It has been a rough two days and we are in a bit of shock. We were called to a tense meeting on Thursday afternoon where six of us were informed by administration that effective Thursday afternoon and then after our Spring Break the 6 classes housed in the school's basement(where the Underground has taught for the past 10+ years) will be closed for environmental abatement. We had noticed several small monitors placed in the hallway but figured it was some sort of pest control. So after being allowed 3 hours today to remove items from our room the basement is now sealed. We were then told in the upcoming weeks contractors will be working to remove contamination including a chemical called DHMO. No timeline for the removal has yet been established and bids are being sought for the work to begin as soon as possible.
The origin of the DMHO on our hall is not yet known. Ideas range from it came from solvents, was used on site and leached through the soil and walls, or was present in the ground from before the school was constructed, or even came through the plumbing. No one knows for certain nor is it certain we will ever know. The bottom line is that it is present in our school and our rooms and that is scary. It is dense and apparently settles in low lying places. We asked lots of questions about the health risks but honestly weren't given too many answers. All they did was assure us that there were no concerns about any individual's health at this time.
Worse yet we were asked not to discuss this publicly and looked online and called around and it appears no one is certain what exactly the health risks are. I figured speaking up will not be noticed when wind of this hits the parents.
The following is from the website http://www.dhmo.org/
Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) is a colorless and odorless chemical compound, also referred to by some as Dihydrogen Oxide, Hydrogen Hydroxide, Hydronium Hydroxide, or simply Hydric acid. Its basis is the highly reactive hydroxyl radical, a species shown to mutate DNA, denature proteins, disrupt cell membranes, and chemically alter critical neurotransmitters. The atomic components of DHMO are found in a number of caustic, explosive and poisonous compounds such as Sulfuric Acid, Nitroglycerine and Ethyl Alcohol.
Another informative site was:
Despite the known dangers of DHMO, it continues to be used daily by industry, government, and even in private homes across the U.S. and worldwide. Our concern is that this could have been something in our rooms for years and no one told us. How safe are our kids, our schools and the people in them? I can say on behalf of all of this this has been a difficult 48 hours.
We will keep you posted and welcome any information from those who experience with DHMO contamination.