The union representing elementary school teachers in Ontario say parents and school boards must be vigilant about the spread of mould in school buildings and portables.

Peter Guiliani, the head of the Ottawa-Carleton local of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, said his union has complained about mould in Ottawa schools on behalf of both staff and students, and said parents should do the same.

"Parents should ask questions…if they suspect there's a problem," said Guiliani.

On Monday CBC News reported the story of Carmen Griffith, a western Quebec teacher who said she got sick working in a mouldy school portable and is fighting the province to have her medical bills covered.

Air quality tests conducted at the portable at Chelsea Elementary School in Chelsea, Que., found toxic levels of mould. The board closed the portable to staff and students.

Dr. Jennifer Armstrong, an Ottawa-based specialist in environmental medicine, said she has treated a number of teachers and students in Ottawa. She said mould is a serious issue.

"My biggest fear for patients is exposure to mould because it's so toxic," said Armstrong.

Mould spotted at older school

Parents at Broadview Public School in Ottawa have also expressed concern about mould at their school, particularly after members of the parent council toured the school and found evidence of flooding in the basement and signs of mould in some classrooms. The school closed for a day last year because of a boiler leak.

"There's mould on blinds, windows that need to be replaced," said Liz Burgess, a member of the parent council.

The older building has been on a priority list with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board for repairs, but they have been slow to come because of a lack of funding from the province, according to school board officials.

The school board said it is sitting down with teachers to update its mould protocol. Jennifer McKenzie, the chair of the board, also said the board is in the process of replacing older portables with newer ones.