Dr. Doris J. Rapp
Ontario Ministry of Education and Training
Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario
Waterloo County Board of Education
Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario
National Conference on Children with Sensitivities
Allergy and Environmental Health Association of Canada (AEHA)
Ottawa, 31 May - 1 June 1996
I'll introduce each of the panel members starting with Sue Baker and Heather Holden and we'll go down the line. They'll each make a short presentation. We'll then open the panel for discussion between the panel members and the audience and we'll go until 12:30. But I must take a short time and introduce the panelists.
Sue Baker is an Education Officer in the Special Education Policy Unit of the Ministry of Education and Training. Prior to coming to the Ministry in 1991, Sue worked with four Ontario school boards as a teacher, special education and regular class, and administrator. Sue's current portfolio includes responsibility in the areas of allergy and asthma. An example of her work in that capacity is in October 1995, distribution to all Ontario school boards of a copy of the document, Anaphylaxis in Schools and Other Child Care Settings to assist with the creation or revision of school board policies. The document, a consensus statement, was drafted by the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, together with provincial affiliates and allergy organizations.
Sue represents the Special Education Policy Unit in interministerial discussions about school health support services and other issues related to exceptional children and youth. She's one of those people who facilitate organizations like ours getting access to politicians. Without people like her, we wouldn't get anywhere. I feel sorry for her because, these days, she has lots of problems. [Laughter.]
Heather Holden is a long-time friend of mine. We've sat on the board [Learning Disabilities Association] together. I served under her as president of the organization. She's a very well-known advocate in the Halton region and that may be why they have such good policy in the school board. She's been involved with the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario, of Canada, and of Halton, and the Allergy and Environmental Health Association. In her spare time she's the parent of four children.
Reg Barsoum obtained a certificate in engineering technology in 1979 when he graduated from Fanshaw College. His working certificate was obtained in 1984. He's been in the heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and temperature control industry for approximately 15 years, working in both the public and private sectors, as well as doing some freelance consulting. He has represented the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers as a member of the Canadian Standards Association Ergonomics Committee, to generate standards for ergonomics. While with the Waterloo County Board of Education, since 1990, he has been instrumental in developing standards, as well as construction, and the ongoing operation of environmentally controlled opportunity rooms.
As you can see, we have sort of an overview and, with Dr. Rapp, who I will not introduce again. We'll let you start, Sue.
Thank you, Roy. I'm pleased to be here today to take part in this discussion. In the Special Education Policy Unit of the Ontario Ministry of Education and Training, we welcome opportunities to become better informed about issues that are of concern to parents and their supporters, and to share whatever we can of the Ministry perspective. I'd also like Doris Rapp to know that I wonder why she thinks putting chocolate bars in the freezer keeps people from eating them. That hasn't really been my experience in the past. [Laughter.]
I'd like first to discuss the Ministry's role in ensuring that the needs of exceptional students, including those with environmental sensitivities, are met within our schools. There are several pieces of legislation which provide the legal framework for the education of exceptional pupils. Originally this was outlined in Bill 82 and is now incorporated into the Education Act. In addition to the specific references in the Education Act which refer to students who have been identified as exceptional, a policy program memorandum - No. 81 to be exact, and to be honest, quite outdated and in need of revision - it's about the roles and responsibilities of the ministries of Education and Training and Health and to a very minor extent the Ministry of Community and Social Services for school health support services. But this is the key statement that I think is useful to any parent or to any group trying to advocate for students who have difficulties that are health related in schools. Because in that ancient document there is a sentence:
"No school age child should be denied access to education because of special health support needs during school hours."
We have found that statement to be useful in the Special Education Policy Unit.
Two former ministers of Education are on record stating that school boards should take environmental sensitivities into consideration when planning for students. As you heard from Dr. Rapp and you will hear further today, there are three very good examples of that in southern Ontario where I am sure people can take lessons and be encouraged that some school boards are taking this seriously. And in finding out more about what they are doing, you can inform the trustees and administrators in the school boards where you are, hopefully.
The Ministry acknowledges that children with severe environmental sensitivities have health risks if their needs are not addressed. The Ministry of Citizenship and Culture, Disability Interest Unit, recognizes environmental sensitivities as a disability. Disability or handicap, to be exact, according to that wording, is a ground protected under the Human Rights Code. School boards may need to examine their policies with respect to environmental sensitivities to be fully confident that they have measures in place that enable children with a wide array of disabilities, including environmental sensitivities, to benefit from an education.
