Monit-Air, in conjunction with the Belmont County Health Department, performed a series of surface, swab tests in two classrooms at Barnesville Elementary School on Friday, Feb. 24. Results from those tests, taken in the second grade classrooms of Amber Toriseva and Greg Milliken, are expected to be received by the school on Thursday. Officials stress that despite complaints of a musty odor, no evidence of mold has been found and previous tests have shown the air quality to be good.

Previously, results from an air quality test conducted on Feb. 1, following a complaint of odor in the classrooms, showed there is no presence of mold in that part of building which was built in the 1940s.

Barnesville Exempted Village School District Superintendent Angela Hannahs said that after receiving complaints of odors, the district was advised by the Belmont County Health Department to hire an independent air quality testing company to investigate the source of the odor. She said the test results, received Thursday, Feb. 9 from Monit-Air showed no presence of mold in the building.

John Murphy of Monit-Air said samples for the original air test were taken in both rooms, other classrooms, the hallway and outside for comparison. He said the test showed common mold one would find anywhere. Murphy said the second time he took bulk samples from the ceiling tiles.

He took swabs in room 101 and 105 on Friday near the windows where the smell, which is reportedly worse following a heavy rain, is noticed. He said the swab test can distinguish between miscellaneous debris and contaminants. While in Room 101, Murphy took a sample while the air vent was on. District Transportation and Maintenance Director John Blattler said that there had not been an issue with the odor all year in Room 101 until the last heavy rain storm. Hannahs said an architect was also being contacted.

Also present Friday was Belmont County Health Department Deputy Commissioner Robert Sproul. Sproul said he had received calls about "black" mold at the school, but no such mold was ever found at the school.

"They said that even if it's just one spore (of mold) that is found, they still have to categorize it as an incidence," Hannahs said.

Sproul said the testing categories were "numerous", "moderate", "few", and "occasional" in descending order. He said Barnesville's air test result was pretty much all "occasional" with one result of "few".

"It really wasn't bad," Murphy said. "I've done this (testing) many times, and generally it's people that just worry a little bit too much. A lot of the things you find are just common housekeeping problems and just things like that and nothing out of the ordinary."

"The school has complied with all of the health department recommendations. We have done everything they have asked us to do," Hannahs said. "At no point have we ever been told that these classrooms are unsafe for students or staff. We are doing what we have been asked to do."

Murphy added, "We feel that the most important testing is the air testing because that is what you are breathing in all day."