News & Views » Local News

Technical troubles

comment
Mary Smith, who was undergoing treatment at Dr, Michael Harbut’s clinic recently, is among at least five patients from Cass Technical High School that the doctor has treated for sick building syndrome.

Steve Conn, Cass Tech’s Detroit Federation of Teachers union representative, confirms that Cass has “very, very poor air circulation, especially in the more modern part, which has almost no windows.” He says the ventilation system sometimes “backfires dirt into the air.” A chemical analysis of the dirt found high levels of organic materials, which should not have been there, and Fiberglas, apparently from the ventilation pipes themselves, some of which are broken.

Detroit Public Schools officials did not respond to questions from the Metro Times regarding Conn’s assertions.

“We formally grieved that, trying to get the administration to do a thorough study of the air and we just got nowhere,” he says. He also says that the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the school once and also issued a lengthy, highly critical report on the building, to no apparent result.

He confirms that several other teachers besides Smith have fought for and won early retirements due to “sick building syndrome,” but those settlements required strict secrecy.

Conn adds: “One year we pushed real hard to get a set of new screens put into the ventilation system and within just a few weeks they turned completely black. Right now, if you went around the building, you would find a lot of them are just filthy.” Jim Dulzo is a veteran Detroit-area jazz broadcaster, critic and concert producer. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.