School gym remains closed as district addresses mercury issue


Share post:

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – Following the detection of mercury vapors in an elementary school gymnasium, the room remains closed as administrators look to eliminate the source of the problem.

The closing of the gym at the Joseph J. Catena Elementary School, Burlington Road, was announced by Freehold Township K-8 School District Superintendent of Schools Neil Dickstein in a letter dated Sept. 21. His announcement accompanied a consultant’s report informing district administrators the gym floor is emitting mercury vapors.

- Advertisement -

In a subsequent letter dated Oct. 1, Dickstein said the gym is being cooled to a lower temperature and he reported that ventilation has been increased to reduce the concentration of mercury vapors until a final course of action is developed. As of Oct. 1, the gym was closed until further notice.

According to Dickstein, the floor of the Catena gym is a synthetic material that was installed in 1999. After school districts were notified that some synthetic floors contain mercury and can emit a mercury vapor, administrators in Freehold Township had core samples of the floor taken and the results showed the floor contained mercury, although not at an alarming level. Subsequently, the consultants who performed the test recommended that air sampling be conducted.

Dickstein said the consultants advised the district to focus on the ventilation in the gym and to keep the space no warmer than 72 degrees when occupied. Administrators changed the set points on the air conditioning units to adhere to the maximum 72 degree standard.

While the gym remains closed, individuals will only be permitted in the room for short periods of time. Physical education classes will be held in an alternate space in the building or outside as the weather permits, according to Dickstein.

Additional air sampling will be conducted at a time recommended by the consultants.

“I know it is somewhat inconvenient to not have access to the gymnasium,” the superintendent wrote. “However, we always want to react to a situation in a manner that prioritizes the safety of our staff and students.”

Stay Connected


Current Issue

Latest News

Related articles

Sponsored: Steps to Take Now to Prevent Colorectal Cancer (Even if You’re a Young Adult)

Actor Chadwick Boseman’s death four years ago from stage IV colon cancer at age 43 illuminated a disturbing...

New Jersey needs law to control invasive species

By Tom Gilbert What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens in New Jersey yards and...

Monmouth County News Briefs, Jan. 25

The Assembly Judiciary Committee on Jan. 19 cleared a bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn (R-Monmouth) that would,...

News Transcript News Briefs, Jan. 25

The Manalapan Police Department has reported the following incidents which recently occurred in the community: On Jan. 4 at...