Moldy mess in Moiliili health food store - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Moldy mess in Moiliili health food store

MOILIILI (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Oahu health food store is dealing with the return of a moldy mess. The unsightly growth is covering part of the air conditioning system inside Down to Earth in Moiliili.

Barry Nutter shops at the store often for organic and natural foods, but now the chiropractor is concerned.

"It's really gross. You wonder, wow, this is a health food store, and they're concerned about our health, but then it makes me think they're not concerned about our health," said the Kaimuki resident.

Some of the mold is above part of the produce section.

"Any mold can be toxic. It just depends on your individual sensitivity," said Russell Okoji of Environmental Risk Analysis. "It's a very common problem because we have a very humid environment, and any time there is a water intrusion problem, if it's not dried out, in 24 to 48 hours, you're going to get mold growth."

Okoji said that people with weak immune systems, such as seniors and young children, are most vulnerable to respiratory issues and allergic symptoms.

"I think they should be concerned about the health of their workers and of their patrons," Okoji said.

Store officials said the mold first appeared within the last year, and after remediation the growth returned due to the recent wet weather and high humidity. The business has hired Ohana Environmental Construction to remove the mold and correct the issue.

"They have identified the cause of the growth and they are mobilizing the equipment and materials to complete this job in an expeditious manner," said Mark Fergusson, Chief Executive & Chief Financial Officer of Down to Earth Organic & Natural. "We take the health and wellbeing of our team members and customers very seriously and we are committed to resolving this as quickly as possible."

The business expected the mold to be isolated by Friday.

An official with the Hawaii Department of Health said the agency had no record of prior mold problems at the store, but an inspector will be sent in response to a complaint.

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