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Symptoms From Fumes at School in Fountain Valley

This letter is in response to the article “No Fume Threat Found at School” (Orange County section, Feb. 25). Much of the information included in the article is inaccurate and incomplete. A significant number of students, teachers and therapists continue to experience symptoms due to carpet fumes. We believe that parents of the children enrolled in Plavan School, Fountain Valley, should be informed of the symptoms, which include headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, skin rashes and menstrual irregularities/hormonal changes.

Symptoms began in August, 1988, following the recarpeting of Urbain Plavan School and Therapy Unit using glue adhesives in a closed circulation system environment. Physical and Occupational Therapists working at Plavan School, employed by Orange County, were not transferred to another location during recarpeting and were exposed to noxious fumes 8 hours per day, 5 days per week. Many symptoms manifested immediately and continue to persist. The article failed to report that the building was not properly ventilated and listed precautions were not followed during the recarpeting, which included “avoid breathing build-up of vapor.” Many symptoms experienced by the therapy staff are listed on the Material Safety Data Sheet for the glue, which was not distributed until December, 1988.

Due to the closed circulation system, the glue did not dry completely, and the fumes recirculated continuously while the children and adults were at Plavan School. No effort was made to accurately test or improve ventilation of the school until Physical and Occupational Therapists filed a formal grievance with Orange County Employees Assn. against the County of Orange and requested to be transferred until the building is no longer a danger to their health and safety.

Although the carpet was installed in August, 1988, air samples were not taken by Orange County Environmental Health Agency until January, 1989. The article also failed to state that certain chemicals were found in higher than normal levels and air sample testing has not been completed. The employees and students should be relocated until testing is complete and the fumes and symptoms are permanently eliminated.

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MARILYN ABEYTA

Urbain Plavan School

Fountain Valley

This letter was also signed by nine other members of the school’s therapy staff.

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