Teacher Disputes MMS Air Quality Findings
District sends indoor air quality tests to Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health program and is awaiting word.
A Milburn Middle School teacher, who filed a complaint about mold in MMS with the school board and the Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health program, disputes the district’s reports that the indoor air quality is in a “normal” or “acceptable” range at the school.
Mary Jean Alsina, who attributes her health problems to exposure to mold, said she told PEOSH last week that she believes the tests conducted by the school district were inadequate because the company took samples from a hallway for the control sample instead of outside. She said she also thinks the tests did not cover enough of the school, which has had been notorious for its leaky roof and stained ceiling tiles.
“Moisture is the biggest catalyst for mold growth, which only takes 24-48 hours to grow. Although the district has said they're fixing the problem, I've witnessed the ‘cleanup’ and it is insufficient as it was being done by custodians during school hours,” she said.
Superintendent James Crisfield looked at some pictures of moldy ceiling tiles and said that they were tiles that were removed from the school after the initial air quality reports were completed.
“The tiles in the pictures are gone--they were below the roof leaks and until we can get those leaks patched up this summer, there isn't much use in having tiles in those areas,” Crisfield said.
At a recent school board meeting, Crisfield said the district was “taking it very seriously,” and that repeated tests performed by certified indoor air quality control experts showed that the air quality levels were within the normal range.
Crisfield said that the PEOSH complaint is anonymous, but Alsina told Patch she made the complaint after she was not satisfied with the district’s response.
She sent out an email to parents alerting them to the situation and to her complaints, she said, because she didn’t want anyone children being exposed to mold.
"Parents have a right to know," she said.
The Millburn school district has emailed parents and announced at a public meeting the results of the indoor air quality tests. Officials have also sent the results to PEOSH and are waiting to hear back, Crisfield said.
Crisfield said because Alsina has an attorney he could not comment publicly on her specific claims, but added that Alsina’s opinions are “not necessarily facts.”
Alsina said she has adult onset asthma among other ailments that her doctor says are caused by mold exposure and she tested positive for two of the types of mold that were found in the school.
“Yes, I was in the room every day and for longer periods than the kids are,” she said. “But itt’s not just in the practice room, it’s all over.”
School officials are repairing the roof and overhauling the auditorium this summer and have said they will take care of any problems or potential problems at that time.