The Ministry has no legal authority under the Education Act to require school boards to implement activities to combat allergic reactions. We do, however, encourage school boards to have policies in these areas and to comply with human rights legislation. As an example - and I won't say this again because Roy mentioned it - we did distribute in October to all school boards this document that was prepared about anaphylaxis. That document, if you are interested, is available through your local regional office of the Ministry.
We encourage boards in that case to use the information provided to create or revise policies about that issue. That issue's a very dramatic issue because, as you are probably aware, there have been children in Ontario who died in the last few years because of an anaphylactic reaction that wasn't treated immediately or couldn't be treated immediately.
We've seen school boards, examples of school boards, that have implemented school and classroom placement changes for students with environmental sensitivities. In doing so, staff with environmental sensitivities are also served since they have healthier environments and arguably fewer days lost to illness.
My boss and I often joke because she is in a wheelchair; she has difficulties with many aspects of daily living that some of us take for granted. But all of the accommodations that are made for her make everything easier for all of us. As you know, we have a choice between taking the stairs or taking the ramp; we usually take the ramp. As you also know, if you look over your shoulder in a women's washroom and seeing that there's nobody with a wheelchair within sight, you'd use the larger, more conveniently accessible washroom that's set aside for persons with physical disabilities.
The work of the organization that sponsored this conference - this work is very, very important in sharing the models. I understand you're going to hear more about these models this afternoon. This work, along with other successful models that are starting to spring up in the province, will increase awareness in school boards about the necessity of accommodation. We would hope to see this trend continue.
I know you'd like to hear about the results of the Ministry consultation on the categories of exceptionalities and definitions, and specifically about the positioning of environmental sensitivities in that document. I can't tell you when our revised categories and definitions will be released, or whether they will include a category named environmental sensitivities. However, whatever the decision, we have made a commitment and I will repeat it here, to include statements in the accompanying communication about the need to accommodate children with environmental sensitivities so they can attend school. The Allergy and Environmental Health Association has agreed to assist us with the wording of this communication, so it will be clear to school boards that they need to address environmental sensitivities whenever it is severe enough to prevent a child from attending a school unless accommodation is provided.
The groups represented here today should take advantage of every opportunity to make their views known to government whenever opportunities arise. For instance, the draft revised Special Education Handbook should be ready for discussion this fall. It would be appropriate for a section about environmental sensitivities to be included in that. Call and give my name to Rochelle Rabinowicz who is working on that. I'm working closely with her on it and we do intend to include such a section in it.
The Ministry of Health - I'm getting back a little bit to the notion of the categories of definitions and exceptionalities - has indicated it's moving away from diagnostic categories to functional definitions and they support our attempts to open up a broader spectrum of functional problems which include varying diagnoses. Since the purpose of an IPRC - I'm sure most of you here are familiar with that acronym we use for Identification, Placement and Review Committee for the placement of exceptional students - is to address service needs, it would make sense to focus the definitions on functional needs that services in the classroom will address. From an education point of view, that focus would also make it easier to write an individual program plan for the student, working on outcomes-based goals.
In our unit, we encourage school boards to see children as individuals, not categories. A Health and Welfare Canada paper called Environmental Sensitivities echoes that belief when it states:
"Environmental sensitivities need to be considered on a case-by-case basis with acknowledgement of dysfunction or disability and compassion for the individual being the central tenets of treatment."
We've seen convincing evidence that a group of dedicated people, including parents and their supporters who truly want to assist the children, can truly help the student to reach his or her potential - that they can make a difference. I know how much hard work goes into planning a conference like this and I'd like to congratulate everyone who's brought people together. I've learned so much already this morning from Dr. Rapp and from the displays here. I think it's just tremendous and I hope that this will be an ongoing event for people interested and the growing numbers of people who are aware of all of the issues surrounding this.
I can assure you that in the Special Education Policy Unit, we're making every attempt to accommodate children's needs so that they may not only attend school - that's just the bottom line - but that they will find school a rewarding experience. And I'm here today to listen to your concerns and ideas. Thank you. [Applause.]
