Mold Cleanup Hits Snags At A
Beaufort, SC High School
CHEMICALS CAUSING A CONCERN FOR SOME
By Crystal Streuber, Special to The Packet
Published Friday, October 25, 2002
SOUTH CAROLINA -- Air quality concerns at Battery Creek High School this week have
spurred an investigation by state health officials.
Representatives from the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspected
the school's air quality Tuesday and Wednesday, said district spokesman John Williams.
OSHA workers were responding to a complaint about odors from chemicals being used to
alleviate serious mold problems at the school, he said.
discovered at the school in summer 2001. Since then, the county school board approved a
cleaning project for air ducts in the school's heating, air-conditioning and ventilation
system and a $2.7 million dehumidification system scheduled for completion by August
started cleaning the system and sealing air ducts with an encapsulating agent this fall,
a move that will kill any mold already in ducts and prevent future growth, said Roger
Stevens, environmental manager for the state Department of Health and Environmental
also investigated the duct-cleaning process after a parent of a student at the school
complained, he said. The parent, Cindy Allen, said her daughter is suffering health
problems because of the chemicals being used to treat the system.
daughter is on two medications because of the chemicals and has missed school because of
related illnesses, she said, adding that school officials will not listen to her
not warning parents of anything," Allen said. "We're leaving the safety of our children
during the day to these people. I'm aggravated. I've been on the phone with people from
the school over and over again and no one will talk to me."
she spoke to the school nurse, who said more than 10 students had been to the office
because of illnesses believed to be related to the chemicals.
not the only one complaining. The complaint to OSHA was from a school employee, Williams
prohibits OSHA from releasing complainants' names.
talking to school district officials in charge of the mold cleanup, Stevens said workers
have started using portable air filters that catch small particles after each duct is
worked on. Ventilation also has been improved where possible.
may be isolated cases, Stevens said the chemicals generally aren't harmful.
"As long as
they properly ventilate, the chemical shouldn't cause any problems," he said. "I think
they were doing it the way the manufacturer specified, but because that one person
appeared to be hypersensitive, they decided to do extra."
cleaning is being done after school and on weekends, Williams said, which also cuts down
on possible health effects.
use these chemicals, there still are sometimes traces of the cleansers hours after
they've actually been applied," he said. "We don't have 1,500 students in the building
while these people are going around in the ductwork spraying chemicals."
district is concerned about safety, Williams said.
maintenance director Paul Carstens and Principal Rodney Jenkins could not be reached for
comment. District capital projects manager Paul Andreas and Battery Creek High nurse
Diane Murray refused to comment.