Nurse raises concerns over school's air quality

March 6, 2013 3:37:49 PM PST
A school nurse speaks out about possible health concerns at her own elementary school. After falling sick, she wants to send a warning.

"I'm concerned about student safety," said Rachel Johnson, school nurse at ME Foster Elementary. "I'm concerned about the employees, the parents, and volunteers."

Johnson says she's been feeling sick for more than a month, and after going to the hospital herself, she feels it's the air in the school that's responsible.

She said, "I was, like, drained and in a tunnel and I knew something was wrong."

After Johnson complained, the school brought in its risk management team to test air quality.

In a memorandum dated February 11, the school had "carbon dioxide levels slightly higher than what is recommended." The levels weren't high enough to require action, but the school still purchased an air purifier.

Johnson has never tested the air quality in her home, but she says her symptoms kept getting worse. She was hospitalized on Monday.

She said, "I went into the ER and immediately they started working on me."

Johnson was diagnosed with carbon dioxide toxicity, as listed on her discharge papers. So the school tested levels again on Wednesday.

In a statement, the district said, "The results of the second air quality test showed the carbon dioxide levels were normal throughout the entire building. As an added safety measure, the Risk Management team also checked the levels of carbon monoxide and mold which were reported normal as well."

"That's very interesting," Johnson said. "But if it's taken care of, I'm at peace."

We're told the district has not received any other complaints from any students or other staff members. If that does happen, officials say they will test again.

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