This site is written with a minimum of 'technobabble'. Our team has solved Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) deficiencies in California, Colorado, Nebraska, and Oklahoma schools over the last 30+ years. This site contains comprehensive assistance in many ways without any charges, from 50+ technical and scientific references and three dozen help links. It has no login, snooping, tracking, and is not copyrighted-making it a great resource for writing important reports. Our strategies are driven by analyses from calibrated instrumentation and old, established laboratories we know & trust from the application of published, scientific methods from around the world-who all out live us. Our recommendations are driven by comprehensive monitoring data. We would NEVER, in a million years, take bribes or otherwise 'sell out' to anyone. Charlatans are everywhere, see: www.boulderweekly.com archives for the story of Casey M.S.
"Sick" school buildings are apparently the norm in this country. 1,1.1 Typically, LEED certification amplifies IEQ problems unless an Exposure Scientist has supervised the building's creation. Architect(s); builders; skilled tradesmen; and building materials suppliers, manufacturers, & importers; know nothing of the Sciences of Exposure Science, Epidemiology, Physiology, and monitoring REQUIRED for building optimization, and hence complies with the 'Precautionary Principle'. LEED certification assumes, without low cost, final, pre-move in monitoring, that all is well and not one of the hundreds of the 'creators' made even one mistake. 'Potentially Responsible Parties' (PRPs) will not want you to know or generate such data even on a LEED certified school! LEED certification NEVER requires nor recommends ongoing tracking of building complaints. How bad is yours? We will evaluate your monitoring data gratis.
It is very common for administrators to be selected from pools of teachers' without building related skills, hence don't have the faintest idea of building operations nor training in, medical effects of insults, ASHRAE standards, current building technologies, and maintenance that optimizes learning. Further, administrators haven't, nor do they request a budget to fund routine IEQ monitoring that would quickly 'nip problems in the bud'. They too do not survey nor track IEQ complaints. Typically, such problems are `handled' by a janitor, now called `building engineer', even though they do not have the understanding, respect, budget, nor authority to retain a consulting Exposure Scientist. Our monitoring can include discreet monitoring for drug use too.
Our assessments have revealed appalling conditions, even in wealthy school districts10, and with LEED Platinum certification! More shocking is the fact that many administrators are nothing short of unprepared hypocrites and over paid narcissists who purport to `love' children while sometimes taking hush money from architects & designers who are PRPs for LEED certified school buildings. These cause poor user health, and student loss of the only chance they'll ever have for academic & athletic performance. Disruptive & anti-social behavior, including ADHD, ADD, etc., are now known School buildings are untested, uncommissioned, and totally lack the low cost ongoing quality control oversight program that manages Indoor Environmental Quality.1.2 New school buildings can be much worse, as problems can be realized shortly after construction monies and are consumed, as if their creators are infallible.
In Denver, 86% of K-12 children have failing math scores, 2 and pesticide uses (chemicals designed to kill) are out of control, a fact not of real concern to those in charge.3 We have witnessed chronic, adverse, easy to solve conditions in many schools that were so bad that it resulted in building abandonment, litigation, replacement of two school administrators, and firing of a long term, well liked school district facility manager. Had he implemented our findings, we would have made him look like a knight in shining armor. Ask for a copy of our report (with names left out). We have extensive experience in these areas too.
While Dr. Doris J. Rapp, MD; students; and teachers realize these problems; just about everybody else; including principals, superintendents, and voters are in denial; don't care; or don't know. Of course, these folks do not use the same buildings or building areas as victims, and are nearly always on an air handling system that segregates them from the contaminate(s).
According to Mr. Noel Doheny, C.E.O. of BioStar, Inc., "The best seasons [for revenue] are October to March. `When (children) go back to school, business starts to pick up.' he said." BioStar is a leading manufacture of disease testing chemicals for the proper identification of common illnesses. Their revenues in 1993 were $1 million, and are projected to exceed $25 million in 1999.4
Sick schools appear on Denver TV often with problems so bad that Marsh's colleagues from National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health in Cincinnati, were sent in by Congressional request to find solutions in very nice looking 5 year old school building in Colorado's richest school district!5 Poor school IAQ is so ubiquitous that it has mandated serious studies from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.E.P.A.) In its usual callus way, the U.S. E.P.A. has once again shrugged its responsibility to develop real solutions by creating a voluntary program consisting of a check list of recommendations for better school IEQ: `The Tools for Schools' program, as if this were an option! In great contrast to asbestos in schools, no mandatory regulations are planned. Testing of treated sewage, prior to dumping into a river, requires better people, equipment, and quality control!
This program, as described by Mr. Ron Schiller of Reg. 8 U.S. E.P.A.,6 is vastly deficient in the following important ways. It seems to be nothing more than an attempted appeasement for the victims that actually sets liability limits for responsible parties wishing to be politically correct. These are put in place by uncaring politicians who do not want to solve problems, nor fund school programs.
* This program is nothing more than an `optional guide', as if childrens' health is an option, to be heeded not from regulatory requirements, but at the whim of those in charge even if they have ignored serious problems for a long, long time. Additionally, many people see such policy as an `unfunded mandate' of a distant, uncaring government.
