Since this was a workplace issue for which some employees had requested action, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries could investigate. It was because of the teachers, not the kids!
From the following letter, we can assume that Mr. McElravy must have at least passed the February 18, 1986 letter on to higher authorities. Please read it. Don't let the "gobbledy-gook" throw you. I will translate later. I believe there are several valuable things to be gleaned from this so, please, give it a good going over. Can you find the convient "typo?"
The following is a good faith replica of a copy of a letter on official stationery, bearing the State Seal of Washington and the words "STATE OF WASHINGTON." It is from the Department of Labor and Industries, 1305 Tacoma Avenue South, Room 305, Tacoma, Washington 98402-1988. I would prefer being able to give you a more exact replica, but I have no scanner. I have taken the liberty of adding orange to the table headings. The report reads as follows:
April 1, 1986
Donald A. Krag, Superintendent
Quillayute Valley School District
P.O. Box 60
Forks, Washington 98331
Dear Mr. Krag:
In response to your request, an Industrial Hygiene Consultation Survey was conducted at your facility on March 4, 1986.
The purpose of the survey was to determine the agent which was causing your staff to suffer allergy type problems such as headaches, burning eyes, and sinus complaints. These ill feelings were reported by employees working in the portable classrooms.
In the attempt to quantify what contaminants might be present in the classrooms, I sampled for organic vapors, total particulate and formaldehyde. These samples were taken in Portable 621. Organic vapors were sampled with an activated charcoal tube which is used to detect a broad range of organic contaminants. Sampling for organics was done using a SKC Model 222 Sampling Pump set at a flow rate of 40 Ml/Min. The total particulate sample was obtained using a Bendix Model Bdx set at a flow rate of 2.0 liters per minute and in line with a .8 micron filter. Formaldehyde sampling was done using a Daco Impinger filled with a 1% Sodium Bisulphite solution in line with a MSA Model G Sampling Pump set at flow rate of 0.9 liters per minute. The sample periods were 65, 68 and 60 minutes.
The results of the monitoring is summarized below:
Contaminant Organic Vapors
Hexane less than 10 PPM 500 Methyl Cyclohexane less than 1 PPM 500 2 - Butanone less than 1 PPM 200 Isopropyl Alcohol less than 1 PPM 400 Xylene less than 1 PPM 100 2 - Ethoxyethylacetate less than 1 PPM 100
0.22 Mg/M3 10.0 Mg/M3
0.01 PPM 2.0 PPM
Permissable exposure limits are listed in WAC 296-62 the General Occupational Health Standards.
In addition to the above monitoring, I took wipe samples in Portables 620, 622 for microscopic identification of fungi or spores, however, none was found in the samples.
The most significant testing was the samples taken for Carbon Monoxide (CO2). In recent years, the Department has received numerous complaints with symptoms similar to what your employees have been experiencing. Studies of office environments have shown that employees have reported feeling ill when the levels of CO2 were twice what was found in the outside air. CO2 sampling in the portable classrooms were all very elevated ranging from 2,200 PPM in Portable 619 to a high of 3,000 PPM in Portable 620. These levels were not only restricted to the portables as sampling in Room 603-A revealed a level of 2,000 PPM. The level of CO2 in the outside air was 200 PPM. Since this is a 10 to 15 fold increase, I would recommend increasing the supply of fresh outdoor air into these classrooms.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers has published some suggestions for office setting in ASHRAE 62-1981 which recommends five cubic feet per minute of fresh air per occupant and 20 CFM per occupant for smoking areas.
In order to achieve these goals, you may want to consider contacting a ventilation engineer and have your heating and air conditioning systems evaluated. The Department appreciates the concern you have shown for the health and safety of your employees. If you have any further questions or I can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact me at 593-2859.
Patrick J. Mahaney
Industrial Hygiene Consultant
TACOMA SERVICE LOCATION
Congratulations! You got through it. That is an accomplishment. Really!
Now let me see if I can make you feel even better about having got this far.
Did you find the "typo?"
The location of the "typo." It is in the first sentence to which this link will take you.
Carbon Monoxide (CO2)! How convenient. Did you ever see the words Carbon Dioxide? No, you did not. Just happenstance, right? No, I don't think so. I have seen this too many times, and I am still encountering people who will, when I start telling negative things about carbon dioxide (CO2), try to correct me, "you mean carbon monoxide, don't you?"
NO, I DON'T!
