Austin police have asked state and national experts to advise them on how to handle mold that has been found on hundreds of untested sexual assault kits.

Officials found mold on nearly 850 kits in May, but it is not yet known whether it will hinder the ability of analysts to collect DNA profiles from them.

In many instances, so far, officials said the staff has been able to successfully do so, despite the mold on the outside boxes.

"None of the evidence in the refrigerator had been tested and, therefore, had never been considered as DNA evidence in the deliberation of any case already adjudicated," Assistant City Manager Rey Arellano wrote to Mayor Steve Adler and city council members in a memo obtained Tuesday.

About 1,600 samples were in a refrigerator where mold was found. After learning of the situation in late April, Austin police officials immediately had workers to improve the unit's seam to help keep moisture from coming in.

They also have spent nearly $20,000 on new equipment, including a dehumidifier, to help reduce the chances of additional mold.


TEXAS SEX CRIMES: As rape kits pile up around the state, victims go ignored, predators walk free