Keep our students safe from potientially toxic fumes

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Dear Friends, Parents and students of Molly Brant Elementary School :

Limestone District School Board (Kingston, Ontario) is allowing roof tarring to occur on its property next to Molly Brant Elementary School. This directly impacts the learning environment for 457 students and 60 staff (teachers, education assistants, custodians and administrative staff).

The construction of Kingston Secondary School is well under way on the same property as an elementary school. The roof tarring (asphalt) has been ongoing since mid-November. Two kettles (the equipment used to melt the tar) are located at the north end of the construction site. The schoolyard sits north east of the construction site. This is ‘home’to approximately 350 of the 457 students who attend Molly Brant Elementary School.

Limestone District School Board neglected to inform its parent community that this work was being done. Nor did it inform parents of the potential health risks and side effects of exposure to hot asphalt fumes from inhaling. During the past three weeks the presence of fumes is so strong that you can almost taste it. The Limestone District School Board calls this a “nuisance.” In a society where we do not permit scented deodorant, shampoo, or perfumes in hospitals (and some schools), how can we allow a school that at any given time houses over 500 people to be totally engulfed by roofing tar fumes?

After two weeks of relentless emails to various levels of senior management, Limestone District School Board sent a letter home with students. The letter does not identify the health risks, but dismisses concerns as "merely a nuisance" or "potential temporary symptoms". Students have left school not feeling well with an array of symptoms, including headaches, nausea, upset stomach, lack of ability to concentrate. All of these symptoms are listed on the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) as possible side effects from hot asphalt fume exposure.

I, Jennifer Kehoe, respectfully requested the roof work be done outside of the school day on weekends or evenings, that the students be given the option to have respiratory protection (mask), and that parents be informed as to what their children are being exposed to. The only one of the requested action items acknowledged was to send home a letter, which did not even address the possible symptoms!

Receiving no appropriate response from the relevant Limestone District School Board officials throughout this unfortunate situation, I followed up with various levels of government (Member of Provincial Parliament M.P.P Ian Arthur, City Councillor Mary Rita Holland, Ministry of Labour , Ministry of Education and Global News). I now realize that the most vulnerable in our society--our children--have no voice!  Last week Premiere Doug Ford cut the Office of the Child Advocate leaving us with nowhere to go to navigate through this health and safety concern. The governing body that is to ensure that are children are safe is the same entity that is exposing our children to inhaling potentially dangerous fumes. I say potentially dangerous because we have zero data regarding what damage these fumes cause to developing lungs. The only data that is available is to workers in direct contact with the product.

I request that if this situation concerns you in any way, please sign this petition. In addition, I will be formally requesting our MPP Ian Arthur to table a Private Members Bill to make the Office of the Chid Advocate an essential service.

Thank you for your interest,

Jennifer Kehoe

Parent of children at Molly Brant Elementary School