Sarasota's Lamarque Elementary searches for source of respiratory problems

6:58 PM, Nov 13, 2013   |    comments
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North Port, Florida - Lamarque Elementary has battled a sewer smell since 2006, and Sarasota school district officials estimate they've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in tests.

Sarasota School District officials discovered that an air handler on the roof top helped spread the smell, but respiratory problems persist at the school and the cause is still a mystery.

Michelle Murphy's son is a third grader at Lamarque Elementary, and Michelle says it's "scary, very scary." 

Michelle says she's frightened and it makes her want to pull her son out of school right now. She wonders if her son's respiratory problems are caused by the school.  

"My son was at the pediatrician," she tells us, "and they started him on allergy and asthma medication."

Charles Hummer says when he walked into Lamarque in January he smelled the problem right away. 

Hummer says, "It's sweet sickly chemical metallic smell." 

Hummer believes the smell is a sign of contaminated American Drywall, a problem he's been battling in his own home. The Venice Scoop first posted Hummer's claims on its Facebook webpage.

Hummer says, "My message is I will not stop, my mission is to save our children."

The Sarasota School District asked the public health department and an environmental engineer to test the school's drywall and air quality.  

"They have not identified any contaminants in the building's environment that would cause any discomfort or adverse health effects," says Sarasota School Superintendent Lori White. 

During a press conference Wednesday, White says tests show the dry wall is not contaminated and indoor air quality reports are normal. White saysteachers are still experiencing problems, and the district will keep looking for an answer, and that the school district will not stop, and continue to investigate.

School district officials have hired a toxicologist a physician from USF to tackle the respiratory problems at the school from a medical angle. Dr. James McCluskey will begin interviewing school staff next week. Based on his findings McCluskey will recommend what other tests are needed such as soil samples or testing for mold.

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