The latest culprit in a lingering smell in the new Cridersville Elementary School seems to be an adhesive used on the carpet.
Last spring Wapakoneta City Schools administrators believed they had found the source of the odor, but by June they realized the smell was still there even after that potential cause had been fixed.
The odor first appeared in the elementary school on Reichelderfer Road in early April, when the building was evacuated for a day.
“We’ve done a series of tests, still there are continued talks from the outside about it being dangerous,” said Superintendent Keith Horner. “No tests have indicated that it is dangerous. It doesn’t mean that it’s not irritating.”
The superintendent said while several employees make appointments with their physician because of the smell last school year, he has not been informed of anyone who suffered any negative impact because of it.
“Some are more sensitive to certain smells than others,” Horner said.
Due to the unique nature and appearance of the smell, he said they are still attempting to determine what may be causing it. One possible consideration is moisture levels.
Horner said part of the problem in identifying the smell has been caused by its intermitten nature.
When the smell does occur, administrators shut down air handling units to avoid spreading the smell, so far that has not caused other problems as temperatures have been fairly mild.
Tests also are being conducted to make sure the adhesive used to hold the carpet squares in place is what was required by construction specifications.
Despite the unpredictability of the nuisance, Horner said they have been able to recreate the smell by pulling up a carpet tile.
“We do know it’s there,” Horner said of the smell under carpet laid in the library, music room, office and a couple classrooms in the elementary, which were opened to students last fall.
In the spring, Horner said they had thought a heat exchange wheel was causing the smell, and while a problem was discovered with it, it didn’t turn out to be the source.
“In June, when school was not in session, the odor returned,” Horner said.
It had not been present in the building since school began last week, until Monday, when it returned again with students in the building.
School administrators, the construction manager, architect and contractor met Tuesday to discuss the situation and how to proceed in handling it for the building with 325 students and 25 staff members.
The first round of testing cost approximately $6,000, which was paid by a contractor. Costs of additional testing are still unknown, but Horner said he hopes that bill is again picked up by those responsible for work on the building.
“We are moving forward,” Horner said. “We can recreate the odor, which we couldn’t do before. We hope this is it, of course, we thought that in June, too.”