Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mould spores in school

Over twice the guideline in Berens River classroom

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A Grade 4 classroom at Berens River School will undergo further testing after a report revealed the number of airborne mould spores is twice as high as the recommended guideline.

Berens River band council ordered the community's kindergarten-to-Grade 9 school closed earlier this month after a worker discovered 25 bags of asbestos in the school's crawl space, located under the Grade 4 classroom. Community leaders felt it was unsafe for the school's 350 students and 100 staff to go into the building until an independent investigation determines there is no health danger.

Officials from the province's workplace safety and health division ordered the school closed until results from further tests deem it safe for children to return.

An air-quality test by Winnipeg Air Testing in early December found airborne asbestos fibres did not exceed provincial guidelines and the presence of asbestos was not detected on surfaces such as classroom desks, tables and bookshelves.

However, the tests discovered the number of airborne mould spores in the school's Grade 4 classroom is more than double the guideline level. Tests found the classroom had 517 airborne mould spores per cubic metre, exceeding the guideline of 200 airborne mould spores per cubic metre.

Deputy education minister Gerald Farthing said both mould and asbestos are a concern and the Frontier School Division has sent crews to Berens River to remove the bags of asbestos and store them in a locked, secure RCMP site in the community.

Farthing said crews will clean the entire school before further air-quality and surface tests for mould and asbestos are done.

Officials had hoped the school would be safe to reopen Jan. 7. Farthing said it's not likely crews will reach that target, and the community is still awaiting environmental test results from another Calgary-based investigator.

The air-quality report, posted on the Frontier School Division website, said the bags of asbestos were wrapped with rip-proof orange polyethylene sheeting, and no tears or holes were observed. A cardboard box containing suspect asbestos cement board was beside the wrapped bags.

The report said the material was not labelled and a black garbage bag had been placed over the cardboard box. Two additional cardboard boxes of asbestos waste were found in the furnace room/boiler room and both were labelled and adequately sealed, the report said.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 29, 2012 A4

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