Regarding the thoroughness of HVAC ductwork cleaning at Pinelands Regional High School

By Jeff Epstein, Editor of Citizens’ Media TV

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Due to a mismanaged roofing replacement project, Pinelands Regional High School students have spent most of 2017-2018 school year so far across the street in the junior high school. Both junior high school and high school students have been on “split sessions,“ with half of the day’s instruction in person, and the rest on the internet at home. The high school is scheduled to reopen on Monday, January 8th, after a thorough cleaning by the environmental remediation firm, Synatech Inc. The president of Synatech, Todd Nugent, is also a district alumnus and the parent of two high school students.

The district’s High School Return Checklist (original link) has these two items:

  • 5. Remediation Company to clean “D Wing”, HVAC system & Hallway while under negative pressure requiring the use of HEPA filtration equipment
  • 6. “Flush Out” of the building

After seeing this checklist, parents have asked why is only a portion of the ductwork going to be cleaned? We asked Nugent to address this concern, and also to clarify the “flush out“ process.

Only a portion of the ductwork is being cleaned

It is true that the entirety of the ductwork is not going to be thoroughly cleaned out. Nugent stated that the ventilation system in the D-wing is his company’s focus. He said that, based on the nature of the project, the vast majority of the dust and debris is expected in the D-wing and has likely not spread far beyond it. TTI Environmental will be visually inspecting ductwork in all other areas of the building to ensure that this is the case.

In addition, although VOCs (volatile organic compounds… basically, fumes) did contaminate the entire building, they quickly dissipated.

“Flush out”

The final step before the high school is reoccupied is to flush it out. This is normally done by opening all doors and windows for an extended period of time, allowing fresh air to enter the building. Unfortunately, this is not currently possible because of the frigid weather, and that doing so would cause pipes to freeze. It would also increase the chance for mold due to possible condensation once the heating system is turned back on.

In its place, Nugent said that twenty “MicroTraps” high capacity air filtration systems will be placed throughout the school. Pictures of this machine can be seen both below and at the top of this article (as screenshot from around the four minute mark in this video). These systems can process 2,000 cubic feet of air every minute, meaning that the air for the entire school will be completely recycled and filtered approximately every 30 minutes. The machines will be outfitted with charcoal filters and will run for 24 hours straight.

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