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TDSB defends how it responded to reports of asbestos at middle school

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is defending the way it responded to reports of asbestos discovered at a middle school in the city’s east end, even as some parents raise concerns that they weren’t notified sooner.

Queen Alexandra Middle School, located at Broadview Avenue and Dundas Street East, with more than 400 students, reported traces of asbestos on Dec. 14.

A letter sent to parents from Principal Ross Edgar, reviewed by CTV News Toronto, said the TDSB retained a certified company to provide abatement and cleanup services, adding that the material had been removed safely.

“An investigation to determine whether there was any risk of exposure was conducted, and Occupational Health and Safety has determined that any potential exposure was low risk,” Edgar wrote.

On Tuesday, TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird clarified to CTV News Toronto that once the lead dust was discovered, “the air handling unit was immediately shut off and students relocated while staff thoroughly cleaned the area as a precaution.”

The following day, another cleanup took place while an environmental consultant took samples.

“Results of those samples were received on Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, indicating a limited amount of asbestos in a group of rooms and lead in one room,” Bird said.

But parents tell CTV News Toronto that low risk is still a risk. On top of that, parents said they were concerned and confused by why they weren’t notified about it until nearly a month later, on Jan. 12.

The TDSB said the duct was cleaned again in early January with more sampling revealing results were “within acceptable limits.” 

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