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Mysterious odor under investigation at Western Row Air Quality being tested at Mason school

Do you smell that? Staff, students at Western Row Elementary complain about school's air quality

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MASON, Ohio - Do you smell that? Teachers, staff and students at a Mason elementary school have for the past month.  

The odd smell at Western Row Elementary prompted the school district to ask a private company to conduct preliminary air quality testing. The name of the company was not released.

In an email sent to parents Thursday evening, Principal Eric Messer indicates that initial report shows chloroform levels inside the school at 8.9 parts per billion.

While the company said further testing is needed, the amount of chloroform found in the air was not an immediate cause for concern.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there isn't "cause for concern" until chloroform levels reach 240,000 parts per billion.

There isn't an immediate health risk until levels reach 2 million parts per billion, according to OSHA.

School officials said they don't believe the air quality has caused any illnesses.

Messer outlined in the note to parents that the Western Row administration attempted to better air quality and improve the smell in the school by "thoroughly [cleaning] each classroom, bathroom and hallway" the weekend of May 18-19.

Spokesperson Tracey Carson said cleaning crews also checked the HVAC unit that week after the recommendation to do so was mentioned in the report.

She said school officials had the heating and cooling unit "professionally checked and everything came back normal." Carson also said the school will continue to monitor the HVAC system.

While some parents at the school are concerned about both the smell and the quality of air their children are inhaling, Doug McCowan said he trusts the administration is doing what he needs to do to keep students safe.

"If there was any danger to the children they obviously would have done something about it on the spot I would think," he said.

However, the smell has not gone away.

Messer said representatives from the school district contacted the Warren County Health Department May 21 after receiving the preliminary results of the tests.

Warren County Health Commissioner Duane Stansbury subsequently sent a request Friday to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to conduct an additional investigation. It's unclear when and if the NIOSH will investigate.

The district expects to receive the final report from the outside air quality agency in the next few days.


9 On Your Side reporter Lisa Smith contributed to this report

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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