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Jersey City teacher hospitalized from fume exposure at school

A high school in Jersey City was evacuated after a teacher was sent to the hospital and other complaints came in about people having trouble breathing. The teacher is expected to be fine and no other serious injuries have been reported at this time.

Emergency responders said that the breathing problems were most likely the result of fumes from the chemicals being used on a roof repair on the school. Workers on site were reportedly using tar and a blowtorch at the school and the fumes go into the building.

The students got back into the building within a few hours after the roofing work was put on hold.

This story raises some questions about the construction worker’s level of precaution when working with dangerous chemicals, and about the school’s monitoring of that work to make sure that the faculty and students were safe while repairs were being made. The school has an obligation to keep the area safe and free of obvious health hazards, and the heavy tar fumes certainly were not safe for the teachers and kids.

Whichever company or public entity hired the workers on the roof also has a duty to make sure that those workers and people around the construction site are not exposed to toxic chemicals. There is no information yet as to who was overseeing the repairs.

Fumes from chemicals like tar may be highly hazardous to students and teachers who suffer from a respiratory condition such as asthma or allergies to certain types of chemicals. When completing repairs in an area that is still open to the public, these are important considerations for any property owner to take into account.

Source: The Jersey Journal, “Synder High School teacher in Jersey City overcome by fumes from roofing work, school evacuated,” Michelangelo Conte, June 1, 2012.

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