[email protected]

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.

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