Mercury Hazard & Information

  • Virtual Question & Answer Meeting

    Monday, October 26, 2020 - 7:00 pm

    The District provided a virtual question and answer session on Monday, October 26th at 7:00 pm. The presentation can be found below:

    Special Election: Virtual Question & Answer Presentation, 10/26/2020

     

    Superintendent's Letter to School Community Advising of Mercury Containment in APR Floor - August 20, 2019

     

    In the spring of 2019 District Personnel became aware of the potential threat rubber-like floors in schools presented to faculty, staff and students who occupied spaces where the floor was present. The threat results from rubber-like polyurethane floors that contain phenyl mercuric acetate (PMA). When PMA breaks down it may release an odorless, colorless mercury vapor. Mercury is used in more than 3,000 consumer products from batteries, thermostats and fluorescent light bulbs to cleaners such as chlorine, caustic soda and oven cleaners. If inhaled, it could produce harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems. 

     

    This issue came to the forefront when the Washington Township School District (Gloucester County) - Mercury Concern in Washington Township (Courier-Post, 4/2/19) - confirmed that a number of their floors contained PMA, resulting in action steps to address. As a result, many other schools, including the South Harrison Twp. Elementary School District, engaged in testing this spring and the purpose of this website is to ensure transparency with our school community by communicating to our faculty, staff, students and families the results of those tests and steps the District plans to take resolve this matter as quickly as possible.

     

    Please know that we take the responsibility of ensuring safety and the well-being of our faculty, staff and students seriously and will continue to update our school community as we progress through this situation. As a result, we have begun the process of gaining a better understanding of the issue and will begin developing specifications for removal of the flooring as soon as possible. 

     
     
    On Monday, February 18, 2020, the South Harrison Twp. Elementary School Board of Education passed a resolution to provide for a Special School District Election for Consideration of a Bond Proposal by the Legally Qualified Voters of the School District. This proposal was defeated by eligible voters during a special election on March 10, 2020.

Testing Procedures

  • First, we identified that the rubber-like floor in the elementary school gymnasium/all purpose room (APR) is a similar product described in most reports on the matter and was installed more than 20 years ago (circa 1990), during a time when PMA was used in to cure these floors.

     

    Test bulk samples of the floors

    We engaged Epic Environmental to take full thickness bulk samples on April 17, 2019 and submitted them to EMSL Analytical for analysis. The sampling procedures were performed in accordance with the "Mercury Hazard in Schools from Rubber-like Polyurethane Floors - Health and Safety Guide." Any flooring material containing more than 1 milligram per kilogram (mg/Kg) is to be classified "mercury-containing." The results of our analysis confirmed that we did indeed have mercury-containing floors and the results of this analysis is below. To review this report in its entirety, click EPIC Bulk Floor Sampling - April 17, 2019.

     

    • APR by Exit - 200 mg/Kg
    • APR by Stage - 75 mg/Kg

     

    Measure Airborne Mercury

    Epic Environmental returned to take air samples on May 2, 2019 in the APR and stage. Samples were collected for a period of seven hours and thirty minutes while ventilation operated normally and the room unoccupied. Dampers were set at 20 percent fresh air. Three samples were collected inside the all purpose room, one sample behind the stage curtain and one sample outside the building to establish a baseline and were taken between 7:50 a.m. and 3:27 p.m. The results were compared to the New Jersey Department of Health action limit criteria of 0.8 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3) and concluded that no sample exceeded this limit and can be found below. To review the report in its entirety, click EPIC Mercury Vapor Air Sampling - May 2, 2019.

     

    • APR by Gym Office - 0.45 µg/m3
    • APR by Gym Office - 0.37 µg/m3
    • APR by Stage - 0.57 µg/m3
    • APR behind Curtain - 0.40 µg/m3
    • Outside by APR Exit - 0.11 µg/m3 (none detected)

     

    Measure Airborne Mercury "Worst Case Scenario"

    Epic Environmental returned a third time on July 26, 2019 to assess mercury vapor concentrations in the APR in accordance with Mercury Hazard in Schools from Rubber-like Polyurethane Floors - Health and Safety Guide for "Worst Case Scenario" evaluation. Therefore, the ventilation was not operating for a period of eight hours prior to sampling and during sampling and temperatures were permitted to rise inside the APR. These conditions represent a scenario where maximum levels of mercury vapor are expected to be generated from the rubberized flooring. The room was unoccupied and samples were collected over a period of six hours. Samples were analyzed by EMSL and compared to the New Jersey Department of Health action limit criteria of 0.8 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3) and concluded that mercury vapor concentrations inside the APR were above the limit and can be found below. To review the report in its entirety, click EPIC Mercury Vapor Air Sampling (Worst Case Scenario) - July 26, 2019.

     

    • APR by Gym Office - 1.0 µg/m3
    • APR by Gym Office - 1.0 µg/m3
    • APR by Stage - 2.0 µg/m3
    • APR behind Curtain - 0.89 µg/m3

     

    Hazardous Waste Classification Sampling

    EPIC Environmental returned on September 12, 2019 to determine if the flooring would be classified as a mercury containing hazardous waste if removed. The subsequent analysis of the sampling predicts how the material would act if in a landfill in order to estimate how much contaminant, if mercury, would leach into the environment. A result of 0.2 mg/L or above is considered failing, meaning the material would be classified as hazardous waste if removed. The results of our sampling determined that the concentration was above the 0.2 mg/L threshold and a summary of the results are below. To review the report in its entirety, click EPIC Hazardous Waste Classification Sampling - September 16, 2019.

     

    • APR by Exit - 2.1 mg/L

     

    Core Samples of Concrete Sub-Floor

    EPIC Environmental performed concrete corings in three locations in the South Harrison Twp. Elementary School All Purpose Room (APR) in an effort to assess whether mercury has leached into the concrete sub floor from the rubberized flooring and, if the concrete would be deemed hazardous waste if removed. Two of the three samples were classified as hazardos while the third was considered non-hazardous. The threshold was 0.2 mg/L and a summary of those results are below. To review the report in its entirety, click EPIC Core Samples of Concrete Sub-Floor - October 23. 2019.

     

    • APR near Stage - o.025 mg/L (Non-Hazardous)
    • APR Center by Wall - 0.29 mg/L (Hazardous)
    • APR near Water Coolers - 1.23 mg/L (Hazardous)

     

     

    EMSC "Second Opinion" Testing & Evaluation

    South Harrison engaged Environmental Management Safety Corporation (EMSC) to conduct review initial reports from EPIC and conduct additional air quality/mercury testing in an effort to obtain a "second opinion" of sorts. Findings from EMSC's December 10, 2019 inspection and air monitoring revealed that initial spot monitoring of airborne mercury levels with the gym ranged between 0.1 and 0.19 µg/m3 with an average of all gym areas of 0.14 µg/m3; below the NJ Department of Health guideline of 0.8 µg/m3. To review the report in its entirety, click EMSC Summary Report - December 23. 2019.

     

BOE Approves Bond Proposal

  • The Board of Education has submitted for voter approval at the annual school election on November 3, 2020 the following proposal:

     

    The Board of Education of the Township of South Harrison in the County of Gloucester, New Jersey is authorized: (a) to provide for the replacement of the gym flooring a South Harrison Elementary School, including fixtures, equipment and related work; (b) to appropriate $1,000,000 for such purposes and (c) to issue bonds of the school district in the principal amount of $1,000,000.

     

    The final eligible costs of the projects approved by the Commissioner of Education are $1,000,000. The proposed improvements include $0 for elements in addition to the facilities efficiency standards developed by the Commissioner of Education or not otherwise eligible for State support pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:7G-5(g). The State debt service aid percentage will equal l40% of the annual debt service due with respect to the final eligible costs of the projects. The Board of Education is authorized to transfer funds among the projects approved at this special election.

     

    Do you approve this bond proposal?

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