South Shore School set to open its doors again



Posted on August 26, 2010 at 5:42 PM

SEATTLE - South Shore School attendance secretary Lani Huston says it was the weirdest thing - 17 female staff members, all women, experiencing the same problems.

"They were described as uterine spasms, pain, a lot of women were talking in the hallway comparing like 'Yeah, it's right down here.' It seemed like it was near their ovaries."

Huston decided to write down the stories, handing it over to the school district.

"It just felt important that someone needs to get this stuff documented," she said.

Last winter and spring, this brand-new school felt more like a hospital with students and teacher complaining of nose bleeds, headaches and vision problems. Fay Lowe's granddaughter developed a rash on her face.

"The doctor looked at her face and he said it was a reaction to being exposed to toxins," she said.

After 5 months of complaints, the district realized the problem was right under their feet.

"The concrete in the floor hadn't had the proper opportunity to cure," said district building manager Bill Martin.

The moisture reacted with the carpet backing, causing a toxic reaction.

"It was a major issue for our staff and students here," he said.

The district spent the summer replacing all of the carpet, this time placing a special moisture reduction sealant which separates the concrete from the carpet. Martin says the heath problems are temporary, and the reproductive problems were unfounded.

Some staff and parents like Lowe are not convinced.

"They tell me they've never had a problem like this before, so how can they tell me it's temporary?" said Lowe.

A full-time nurse is now on staff and the district will test air quality monthly. Huston says above all, the district should also monitor those who got sick.

"I just want the district to take care of us and to really listen to the people, listen to the kids."

Martin says the district spent over a million dollars to fix the toxic carpet problems.