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. 

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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