I think if you give me enough cord I'll hang myself and probably some people in Halton might smile a little.
I'm very pleased to be here today. I would like you to know that everything you have seen on those videos is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have had the privilege of having my children treated by Dr. Rapp and have sat many days in her office and watched those kinds of reactions, not only in my own children but in others. So, for those who are skeptical, if you don't believe it, go see it for yourself because it does happen. You can turn it on and turn it off just as if it were a tap. Fortunately for the children, you can turn it off.
There are two things that I'm going to talk about today: this morning, generally, about schools, and then later on this afternoon much more specifically about what we do in Halton. I wanted you to know, though, that Halton Board has created what we call our Environmental Hypersensitivity Document. This is a working document for teachers. It gives ideas and strategies. It gives a little background about the policy that the Halton Board has and I understand that you can get it from the Board and that they're going to photocopy an order sheet and I think it's going to be available at lunchtime. So if anybody is truly interested, look for the order sheet around lunchtime.
Are schools healthy places? In many respects, they're the worst places that you could ever send your children. From the time children enter kindergarten and play in the moldy sandbox until they leave 14 years later, they are faced with many environmental elements in school that they don't face at home. These elements for our kind of kids are a threat. It's vital for schools to know that they have to listen and work collaboratively with parents. It's not a matter of choice to attend school. School is compulsory. Therefore, it stands to reason that schools should be safe places for everyone.
Under the Ministry of Labour - the Health and Safety Regulations - schools must be safe places for employees. School staff have clear routes on how to make their concerns known, and there are clear responsibilities for the Boards that employ them. I have often asked, who makes sure that the students in schools have those same kinds of protections and should we not have the same kinds of considerations in fact that teachers have?
I had a story told to me by a relative of mine who, at the time, worked for the Ministry of Labour as an inspector. They were called to a school because there was some kind of terrible odour in the school. When the Ministry of Labour inspectors arrived they found all of the teachers standing on the outside of the building, all of the students in the building and the Ministry of Labour inspector said, "But I can't enter that school unless I'm asked by a staff person in the building." Fortunately, the caretaker had stayed in the building to take care of the kids. But it says that the world is not quite fair yet in terms of school and far more consideration is given to the health and well-being of staff than to the kids who have to go into the same place.
However, can the quality of the environment of schools be improved? Absolutely. And, in many cases, without a tremendous increase in cost. It is a matter of choice and it is a matter of priorities. Choices and priorities are often dictated by attitude. Do you have old-fashioned Terrazzo floors or carpet? The Halton Board recently opened a brand-new secondary school. That school has old-fashioned Terrazzo floors, no carpets in it or in its classrooms. Because I work for the Learning Disabilities Association and we have a resource centre in that school, we were moving into that school just as they were doing the final finishing for opening that school in September. I was in the school when in fact they were laying carpet and I thought, I'm not going to be able to work in here. However, there was no odour. The carpet was glued. There was no odour from the glue. In order to smell the carpet I had to get down on the floor and stick my nose right in it, in which case, yes I could smell something, but in essence there wasn't any smell. Somebody clearly made good choices. This is a school that has a highly efficient closed-air system. However, in every classroom windows open. Amazing.
Some classrooms do not have chalkboards but instead have whiteboards and they use water-based markers on those whiteboards. The list in this particular building goes on. It was designed with the health of all of the people who were going to occupy that building. Please note that this building came in under budget. It did not cost more.
We have in Halton what we call designated schools for the environmentally hypersensitive and our secondary school is presently being renovated. Did we move the program out of the school? No. Because we know that the people who work in that school and work with these kids will solve the problems, whatever may be faced. We also know that directions have been given to the architects, who are well versed in that this is a designated school and appropriate products were to be used wherever possible.. They replaced all of the windows in this school and there was no problem with things like caulking. So, again, it is a matter of choice, priority and attitude.
The program that we have in Halton has served a very small number of students. However, we have truly influenced, in the last ten years, day-to-day practices in the Board. All cleaning products when they are tendered are clearly tendered with the fact that we don't want things in our schools that smell. So a program that started to effect some change for a very small number of kids, has effected change for everybody in our schools. So schools are safer for everybody.
It's clear to me that we have affected mostly are changes in attitude. It's taken a long time. I've given 10 years of this to the Halton Board. However, what I see happening is the ball is now rolling faster and faster and others are pushing it along. And this kind of change, I think will ensure that the ball will continue to move with decreasing effort on the part of us parents and, some day, I will be able to retire. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
First of all, I'd like to bring you greetings from the Waterloo County Board of Education. I think it says a lot that the Board would choose to send me to this conference, for one thing. I also think it says a lot about what this Association has done and what Dr. Rapp has been teaching us over a number of years, as well as a number of other key players who, I think, many of us here can name. Dr. Rapp sort of reminds me of a driver in a Porsche that whizzes by while I'm walking down the road and she says, "This is the way to go." Well, I have a very hard time keeping up with Dr. Rapp, because of my engineering brain, perhaps, or something. I just take a little bit more time for things to sink in and she has to stop, back up, and show me the way.
We have to ensure that, when we build a building, we not only use the materials that we're talking about here that are people-friendly, but they have to be easy to maintain and they have to be maintainable. A good example is fan systems with air filtration. If those filters aren't readily accessible to be changed, they are not going to get changed. We've seen that in many schools.
So, I think that one of the things that I've learned is that it's a very complex issue. There are some things that we tend to forget and that's my greatest fear. For example, in much of the material that I've read, I see very little reference to the fact that there might be a problem with things being too dry. In Lynda Stulberg's write-up that was included in the conference material ["Is your home making you sick?", Modern Woman (September 1995)], this is the first time that I've seen reference to being careful not to make things too dry, especially in the winter time. We know that moisture brings around mold, we know that there are severe problems that can result from too high a moisture level in the air, but there are problems also associated with the air being too dry.
Noise level is a good example of something that we may forget about. One of the things that will happen if we take carpets out of the classroom altogether is that we'll have tremendous noise problems with furniture movement.
Lighting levels. It is not only important to bring in daylight, it is important to make sure that the type of light that is used in the classroom is conducive with daylight. It's important to make sure that we go with lighting that does not cause people with epilepsy, for example, to experience seizures.
The second thing that I've learned is that we have to know how to do the things that we're learning and do them well. Maintenance is an issue. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers has talked a little bit about something called "commissioning" now for a number of years. Commissioning is a very important point. Commissioning entails bringing a contractor, an engineer, people that are going to maintain the building, testers with a number of different pieces of equipment, all together after the school has been built or renovated, to make sure that things are going to actually work the way they were specified. I am particularly talking about air handling systems. Many times things will be designed and look excellent on paper but they will not work according to the design, they are not installed the way that they were designed, or they are not maintainable the way that they were designed. So, I have a fear that we may forget about some of these things when we're focusing on other things that need to be focused on as well. Again, I'm just getting back to the complex issue.
We certainly don't know everything. That's one thing that I've learned as well. The more I learn from conferences like this, the more I realize how little I know. We're learning as well that environmentally-friendly doesn't mean people friendly. For instance ammonia is environmentally friendly. That's something, I think that for engineers like me was a tough lesson to understand.
As Heather mentioned, carpets are not always a problem. Carpets that are properly made, properly washed after they've been made, let out to air for a while before they're installed, can be all right.
Duct cleaning can be a problem. If it's not done properly it can be a problem. On top of that, if they spray something in the duct to kill all the germs, you've got a bigger problem.
The last thing I want to touch on is that there are individual needs and that is very, very hard for a person in my position to address. How do I please most people versus how do I please everyone is something I have to grapple with in my position quite frequently.
I guess I'll wrap up here. [Applause.]
Thank you panelists. I guess we would like you to come to the microphone and address your questions to whomever you wish to address them, and the panel can all respond if they feel so inclined. We have until 12:30, so let's go.
Questioner #1 (Madeleine Lapointe-Millar): I was just wondering about a very specific problem. We have a school in our town in which, between myself and two other families, we have four children with Tourette's syndrome who also have a whole panoply of other problems - allergies and so on. They are all going to be in the same special education classroom next year although they'll be integrated in other classes in their various grades. As parents, we're faced with a crisis right now, because, although this particular school has finally - after five years - got them a place, but they seem to understand, they've tried to understand Tourette's. We haven't broached the allergy issue yet.
They're in a classroom which causes my daughter to develop a headache after an hour and she can't concentrate. One of the children has tantrums in the classroom - violent episodes. Food isn't controlled. We try to control their diet and then they exchange food among themselves and get their favourite allergy food.
We know that we have to be together as parents to approach this board and we're wondering - I'm wondering particularly - is there any help from the Ministry? This Board has a history of being - how shall I put it - well the kind of reaction that Doris Rapp gets from the medical community. This is what we get from the Board. I could have sued one principal in particular for what he did to me personally, not to mention what he did to my children. I didn't choose to go that route. Now we have good staff and I want to approach them without upsetting them because they're trying, but the Board is going to obstruct. I would like to see our children in a classroom with no rugs, with an air cleaner, with the whole thing. Is there help that I can get from the Ministry to accomplish this along with these other parents?
Roy Cooper: I guess that's yours, Sue.
Sue Baker: I can't see anybody else. The answer is yes and no. The answer is that there isn't anything under the Education Act, which is all we have in terms of our legislation within education, to say that the Ministry has the power to step in and make a school board do something. A school board has a lot of autonomy. But even if we had, that's not generally the best way to resolve problems.
One of the major things that has to happen with everything, is education of everybody involved. There's a lot of information here that would help people to understand ways to manage several children with Tourette's, or several children with any kind of exceptionality in a classroom. I think it's wonderful to hear that the staff is on board. I'm hoping that when you say staff, you mean the administrators as well, that the vice-principal and principal in this school are willing to listen, that they're looking at your children as children with individual needs, that they're looking at you as a group of parents who only want the best for your children, which is what everybody should be wanting in that kind of situation.
If you seem to be at an impasse, then there are several things you can do which I am sure you've already thought of. You start with the school. By September of this year every school is required to have a School Council. There are guidelines about the composition of the council. But working with that Council, whatever they do with the classroom that will help this particular mix. I find it incredible to think that there would be four children with Tourette's in one particular classroom, but if that is the case, then whatever accommodation is made in the classroom right now should certainly benefit any children who come along to be in that classroom in the future.
If you're at a state where you don't seem to be getting anywhere with the school board, I would say, first of all, you have to work with the principal, with the administration of the school board including the superintendent who has responsibility for that school, and with that School Council. Then, of course, you have trustees you can try to bring on board. You can make a presentation to the whole board of the school. Failing all of that, but hopefully trying all of that first, then you can call the regional office of the Ministry and ask if someone there would be willing to step in as a mediator to work with you and the school board in attempting to resolve this issue.
I know of situations where that has been effective as well. I hope that's helpful.
Roy Cooper: Heather Holden would like to add to that, I guess, from a parent's perspective.
Heather Holden: The program in Halton came from an impetus from the community. The first step that was taken was a presentation to the board, but also to the Special Education Advisory Committee.
How many of you know what Special Education Advisory Committees or SEACs are? Anybody? How many don't know? Oh, okay. Well, Special Education Advisory Committees are first of all committees of the board that are mandated by the Education Act. They are made up of representatives from parent associations: Learning Disabilities Association sits on it, Allergy and Environmental Health Association sits on it, people from the Association for Bright Children Parent associations in your community sit on that, as well as three trustees and another category which is called "member at large". Where sometimes there isn't an appropriate association, but where someone has a particular interest and wish to serve, this is a place for people as individuals to serve. The Special Education Advisory Committee is strictly that, an advisory committee. Let me tell you, you can give lots of advice but it doesn't mean people have to listen to you. However, in many boards they do have strong voices, strong opinions about how the exceptional children of the board should be served. The focus is only on special needs kids. They are not mandated to make recommendations to the board about regular kids, but only those that are deemed exceptional.
Make a presentation to the SEAC, develop your partnerships with the other parent associations in your community. I am a member of the SEAC for the Halton Board. When I sit there as a member, I must be concerned not only for the kids in the board with learning disabilities, but every other exceptional child. That is my role as a member of that committee. I am not there just for my group. But I have to be there for all kids. So you need to develop your allies. You need to educate those other parent groups on that committee, so that in fact you are not a lone voice in the wilderness. SEACs can have influence within the context of what's called a board's Special Education Plan and can make recommendations to a board as to what should or shouldn't be in the plan. Recognize its advice. But it's important to build your partnerships and your allies. As individual parents, you can soon be discouraged and in essence turned away in real frustration. So, what I'm saying is don't be alone and build your partnerships with other groups. SEAC is one of your major partners. Every school board has a SEAC; in Ontario, every board has a SEAC.
Pick up the phone. Find out who the chair of the SEAC is. They have a sheet which gives out all of the members. Start calling those people and make a request to be a delegation to do an information session on the issue of these children.
Sue Baker: I just want to add one thing. I think the advice Heather has given is absolutely excellent. I think, though, that before you pick up the phone, you need to remember that the SEAC is a board committee. So, if you can find people who have children in other schools of the board and encourage them to work with you to approach the SEAC, then you're chances of success will be even more likely. You won't be seen as that group at that particular school, but they'll realize that this is a problem or something that needs to be addressed throughout the entire board.
Dr. Rapp: I'd like to make just a couple of points.
Number one, why are there four cases of Tourette's in the same classroom? There's something wrong some place. Someone should try to figure out why.
Secondly, they should do "The Big Five" on those students and all the other students before they enter that room, and then do it again an hour later and see how the other students are. See how many can't write, see how many have headaches. Then what they might want to do is start what's fast, easy and inexpensive. They can put an air purifier in that room for about two or three hundred dollars with a good HEPA filter, then do "The Big Five" again and see how those children are. They can use safe sealers on the wood in that room that might be outgassing because it's particle board; they can seal everything in the room. Then they can use better filters in that particular room. In other words, they don't have to do everything.
They can use the students to find out how much needs to be done. When their pulses don't change, their breathing doesn't change, they look and act and feel fine, their writing stays the same, chances are the room is pretty good. Basically, the school is going to probably want to do as little as they can in order to make the children better. And you've got to have some way of gauging what a little bit is and how much is needed in order to help that school. Ideally, what you need is one of the classrooms of the type that Mrs. Holden has created in her community and start making your schools in this area more environmentally safe and sound.
Roy Cooper: Thank you panel. Could we have the next question.
Questioner #2 (Anne Andreassen): Actually, first I would just like to make a comment. I'm going to try to get testing and all this but I've sort of done it on my own and I've made some changes. In the height of my being affected by a lot of things like diet and chemicals, etc., my grades were always about 60. I moved on to university. I was getting Ds. I dropped out.
Now I've made a lot of dietary changes, eliminating chemicals, a lot of changes, living more environmentally friendly, and now I'm almost a straight A student. I'm graduating from this college - it'll be official June 10 at the convocation ceremony. I'm on the honors list. I got a letter from the Dean saying that I made on one semester to the Dean's list. It's almost easy. I mean, are the teachers being too nice to me? Is it something about the teachers? But, no, I think their marking is pretty accurate. It's just that I made a lot of changes and it has facilitated my learning.
So, it got me kind of racy inside when I heard, I think is it Reg [Barsoum]. I really appreciate that it is, in terms of noise level, for example. By removing the carpets it's really noisy. But the thing is there are ways to accommodate that too. I was at this craft show and they had these "booties" to put underneath the chairs so that you wouldn't hear that kind of sound; and a man or a woman who knits can make these things for the desks and the chairs so it is very quiet.
What I really think I'm hearing is that it's difficult sometimes to overcome attitudes and make these rather simple changes. It is rather a simple philosophy but one has to be very open-minded. But at least things are starting to get better. But I guess in terms of these accommodations and how some people are in position to the majority versus the minority. I guess that's when, Sue [Baker], you mentioned the Special Education Policy. Somebody can draw on that in terms of making education accessible for all. That's basically it. These are really actually simple changes. What helps the minority does ricochet to the majority as well. Thank you. [Applause.]
Roy Cooper: Go ahead Reg.
Reg Barsoum: I may not have made it clear - I probably didn't - that at the Waterloo County Board of Education we've taken a lot of these steps to improve matters. One of the things we've done, for example, is to tile all of the classrooms 100% and put in area carpets. We think from our discussions with everyone at the Board that being able to roll up these carpets and take them off site to clean them, being able to pick them up if there is a spill and thoroughly dry all the areas around, all the things around, using that sort of scenario addresses the concerns. There are many ways you can address concerns and I appreciate the suggestion on the booties. I'll look into that too. [Laughter.]
Roy Cooper: Dr. Rapp has another comment.
