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Statement from Acting Superintendent Eveny de Mendez re: CO2 Test Results (1-24-2019)

Dear West Orange School Community,

 

Earlier this year, the West Orange Public Schools received reports from several high school students that some classrooms were "stuffy" and they were feeling "drowsy" during class. In response, the Board contracted AHERA Consultants to conduct testing throughout all schools for possible levels of carbon dioxide.

 

All classrooms, multi-purpose rooms, gym areas, teacher workspaces, and offices were evaluated for carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and temperature and relative humidity, including visual inspections for the presence of mold.

 

Air monitoring findings revealed:

  • No elevations in carbon monoxide in any of the locations were found
  • Temperature and humidity were within normal ranges as recommended by ASHRAE and PEOSH
  • No evidence of visible mold contamination or mold like or musty odors detected

 

In humans, carbon dioxide (C02) is produced by respiration.  Concentrations can accumulate in a place where there is stagnant air, such as classrooms where there are a higher number of students in small  spaces.  In New Jersey, PEOSH standards refer to 1000 parts per million (ppm) C02 as guidance for public spaces.  

  • C02 levels exceeding 1000 ppm is a general indicator that fresh air needs to be introduced into the space in order to reduce the concentration.   Ranges between 1000-2000 ppm can cause complaints of drowsiness and poor air. PEOSH guidelines recommend the utilization of operable windows to introduce the fresh air.  
  • C02 levels ranging between 2000 - 5000 ppm could lead to stagnant, stale, or stuffy air that may produce sleepiness, headaches and poor concentration.  PEOSH guidelines for these levels recommend that unit ventilators be assessed to ensure proper air flow into the space.
  • Carbon dioxide can have adverse affects on health when it reaches a concentration of 20,000 to 40,000 ppm, a level defined by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. 

 

Fresh air supply findings throughout the West Orange Public Schools, as measured by carbon dioxide, revealed the following levels:    

  • Of the 549 areas tested, 345 contained good to excellent levels of carbon dioxide
  • 195 areas contained carbon dioxide levels between 1000-1999 ppm
  • 3 areas contained carbon dioxide levels between 2000-2432
  • None of the areas contained carbon dioxide levels above 2432

 

Based on these findings and PEOSH standards, health officials have assured us that the levels of carbon dioxide present in our schools pose "no imminent health risks" for the students or staff of the West Orange Public Schools and that the present levels are not "unusually elevated".  

 

For areas containing C02 levels between 1000-1999 ppm, recommendations include:

  • Utilizing operable windows whenever necessary to introduce fresh air into the space
  • Continuing to conduct routine preventative maintenance service of unit ventilators
  • Ensuring that instructional materials are not covering unit ventilators
  • Ensuring all unit ventilators remain turned on throughout the day

 

For areas containing C02 levels above 2000 ppm, the unit ventilators will be inspected for proper function, damper position, thermostat controls and repaired as necessary.

 

The safety and health of our students, staff and school community continue to be the priority of the West Orange Public Schools.   A formal presentation will be made to the Board on Monday, January 28th, and school reports will be sent home to parents Friday, January 25, 2018.

 

Sincerely, 

 

Eveny de Mendez

Acting Superintendent of Schools

West Orange School District