Wednesday, May 10, 2017

District Heights Elementary School Has Mold And Unhealthy Air Quality

District Heights Elementary School Mold/Air Assessment Shows The Air was Unhealthy and Not Safe! 

PGCPS is not informing the community about the carbon dioxide levels and is relying on outdated laws that do not ensure school air is safe fir children are staff. In the press releases dated April 6 2017 and April 21, 2017 PGCPS left out important information.

Facts and Documentation

PGCPS released a April 18, 2017 air quality report on District Heights Elementary. Earlier they released a April 4 2017 air quality report . 

Findings Include:

1. Carbon Dioxide levels are too HIGH with several above 1000 and above 900! 
  • The April 18, 2017 air quality report  hows that in four District Heights classrooms Classroom 2, Classroom 5, Classroom 7, Classroom M19. Carbon Dioxide levels were found be  above 900 in Classroom 1, Classroom PreK Classroom 2, Classroom 11, Classroom 13, Classroom 15, Classroom 10. 
  • The April 4 2017 air quality report shows the amount of Carbon Dioxide was also at very very HIGH levels: Classroom K2 had from 1,287 ppm, Classroom 10 had 1,892, Classroom 7B had 2,200 and Classroom 4 had 2,346 ppm.  The background outside air level was 466 ppm!
2. Black Mold was found. 
400 m3 of Stachybotrys was found in room M-18 according to the April 18, 2017 Report (see page 22). Stachybotrys is considered a toxic black mold and was not found in the outside air according to the test results. Therefore it must have come from an inside mold problem. note: The earlier report dated April 4th also found Stachybotrys but at a lower level of 40 m3.

If you disturb the contaminated areas with this type of mold,  the dust created can increase exposure to the fungus and its metabolites. Could that be why the level went from 40 to 400 in just a few weeks and the 400 level was found when- according to the report- work was being done in the room? Was care taken to prevent the dust from going into other classrooms. 

According to the CDC, "In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children."

3. Several mold species were present in District Heights Classrooms which can cause asthma like symptoms. 
Testing from both reports shows molds such as  Myxomycetes, Pithomyces, Cladosporium and Dicyma. Classroom 4 had the worst air quality in the first report.

4. Toxic chemicals used in the building has sickened staff and children: Staff and parents are reporting that when contractors came into to "clean" the mold a chemical smell went through the entire building and made people lightheaded and sick. Apparently, the air handler was on and brought the strong chemicals into EVERY room in the building. Cleaning chemicals for mold can be toxic and they should not have been used with children in the building. 

5. Pictures from the school clearly show mold and neglect. Please notice the very very dirty filter from the air handler? Does this seem healthy to you?  Take a look at the mold. Does this seem healthy to you ? 

Read the April 18, 2017 Report Here
Read the April 4 2017 air quality report 

What Parents and Staff Need To Know:

 Carbon Dioxide levels over 900ppm are too high and unhealthy.  

Contrary to PGCPS conclusions of safety in the building, research shows that high levels of carbon dioxide effects brain function, attention, memory and concentration.  A Harvard School of Public Health study found that high CO2 levels -in the 1,000 parts per million concentration like in District Heights classrooms have a direct and negative impact on human cognition and decision-making. They found that, on average, a typical participant’s cognitive scores dropped 21 percent with a 400 ppm increase in CO2. 

"Our findings show impacts above the 95th percentile of CO2 (945 ppm) "
" Evidence mounts for CO2 as a direct pollutant, not just a marker for other pollutants (Satish et al. 2012). We found statistically significant declines in cognitive function scores when CO2 concentrations were increased to levels that are common in indoor spaces (approximately 950 ppm). 
Read the study here. 

Research shows inadequate classroom ventilation, as evidenced by CO2 concentration exceeding 1000 ppm is  associated with reduced school attendance. Read the study here. 

How long have children and staff been breathing this air?
Why isn't clean air a priority in PGCPS school? 

A study of the respiratory health of 4,600 children from six cities in the northeast USA demonstrated that the presence of mold and dampness in the homes were correlated to several respiratory symptoms as well as a number of non-respiratory symptoms. The effect was of similar dimension to parental smoking (Brunekreef et al., 1989). Two studies involving 15,000 children and 18,000 adults from 30 communities in Canada came to similar conclusions. The authors concluded that a non-allergenic mechanism was involved. A dose-effect was also seen in that more visible mold yielded more symptoms. 
Overall the mold contamination was associated with a 50% increase in asthma and a 60% increase in upper respiratory disease (Dales et al., 1991a; 1991b). A large European study (Zock et al., 2002) including 38 study centres worldwide and 19,000 adults concluded that indoor mold growth has an adverse effect on adult asthma. Reported mold exposure in the last year was associated with asthma symptoms and bronchial responsiveness (OR range, 1.14-1.44). This effect was homogeneous among centers and stronger in subjects sensitized to Cladosporium species. As in the Canadian studies, the authors concluded that both allergic and non-allergic mold related effects were involved in the health outcomes. There is some evidence that exposure to environmental molds may play a role in asthma-related mortality (Targonski et al., 1995).

There're no federal standards for "safe" levels of mold. So when PGCPS states it is not breaking any standard, that is because standards are not set that have considered these health effects. 

Q and A on Air Quality
What constitutes a “safe” level of mold? 
In an air sample, mold counts should be equal to or below outdoor counts. There should be no stachybotrys. Not one spore. Aspergillus should be present only at negligible levels. The standard in Belgium requires no more than 2 1/2 percent aspergillus in the total count. However in District Heights Classroom 4 had 8% for example, much higher than Belgium allows.

Why is mold a problem? 

Stachybotrys and other mold may produce several toxic chemicals called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins can be present in spores and small mold fragments released into the air. Once in the air, children and teachers and staff may breathe them into their lungs and have symptoms.

Why do we call this "toxic"? 
Because any exposure that causes memory problems or brain problems or increased asthma issues is toxic! Kids cannot learn in toxic environments. Kids cannot learn when they are having respiratory issues.

Research Cited

Harvard Study Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office Workers

Carbon dioxide toxicity and climate change: a serious
unapprehended risk for human health
Carbon dioxide toxicity and climate change: a serious
unapprehended risk for human health
Classroom carbon dioxide concentration, school attendance, and educational attainment.

Effects of toxic exposure to molds and mycotoxins in building-related illnesses.

Basidiomycete mycelia and spore-allergen extracts: skin test reactivity in adults with symptoms of respiratory allergy.

Sensitization to Airborne Ascospores, Basidiospores, and Fungal Fragments in Allergic Rhinitis and Asthmatic Subjects 

Neurobehavioral and pulmonary impairment in 105 adults with indoor exposure to molds compared to 100 exposed to chemicals.

"A number of studies have identified COassociated symptoms and respiratory diseases such as sneezing, rales, wheezing, rhinitis, and asthma (Carreiro-Martins et al. 2014; Ferreira and Cardoso 2014). Other symptoms, cough, headache, and irritation of mucous membranes, were also identified (Ferreira and Cardoso 2014). Lack of concentration was associated with COconcentrations above 1000 ppm. Gaihre et al. (2014) found that COconcentrations exceeding 1000 ppm is associated with reduced school attendance. Teachers also report neuro- physiologic (i.e., headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating) symptoms at COlevels greater than 1000 ppm (Muscatiello et al. 2015)."
P.N. Bierwirth, PhD Read it here.

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