Gas in Middle School Sickens Students


Brown Middle School in El Paso, Texas opened in August 2007. Students then began to complain about the smell of sewage in the building. While the administration didn’t think the smell was a very serious problem, students were falling ill. Many students were coming home complaining of stomach aches, headaches, and respiratory problems. At least one had a stomach ache so bad he ended up in the emergency room.

When the administration finally began to take the sewage smell seriously, they had the air monitored. What they found were high levels of hydrogen sulfide, a gas found in raw sewage and very dangerous. All symptoms the students suffered can be brought on by exposure to hydrogen sulfide.

The school district met in December, promising that they would get rid of the gas. However, even after changing toilets and opening vents, the gas remained in the school. The school district has also spent time, money and resources on the problem, but has not been able to end the hydrogen sulfide smell.

While they claim the long-term health effects of children’s exposure to hydrogen sulfide have not been studied formally, they are trying all they can. The school remains open, but parents now have the option to transfer their child to another school.