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Air quality tests conducted at Lawrence High School

More air quality tests were done Tuesday at Lawrence High School, ordered by district officials after teachers repeated concerns over mold and other building conditions stemming from superstorm Sandy's floodwaters.

Lawrence Teachers' Association president Lori Skonberg said teachers and staff at the Cedarhurst high school have been concerned that conditions may be harmful to the health of students and adults. The high school has about 1,200 students in grades nine through 12 and more than 100 staff members, according to district data.

The association previously asked that the New York State Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, or NYCOSH, visit the school to conduct additional air quality tests, explore whether other building conditions may be contributing to health problems, and substantiate the district's claim that the building is safe.

District officials, citing NYCOSH's mission as an advocacy group and not a state-approved air-quality testing service, hired a private industrial hygienist who conducted air quality tests Tuesday.

"Since superstorm Sandy, there has been regular testing of air quality through one of the most reputable state-approved companies," Superintendent Gary Schall said. "There has been over $60,000 put into testing, and results are consistently and completely safe."

NYCOSH is a membership organization of workers, unions, community-based organizations, health and legal professionals and other activists. Its mission is to extend and defend a right to a safe and healthful work environment.

District officials identified the company doing the work as Olmsted Environmental Services Inc. of Garrison, in Putnam County. Schall said Tuesday's testing cost $960.

Skonberg said results could be available in eight to 10 days.

"I would love for Ed or NYCOSH to come to me and say, 'Lori, you have a healthy building,' " she said, referring to the environmental company's president, Edward Olmsted. "That is my goal and if that is not the case, maybe we can finally put our finger on it and say, 'This is the problem.' That is what I am hoping."

Three teachers have mold-related illnesses, she said.

Lawrence High School was shut down for weeks in January 2013, with students temporarily shifted to other schools after electrical damage from Sandy's flooding was discovered. Engineering consultants found wiring had been corroded by seawater that flooded a crawl space under the high school when the storm struck on Oct. 29, 2012. The corrosion was discovered after the crawl space was cleared of sand and debris.

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