MBUSD places a priority on the health and safety of students and staff and believes that a safe classroom environment is fundamental to providing an effective educational experience for students. In August 2018, the District experienced two events that have shined a spotlight on the importance of attention to indoor air quality and other environmental concerns: (1) a contractor who was hired to encapsulate asbestos-containing tile under carpet instead sanded the asbestos-containing tile, creating contamination that required extensive remediation and repair in the library at Mira Costa High School and (2) the District has experienced a noticeable increase in the amount of visible mold in school buildings throughout the District.
In response to these events, the District is working to implement the Environmental Protection Agency’s Tools for Schools Program. We have already taken the first step in this process by developing a Draft Indoor Air Quality Management Plan (IAQMP). Implementing the IAQMP will help us develop and sustain effective and comprehensive IAQ management programs, or other overall health and safety initiatives, in line with the Tools for Schools guidance, which has been implemented successfully in tens of thousands of schools nationwide.
Mold and Moisture
In a typical year, staff alerts the District to a handful of instances of suspected mold, and the District investigates, cleans, and remediates them on a case-by-case basis throughout the year. In the fall of 2018, a heat wave at the end of the summer was followed by atypically humid weather, and this combined with our marine environment and some of our schools’ proximity to very moist soil conditions and vegetation, along with aging roofs, classroom buildings, and other facilities, has created conditions that have led to higher than normal reports of mold and moisture in our classrooms.
The District’s process when it receives a report of suspected mold or moisture intrusion is as follows:
- Information about the reasons for the suspicion is gathered
- A consultant specializing in the assessment of hazardous conditions is contacted to further investigate
- Based on the consultant’s findings, if needed:
- A contractor specializing in the cleaning/remediation of hazardous substances is contacted to address conditions in the room, and/or
- The District’s Maintenance and Operations team addresses recommendations that do not require an outside contractor’s expertise
If remediation is needed, the hazardous materials assessment consultant conducts post-remediation clearance sampling to ensure that the room has returned to a safe condition.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that can be found in some building materials. If these materials are damaged or disturbed, they may release asbestos fibers into the air. Airborne asbestos fibers can pose an increased health risk for mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.
In compliance with federal law, MBUSD has developed and maintains an Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) Management Plan, a copy of which is available for review and located in each school office. This plan reduces the likelihood of exposure to asbestos. Asbestos containing materials are regularly inspected, and removal is done safely, following applicable local, state and federal laws, policies, and regulations.
In the case of an unplanned or accidental release of asbestos fibers, as occurred in the MCHS library, procedures involve an emergency shut down of the location where the release occurred, followed by the development and implementation of a full-scale remediation plan by a certified asbestos consultant and a remediation contractor. This is overseen by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), as that agency is tasked with ensuring that all proper procedures are followed, and the plan must comply with Procedure 5 of AQMD’s Rule 1403.
March 2019 UPDATE - MCHS Library: As most of you know, we closed our library at Mira Costa on August 16, 2018 due to unauthorized work performed by a contractor. While we finished all of the abatement and repair work related to that incident in January, we are still engaged in additional work that is keeping the library closed. Part of that is because we voluntarily decided to one additional bit of abatement work that would make the library more usable in the future, and part of it is because we found yet one more problem as we were inspecting the facility.
The library is currently undergoing what is anticipated to be the final phase of asbestos abatement and remediation. A team of contractors and consultants is currently working to complete this task, with monitoring by AQMD. The work is located primarily at the north end of the library building, where additional asbestos containing materials were found. It is anticipated that this work will continue through March 29. Once this work is done, the District will complete any repairs that are required as a result of abatement process and then will conduct a final “housekeeping” cleaning.
For more information about the District’s responses to these issues, please refer to the following links:
Detailed reports related to mold and moisture investigations completed to date can be found on the District’s website below: