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Questions remain in ‘dusty' school project – QNS.com

Questions remain in ‘dusty' school project

After last week's front page exclusive report about teachers' allegations of dangerous conditions at P.S. 117, two local respiratory doctors told The Queens Courier that the dust samples were not toxic, but said students and teachers should not be subjected to that kind of environment.
Beginning last November, the School Construction Authority (SCA) hired P & K Contracting, Inc., to remove and reapply damaged brick and stone masonry. Additionally, KZ & V Construction, Inc., a specially licensed company was hired to perform asbestos abatement work at the school attended by more than 350 special needs students.
One teacher took a sample of dust from her windowsill to ESML Analytical, Inc.'s Materials Science Division in Westmont, NJ, and it was found to have a combination of cementations material consistent with brick and cement block work. It consisted of 70 percent Quartz, also known as silica, which comes from sand-based construction materials.
Dr. Murray Rodgers, a respiratory specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, said the matter was definitely unhealthy, but not necessarily because of the silica in the dust. &#8220It's the other things that are present in the dust. You worry about mold spores present, asbestos present,” Rodgers said. &#8220That, and the amount of silica, not just the concentration, but how close the teachers are and how much they're inhaling this stuff.”
In addition, Rodgers said he believed it was in everyone's best interest to have all the dust particles cleared out before school begins.
&#8220The kids should not be in a dusty environment,” he said. &#8220Silica is a potential danger later in life. … The teachers are right in complaining.”
Dr. Joseph Donath, director of pulmonology at St. John's Queens Hospital, said that the dust may not be a short-term health risk, but he was not sure about long-term ramifications.
&#8220It depends on the exposure, and duration and the massiveness,” he said. &#8220It depends a lot on the circumstances, on whether they were exposed for five minutes a day or day-after-day for hours.”
Teachers proposed that Clayton Group Services, Inc., an independent cleaning company suggested by Mount Sinai Hospital, thoroughly cleanse the school before classes resumed on Thursday, August 31. However, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and the Department of Education (DOE) have yet to respond to this proposal.
For the second consecutive week, the DOE failed to answer specific questions posed by The Queens Courier, and instead issued the following statement:
&#8220The SCA met with the UFT 10 months ago about plans for the asbestos abatement project at P.S. 177 in Queens. The SCA, working closely with the UFT, met with staff to explain the process and to address any of their concerns. The asbestos abatement work was pre-filed at DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) and DOB (Department of Buildings), as required by law. All Federal, State and City regulations, and SCA procedures regarding asbestos abatement projects were followed. All asbestos-related work was performed by an asbestos contractor with all appropriate licenses, and pre-certified by the SCA. The procedures were strictly enforced.”

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