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Questions parents need to ask about use of toxic chemicals at school

posted Jan 29, 2010, 10:52 AM by Nancy Swan   [ updated Jan 30, 2010, 5:19 PM by Thomas Swan ]

Questions About Sealant Odor

Parents of the children at the Hillspoint School in Westport, Connecticut, who were evacuated due to fumes from a roofing sealant need to ask these questions:

* Did anyone ask for the name of the chemical in the roof sealant?

* What are the Material Safety Data information for these chemicals.

* Was the contractor advised not to use the chemicals in the vicinity of children?

* How long were the children and teachers exposed to the chemicals before they were evacuated?

* Who authorized the application of the roof sealant during the school day?

* Was that person qualified to make a decision that exposed children to hazardous substances?

*Who oversees the use of toxic substances at schools?

I was seriously and permanently injured by a roofing sealant applied during the school day at the school where I was teaching in Long Beach, Mississippi.   School officials lied to the media and parents, saying that the chemicals were nontoxic  and that no one was seriously injured. 

It only takes a short time to cause injury to respiratory, eye and brain tissue. It sometimes takes a lifetime to diagnosed that toxic chemicals caused the damage.

Fumes from roofing sealant have caused injuries to school children all across the nation. Even though the EPA recognizes that children are more vulnerable to toxic injury, there are no laws preventing the use of toxic chemicals like roofing sealant while school children and personnel are present.

When I asked the questions above, the school and contractor attempted to cover it up. School officials at my school were more concerned with their liability and politics than with providing medical care for the injured.

I am now an activist to protect children from toxic injury and for healthier schools. For stories about toxic justice, news and resources about schools and toxic risks, visit and follow me on Twitter at

Nancy Swan
Mobile, Ala.