Asbestos floor tiles found in class at Howard High

November 13, 1996|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Workers trying to remove a mildew odor from an area of Howard High School inadvertently uncovered asbestos floor tiles in a classroom last week, forcing the room to be closed temporarily while the asbestos was removed, a school system spokeswoman said yesterday.

Neither the school's staff nor students were in any danger from either the mildew odor or the asbestos tiles, said spokeswoman Patti Caplan.

The area has been inspected by maintenance workers, the Howard County Health Department and an indoor air-quality consultant hired by the school system.

"There doesn't appear at this point to be any health hazard," Caplan said.

The vinyl asbestos tiles in the classroom had been covered by carpeting, and none of it was in the deteriorated or crumbling condition that might lead to the release of dangerous asbestos fibers, Caplan said.

The carpeting was being removed as part of a monthlong effort by maintenance workers to rid six classrooms in Howard's B-wing of a mildew smell, Caplan said.

The carpeting in the rooms had been removed and replaced with tiles as of yesterday.

No asbestos was found in the other five classrooms.

Classes were moved to other areas of the school during the repairs, said Howard Principal Mary Day.

"Anytime you have to move classes, it is somewhat inconvenient, but the teachers and students have adjusted very well," she said.

Maintenance workers have taken several other steps to remove the odor, including cleaning the heating and air-conditioning system, and washing walls and floors with bleach and disinfectant, Caplan said. In some of the rooms, mold was found in the wallboards and insulation, and they were replaced.

The results of tests on air samples taken by the air-quality consultant are expected later this week or early next week, Caplan said.

But she said the odor of mildew may be a function of the age of the building more than anything else. Howard High was built in 1951.

"You're going to have smells in older buildings," Caplan said. "They aren't dangerous, but they are there."

The school is planning a community forum to discuss the problem sometime next week, Day said.

Pub Date: 11/13/96

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