Air quality issues of mold and asbestos temporarily closes Indiana Avenue Elementary school, second time this month

Air quality issues of mold and asbestos temporarily closes Indiana Avenue Elementary school, second time this month

Schools Superintendent Robert Zega said school officials are working with environmental consultants to determine the best course of action for remediation after air quality issues of mold and asbestos have resulted in the closure, reopening and again re-closure of the elementary school on Indiana Avenue in the Iselin section of the township.

Students had been attending split sessions at Iselin Middle School since March 5.

 The elementary school reopened on March 19 after test results of mold had been resolved; however, on March 28, the students were back at Iselin Middle School.

“Recent test results have caused us to temporarily close the school, out of an abundance of caution,” Zega said in a statement on March 28. “The health of our students and staff is, and always will be, our top priority. Therefore, the students will be attending Iselin Middle School on split sessions until we are able to re-open. We appreciate the patience of our entire school community throughout this difficult process.”

As of March 29, asbestos was found in a classroom on desks, according to a test report posted on the school district’s website.

School officials did not give a time frame on how long Indiana School will be closed.

On Jan. 27, RAMM Environmental Services, Inc., of Fairlawn, Bergen County, conducted an indoor air/surface quality assessment report for the school’s principal’s office, main office and a classroom, which found levels of mold exceeding outdoor concentrations in the tested areas.

The elementary school was temporarily closed on Feb. 23 and the students were off from school for a week.

On March 1, Zega sent a letter to parents and guardians of students at Indiana School to explain the temporary closure of the school and the decision to hold split sessions at Iselin Middle School.

Zega said in the letter Iselin Middle was a reasonable choice because it is relatively close and it has the capacity for the 600 students from School No. 18.

The Woodbridge Township Education Association (WTEA) had McCabe Environmental Services, LLC, of Lyndhurst, Bergen County, collect various types of asbestos samples from within the school.

 Asbestos contamination was found in a debris sample that was collected from atop of a suspended ceiling tile system.

“Based on the data we have collected we can conclude that the locations tested are not considered an asbestos hazard for occupancy at this time,” John H. Chiaviello, vice president at McCabe Environmental Services, said in a letter to Brian Geoffroy, president of the WTEA, on March 16.

However, he said any disturbance of the ceiling system could pose a potential health hazard if the debris is not addressed.

“Based on our observations, there is no evidence of remnant ceiling plaster, fireproofing, pipe or other insulation above the drop ceiling that could be the source of the asbestos detected in the sample,” Chiaviello said. “Since the school is a one-story building, along with recent solar panel modifications to the roof deck, we suspect the source to be the roofing materials that have been disturbed and penetrated through to the ceiling system below.”

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Using Artificial Intelligence to Detect Asbestos



Humans cannot see, smell or taste airborne asbestos fibers.

Identifying them through a microscope requires the eye of a trained analyst — but perhaps not for long.

Australian engineer Jordan Gruber is working on technology that can automatically detect asbestos from the air around a worksite.

Exposure to airborne asbestos fibers is the primary cause of mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer.

The past use of asbestos in building materials has led to great suffering among Americans and Australians alike.

Gruber got into robotics so he could work on self-driving cars. But when his brother became an occupational hygienist specializing in asbestos removal and monitoring, Gruber realized the need for technology that can help prevent on-the-job asbestos exposure.

At age 23, Gruber founded Frontier Microscopy.

“My team and I are driven to applying our knowledge to reducing risk to workers and the public,” Gruber told “In effect, we are driven to apply artificial intelligence and robotics to save lives.”

A Microscope Called Marvin

Currently, only specialized laboratories can identify asbestos.

A technician typically has to examine a sample through a microscope for 15 minutes and manually document their findings. They risk exposure to asbestos in the process.

Frontier Microscopy is developing a system called Marvin to streamline this process.

Marvin’s robotic microscope takes hundreds of pictures across an air filter sample in seconds. The robot then uploads the pictures to a cloud-based analysis program.

The program’s artificial intelligence searches the sample for toxic asbestos fibers, and Marvin generates a report of its findings.

The whole process takes just two minutes.

Goal Is Preventing Asbestos Exposure

For decades, asbestos dust was rampant in industrial settings such as construction sites, refineries and ships.

This led to high rates of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases among many trade professions.

Today, the use of asbestos is limited in the developed world, but there is still a risk of toxic exposure whenever old buildings are renovated or demolished.

In many developing nations, workers are still routinely exposed to asbestos. Foreign manufacturers use it in various types of insulation and cement.

Gruber believes Frontier Microscopy’s technology could improve workplace safety around the globe by making it fast and easy to detect airborne asbestos fibers.

Marvin would remove the need for a worksite to physically send an air filter sample to a laboratory for testing.

