Doctor weighs in on St. James Elementary School air quality test results

Doctor talks St. James Elementary air quality results

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Since the data from the most recent round of testing at St. James Elementary School was released, a local doctor said it’s possible that some who have weaker immune systems may develop certain symptoms as a result of what was found in the school.

“Prolonged exposure to a water-damaged building, which is what we see here, can lead to multiple symptoms," said Dr. Natasha Thomas. “It can of course cause respiratory symptoms but it can often times lead to chronic inflammatory response syndrome in a susceptible individual.”

Thomas said some of the symptoms of chronic inflammatory response syndrome include chronic fatigue, headaches, blurred vision, muscular skeletal problems like joint pain, and gastrointestinal issues.

“We know there is wide variability in how people are affected by airborne mold spore exposure. Currently, there is no established airborne concentration that is known to adversely affect an individual’s health, but people’s reactions can vary based on their sensitivities or weakened immune systems,” said Horry County Schools spokesperson Lisa Bourcier. “Symptoms that may seem to occur from mold exposure may also be due to other causes, such as bacterial or viral infections or other allergies. However, exposure to excessive amounts of some common microorganisms can result in allergic or respiratory irritation in some susceptible individuals.”

“Twenty-five percent of the population are susceptible. That explains why not everyone in the building will get an illness. Certain individuals will be affected by a minute amount while other people will not be affected," said Thomas.

The school district sent an email to parents Friday outlining what’s taken place over the last few months, including cleaning and testing. The school district said they’ve identified the primary cause of the problem to be leaks in the roof as well as moisture in the wall, likely from Hurricane Florence. The district said those problems have been fixed.

A re-test was scheduled for St. James Elementary School on Sunday, according to the district, and they expect to have feedback from that testing within seven to 10 calendar days.

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