Cedar Falls School working to remedy smelly situation - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Falls School working to remedy smelly situation

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A Cedar Falls school has been dealing with a smelly situation that's even made some students and staff sick.  A few weeks ago, the school was removing some flooring tile in preparation for construction that will be happening at the building this summer.  Crews used a product to remove some of the tile's adhesive, which created a foul odor in the building.  But the smell is now slowly disappearing as the district works to remedy the situation.

Outside Orchard Hill Elementary School in Cedar Falls, you wouldn't know there's anything wrong.  But inside, students and staff have been putting up with a smelly situation for weeks, following a project to remove some asbestos tiles.

"We've worked real hard to try to get the odor out of the building and we're still working on that today," said Cedar Falls superintendent Dr. David Stoakes.

No asbestos particles have contaminated the air in the building.  The bad smell was created from the product used to remove the tile's adhesive.  And that product seeped into some neighboring surfaces, allowing the stench to spread.

"Some of the odor has permeated the wood in the classrooms.  There's a 2 x 4 around the concrete that was used when the floor was constructed.  We have wooden cabinets in some of the rooms.  We had stuffed animals.  We had tack boards.  And all those materials absorb the odor we believe.  And all those things have been removed," Stoakes said.

The air quality has been tested twice.  The first round of results showed marginal air quality, which isn't bad enough to cause major health issues, but in some people could cause minor symptoms like headaches and nausea, which a few students and staff have experienced.

"This is the first time we've ever had this problem happen.  We've used the same procedures the last couple years during Christmas break, during spring break because removing the floor tile really gives us a jump on the construction season," said Stoakes.

And crews will keep working to completely eliminate the problem before any students and staff are allowed to use the affected classrooms.

The Cedar Falls School District says it can't put a time frame on when the clean up process will be completed.  It wants to take the situation seriously and not expose students to the affected areas until it's deemed 100 percent safe.

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