Following an April 10 air test conducted at Lawrence High School by Olmstead Environmental Services of upstate Garrison, the building was deemed safe and concerns raised by teachers about were found to be accurate.
The Lawrence Teachers Association requested that another company, independent of JC Broderick & Associates, a St. James-based firm that has been conducting reviews of the air in the high school, be brought in after three teachers reported getting sick from mold-related illnesses, including one who suffered severe respiratory distress last fall.
“As part of the district’s ongoing effort to monitor air quality and health conditions Post-Sandy, comprehensive testing and inspection was recently performed at the high school by a state-approved and licensed industrial hygienist (Olmstead),” said Lawrence Superintendent Gary Schall. “Based on his evaluation the high school is deemed completely safe.”
The test, which cost $960, did detect mold in the science classes and the mold found ranged from light to moderate, along with inactive (dead) mold on corroded window sills in other classrooms, which was caused by leaks before Hurricane Sandy, Schall said. “We are taking care of it and will continue to do it in the future,” said Board of Education President David Sussman, who added that routine monitoring for mold should not only be conducted in buildings but at home as well. He said that longstanding furniture by windows and doors should be moved and the areas checked.
Cleaning and mitigation is being performed, district officials said. In addition, the first floor boys’ bathroom, the custodial closest and crawl space has been “closely monitored,” according to Schall. A steam leak in the custodial closest caused mold to form in the boys’ bathroom, and it was closed several months ago. Schall said the leak was repaired recently and the closest was cleaned.
LTA President Lori Skonberg said the finding of mold validates her organization’s call for another test. “The district is complying with everything and taking care of everything like they said,” Skonberg said.
There is no mold in the crawl space, but the area needs ventilation. The system is expected to be fixed this summer. “To maximize the barrier separation between the crawl space and the first floor, the hygienist has recommended limited access to the crawl space so that [the] crawl space doors remain locked until the ventilation system is repaired,” Schall said.
JC Broderick & Associates has been conducting air quality tests every two months and visuals inspections every two weeks for the past year, according to Schall. To date, the district has spent at least $62,000, he added.
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