Wheelock Elementary Causing a Stink - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/8/03

Wheelock Elementary Causing a Stink

This isn't the first time a Lubbock Independent School District had to deal with fumes and concerned parents. This time, some parents are concerned about the air quality inside Wheelock Elementary. That school is getting a new roof and kids are breathing the hydrocarbons the burning tar is producing.

Dr. Quade Stahl is a Chemist for the Texas Health Department in Austin. He says breathing the fumes can make some people sick. "They can be irritating to their eyes, nose, throat, cause coughing burning eyes and headaches," says Dr. Stahl.

Dr. Stahl says the health department has nothing in writing that keeps school districts from using burning tar during school hours. But if it's causing a nuisance condition, they could investigate. "They (roofers) either work off hours when the children aren't there or if that's not possible, move what they call a tar pot, move it downwind, where it is not blowing toward the school, but blowing away from the school," recommended Dr. Stahl.

Roofers are working during early mornings, weekends, and nights to get the job done. "You're saying these workers are working while the kids are at school?" asked NewsChannel 11. "Absolutely," said Ann Graves, Superintendent of Elementary Schools.

This isn't the first situation L.I.S.D. has handled. Back in January, Mackenzie Junior High got their new roof. A mother complained to administrators when her twin daughters came home with severe headaches and nausea. The mother asked those administrators, 'why put a new roof on while the kids are in school? Why not wait until the summer?'

"We do maintenance on buildings throughout the year. It's not just during the summer or we'd never be able to take care of maintenance," said Graves.

Only parents have come forward about their concerns. The health department said they haven't investigated the air quality inside Wheelock. NewsChannel 11 investigated and found the fumes aren't life threatening. However, L.I.S.D. officials we spoke to are aware of the mild side affects. They say they have installed six air purifiers inside Wheelock.

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