How many people realize that CO2 means carbon dioxide or that it does not mean carbon monoxide? Easy to take advantage. Easy to claim that it was an honest mistake, an easy error to make. (Only for a scum-bag)!
How do I know it was not monoxide and that the mistake was in writing CO2 instead of just CO? That's a good question. The answer is that such levels, if monoxide, would have killed everyone.
Let me point out that all the things tested for were found to be very, very low in concentration. These are the "boogie-men" that "they" have used to scare us, and which I will assert that Mahaney knew, in advance, were not the problem. And, he knew to look for elevated CO2 as the problem! (I will give him some credit here. At least he did not say the usual, "CO2 is only an indicator for the need for more fresh air" as if it were the lack of fresh air and not the CO2 that were the problem)!
What else can I give you to take away from this reading?
Let me show you how I "read between the lines."
Do we know what Mahaney's standard for CO2 is? No, he did not state one, he only reported that 2,000, 2,200, and 3,000 ppm were "significant." He did not relate how significant. He did not try to enlighten the reader. How would someone untrained or uninformed about the stuff in these web pages be able to relate these levels to anything. Are these levels serious or not? Remember, he was there because of the employees not the kids. Should he have a different standard for exposure where children are involved considering that any agent in the air is as if it were two to three times as strong for them? Should he have broached this issue, given his training? These levels were too high for adults, and, I assert, he knew it very well. How can anyone then be silent about the kids. "To the kids." It has always been, "to" not "for." By the way, doesn't a level of 200 ppm for his outside reading seem low? Even back in 1986, wouldn't the "atmospheric level" have been around 350 ppm? Did his equipment read low? What happens if we assume it did and adjust the readings upward? Well, we then might exceed OSHA requirements and really open a can of worms for the school. Should we suspect Mahaney fudged again?
We learned that Mahaney also tested classrooms besides the portable ones. How did he find the non-portable classroom with 2,000 ppm? Did he test every classroom? What other levels did he find? How many were over 1,000 ppm? Remember the Oregon schools and the Saskatchewan standards? If there were a 2,000, I would expect an 1,800 and a 1,500, etc. Is there a school-wide problem or just a room by room problem?
Did he "red flag" any rooms? Did he state that windows must be left open until the ventilation system could be up-graded? No. Why not? He recommended that an engineer be contacted and the supply of fresh outdoor air be increased. He did not insist. He did not even mention an open window as an interim fix. Hummm!
Mahaney refers to a ASHRAE standard of "five cubic feet per minute of fresh air per occupant." Do you think that will do it? Will it suffice? Do you recall the Saskatchewan recommendations?
The Saskatchewan Standards
At less than 15 cfm (per occupant), the CO2 level will exceed 1,000 ppm. And 15 cfm is three times the amount of fresh air Mahaney was recommending! Following his recommendation would not solve the problem. It may not have even made the slightest difference! Hey, it may even be less than what was being let in. Did Mahaney make a determination of what the flow rate was? Wouldn't you want to know? I guess the engineer would tell you, right? Hell, my grandmother could tell you. Ever hear of "cabin fever?" Granny did!
Let's stop and look around. We have been looking for things that were missing, inadequate, or just plain wrong in analyzing the report. We've done well. Now let us look at some things that are there but which have no place being there!
Mahaney states, "In recent years, the Department has received numerous complaints with symptoms similar to what your employees have been experiencing."
Oh, you want to debate whether this belongs there? OK. Then where's the explanation of why it is only a "recent" phenomenon! I don't think it belongs because it implies a threat. Don't ask questions. It is happening to everyone, and if you get nosey, . . .
In the 1930's, the concentration camps were a "recent" source of complaints. Do you think it was healthy to discuss them?
Why the gratuitous information about smoking areas needing more fresh air? Was the problem due to young hoodlums lighting up in class? No, of course not! Then why even mention this unless it was an easy opportunity to scare the non-smokers . . . again!
Now put on your "thinking caps." What else has happened recently besides increased complaints about air quality to the Department of Labor & Industries? How about less smoking indoors! Why then, pray-tell, would the problem be worse? I know. Do you?
Is this the end of our saga, the end to the forks-in-the-road story? Nope! there is more. I don't know what happened or what the authorities did, but I do know that Mahaney was called back to do another examination and report.
Sorry, but I must leave this for another time. Until then, God Bless! Keep going.
The links below are broken while we rebuild