Did the Elliot Lake Mall Collapse Because of Mold?
Earlier this year we reported that asbestos was released into the air when the Elliot Lake Mall collapsed.
In addition to asbestos issues, this mall also had a history of leaks and mold.
A recent news article highlights the extent of the mold issues, which were caused by leaks in the roof.
A letter dated June 1, 2005 from Elliot Lake chief administrative officer Troy Speck to Richard Kennealy of Elliot Lake Retirement Living, which owned the mall through a subsidiary, said the library had experienced “severe leaks from the roof” for several years.
This letter, written seven years ago, highlights the extent of the moisture issues in the mall. In this instance, rather than moving the public library out of the mall to keep staff and patrons safe from bad air quality, Elliot Lake’s city council chose to renew the lease with the mall owners.
Deputy mayor Al Collett believes some of his colleagues voted in 2009 to keep the library inside the Algo Centre, despite concerns about the state of the facility, because of a desire to draw patrons to the financially struggling mall. “I still can’t understand that one,” Mr. Collett said. “We wanted a new building,” he said. “It was deplorable – there was leaks, there was mould.”
It is fairly clear that financial concerns, as opposed to the health and safety of the staff and library patrons, took precedent in this issue. What is even more disconcerting is that the mold issues were caused by a leaky roof which was not being repaired properly. The first rule of mold remediation is to address the cause of the moisture issues. Once this is done, then the mold and contaminated materials must be removed. In this case, neither was done!
According to former library board chair, Katherine Croxson, many staffers and board members wanted to leave the building, and raised several concerns about the state of the facility because the mold posed a health hazard and there were safety hazards because the ceiling tiles were saturated with water and could fall.
“There was water in the light fixtures,” Ms. Croxson said. “We pointed it out to council…It was obvious. You could see it, and nobody did anything.”
According to this news article, there is no evidence linking the structural issues leading to the collapse and the moisture issues. From a liability stand point, it probably makes sense for such a conclusion to be made because the mall owners and the city probably do not want anyone to point a finger at them accusing them of negligence, particularly because two people died and several people were injured when the roof collapsed.
However, where there is moisture, the right temperature, and food, there will be mold. Mold is natures way of breaking down organic matter and is a necessary part of our ecosystem. When mold begins to grow indoors, the same process will occur and in this case, the mold will begin to break down the structural integrity because it’s food consists of building materials such as paper, wood, drywall, wallpaper, carpet, and ceiling tiles.
In fact, mold is like a cancer because it will continue to grow unless it is removed. Since mold continues to grow, it requires a constant supply of food, which should be a concern for any property owner because it destroys the surface that it is growing on. Simply treating mold is not enough.
Mold is not just a health problem, but a structural one too. Property and home owners that have moisture issues should not neglect or ignore the problem, but rather address it aggressively. To not do so could lead to mold, health problems, and maybe even structural integrity issues. Bottom line, ignoring Your Mold Issue Will Only Make The Situation Worse!
Common sense dictates that if a structure has constant leaks, leading to years of moisture issues, then this will most likely have some impact, particularly if there is a large mold infestation. Should we question the conclusion that there is no evidence linking the structural issues with the moisture issues? Maybe. What do you think?
— Got #Mold?™ (@gotmoldglobal) August 28, 2012