* This program totally ignores Architects long term history of specifying dangerous building materials, e.g., asbestos, lead based paints, lead containing plumbing, uncleanable heating appliances, wood treated with arsenic, creosote, formaldehyde, pentachlorophenol; while ignoring mold & bacteria, radon, and safety glass.
* This program ignores the need for serious, regular, pro-active monitoring by qualified professionals for common toxic substances known to be hazardous. In fact, 60,000 such chemicals were identified long ago by the Reagan E.P.A. 7 as harmful components in common household chemicals! Chemical cleaners sold `for professional use only', the norm in schools, are much more risky and lack the warning labels on consumer products. Add the janitors' (now building engineer) poor reading skills and you have a real problem.
* This program does nothing to address new budgets specifically for optimizing IEQ or to hire a professional Industrial Hygienist to optimize IEQ and hence maximize academic and athletic performance.
* The program does not identify nor recommend even minimum, relevant credentials for those with IEQ responsibilities even though this has serious medical, health, academic, and athletic consequences. Therefore, any Tom, Dick, or Harry can do the work. School conditions, with egregious medical repercussions, are frequently managed by minimum wage janitors now called `Building Engineers' with no more respect and no authority to select supplies based on anything but price nor purchase professional services when he knows problems have exceeded his resources.
* It totally fails to recommend or mention relevant reading, e.g., Dr. Doris Rapp's books. Such information gives concerned parties additional tools for cost effective, necessary actions to build on what has already been discovered.
* It does not encourage concerned parties to speak out, show courage, and persist until good solutions are implemented. This program continues to put the burden of proof of harm on the victims, when school administrators do not respect requests for even the basics, such as cleaning and optimization of facilities.
* It fails to address nor breathe a word of legal remedies for the injured parties nor provide guidance for union actions or special elections to generate funding needed to achieve goals and motivate recalcitrant administrators. These omissions are a crime that greatly plays down the importance of the effects of sick schools on the most sensitive 30% of users including children that can be injured for life.
It follows that the above is a perfect example of 'Manufacturing Consent', read the book, of the same name, by Dr. Noam Chomsky. The U.S.E.P.A. never made any effort to support the `School Environmental Protection Act of 2001', including its promotion in the political process even when it was in obvious jeopardy.
This situation is still so bad that even poor counties are seeing some success at the polls for new school construction bonds.8,9 Major books10 have been published focusing on this problem's irreversible consequences to children's health, grades, performance, and prevalence.
Our firm solves many, many, different kinds of school problems that are known to reduce students' academic and athletic achievement,10 as well as bad appearances & smelly conditions. We assist maintenance personnel with solutions for complex problems that transcend their salary limited abilities and resources. These can include strange odors, including skunks; HVAC hardware that is not working properly or is misrepresented by the vendor/builder/designer; integrated pest management (IPM) strategies; solar applications for heating and IEQ enhancement that offset up front costs in long term energy savings; and much more. Industrial hygiene solutions cost less than engineering solutions and have no side effects!
Our school building assessments have revealed:
So what needs to be assessed? Essentially no problem insult (contaminate) cannot be identified and quantified with published, Scientific methods that come from a variety of national and international sources. We assess as much as the budget allows, starting with the least expensive to monitor that are also the mostly likely to be present at harmful levels, frequently Below Regulatory Concern (BRC). Click on 'Definitions' above. Our excellent professional, Scientific judgment is based on monitoring and assessment experience, in industry, government (environmental toxicology research), academia, and private practice since the 1960s. Our process starts with a thorough visual inspections, client wishes, client's Doctor's needs, ubiquitousness, assessment cost, client budget, and risk. Such an assessment must include chemical, biological, radiological and physical risks. The list of analytes is limited only by the clients' resources. The following is a partial list of substances and conditions we evaluate for assessment and publish in our reports, that includes planning, remediation minimization, control & optimization strategies, and budget source development.
The above can also be done piecemeal, over a period of time to accommodate tight budgets and Do It Yourselfers.
Problems we have identified above are but a minuscule part of the whole problem. Old and new, large and small, rich and poor, districts suffer big, but preventable problems that the Scientist easily identifies and quantifies for easy, thorough management. Large school projects require a vote of the taxpayers to fund new buildings or remodeling, with a large chunk of one-time money. But these never include monies for long term, ongoing maintenance & independent oversight - even if buildings are seriously flawed or serious environmental problems are discovered later on. Serious flaws typically do not show up the first year, which is the duration of the building's warranty. How convenient for potentially responsible parties to stick taxpayers with a remediation bill. Further, monies are never included for Industrial Hygiene oversight monitoring to identify and prevent bad facility designs from the start of the building process. Thus recreating more IEQ problems down the road, in a vicious but easily preventable cycle!
For decades, Architects knowingly gave us asbestos (since 1940), lead paints, lead containing plumbing, arsenic (since antiquity) PCBs, & creosote treated wood products, while ignoring scientific info and solutions, construction & design oversight, mold & bacteria, radon, poor ventilation, and solar solutions that save energy costs while greatly enhancing IEQ-when done correctly.
