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High Lead Dust Levels Found in St. Paul’s

Respirator Masks Required

Swipe tests performed inside the St. Paul’s Main Building have revealed high levels of lead dust, forcing village officials to immediately stop any groups interested in touring the former boys school and requiring any village staff that must enter the building to use proper breathing apparatus.

According to Village Administrator Robert Schoelle, Jr., “Swipe tests were performed in random areas of the floors of the Main Building to determine lead dust levels.”

Testing Mechanics Corporation out of Seaford performed the testing Sept. 14. The company has been performing environmental and occupational testing services for utilities, industrial properties, financial institutions, commercial properties, hospitals, schools, transportation facilities and private residences since 1989.

Different samplings were taken on each of the building’s four floors. The following federal standard has been set for lead hazards in dust: 40 µg/ft² (micrograms per square foot).

Readings inside St. Paul’s, however, were well over the accepted standard: the first floor’s results ranged from 890 to 230 to 1,000 and 930; the second floor’s results ranged from 9,500 (hallway) to 300 and 470; the third floor’s results ranged from 850 to 1,700; and the fourth floor’s results were 840 micrograms per square foot.

“The Garden City Historical Society had asked that we continue to show people inside St. Paul’s. They wanted to do special trips and tours of St. Paul’s. Thanks to Mr. Schoelle, he felt that we were going to have a lot of people going through the building that we should make sure we do air samples, which were taken,” Mayor Robert Rothschild said.

“Unfortunately, the air samples we got were not good. They are at a level that we cannot allow tours to go through the building. It’s been recommended that anyone who enters the building, whether it be for life-saving efforts or fire efforts would have to be trained firemen with training in breathing apparatus, which I guess not all our firemen have. So you have to have a special training to go into the building.”

According to the Nassau County Department of Health, lead dust can form when lead-based paint is scraped, sanded or heated. Dust also forms when painted surfaces bump or rub together. Lead chips and dust can get on surfaces and objects that people touch. Settled dust can re-enter the air when people vacuum, sweep or walk through it.

Fire Headquarters Captain Gil Frank told Garden City Life that after researching vendors that sell the type of breathing apparatus now required to enter the building, he made a recommendation to both Kevin Ocker in the Recreation Department and Director of Public Works Robert Mangan.

“I have made a recommendation to both Recreation and the Department of Public Works for what they call a half-mask respirator,” Captain Frank said. “I have put them in contact with a vendor that supplies that type of thing.”

Captain Frank noted that village personnel must be trained in the proper use of the mask as well as how to obtain a proper seal. The chosen vendor would provide all training.

If and when firefighters must enter the Main Building, they can continue using their Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).

“We’re not going out to purchase these dust respirators per se because we have the self-contained breathing apparatus. We would actually have the additional level of protection in that we’re actually bringing in our own clean air,” Captain Frank said.

Garden City police are being trained in using another type of mask, Captain Frank noted. “The police have another type of mask that they have in conjunction with a terrorist attack. They are classified as CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear) safe. Members are going through a program to be fit tested on those,” he said.

Firefighters have performed drills in the Main Building within the past six months