Moldy CMS buses on the state's radar

Moldy CMS buses on the state's radar


by BILL MCGINTY / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @billwcnc

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 28 at 6:40 PM

CHARLOTTE, NC -- School buses transport tens of thousands of CMS students to and from school every day.  But Wednesday, a CMS bus driver, who doesn’t want his face on TV for fear he’ll lose his job, is raising concerns about buses with moldy seats and dark patches of what he says is mold on the ceilings.

NBC Charlotte asked him if the buses in the photos with mold are in service now, and he replied “yes, that’s correct”.

CMS say the buses affected are not transporting kids and encourage drivers to report otherwise.

CMS media representatives acknowledge there is mold on some of the buses, and say it was most likely caused by our wet rainy summer, some of which leaked into school buses that sat idle and unchecked.

The bus driver tells NBC Charlotte he is unprepared and untrained to clean and dispose of mold. 

“They basically gave drivers gloves and some cheap masks and a bucket of bleach water” said the driver.

One employee even wrote the state informing them about the problem and the fix. The Department of Health and Human Services wrote back saying:

Mold growth in occurs when a mold spore lands on a material containing the appropriate amount of moisture and an appropriate food source. There are always a mold spores in the air and some mold spores on most surfaces.

Growth does not occur unless suitable environmental conditions are present. When mold growth is present, remediation should occur with the goal of restoring the environment to a dry and clean condition.

Hard surfaces made of inorganic materials such as plastic metal or glass can be cleaned.  Cleaning is a physical process that extracts, removes and properly disposes mold spores, fragments, dust, debris, and biofilms from surfaces. Cleaning is important to remove food sources from hard, nonporous and inorganic surfaces because mold spores and fragments contain allergens and irritants.

Use of bleach, other sanitizers or disinfectants to kill mold without thorough and effective cleaning is unacceptable. Note that some sanitizing agents, disinfectants and bleach may cause respiratory irritation.

Cleaning can be accomplished by wet or dry methods. Wet methods would involve using the two bucket method of damp wiping or scrubbing affected surfaces with one bucket filled with a detergent water solution, damp wiping with a clean water solution and air drying. Clean water should be changed frequently. 

The dry method would use a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuum. These vacuums have powerful suction, are sealed, and equipped with filters that prevent any particles from becoming airborne.

Cleaning vinyl seats could also be accomplished by wet or dry methods because the vinyl surface covering prevents spores and particles from getting into the cushions. Cleaning the particleboard or fiberboard under the seats will be difficult because the material is porous.

NBC Charlotte took some cotton swabs that our concerned bus driver says he rubbed on moldy spots on the school bus to Jennifer Easterwood, a micro-biologist who studies bacteria and who will examine these samples and eventually give us results. Jennifer says mold is common, saying “it’s in our air and in our water” and “it just affects people differently”.

CMS tells NBC Charlotte that they are asking their drivers to report new moldy spots to their supervisors and they are quick to point out that not all the buses in the fleet are affected.