Ascension Parish School Board


Update on Reported Smell in Some T-Buildings



Aug. 18, 2017

Dear Galvez Primary, Galvez Middle, Lake Elementary and St. Amant High Families,
As we move past the anniversary date for the Great Flood of 2016, we continue to experience obstacles and inconveniences associated with the flood impact. We are grateful for the continued determination, resiliency, and support from our staff, students, parents, and all of our partners that have assisted us in protecting education during our road to recovery.

Our most recent challenge has been associated with an odor in some of our modular buildings at our temporary campuses. Environmental engineers, chemical hygienists, and our modular building manufacturers have taken a systematic approach to identifying the source of the irritant. They first tested the plumbing, then the air conditioning and circulation. We implemented ventilation to relieve the concentrated smell while we continued to search for the source. Our environmental engineers have not found unsafe levels of any chemical, but what we believe has caused discomfort among those most sensitive is ammonia.

In most cases, ventilation mitigated the issues. However, there have been limited cases in which the odor continued to irritate, and those individuals were relocated to another part of campus. Please note, our experts continue to monitor air quality levels and at no time have our occupied facilities reached unsafe levels, but we do acknowledge that there are some who may be more sensitive to the smell than others. I commend our principals for acting quickly and compassionately to those who have reported problems.

On Wednesday morning, teams from Aries, our building manufacturer, arrived and began their own testing. The following is their report:

  1. They confirmed testing from previous experts that ammonia fume levels are low enough to be safe, but not low enough to eliminate annoyance.
  2. They believe the ammonia fumes are coming from certain batches of batt insulation, as the insulation is heated. Samples have been taken and lab work is being performed now to confirm.
  3. They isolated and removed batt insulation from one classroom at Lake Elementary last night that had readings yesterday, and this morning ammonia level readings in that room were at zero.
  4. Beginning this weekend, crews will begin removing batt insulation from classrooms, as needed, at Lake Elementary, where we have had the most complaints.  
  5. They will address removal of insulation at other campuses, as needed, in the near future.

We will keep you updated as we learn new information and continue to monitor our campuses for both safety and comfort. Thank you to everyone for your patience and support as we overcome this challenge together.


David Alexander
Ascension Public Schools