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During February's winter recess, consultants the school district hired to ensure the Garden City Middle School boys' locker room was not contaminated by lead revealed a crawl space and adjacent storage room used to store athletic equipment had higher than acceptable levels. The boys' locker room and shower area, however, both had readings significantly below the level guidelines allow and was therefore not considered "contaminated.

The district's architect first became aware of the issue while performing a facilities review at the request of the board of education and school administration. The specific area in question, located in the middle school's basement, is adjacent to the boys' locker room. A room in the area originally designated as "pipe space" is more or less considered a crawl space that students never have access to.

In a Feb. 23 letter sent to parents, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Feirsen and Garden City Middle School Principal Peter Osroff stated: "Upon learning that the room in question had been used as a rifle range, the district hired a consultant to perform a preliminary analysis to determine the presence of contamination," school officials said. "We asked the consultant to assess not only the crawl space but all adjacent areas that might have been contaminated as well."

School officials noted that the consultant used the "most stringent set of guidelines available," those used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The assessment concluded that the boys' locker room and adjacent shower area were not contaminated after readings fell "significantly" below guidelines. The crawl space, however, and adjacent storage room that staff use for athletic equipment, had higher levels of lead than acceptable under the aforementioned guidelines.

As a result, during the winter break Feb. 16-20 when the school was closed, the district had the crawl space sealed and a barrior erected inside the room to "protect and guard against any future contamination in adjoining areas." Further, the storage room and the materials it contained have since been "thoroughly cleaned." The locker room and shower area were also cleaned, though they were never considered "contaminated."

Upon inspecting the crawl space, the architect, who first discovered the area, and the consultant, who reported lead contamination was present, confirmed there is no venting, air handling equipment or ductwork in the area, or adjoining areas, that could spread the contamination.

The clean up is complete. The latest test performed by the consultant in the locker room, boys' shower room and athletic storage room shows that all these areas had lead concentrations below detectable limits and therefore, far below the Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

"Therefore, these spaces can be considered safe for occupancy," the letter stated. The school district has also notified the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Health of its findings and remediation.

"We will continue to work with the consultant to ensure that the lead in the crawl space is contained and develop long-term plans for the safe removal of all contamination," the letter continued.

The letter in its entirety can be found at www.gardencity.k12.ny.us.


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