NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Talk of the Sound has obtained a memo which directs ten school district employees to be evaluated for exposure to asbestos at Mt. Sinai Selikoff Center for Occupation & Environmental Medicine at St. John's Riverside Hospital in Yonkers.
As part of a two-hour examination procedure, workers will undergo a breathing test, chest x-rays and an evaluation by a doctor specializing in workplace asbestos exposure.
The memo was sent on August 9th by Grace Marino, the district's clerk for Risk Management, to employees in the Buildings & Grounds Department and at the George M. Davis Elementary School. Marino informs the workers that Assistant Superintendent John Quinn contacted Mt. Sinai and made arrangements for them "in regard to asbestos testing."
The memo is dated just a day after the school surreptitiously altered a timeline document initially published on the District web site on August 5th and read into the record by Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak at a school board meeting on August 6th.
The altered August 8 timeline document removed two references to health determinations falsely attributed to the Westchester County Department of Health (WCDOH) by Dr. Adrienne Weiss-Harrison, the District Medical Director.
A third reference to WCDOH, actively discouraged parents from seeking medical evaluations for their children following an asbestos exposure incident which began on July 16th and continued at least until July 20th when a certified asbestos contractor came to work at the school.
Staff and students were in the building for a summer school program all that week. Friable asbestos material was spread throughout hallways, the school lobby, the traffic circle in front of the school and the principal's office, over a period of two days according to sources familiar with the incident. 6 large garbage bags of smashed asbestos tiles were stored in a closet for four days.
A carpet containing asbestos tiles was stored in the lobby of the school from shortly after noon on the July 16th until about 11 a.m. on July 17th
The City School District of New Rochelle has repeatedly denied that any individual's health was put at risk after workers removed asbestos tiles from two school offices at the North End elementary school. The District has based those claims on information allegedly obtained by Dr. Weiss-Harrison from the WCDOH after she claimed that all tiles in the building were removed intact and were thus non-friable -- not broken, not releasing asbestos fibers and thus not dangerous.
Asbestos fibers are known to cause asbestosis (pulmonary fibrosis due to asbestos), diffuse pleural thickening, pleural plaques, pleural effusion, rounded atelectasis and malignancies such as lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma.
Asbestos removal, transport and disposal is heavily regulated under various state and federal laws.
The WCDOH has stated that their agency has no role in investigating possible asbestos exposure and referred matters to the New York Department of Labor (DOL) Asbestos Control Bureau. The DOL is currently investigating the incident with investigators from the EPA, state DEC, state SED and others awaiting the results.
WCDOH demanded a retraction from school officials after statements attributed to WCDOH were published by the District claiming that the WCDOH had determined that there was no exposure to asbestos and consequently no health risk.
County Legislator Sheila Marcotte spoke with WCDOH officials earlier today about the District's failure to completely retract statements attributed to the WCDOH. Marcotte says she was told the WCDOH would review the matter and reiterate their demand for a full and complete retraction.
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