Adelaide primary school students have moved from a classroom where lead-contaminated dust fell from a ceiling.
Most important points:
- Lead was detected in a classroom earlier this month
- Students learn in the gym instead
- The education department has rejected complaints about a lack of communication
Black dust falling from the ceiling was reported earlier this month by a teacher at East Marden Primary School, in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs.
Students who had been in class were moved to the school gymnasium.
Tests revealed that the dust contained lead.
A letter to parents last week said repairs were underway and the school was informed that the risk to students from exposure was very low.
It said it was “not uncommon to find lead in ceiling dust from old buildings”.
“Ceiling dust can enter rooms downwards due to wind, aging buildings or renovations and construction work,” said director Julie James’ letter.
Testing in two other buildings from the 1960s — a block of classrooms and the cafeteria — found no signs of lead, but the cafeteria is still closed until remediation work is completed.
Complaints about communication
A parent at the school wrote to ABC that she was concerned about the school’s lack of communication in the three weeks between the discovery of the dust and the letter the ABC had seen.
“I am frustrated, scared and angry,” the mother wrote.
Department of Education Chief Operating Officer Ben Temperly said the issue has been reported regularly to parents since the discovery.
“We’ve had the extensive testing done by a number of environmental consultants, we’ve been in contact with SA Health and the specialists there and the consensus is that while this is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed, it poses a low long-term risk. health of the students, but also of the staff at the school,” he said.
The ABC was also contacted by a person who said two pregnant teachers had not been informed of the lead discovery.
Mr Temperly said the department had only heard of the complaint through SA Health yesterday.
He said work is underway to resolve the dust problem “as soon as possible.”
“We understand that parents will have concerns and we have tried to put parents in touch with advice from SA Health or have advised parents to speak to their GP if they have ongoing concerns,” he said.
Students are expected to move from the gym to another building in block 3.