The Horton School Revisited: Comments on Previous Concerns: March 29, 2001 – archive

See CASLE’s Some Lessons from the Horton School. We toured the school shortly after it opened, and had commented on positives and negatives regarding environmental health and safety and air quality. On March, 29, 2001 one of us revisited the school as part of another project. Below are the comments.

  • The building’s air was excellent throughout our tour. In fact, the level of comfort was very noticeable.
  • The materials and furnishings that had not offgassed in November of 1999 have now.
  • Propane stoves are still in use in the kitchen and food lab. Indoor combustion appliances are more potential risk to health than are electric appliances. See CASLE’s article on natural gas on our website.
  • The vinyl blinds in classrooms that were off-gassing quite strongly in our first visit, were no longer noticeably offgassing. Some classrooms, however, had garbage bags up to block the light – something the fire marshall might not agree with. CASLE encourages the use of heavy duty metal blinds because they do not offgas, will block enough light for projector use, they are cleanable, and they do not burn.
  • Re: electromagnetic fields and the placement of computers to minimize exposure to students at or near the computers and their monitors: Computer placement to counter this had been much improved.
  • The cleaning supplies have not yet been changed to less toxic alternatives. Some of those in use have been found to contain carcinogens, mutagens and teratogens. The Halifax Regional School Board stopped using these very same products several years ago. The ECOLOGO program from Environment Canada provides an excellent way of choosing least toxic products. Call 613-247-1900. It is recognized internationally as being one of the best ecolabelling programs in the world.

CASLE representatives concluded in our 1999 report that “By this time next year the Horton School should be one of the healthiest places for learning in the Province.” From this visit we are pleased to say that has come true. Despite the few flaws, we expect that the students and staff of Horton are already benefiting from spending their days in a healthy school. CASLE encourages the decision-makers of the Province to use all of the lessons from Horton school in the building of the next new schools – to attempt to repeat the successes and to adjust the rest. Also, to use what we have learned at Horton in the renovation of the many other older schools that are in need of upgrading.

Thank you for this opportunity for CASLE to give input again into the important process of providing safe and healthy learning environments for our Province’s school children.

K. Robinson
for CASLE.