District Court to undergo thorough inspection for mold

A spokesperson says these spots beneath the escalators are due to hydraulic fluid, not mold.

There could be mold growing at Honolulu District Court.

A worker contacted KHON2 via “Report It” because, the worker said, mold was growing in and outside of the building and not enough was being done to get rid of it.

The worker said the problem was so bad, you could smell it.

KHON2 asked the state to look into it Wednesday morning and, while waiting for an answer, asked an expert for his opinion.

Russell Okoji is with Environmental Risk Analysis, a company that specializes in mold inspections. While he can’t say for sure that there is a health risk, he says there is enough there to at least test the area in order to be sure.

“It looks like it’s a leak from the sprinkler system, in which case there could be mold growing inside of this cavity,” Okoji said.

Using an infrared camera, Okoji can determine temperature changes in the structure of the building and identify places that are damp where mold can grow.

“That’s also dry at this time, but it doesn’t mean that it couldn’t have been wet this morning,” he said.

There are several dark spots on the ceilings above the escalators, and the worker that contacted KHON2 says similar spots are also in the bathrooms and in the courtrooms.

Okoji points out that air samples should be tested to determine if it’s a health risk.

“There’s a very good possibility that there’s actually mold growing within the cavity,” he said.

If it turns out there is mold there, Okoji says there are people who may be more susceptible to health problems.

“If they’re undergoing chemotherapy, if they have pre-existing respiratory conditions, if they have HIV, those people will be more sensitive to the effects of mold, to the exposures to molds,” he said.

Workers told KHON2 off-camera that they’ve noticed the problem and, since they’re constantly exposed to it, they have good reason to worry.

Because it is a public building, visitors are also concerned.

“Especially with me because I have asthma and so does my daughter, they should take action about it. I mean, they’re releasing so many funds for so many stuff. Why not release funds for something concerning our health?” said Maricar Abeheula, who visiting the building with her daughter.

A spokesperson for the State Judiciary Department says maintenance crews will do a top-to-bottom inspection of the entire building. Inspectors will make sure proper tests are done and, if it is determined to be mold, the problem will be remedied.

The spokesperson adds that some of those spots are not mold, but hydraulic fluid used on the escalators, and because the building is more than 30 years old, the oils have seeped in through the walls.

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