Air quality concerns raised at high school

Published on December 10, 2012
Inside the new Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School. The school board says concerns have been raised over air quality at the school. So far testing has been within normal levels. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

By Tina Comeau



The Tri-County Regional School Board says air quality testing that’s been done at the new Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School has been passing the test. But because the board continues to hear ongoing concerns about air quality from staff and parents, it will do more testing.

The school board says to date the results of all of the testing that has been done has found the air quality to be within normal limits.

But because of the concerns being raised the board is working with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal to have follow-up tests completed as soon as possible.

“A few staff members are not feeling well and they feel the air quality may be to blame,” says school board superintendent Lisa Doucet.

In a news release dated Dec. 10, the school board says a series of air quality tests were completed in the building before students and staff arrived in the fall. At that time the tests found the air quality to be within normal limits.

“The series of air-quality tests results from prior to the school opening included VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and formaldehyde. None were detected in the school at that time,” Doucet says. “These tests are products of off gassing. None were found so off gassing shouldn’t be an issue.”

In light of more recent concerns from staff and parents, the school board completed a further series of air-quality tests on Nov. 8 and Nov. 29.  The results of these tests were also found to be within normal limits, says the board. These rounds of testing were for carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, temperature, humidity and particulates.

“All those were found to be within normal limits and show nothing out of the ordinary,” says Doucet.

Still, the board says that while past tests have shown that there are no problems with the air quality at the high school on Forest Street, the board wants to carry out further testing, to, according to its media release, “make sure the school is a safe and healthy place for our students and staff.”

The first day of class for students at the new high school was Sept. 10. The start of classes had been delayed by a few days due to construction issues at the school.

Throughout the construction of the school several target substantial completion dates of the building came and went. These included January 2012, March 2012, and May 2012. A few weeks before the school opened all of the furniture had yet to arrive in the building.

At its school board meeting last week, the board had indicated that the official opening of the school was being planned for Dec. 17, with the Minister of Education expected to be in attendance.