To this day, the American Institute of Architects (www.aia.org), fails to offer even one training program on the value of monitoring for client health and safety; nor Architect liability & risk reduction from poor building IEQ at any time! Courses on the importance of Industrial Hygiene basics & oversight, as well as their own research of this important issue is far, far from their radar screen. Incessant public and client demand is sorely needed here.
In the 1990s, the Denver AIA office moved into a beautiful, highly contaminated, newly remodeled, expensive, nineteenth century warehouse only to leave long before the lease expired! The building was so smelly on clear, fresh, breezy, cool days that it drove people out. They then moved into a large office building nearby that was owned by such deceitful people, who refused to remediate huge asbestos problems. Local I.H. professionals called this building `Pork Central'! Ironically, offices for many of the State's attorneys are also located in this building! Call for details. No one should ever forget that in the U.S., a new structure is guaranteed for only one year by the Architect! Thanks to Richmond American builders persuaded the Colorado legislature to limit home builders' liability with a $250,000 cap.
Further, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) abandon scientifically established standards for ventilation for IEQ, that cut ventilation to one third of previous levels, for stupid, political reasons built from 1977 to 1994. School administrators apparently do not know that most of these problems have simple, low cost, low tech, industrial hygiene solutions, with no side effects, that can be implemented by in-house staff after proper training.
Massive school problems are also the result of E.P.A.'s failure to take the initiative with schools or other public property in a number of important ways. This should surprise no one familiar with E.P.A.'s record, which is long and dirty when it comes to their responsibilities for protecting anything in their stated mandate that conflicts with the wishes of big industries, who care only about themselves. What is known, is the elected protect and embellish best the wishes of big campaign contributors11 who put their boss's boss into office. Marsh quit the U.S. E.P.A., National Water Quality Laboratory, Cincinnati, in 1973, at the time when positions for Chemists were non existent, because of unsafe working conditions and a facility that was threat to the surrounding community. The lab was so out of compliance that a whole new facility was built years later.
For more callus situations, we give the tools to concerned parties, including unions, to make fundamental cultural, financial and political changes in building design, funding, and operations, including the removal of unprepared, unsavory, or uncooperative people and organizations from controlling positions. A little courage11 on the part of the victims and taxpayers goes a long, long way toward justice, and sets a very important example to students for life.
Dirty tricks with your children's health are common; in fact they are frequently the norm of top school administrators. Frequently, their obscene wages attract the wrong kind. Folks in charge are all too frequently politically correct but terribly unprepared due to seriously flawed hiring practices. Taxpayers can change all this. Another tool we pass out freely, shedding knowledge on this problem is our white paper `Questions to Promote Indoor Air Quality in Schools', file name: SCHOLQST.ONS. These are the philosophy of IEQ and step by step instructions on how to proceed from day one. For your copy call (303) 421-3383 and we will FAX it promptly. Send a self addressed stamped envelope for your copy by mail. Sorry, we will not send anything to private P.O. boxes.
If worst comes to worst, competent litigation will right the wrongs when followed through with persistence & courage.12 Was Federal money used for the school? If so, application of the False Claims Act, 31 USC sections 3729-3731 MUST be very carefully evaluated. This is the Act that killed the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant SuperFund MegaSite. It also provides for treble damages! We know a few attorneys who have taken similar cases before. Please send the names of good attorneys with relevant interests you know and we will add them to our free resource list.
Successful litigation starts with a competent Attorney, whom this firm then works for as he/she directs the case at all times. We strongly recommend the following Attorney selection procedure: In the beginning of the section of their yellow pages' listings, will be many full page and TWO PAGE ads. From these pages call an Attorney that does not practice the kind of law you need. You may need a personal injury, toxic tort, FCA, or workman's compensation attorney, depending which way you decide to go. Avoid the latter, whenever possible, as laws greatly favor the employer. Once past the receptionist, ask a senior attorney for the name his most suitable colleague. Unless known otherwise, avoid female attorneys if winning is everything. Remember the O.J. Simpson trial prosecutor. Ladies belong in the House -- and the Senate! Carefully evaluate the merits of a class action suit. Listen to him/her, pool resources to have a budget to get things going. Do not forget the media - they are your friends and are always looking for good personal interest stories, particularly when government employees are knowingly injuring children-or kittens or puppies.
We have found school information books written for new school district residents, distributed by Colorado's chambers of commerce and others, totally lacking when it comes to reporting accurate, truthful, relevant, answers about school districts, their health complaints, and student performance. In fact, in discussions with the author of the leading annual volume on Colorado schools, she flatly stated that she didn't want to jeopardize book sales with information that could be seen as negative![sic]. She is the mother of a handicapped, disadvantaged child! For a small fee we can gather answers to pertinent questions concerning any schools' policies, attitudes and records of student health issues in any school district in the country. We can provide similar information on real estate hazards in communities for those seeking accurate environmental information before moving to another area - before you are committed.
Given the above situations across the land, what kind of targets are our schools for a religious lunatic or terrorist? What if such a person did something that had no immediate, observable effects? Shouldn't we all take this message from the Scientist seriously?