Parents Fill Cafeteria to Hear Air Quality Specialist

Parents are eager to hear from the man who investigated air quality and health concerns at Edgewater Elementary.

8:50 p.m.—The meeting concludes. Parents left quite upset. 

8:43 p.m.—Another parent asking "Why are our children suffering because of the past." The topic has transitioned to the history of "lack of renovations" at the school, according to many parents. 

8:30 p.m.—The parents here are getting restless and showing more outward frustration. The conversation here is shifting towards concerns about the water supply at the school. 

8:24 p.m.—"I think this is a premature meeting for your lack of findings and way too late for the families," says a man in the back of the room.

Bob Mosier, AACPS spokesman, was clear in saying this was not a definitive report on findings, but it appears many parents were hoping for more than what was offered.

8:18 p.m.—Local mom named Sue says she basically has to "drug up" her child before sending him/her to school due to respiratory issues. Shows her frustration that, "it seems like the process is going to take a long time. I'm not happy."

8:15 p.m.—Light says controlling the dampness and mold should go away very quickly. Should have recommendations done in a few weeks. "We're going to move real quick to find the penetrations [in the steam pipes]," Light said.

He says in a day or two the mold growth can be gone. "The major question is now long until we get this heating and ventilation equipment working better," Light says. 

8:10 p.m.—A teacher at the school is saying she has allergies, diagnosed with asthma four years ago, recently diagnosed with fungal mucin.

"You keep saying the crawl space is the problem, but there has to be other issues for people to be getting sick. Two rounds of steroids, two antibiotics to get it to go away," says the educator. 

8:05 p.m.—Light says air contaminate tests don't necessarily provide indications of mold. Says physically visible signs are a better tell of health concerns. 

8:00 p.m.—Matt Fisher, a local dad, is asking the county to execute "actual air quality studies."

Lisa Crawford, Anne Arundel County Director of Facilities, is answering questions.

7:53 p.m.—Local mom says her daughter is on Allegra twice a day and has missed school about 50 times during the last 27 months. She chokes up while talking and the room gets very quiet. 

7:49 p.m.—Light says of the school's mold and dampness problem,"It's not horrendous exposure but it is an exposure."

Light says he has two girls in Montgomery County schools and is active in the PTA there. He gave credit to custodial staff for keeping the dust level to a remarkable low. 

7:45 p.m.—PTA President Jenny Corkill leading lots of the questions right now. Her and Light are going back and forth—question and answer. 

7:42 p.m.—Light says he instituted a daily check of the "infamous" crawl space for potential steam leaks.  

7:40 p.m.—"Medical evidence as far as exposure in a building to mold growth is short-term temporary effects. In our experience, we would expect folks on the more sensitive end to react at the time they're in the building, and expect these effects to be temporary and not lead to chronic long-term effects," Light says. 

7:35 p.m.—Questions are about to be asked by parents. First one asks about "long term exposure" to conditions with high mold growth.

Dr. Cheung responds by saying that, "if you're susceptible, that's when [mold] can be an issue. If you're otherwise healthy, it shouldn't be an issue."

7:32 p.m.—"Indoor mold isn't a concern for people with normal immune systems," Cheung said. Says outdoor mold is more of a concern usually.

But regardless of the type of reaction for people, "getting rid of [mold]" is usually always the answer. 

7:27 p.m.—Cheung is breaking down reactions to mold into four categories. So far he's touched on allergy-type issues. In some cases, it can develop asthma in a person. 

"I don't know anything specific about the school but I'll be happy to answer questions in general."

7:22 p.m.—Light is concluding his speech, now welcoming Dr. Hung Cheung, a health specialist who can discuss what happens when people are exposed to mold growth and extra dampness.

7:20 p.m.—Light says the building's dampness problem requires for a better balance of ventilation in the building (he points to the ceiling tiles that are have ben warped by humidity).

In our investigation we don't run lots of tests of contaminates in the air.

7:16 p.m.—"We do have mold and dampness issues in the building... It has affected sometimes the conditions in the school," Light says. "The environmental conditions we've observed, we're thoroughly reviewing the history of this building."

Light says indoor dampness and mold issues can cause health issues for sensitive persons but doesn't describe it exclusively as a health risk. "Very little mold growth has come up within the building," Light says. 

7:14 p.m.—Light says he's conducted about 30 parent interviews and about 20 staff interviews. The specialist is discussing the process of his review and where he's been focusing his attention. Lots focused on the "infamous crawl space" and "characterizing the condition of the building."

Light said the major problems are potential environmental issues of mold and dampness.

7:12 p.m.—The meeting is underway! After a brief introduction by PTA president Jenny Corkill, Ed Light is now speaking to the parents and going over his history as an industrial hygienist. 

Dozens of parents are currently filing into the  cafeteria to hear from Ed Light, an air quality and industrial environment specialist who investigated . 

Patch will be providing up-to-the-minute reports from the meeting. Stay tuned. 

