On Wednesday, November 2, 2011, the Roseville Department of Motor Vehicles office was unexpectedly closed after testing determined that there was an infestation of black mold growing inside the building. The closure happened abruptly at 1:30 PM, after which customers were greeted with a sign on the front door directing them to try other DMV offices in Rocklin, Folsom, and Carmichael.
Reports indicated that the Roseville DMV office would contact people who had appointments to notify them of the closure and rearrange for a different day to conduct their business. The 23 employees who work at the Roseville field office have been reassigned to other offices that will likely see increased numbers of displaced people needing services in the coming days. Initial statements by the Roseville DMV indicated that the process of cleaning, removing, restoring, and clearance-testing the building would take at least a week.
The Roseville DMV, located at 222 Harding Boulevard, is one of the busiest field offices in the Sacramento area, processing about 4,000 transactions per week. Currently there is no indication about the exact cause of the mold, although the nature of the problem has been described. The mold was first noticed by a worker who reported a “musky” odor around a janitor’s closet. Professional indoor air and surface sample testing indicated the presence of “black mold,” otherwise known as Stachybotrys chartarum or Stachybotrys atra.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, Stachybotrys mold is a kind of toxigenic mold that can produce several adverse health effects. Sometimes referred to as “toxic mold,” Stachybotrys releases into the air tiny, mycotoxin-containing mold particles, called spores. The CDC claims black mold is linked with “unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss,” as well as with “upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition.”
The Roseville DMV building was constructed in the 1970s, and is in fact due to be replaced in the next few years. As with the ongoing mold problems at the downtown Sacramento office of the State Board of Equalization, the mold at the Roseville DMV may be the result of plumbing leaks, deteriorating roof materials, or any number of other moisture intrusion causes. The fact that the mold originated from a janitorial closet may indicate that the source of the mold is a build-up of moisture from wet mops, humidity, or un-dried spills. As with any good mold removal process, professional technicians will need to address and correct the underlying cause of the moisture that allowed the mold to grow in the first place.
Of course, once a mold colony forms and begins releasing spores, the mold can spread quickly to other parts of the building. Any place that contains a source of moisture and organic material is a possible location for new mold growth. In order to grow, Stachybotrys mold needs moisture and cellulose-rich material, such as wood, drywall, or wallpaper. Spores can float through air ducts and ventilation systems looking for a new site to land and call home. While initial estimates called for a week-long mold remediation process at the Roseville office, the actual time to fully restore the area may be longer.
The mold clean-up, or remediation, of the Roseville DMV will involve professional indoor air quality specialists. Removing mold properly involves using the correct safety equipment to protect the technicians from exposure to the mold spores, as well as the construction of containment chambers so that the disruption to the mold site does not allow spores to reach other parts of the building. Once the mold-infested areas are cleaned or removed, a clearance test of the area will indicate whether or not the building is again safe for human occupancy.
Until the Roseville DMV is re-opened, people who need services from the DMV will have to contact other branch locations. The California Department of Motor Vehicles website (www.dmv.ca.gov) lists the Roseville office as “closed for renovations.” The web page also posts updated wait times for nearby offices in Rocklin, Carmichael, Folsom, and Auburn. While the mold is removed, customers are encouraged to take advantage of online services to handle regular DMV business, such as registrations, renewals, and vehicle record checks, among other services.