“Our main base of operations is in Australia, where we are validating the technology for laboratory accreditation. We anticipate laboratory trials to be completed in the coming months,” Gruber said. “We are interested in speaking to potential distributors in the U.S. for both Marvin and our Management Suite product, as well as potential laboratory partners for validation purposes.”

Lethal Legacy of Asbestos in Australia

Australia has a long history of asbestos problems, which Gruber is all too familiar with.

“I’ve personally visited Wittenoom in Western Australia, known as the epicenter of asbestos mining in Australia. Soon after the health effects of asbestos became known, Wittenoom was abandoned,” Gruber said. “Thousands of people worked the asbestos mines at Witternoom, with hundreds of deaths linked to asbestos-related diseases as a result.”

The level of asbestos pollution at Wittenoom is comparable to the situation of Libby, Montana.

In Libby, the Zonolite Company and W.R. Grace mined asbestos-contaminated vermiculiteto make into attic insulation.

Zonolite insulation brought the risk of asbestos exposure to homes and businesses across the U.S.

In Australia, though, the Mr. Fluffy company marketed an even deadlier insulation product to homeowners. Called Asbestosfluf, it was essentially just pure asbestos fluffed into a soft, light texture.

Australia and the U.S. continue to struggle with the consequences of the asbestos industry’s past recklessness.

Jordan Gruber and other entrepreneurs are working on ways to create a safer and healthier future for everyone.

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Asbestos Alert: Schools Face Hazmat Crises

The national crisis surrounding deferred maintenance in institutional and commercial facilities is especially acute in K-12 public schools. Many of these schools were built in the 1950s and 1960s and need extensive repairs or replacement. Compounding the challenge facing maintenance and engineering managers in these facilities is a decades-long lack of funding for such work.

The issue often comes to a head when critical problems arise in these facilities, such as the discovery of asbestos that was a common component of school construction. For example, parents of students at a West Baltimore elementary middle school are voicing concerns over possible asbestos work to the roof that will be done while kids are still attending classes, according to an article on

“I have a grandchild here. I have a nephew here,” says Tracey Goggins. “My nephew has asthma and I’m worried about kids and the staff help. I love the school.”

The parents’ hope is for the Rosemont Elementary Middle School to be shut down until the work is complete. The project is scheduled to begin soon and could last up to one year. “The roof is leaking substantially,” said Keith Scroggins, the city school chief operating officer. The roof has not been replaced since the building opened 47 years ago.

Parents received a letter in the mail that stated, “Please note that this project involves removal and demolition of the existing roof, which is old and may contain asbestos.” The letter went on to mention that daily air samples will be taken and that any dust or debris from the roof work will be removed before students and staff return to the building.

“The asbestos is not friable, in that it doesn’t blow away. It’ll be removed under mitigation standards by a certified company,” Scroggins says.

Some parents want more.

“I need for them to assure me that my child is going to be safe; that she is not going to become ill while they’re doing the work on the roof,” Goggins says.

“The project is not going to proceed until four o’clock in the afternoon, when everyone is gone,” Scroggins says. “There will not be any work done, certainly no asbestos removal, while students and staff members are in the building.”

Read: 9 steps to effective hazmat management

Rosemont Elementary Middle School is not alone when it comes to asbestos problems. Many schools were built with asbestos insulation, floor, and ceiling tiles. Plus, a plethora of other building products made use of the mineral.

Asbestos problems in Baltimore are not limited to schools, either. The city has been home to hundreds of hospitals, public buildings, and job sites where workers, visitors, and residents can be exposed to the carcinogenic material.

In fact, it has been proven asbestos has posed health risks to school teachers. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, in a study conducted between 1999 and 2001, found a substantially elevated rate of mesothelioma cancer among U.S. school teachers, whose only known exposure was on the job.

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State Government steps in to investigate asbestos fears after fire

THE State Government is investigating concerns raised by Carina Heights residents in last week’s South-East Advertiser about possible asbestos pollution from last month’s fire at the derelict Salvin Park nursing home site.


The residents said they heard explosions during the latest fire and feared airborne asbestos fibres had contaminated the neighbourhood.

Demolition crews have moved on site after Brisbane City Council issued an enforcement notice to owners TriCare requiring the demolition of all buildings on the Creek Rd site.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland spokeswoman said air monitoring would be conducted around the site.

“Workplace Health and Safety Queensland’s Asbestos Unit will inspect the site in conjunction with the demolisher to form a demolition plan, including strategies to protect the local community from exposure to asbestos fibres,” she said.

“We will conduct air monitoring around the site in the coming weeks and take action if required.”

TriCare declined to comment on the residents’ concerns about asbestos.