Sophia Marx February 01, 2012 at 02:21 AM
To summarize, no one but the parents feel that mold is a threat to the health of our children. It is being brushed off as a non-issue by the county, the company checking our air quality (that is being paid by the county) and the Board of Education (who sent no representatives - though they were invited). We were slated for re-construction in 2006 but the Board of Education dropped us to the bottom of the list. The county would prefer to spend uncountable dollars of taxpayer money in repairs than to replace a building that can NEVER be brought up to code (a quote from the county and their air quality specialist). - I guess the parents just have to fight harder....
Jonathan Moynihan (Editor) February 01, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Thanks for commenting Sophia. I'm working on the follow-up article from the meeting and I'm curious to ask you... What would you have preferred to hear as a parent? What sort of news would have been deemed "good news" for the community at Edgewater Elementary? I've asked a few parents that question, I'm interested to hear your response.
Hearts February 01, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Thanks Jonathan for the updates
Hearts February 01, 2012 at 03:57 AM
My son, brother and cousin go to this school. The meeting was horrible!! I felt that they all were beating around the bush. The board of education members and county council are the main decision makers for a new school they were no where to be found tonight. This school is 60 years old with mold and other issues!!! We want a new school for our children and teachers!! We have heard enough BS put our tax dollars were it belongs! We can't wait until 2017. Im willing to bet a lawyer will be involved soon!
Stacy Bever Ernst February 01, 2012 at 05:07 AM
Jonathan, we would not have these health issues if our school were in Davidsonville or Severna Park. These issues would have been taken care of from Day 1! But we don't rate here in poor little Edgewater!
Sophia Marx February 01, 2012 at 12:54 PM
I would like for the Board and the County Council to consider our children as good as the children that go to the schools that have been properly renovated or replaced. I would like for our school to have the representation in the governing bodies that would make this a reality. At this point we have no credible voice as far as these powers are concerned. Individually we don't bring in larger tax dollars like Davidsonville and Severna Park. We don't have local politicians with children going to our school that would bump us up on the list. We don't have the proper ratio of minorities to bump us up on the list. What we have are people that work hard and pay their taxes and love their school, the teachers, and most of all their children. It's a crying shame that we are invisible because of the facts listed - we need to so something drastic (more than we already have). I really hope we don't have to get lawyers involved, but it may come to that. Just being in the building for a two hour meeting, the temperature was only controllable by opening the doors. I left with a blinding headache and close to an asthma attack - I have no previous history. My son comes home with a bloody nose at least twice a week this year and constant headaches. This is inexcusable. (Doctor cannot find a cause for the nosebleeds or headaches.)
Jenny corkill February 01, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Just FYI our County Council Rep. Jerry Walker was unable to make it last night, however he did send his aide who said she would give him a full report. Also of interest, Belle Grove Elementary's brand new school ribbon cutting ceremony was last night and Board of Ed members were expected to attend. Interesting?
Sophia Marx February 01, 2012 at 02:05 PM
The wise doctor said there were plenty of studies showing that our children would not have lasting issues from exposure at this point in their lives. I just went on line at AACPL and found dozens of articles about the permanent damage that this exposure can do regardless of using medications for short term treatment. The problems are just being covered up for a little while. The articles I pulled were from academic journals with peer review. The lies and second guessing are really irritating.
Jamie February 01, 2012 at 03:15 PM
from what I understand, the"wise doctor" barely had time to read the incomplete information given to him to read in the car on his way to this hastily scheduled meeting. It seems to me that it would have been more prudent to have more facts complied prior to assembling this group. It almost appears like the powers that be are trying to size up folks so they can plan their next move and to appease folks and paint a picture of parents being unwarranted alarmist in the news. It would be nice if it felt more like the board and politicians were honestly trying to work with folks rather than trying to cover their tracks of years of neglect.
Suzanne February 01, 2012 at 04:23 PM
When did they build that school? Wasn't it recently? I bet that if I had that problem in my home the county would deem it as uninhabitable and make me move out!
Jamie February 01, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Yes, I have seen homes for sale that got condemed because there was mold in them. A friend of mine went to settlement and the settlement stopped dead because after the bank inspection, the mold issue stopped the financing. There were workers in one classroom full of kids wearing protective clothing and masks while they were doing the work. Yet the kids and teacher were in there just as if nothing was going on. They were not intrucxted to leave the classroom while this "hazzardous" work was being done. Something is terribly wrong with this whole picture!
Jonathan Moynihan (Editor) February 01, 2012 at 05:07 PM
The school was initially occupied in 1953. Since then, it has had renovations in 1964 and 1985.
Jamie February 01, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I live in the community and am also concerned about the affect that this problem at Edgewater Elementary will have on the value of my home. Whether or not community members have elementary aged children is not an issue for some folks but trying to market and sell a home in a community whose elementary school has mold issues might be quite difficult. Most people are checking out the schools before proceeding to buy a home. The health issues at Edgewater Elementary should be a concern for all people who live in the Edgewater Elementary community. This is a serious economic issue as well.
Gary Fritter February 09, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Hello Everyone, If you would like to sign the petition for Edgewater Elementary School (EES), please use the link below. If you think you know someone that might also be interested in standing with us, please share the link with them via email, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Google +. http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-martin-omalleyjohn-leopoldkevin-maxwellpatricia-nalley-a-feasibility-study-in-2013-funding-for-ees-new-school-construction.
Gary Fritter February 09, 2012 at 08:50 PM
It's important to note that Dr. Light, as educated as he is, is still a business man. His firm is an independant firm...his work was funded by our county. How "independant" can his studyt really be? Well, before Dr. Light even spoke with the EES parents, PTA, teachers and staff - I already knew what he was going to say. With a little research, most will find that Dr. Light gave almost the exact same speech in Arnold. The premis that mold is not a health concern is because there are no standards in our governments for which mold and it's potential impacts are handled. If I recall, Asbestos wasn't considered a health concern until far too late. Of course it took too many people getting sick and millions of dollars in law suits later - standards were set and inforced. When do we start learning from past mistakes and do what is right? In the abscence of standards, our officials have the opportunity to affect a real change in our country. Someone has to be the one to start it. Why not our county?
Jamie February 09, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Gary, thanks so much for devoting so much time and effort towards this situation. What you are doing is so worthwhile to the entire community.
Sophia Marx February 09, 2012 at 10:54 PM
I'm sending links out to everyone I can think of and posting to my Facebook.


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