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NY1 Exclusive: Moldy Trailers Pose Potential Threat To Returning Students

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The city's public school students head back to class in just under two weeks, and right now thousands of them are scheduled to spend much of their time studying in classrooms that could pose a real threat to their health. NY1 Education Reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Inside two classroom trailers at I.S. 302, walls are so damp the surface peels right off.

Underneath, the walls mask crumbling, wet sheetrock.

Workers are clearing out the moldy walls, ceilings and floors, trying to get the classrooms ready for the start of school.

These trailers, only two out of hundreds where students have been studying for decades, are still in use after they were supposed to be torn down and replaced by permanent classrooms.

"Who would want a trailer with no windows for 20 years for their kids?" said Queens Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan.

There are 357 trailers in schoolyards across the city.

During the 2011-12 school year, the latest year the Department of Education has figures on, more than 8,000 elementary and middle school students spent most of their day in one of them.

I.S. 302, a middle school in East New York, is being phased-out by the city for poor performance.

The school is being replaced by two new schools and a charter, and all four schools currently share the main building.

Teachers in the trailers at I.S. 302 said conditions had become unsafe.

On July 30, inspectors from the Teacher's Union Health and Safety Office found considerable evidence that the teachers were right.

"We found mold and water intrusion just about everywhere, in the airducts, in the flooring, on the walls of the bathroom, the wood steps getting into the trailers were starting to rot away," said David Kazansky from the Teachers' Union Health and Safety Office.

The health report sent to the Department of Education concluded, "The transportable classrooms currently are a health risk to staff and children."

The report goes on to say, "Ideally these units should be taken out of service as they are past the expected service life and have chronic moisture problems that are impossible to completely mitigate."

Mold increases the risk of respiratory infections and can make asthma symptoms much worse.

Experts say the trailer's useful life is between eight and 10 years, and most of the classroom trailers, which are due to go back into use in less than two weeks, have long passed their expiration date.

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