High school choir gets some breathing room

February 7th, 2010    Author: Staff Report    Filed Under: Community

New Richmond High School’s award-winning choirs will be breathing a little easier when they hit the high notes during practice sessions in the school’s vocal music room.

The vocal music room has been renovated with new carpet and a repaired and expanded ventilation system.

Storage areas in other parts of the building were found for book shelves and bins stacked along the walls to open up the room for the maximum of 120 students the fire code allows.

"We became concerned about the air quality of the room after high school principal Diane Spinnati contacted me in December about a student having an asthma attack in room 108," said New Richmond superintendent of schools Tom Durbin. "We immediately ordered an air quality test for the room."

Proactive Consulting Services performed an initial screening of the classroom on Dec. 8 and an extensive indoor air quality screening Dec. 14. Both the initial and follow-up screenings by Proactive Consulting found that "classroom 108 was, in general, in good condition structurally with no visually obvious environmental problems evident."

Proactive recommended replacing the carpeting, cleaning the HVAC system and checking optimum ventilation rates when there were large class sizes in the classroom.

The Proactive reports concluded:

"Visual inspection indicates that classroom 108 is, in general, in good condition structurally and environmentally, except the carpeting is significantly worn and stained from traffic. There were no visually obvious environmental problems evident. The fungal spore levels indoors were lower than that outdoors, but elevated levels of AspergilluslPen icillium- like fungal spores were detected indoors compared to outdoor levels.

Aspergillus/Penicillium-like fungal spores detected indoors are commonly detected at similar levels outdoors in the warmer months of the year, but elevated Aspergillus/Penicillium-like fungal spores levels detected indoors during the cooler months of the year indicate a contribution from an indoor source. The carpeting may be this source. Steps should be taken to minimize the potential for exposure to mold and other allergens in the school."

Based on the Proactive report, Durbin had the carpet removed and replaced with a non-porous and easily cleanable carpet and had a thorough inspection of the HVAC air handler for Room 108. The check revealed a partially clogged air coil. The coil was cleaned and the drip pan and filters replaced.

"In addition to a complete cleaning we replaced all of the duct work from the air handler to Room 108," said Durbin. "And we've extended the duct work to the back of the room."

The original ventilation system had two wall registers that were located near the return air vents.

"The air wasn't getting to the back of the room," noted Durbin. "The new duct work extends to the back of the room with eight vents, four on each side."

Now that the new duct work is in place, Durbin has ordered more air sample tests.

"I've requested two types of tests," said Durbin, "a regular air quality test and an aggressive air quality test typically done in buildings where asbestos has been removed. In addition, we are going to take air samples in the band room (which is next to the choir room) and other rooms in the high school."

The Clermont County Health District inspected the adjoining band room for mold on Jan. 20 and found "no evidence of moisture or mold."

Durbin also had the choir room inspected by New Richmond fire chief Mark Baird to establish an occupancy rate.

"The room is cleared for 120 students and 10 staff members for a total of 130," said Durbin.

The student total is just enough for the school's renowned Troubadours group which is limited to 120 singers.

"The 120 limit is a competitive limit," noted Durbin, "and is not a limit set by us."
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