MIDDLESEX, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Parents in Middlesex County say their kids have been complaining about feeling sleepy and sick.
Now they want to know why something wasn’t done sooner about the potentially toxic gas detected in the school, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported Tuesday.
The Middlesex County HAZMAT Unit was at Von Mauger Middle School on Tuesday afternoon to test carbon dioxide levels. Dozens of parents picked their kids up early. After connecting the dots, this may be why their kids have been sick.
“The district needs to do something. We need to find out why these kids are constantly tired, falling asleep in class. Our testing for this year was very low, the scores were very low. Is this due to the fact that these kids falling asleep?” said Eileen Miller, the parent of a seventh grader.
“The migraines, they last for like more than 10 minutes at time and then I feel really light-headed and I feel like (I’m) about to throw up,” seventh grader Kayla Cummins added.
Seventh grader Samuel Kleiber said he hopes this gets fixed fast because, “I love school. My mom said that when I come out of school she asks me, ‘How was your day?’ And she told me I was just a zombie.”
Air quality test results from the state show elevated levels of carbon dioxide. The district was made aware of this on Sept. 14. Middlesex Borough Schools Superintendent Dr. Linda Madison said the school immediately began short-term remediation tactics.
“That was open the windows, open the doors. Make sure that the uni-vents are blowing if they can work,” Dr. Madison said.
But she said she was not aware kids were feeling ill.
“I was not aware of any of that until yesterday,” Dr. Madison said.
Many parents dispute that, telling CBS2’s Baker off camera that kids have been going to the nurse. Madison said it an air-exchange issue.
“So what happens in a uni-ventilator is when they are turned on they pull fresh air from the outside into the room, circulate it, and then it goes back out,” Dr. Madison said. “If the vent is not on, is not operating properly, it’s not pulling enough fresh air into the room.”
The district budgeted to replace all uni-ventilators in a 1950s wing of the school. Madison said it ran out of time this summer and will complete that work next summer, but she added something short term will be done by the time the weather gets cold and the windows close.
The New Jersey Department of Health said the enforcement case is currently open and potential citations are under review. It is important to emphasize that this is carbon dioxide, not carbon monoxide, which can be deadly.