Nov. 28, 2018 Facilities/Security Sub Meeting

Revised Agenda

Quincy School Committee
Facilities, Security & Transportation Subcommittee

Mr. James DeAmicis, Chair
Mr. Paul Bregoli & Mr. Doug Gutro, Subcommittee Members

Wednesday, November 28, 2018, 6:00 pm
Coddington Building

  1. Wollaston Elementary School Lower Level Air Quality - Dr. DeCristofaro


Quincy School Committee
Facilities, Security & Transportation Subcommittee Meeting 

A meeting of the Facilities, Security, & Transportation Subcommittee was held on Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 6:00 pm in the Coddington Building. Present were School Committee Members Mayor Thomas Koch, Mr. Anthony Andronico, Mr. Paul Bregoli, Mr. Doug Gutro, Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, Mrs. Emily Lebo, and Mr. James DeAmicis, Subcommittee Chair. Also attending were Superintendent DeCristofaro, Deputy Superintendent Kevin Mulvey, Commissioner Paul Hines, Ms. Janet Baglione, Ms. Maura Papile, Ms. Erin Perkins, Ms. Madeline Roy, Mr. Keith Segalla, City Solicitor James Timmins; Quincy Education Association President Allison Cox; and Ms. Laura Owens, Clerk.

Mr. DeAmicis called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm and introduced Dr. DeCristofaro who reviewed the timeline associated with the air quality concerns in the basement level of the Wollaston School. After a very humid summer, Wollaston’s Literacy Teacher Janet Baglione expressed concerns about a white/gray substance found on some hard surfaces (e.g. on bottom of hard plastic chairs) in her classroom when she returned to school on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. The building custodians cleaned the room to remediate the issue and a meeting was scheduled with Commissioner of Public Buildings Paul Hines on September 17 to discuss options for additional ventilation in the room. On November 15, a new ventilator was installed in the classroom and on November 19, Dr. DeCristofaro met with the Wollaston Elementary School staff.

Dr. DeCristofaro introduced Ms. Suzanne Condon, retired Associate Commissioner of Public Health and Director of Environmental Health programs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Ms. Condon currently consults for the US Center for Disease Controls and the City of Quincy, most recently on the drinking water testing for lead and copper done in school buildings. On November 26, Ms. Condon had a tour of the Wollaston Elementary School and on November 27, observed the Department of Public Health comprehensive air quality testing of all floors of the school.

Ms. Condon explained that the routine tests performed by the Department of Public Health primarily measure comfort parameters and include: temperature, relative humidity, particulate matter and carbon dioxide levels. Ms. Condon accompanied the state inspector throughout the school on the day of the state assessment and at its conclusion, she met with the inspector to review and discuss test results. The temperature inside the building was within the comfort range in all areas occupied on the day of the testing. The relative humidity measurements were between 40 and 60% (the DPH acceptable range). Ms. Condon continued by explaining that the DPH uses the US EPA ambient standards for air quality relative to particulate matter (PM 2.5) as a guide for indoor air concentrations. PM 2.5 levels at Wollaston measured 10 micrograms per cubic meter, below the threshold of 35 micrograms per cubic meter. In terms of carbon dioxide measurement, the DPH and the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) use 800 and 1000 parts per million (ppm) respectively as recommended levels for indoor air in buildings. Lower levels are preferable for schools due to the majority of occupants being young and more sensitive to environmental exposures. Readings at the Wollaston school were between 600-1500 ppm in different areas of the building, so this indicates a need to increase fresh air in the building. Each classroom has a univent and the dampers can be adjusted to increase fresh air intake, and classroom doors and windows can be opened as well to increase circulation.

Ms. Condon also met with the Wollaston Elementary School Staff and QEA President Allison Cox to review and discuss the testing that was done as well as to answer any questions they had relative to indoor environmental conditions at the school. For example, the staff requested additional information on how often univent filters are changed and Suzanne informed them that the facilities staff reported that filters are changed three times a year. Ms. Condon has suggested that Public Buildings consider purchasing monitoring equipment to measure humidity and carbon dioxide, since it is a relatively inexpensive way to consistently monitor building environmental issues. Ms. Condon also suggested that the school’s Wellness Committee (which includes the school nurse, staff and others) could review concerns and plan for the summer months when the school buildings are closed. Ensuring optimal air quality issues will require the collaboration of the whole school community.

Mr. Gutro noted that he has known Ms. Condon for over 20 years, asked for clarification that there was no evidence of mold. Ms. Condon said that the state inspector reported that it will be several months before their full report is available but she is confident that based on her observations and results of the DPH tests she discussed with the DPH inspector mold is not a current concern. Mr. Gutro previously shared information with Dr. DeCristofaro about forming an Air Quality Team and requested to know whether the nurse reports higher incidence of visits. Ms. Condon said that she looked at the most current pediatric asthma rates at the school vs the state as a more objective and comprehensive measure. The Wollaston pediatric asthma rate for 2016-17 was statistically significantly lower than the state level at 7.1% vs. 12.1%. Mr. Gutro asked if there would be follow up testing, Ms. Condon said that the purchase of monitoring equipment would allow for more frequent monitoring.

Mrs. Lebo asked about whether mold was present in the Literacy classroom on September 4, Ms. Condon said there was most likely mold and mildew as there reportedly was in school buildings throughout the state due to the high humidity over the summer and into the start of the school year. Mrs. Lebo asked if any rooms at Wollaston have no windows; Ms. Condon reported that there is one room that is reportedly used twice per week but that public buildings staff said that work will be done to better address the air circulation in that room as part of other work planned for the basement rooms. Mrs. Lebo noted that in buildings where construction has been done to create smaller spaces from larger areas, there may be an effect on the air circulation.

Ms. Condon said that the older schools were originally designed for naturally ventilation and agreed later construction could have an effect on the intended air circulation patterns. Ms. Condon noted that the City of Quincy has been recognized by a national advocacy group for taking decisive action on the drinking water lead and copper testing, and that Quincy now has an opportunity for being a leader on indoor environmental air quality.

Ms. Condon left the meeting at 6:35 pm.

Mr. Gutro asked about additional schools that were affected by the humidity. Mr. Hines said Bernazzani due to the building being closed up with the parking lot repaving, there were hard and soft surfaces impacted. Mr. Gutro asked about the extension of this process to other schools; Dr. DeCristofaro said that it starts in the summer with monitoring by the Custodial staff to ensure that problems do not develop. Integrating this into the Wellness Teams will be important for planning and executing prevention plans throughout the school system.

Mr. Hines noted that he misspoke at the earlier School Committee meeting, the air conditioning system at Clifford Marshall was shut off in August after the summer programming was complete.

Mr. Bregoli made a motion to adjourn the Facilities, Security & Transportation Subcommittee Meeting at 6:45 pm. Mr. Gutro seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.