Even in a Morgue, Mold can be Deadly

Even in a Morgue, Mold can be Deadly

  • Posted: Aug 24, 2015
  • By:
  • Comments: 0

We’re willing to bet the Kane County Morgue in Geneva isn’t anywhere near the top of your list of places to visit. Wherever it was on your list, though, it probably dropped after mold was discovered in the morgue during the summer of 2014.

Freezer breakdowns, heating and cooling issues, and problematic electric and security systems all contributed to the facility’s figurative implosion. The broken freezers and unstable HVAC caused water damage to the building… not to mention bodily decay in the morgue’s corpses. Bodies are made up mostly of water, and if the freezers fail, that water is going to harbor mold growth in the corpses, the freezers, and the building as a whole.

Kane County Coroner Rob Russell says the Geneva facility closed in June 2014 after county officials stopped by for a routine freezer inspection and found the place riddled with mold. Strip tests and air tests revealed that the mold was not toxic black mold, fortunately, but posed health risks as a serious respiratory allergen. For this reason, Russell elected to protect his employees’ health by moving his services from Geneva to the DuPage County facilities in Wheaton.

Toxic black mold seems to get all the attention because of the severe health risks it poses, but other molds can prove equally inconvenient. Especially for individuals with mold allergies, coughing, wheezing, sneezing, and irritated skin and eyes make doing your job difficult, not to mention the fact that mold can be deadly. Russell recognized his responsibility to keep his employees healthy took the necessary action to protect his staff.

After eight months of remediation and renovation, the Kane County Morgue reopened at its Geneva location in February of 2015. Russell claims he “inherited a neglected facility” when he began his tenure as coroner, and he laments this emergency remediation putting him nearly $125,000 over budget last year when part of his five-year plan was a new morgue facility anyway. These renovations to stop water damages and remove mold only made the space safe for employees; they did nothing to extend the life of the morgue itself. The morgue requires great expansion in the future if it is to become optimally functional, and Russell hopes to begin construction on a new facility within the next few years.