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High school air quality issues causing concern

MARBLEHEAD – Students and faculty at Marblehead High are voicing concern about air quality issues at the five-year-old building.Armed with a 44-page 2005 report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, they have raised questions about humidity and dust. When the school Inner Air Quality Committee failed to meet after January, students and faculty formed their own organization, according to a Marblehead High Headlight report by Ben Mervis, the only student representative to the IAQ Committee.Humidity at Marblehead High ranges around 25 percent, according to the state survey, but never reaches the DPH-recommended level of 40 percent. Humidifiers have been installed at the library and guidance offices, the building’s two driest areas, but sufferers still report issues at the library, the large room with a cathedral-ceiling where the School Committee regularly holds meetings.Students and teachers alike notice the darkened ceiling tiles around the air vents, a possible indicator that the building’s duct work needs to be inspected for dust.Interim Superintendent of Schools Philip Devaux, who could not be reached for comment Friday, has said that he wants to discuss air quality issues at a meeting of the School Committee.Principal John Ziergiebel praised Director of Facilities David Dunkley and his department for being “pro-active.””When I ask them to do something they do it right away,” he said.However, he admitted, “This building is dry. It’s a big building and it’s very dry. We’ve tried to counteract that with humidifiers but when you increase the moisture in the air you can cause mold.”

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