Friday, August 17, 2012

When school grounds are contaminated...

Some schools have been built on contaminated land
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos
Schools are often newsworthy topics because of the importance they carry in our society. We all want our children to grow up in healthy, educational environments and yet mold infestations and other health hazards often plague these institutions.

Over the years, many studies and reports have come out about schools being built on contaminated grounds. As school boards rarely have much money, they sometimes choose to purchase land that has previously been used for industrial purposes. 

Some school boards may also form partnerships with companies to provide them with a dumping ground in return for the construction of different sports fields. Controversy around this very thing is the most recent story to develop.

Earlier this month, an extensive news article was written about a small New York town that has suffered from what seems like a break-out number of cancer cases in its high school students. Briarcliff is only 30 miles away from New York City, but its 8,000 people are close-knit. Boasting one of the best high schools in the country, Briarcliff is a prized location for parents seeking a quiet life with a good education system.

Unbeknownst to them, however, parents were sending their kids to a school where sports were played on contaminated grounds. Up to eight students fell ill with cancer and at least one died. 

Today, parents want some answers. Though there is no direct proof their children's illnesses were connected to the grounds, speculation abounds.

A short history

In 1998, the fields in Briarcliff were used as a dumping ground for a construction company. Though what was dumped was considered safe, many now doubt that claim. 

One year after the dumping took place, testing was done on the fields and high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were found. Some PAHs are known carcinogens and exposure can occur through inhalation, ingestion or touch.The levels were deemed safe at the time, however, so nothing was done.

The fields your children are playing on
may be contaminated.
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos
In 2007, parents started to complain that their children were finding broken glass and nails on the fields. Students were also exposed to a lot of dust and were having trouble breathing. One student spoke of the dust tasting like chemicals. 

The fields were finally closed in 2010, and remain that way today. The school is waiting for soil remediation to be done before re-opening it.

Some parents are considering a lawsuit against Briarcliff, but everyone knows it will be difficult to make a direct correlation between the cancer cases and the land that, though containing several different chemicals, was considered safe for use.

As a parent in this situation, would you bring forth a lawsuit? Let us know your thoughts.

Controlling vapor intrusion in the school system

Though there is not much else to do besides soil remediation when the bulk of contaminated land is out on playing fields, many more schools have been built on or near toxic waste sites. Ideally, the schools should be moved, but that is not always possible.

When dealing with vapor intrusion and chemical exposure, the best option for indoor air quality is air cleaners. Not only will they adsorb chemicals and gases with activated carbon filters, but units fitted with our UV technology can also help keep mold from forming. Our medical-grade HEPA filters will add another level of cleaning by removing airborne particles, such as dust and pollen.

For more information on Electrocorp’s air cleaning units, visit us on our website or call 1-866-667-0297 to speak to one of our IAQ experts.

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