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Sick building’ investigation ongoing at Grant Sawyer

Asbestos Free Photo

A federal judge on Monday sentenced Joseph J. Chernis IV of Sherman to three years and one month in prison for illegal asbestos removal at the former Pillsbury Mills plant on the north side of Springfield.

Chernis, 35, was indicted in May 2016 for violating federal clean-air regulations by allowing untrained workers to remove and store asbestos between October 2014 and August 2015 at the former mill, where authorities said asbestos was stored in open containers, plastic garbage bags and cardboard boxes. Chernis also was accused of lying about the work in a separate cleanup lawsuit filed by the state of Illinois.

As part of the plea agreement, Chernis pleaded guilty in April of last year to one count each of illegal asbestos removal, demolition and disposal, while the three other counts brought against him were dismissed. He also confessed to obstructing justice.

At the start of the sentencing hearing, Judge Sue Myerscough said she had not decided whether she would stick to the sentencing guidelines of the plea agreement. According to Myerscough, sealed sentencing commentaries recommended a higher sentence than the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to.

“I have grave concerns about the damage to the community in this case,” Myerscough said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Crystal Correa pointed out the federal courts building in downtown Springfield is five minutes away from the mill, which had been full of asbestos.

″(The mill)’s near a park. It’s near Lanphier High School,” Correa said. “It’s in our community.”

Affects of asbestos when it is improperly handled and disposed of include lung cancer, mesothelioma.

Chernis said he wanted to put the episode behind him and that he would take the sentence “like a man.”

“I understand I’ve made some mistakes, some very big mistakes,” Chernis told the judge.

Myerscough noted that though Chernis showed repeated “callous disregard” for the law and the community, letters showed he had some “good” characteristics. She expressed concern for the health of the homeless man that Chernis employed to remove the asbestos and Chernis himself, who was onsite during demolition.

Myerscough did not fine Chernis. But she noted that restitution could be reached through an ongoing civil case brought by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in Sangamon County Circuit Court.

She revealed the new price tag of the asbestos cleanup was $2.5 million; it had been previously reported to be $1.8 million. The cleanup began a year ago and lasted nine months.

However, after hearing that asbestos remains on the 18-acre property within the interiors of the buildings, Circuit Judge John Madonia has refused to lift an injunction that keeps the Chernis and his partners off the site. While the asbestos is no longer an airborne threat, scrapping operations could be considered a hazard, according to project coordinator Kevin Turner.

After the sentencing, Chernis, in an interview, called the government’s cleanup of the site a “joke.”

“I think it’s an overreaction,” Chernis said of his prosecution. “If (the asbestos) is so dangerous, why is it not yet cleaned up? How’s it safe, but you are telling me it’s still there?”

Chernis said he didn’t think anyone was harmed because the asbestos was removed improperly.

“Anybody can make an accusation, but nothing’s been proven,” Chernis said.

According to court records, Chernis’ plant owner partners are his father Joe Chernis III and another Sherman resident, Keith Crain. Both were not charged in the federal indictment. The elder Chernis was at his son’s sentencing but offered no comment.

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Mesothelioma Fears Allayed as Independent Tests of Claire’s Makeup Shows No Asbestos Contamination

Fears of malignant mesothelioma and other related diseases have been haunting parents of teens and preteens after published reports that Claire’s store makeup had been contaminated with asbestos. In response, the chain quickly recalled nine different makeup kits that it had been selling. Now, according to independent laboratories that analyzed the products, there is no evidence of any asbestos in the products.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is among several asbestos-related diseases. In most cases people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos in their workplace, but because the product is still widely used in other countries, there is always a concern that imports may be contaminated. The Claire’s makeup contamination, which was first reported by a Rhode Island news station, indicated that a North Carolina laboratory had found 17 different products purchased at 10 different Claire’s stores around the country were contaminated. Though Claire’s has indicated that their testing was done by “certified” laboratories, the lab that conducted the original testing stands by its results, and questions Claire’s statement. The North Carolina lab prides itself on the sensitivity of the equipment that it uses for asbestos testing: it reportedly uses a transmission electron microscope, where other laboratories use light microscopy or X-ray diffraction processes. Because Claire’s has not revealed the names of the laboratories that conducted their testing, the information they are providing may be questionable. The company also indicated that they had requested the North Carolina lab’s reports, but the lab director has indicated that he has not received any such requests.

The company has revealed that the talc that is contained in the teen makeup products in question came from Merck KGaA, and was accompanied by certificates of analysis showing that it was free of any asbestos contamination. Whether that will ease parent’s mesothelioma fears remains to be seen.

Exposure to asbestos can come from many sources, and any exposure can lead to a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma. If you are concerned about asbestos or have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, contact our Patient Advocates at today. We can be reached at 1-800-692-8608. Article Source: