Parents say nausea, headaches, vision problems caused by school smell

Parents say nausea, headaches, vision problems caused by school smell

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by Jamie Grey and KTVB.COM

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBJamieGrey

KTVB.COM

Posted on June 25, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 26 at 6:54 PM

BOISE -- Some Hidden Springs Elementary School parents believe their kids suffered headaches, nausea and vision problems because of how the building's floors were installed. They believe the carpet glue has been sending fumes into the air because it hasn't ever properly dried.

Last year in fourth grade, student Ryan Balkin started complaining of headaches, nausea, even vision issues at school.

"Of course I thought it was not wanting to go to school, stress, trying to think anything else," her mother Barbara Balkin said.

But reading some Facebook posts from other parents, Balkin believed she found a connection between her daughter's health issues and the carpet.

"Somebody had posted, is anybody else smelling this smell at school? And any kids experiencing health problems? And there must have been a dozen people that posted onto that, linked onto that," said Balkin. "When I read that, I was like, 'oh my gosh, this is exactly what my kid's been going through.'"

The school's principal, Brett Forrey says the building had carpet issues four years ago. That was the year the Boise School District took over the school and ripped up the carpet.

"That was based off of tests run that showed a moisture level in the concrete slabs that was higher than it should have been," said Forrey.

Parents like Balkin believe once the carpet went back in a few years ago, the moisture came back and started the health problems.

Another parent, retired police investigator Mike Stilton, has been doing research and pulling records. And he says finding the school had tests done in 2011 with inspector recommendations to consider "replacement of carpet tiles" because it likely would continue to off-gas otherwise. There are also notes about "odor" in the school.

"Really, it's a chemical odor, and it would be sort of similar to having an open can of floor adhesive with a piece of rubber on top of it. As long as it stays wet, it's going to continue to off-gas," said Stilton, who says he has personally observed the odor.    

Hidden Springs Elementary does not believe there was, or is a risk to their students and their health.

"Absolutely not. Absolutely not. The Boise School District is exceptional. If there was any concern at all raised about any type of a health concern that children might be at risk, that would have been addressed a long time ago," said Forrey.

Since parents have complained, there was a meeting with the district and new tests done.

"They re-ran those tests second week in June, and results came back showing that moisture level in the concrete had gone back up again, so as a precaution the district did decide to go ahead and remove all of the carpet from the buildings again," Forrey said.

On Tuesday morning, KTVB went to the school and saw the doors open with fans going. Forrey says that was the beginning of the crews tearing out the carpet. With that, the principal hopes the concerns are gone, and parents hope they can go back to the school their kids love this fall.

"I hope it doesn't affect anyone else, and I hope it will be fixed and we can go back to school and enjoy the school again in September," Balkin said. "If it's not fixed, I would have to leave."

Stilton says they are asking parents who also believe their kids may have had issues to contact him via email.

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