EHAP was asked by the Salem Keizer School District to evaluate the public health significance of exposure to mercury found in gym flooring in some schools throughout the district.
The Salem-Keizer School District also requested that EHAP evaluate several school buses that were invoved in a fire, in order to determine if they posed a health risk for children who may ride them.
School Buses: In 2006 a fire at the Salem-Keizer School District's main bus facility destroyed seven buses and heavily damaged five others. Damaged and smoke-affected buses were repaired, cleaned, and placed back into service. Drivers soon began to complain of nausea, headaches, burning noses and throats, a cough and trouble breathing after driving fire-affected buses.
in January 2008, the Salem-Keizer School District asked EHAP to evaluate the possible health risk to children who ride the buses.
EHAP published an initial Health Consultation in September 2008. In the consultation, a public comment version, EHAP found that children riding the affected buses are not at risk for the type of health problems that the drivers continue to report. EHAP received several comments during the open public comment period, which have been incorporated into the final health consultation (pdf) released on March 26, 2009.
In the final report, EHAP recommends bus drivers request a health hazard investigation from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) due to the many scientific limitations encountered in this investigation.
Polyurethane "Tartan" Gym Flooring: In January 2006, the Salem-Keizer School District asked EHAP to investigate the potential for students and adults to be exposed to mercury vapors from polyurethane flooring known to contain 0.1 to 0.2 percent mercury. This flooring, manufactured from the early 1960s through 1980 and sold as 3M Tartan brand flooring, is a rubber-like polymer floor covering found in school gyms in Oregon's Salem-Kaiser School District.
A Public Health Consultation (PHC) was developed to assess the potential for adverse health effects from exposure, and to evaluate whether removal of the flooring could pose a health hazard to the children in the school district. The potential for current and future exposure to mercury vapors emanating from the floor were the health issues that prompted the request for this consultation.
- EHAP scheduled and hosted a public meeting on Sept. 18, 2008, to discuss the School Bus Health Consultation.
- EHAP solicited, and received public comments on the School Bus health consultation, which were then incorporated into the final version.
- EHAP staff held an informational session on April 20, 2006, to discuss and answer questions about the Tartan gym flooring.