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MONROE  WEATHER
Temperature: 52.0°F | Humidity: 99% | Pressure: 29.96in (Steady) | Conditions: Rain | Wind Direction: East | Wind Speed: 0.0mph
MONROE

Health agency closes some spaces inside Monroe school
March 03, 2017




Monroe School District Bldg. CLICK TO ENLARGE
This report was first published in the early morning hours
of 3/2/17 in the Chronicle's Breaking News column

Chronicle staff


(MONROE, WA.) -- The Snohomish County Health District in conjunction with the Monroe School District has closed seven spaces this week inside Monroe's Sky Valley Education Center due to an abundance of caution over one test in December that showed high levels of a toxic agent.

That test was re-run in January and it showed no levels of the manufactured organic chemicals known as Polychlorinated Biphenyls or PCBs that would be of concern.

The school district says in a letter to parents sent via Family Access that the testing in December had "produced false positive results of contaminants due to mishandling of the samples by the environmental testing agency."

A joint statement issued Wednesday by Dr. Fredrika Smith of the health district, Superintendent John Mannix, Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Karen Rosencrans, Principal of Sky Valley Education Center said, "We are committed to being fully transparent with our entire community and felt it necessary to share all of the facts to the broader community."

In part the statement said the district has been regularly conducting environmental health testing at Sky Valley to ensure the facilities are safe for all students, staff and families and added, "We want to keep all our families fully informed about this process, including that we received a series of false positives indicating an elevated level of PCBs in seven spaces."

"These high levels were identified as a clear anomaly by the environmental testing agency and they determined they had mishandled the samples," said the statement which also noted that "In an abundance of caution, we are working with the Snohomish County Health District and have closed seven spaces at SVEC until further testing can be completed. We expect those new test results next week."

The seven spaces were the ones named in the report the district received from its environmental testing agency, PBS Engineering and Environmental, "as being subject to sample mishandling."

That "mishandling" means, said the district that "During their testing at SVEC, PBS determined the sample taken from those seven classrooms was contaminated during the handling process, which produced false positive high PCB results."

The full text of the joint statement is below.
____________________

"Dear Sky Valley Education Center (SVEC) community,

We have been regularly conducting environmental health testing at Sky Valley to ensure our facilities are safe for all students, staff and families.

We want to keep all our families fully informed about this process, including that we received a series of false positives indicating an elevated level of PCBs in seven spaces.

These high levels were identified as a clear anomaly by the environmental testing agency and they determined they had mishandled the samples.

In an abundance of caution, we are working with the Snohomish County Health District and have closed seven spaces at SVEC until further testing can be completed. We expect those new test results next week.

The seven spaces were the ones named in the report we received from our environmental testing agency, PBS Engineering and Environmental, as being subject to sample mishandling.

Which means, during their testing at SVEC, PBS determined the sample taken from those seven classrooms was contaminated during the handling process, which produced false positive high PCB results.

To verify the false positives, the spaces were retested and the second set of testing showed no detectable PCB concentrations in any locations. These results confirm that the first round of testing was indeed a false positive.

The following table shows the initial test results compared to the second set of test results (see image). To be fully transparent, we are including a link to view the complete documents containing all of the recent test result data: http://bit.ly/2lt79Ye .

With the health, safety and well-being of our staff, students and families always being our first priority, we have contacted Fulcrums Environmental Consulting, Inc., another environmental testing company, to come in as soon as possible to conduct additional independent testing.

We will continue to work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Snohomish Health District to ensure that the Sky Valley Education Center (SVEC) is a safe environment for all students and staff.

We have made every effort to be transparent throughout this process, but in case you have missed any of the communications that have gone out to SVEC families, the following is a brief recap.

We were first made aware of the air quality concern at SVEC in the fall of 2015 by several SVEC staff members. We were, and we continue to be, very open and responsive to these concerns as our students and staff are our number one priority here in the Monroe School District.

Once made aware of the air quality concern at SVEC, we immediately conducted thorough research at SVEC to identify any hazards present. Based on our findings that PCB (Polychlorinate Biphenyl) was present at SVEC, our Operations Department, with the assistance of the EPA and the Snohomish Health District, created a remediation plan for PCB in the building. As part of this remediation plan, we committed to performing quarterly air quality testing to ensure that PCB was no longer present.

After we removed all of the identified hazardous material (caulk, contaminated light fixtures and light tubes) at SVEC, the district contracted PBS Engineering and Environmental in January 2016 to conduct extensive, quarterly air quality testing at SVEC.

When the most recent testing produced results that were clear anomalies, PBS Engineering and Environmental then elected to conduct a retest to verify that the first reported false positive test results were indeed false positives.

The retest results present definitive data that shows the air quality PCB levels at SVEC are below laboratory detection limits as well as EPA guidelines.

Included in the final report from PBS Engineering and Environmental is the following statement, “All final analytical results for air samples collected during this quarterly monitoring event were found to be below laboratory detection limits as well as EPA guidelines.” PBS Engineering and Environmental goes on to say, “Based on laboratory results of the final air samples, no detectable PCBs were found.”

We are confident in the findings of PBS Engineering and Environmental, but to ensure beyond a shadow of a doubt that our students and staff are in a healthy learning environment, we have contracted Fulcrum Environmental Consulting, Inc. to come and conduct a second series of air quality tests at SVEC.
As we work with the Fulcrum Environmental Consulting, Inc. to retest, there may be news media on campus and you may see SVEC mentioned in the news. We will make every effort to minimize disruptions to the learning environment as we go through this process.

We can’t stress enough that the Monroe School District is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our students and staff. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us."

Sincerely,
Dr. Fredrika Smith, Superintendent
John Mannix, Assistant Superintendent of Operations
Karen Rosencrans, Principal of Sky Valley Education Center





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