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Asbestos Problem at
Stuyvesant High School
AP, August 8, 2002
YORK)-A Manhattan high school near ground zero is being cleared of asbestos residue that
tested up to 250 times the acceptable level, with parents voicing their concern Thursday
weeks before classes start. The asbestos in a carpet at Stuyvesant High School was
reported last week -- months after the building was cleared of dust from the World Trade
Center collapse. "Initial testing has shown elevated levels, so we asked (school
officials) to remove the carpet following asbestos abatement protocols," said a
letter to parents from David Ross, chair of a parents' association health and safety
committee. He said his committee released the test results Aug. 2 and reported them to the
new Panel for Educational Policy, which replaced the Board of Education.
The school building, just north of ground zero, was used for weeks as a
base for rescue workers who returned from the debris site, carrying dust and dirt on their
boots and clothing. The school reopened to its 3,000 students last October.
The carpet already had been slated for removal before the tests, which
were performed as part of the cleanup to remove lead and other toxins from the ventilation
systems after the Sept. 11 attack.
Members of the parents' association and Ross now want tests conducted
on the auditorium seats, curtains and other school carpets. Ross said he didn't know
whether the asbestos in the school was a result of the World Trade Center cleanup or use
of the building by rescue workers. "The main thing is, we've got to get the job done,
make the school safe and get the kids to school on time," Ross said.
A call for comment from the Panel for Educational Policy was not
immediately returned Thursday. Judy Moore, co-president of the school's parent
association, said the recent tests showed levels that ranged from 60,000 to 2.5 million
asbestos fibers per square centimeter -- or six to 250 times the acceptable level.
Some experts consider that a reading of 100,000 requires an emergency
cleanup, while levels greater than 10,000 have triggered abatement efforts in other
buildings near the World Trade Center.
In the school, the question is, "are there other surfaces where
asbestos could reside?" Moore asked. The auditorium where the asbestos-contaminated
carpeting was found had been used for meetings to reassure parents that the school
ventilation system was being cleaned.
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