Dr. Rapp: I think if a school's going to put any kind of carpet in any school they should send it to Anderson Laboratory and see if it's "mouse safe". [Laughter and applause.] It costs about four hundred dollars for the test. I've checked a lot of carpets including carpets where they say they're natural and allergy free. I've sent them to the laboratory and mice do not always do well. I think there are carpets that are safe; they're usually more expensive. Once again, if you get the carpet make sure that you do the test first. Remember carpets contain microorganisms, millions of germs per square inch are in these carpets in time. I've got children who can't see for two days after the carpets are cleaned. I think carpets are not needed in schools. You might want to put one in the principal's office, but I'd stop there. [Laughter and applause.]
Heather Holden: did a presentation for a group of school caretakers and maintenance staff. The general feeling amongst the caretakers - the people who have to maintain buildings - is that they do not like carpets. Build your allies with your maintenance department. They might love you. [Laughter.]
Reg Barsoum: One last comment, from me anyway. If you put in carpet that is mouse safe in a classroom that has other stressors and has a filtration system that doesn't work properly, you're still going to have a problem. You put in a carpet that is 50 per cent safe where all the other things are well taken care of and you won't have a problem, you may not have a problem, I should say.
Sue Baker: One quick thing. Somebody used two words - building allies - and that's really important. You need to build allies with the deaf community as well, because many parents of deaf children think that one of the first things they have to insist on is carpet in the classroom. So, we see the overall special education perspective and you need to work together with other people who also want the best for their children and help them to understand how everybody's goals can be met.
Roy Cooper: Thank you panel. Next question.
Questioner #3: I'm a big one for throwing wrenches into the works. I want you to know that I support unscented absolutely and have been working along with a lot of other people, probably most of the people in this room, toward that goal for quite a number of years now.
I want to share an experience I had recently that throws a cautionary note on that urge. My son was at karate in an unscented karate school. They've switched to non-toxic cleaners. My other son and I were over at A&W. He was playing in the ball room while we were waiting for the class to end. I had my back to the main part of the building, and before I knew it I was in the middle of an amazing reaction. I thought I was going to freak out and I couldn't get my son out of the ball room because, of course, he was reacting too. I had an urge to run and get out even without my child; it was that serious.
I couldn't figure out what it was; I hadn't smelled anything. It was very traumatic. I turned around; I saw the guy cleaning the floor; he'd finished probably three-quarters of the floor and I didn't even notice. I didn't do anything at that point. I got Cory out of the ball room and we left. Got straightened out.
I came back the next day and spoke to the people. I said, "This is a very handy location to come and spend some time while my other son is in karate, but I can't come in here with this kind of cleaning procedure going on during the time we're here. Can we do something about it?" I became aware quite rapidly that she was aware, even though she wasn't sensitive herself, of the issue and she said, "You know, that's really funny because it doesn't smell like anything." I said, "You know that's true and that's what caught me unawares; it doesn't have a smell."
I'm very concerned and I want to share this concern with you all, that the chemical industry is responding to our cry for products that are unscented. But I have a very big concern that we're going to be losing our warning system. I don't know if you've come across that problem. Heather you were talking about going unscented in the Halton schools and I really appreciate that and it's a wonderful thing. I wonder if you've run across any products like that? I don't have the name, unfortunately, yet, although I plan on getting it.
Roy Cooper: I think Doris would like to respond.
Dr. Rapp: Once again, do "The Big Five" with each one of the cleaning products in relation to the children in question. I think they will tell you whether there's an odour or not - their bodies will react. Our bodies are infinitely better than the best computer you ever saw in the world. They will tell us when we've made a mistake.
In the Ontario school system where they've implemented this - in Waterloo, Halton and Guelph - they have found that the children who have chemical sensitivities warn the whole school when something's wrong. If they go out of their little environmentally safe area to the rest of the school and they start to have symptoms, they can alert the whole school system that there's something wrong. In that school system, because of their increased awareness, they will immediately find out what's causing the problem, correct it and prevent problems with all the other children. As I've said before, your entire country needs to emulate what's been started as a fantastic program in Ontario.
It hasn't expanded as it should, but you have the model that the whole world needs to watch. You need to expand it in Canada, but it will eventually go all over. You have started the ball rolling in this country. You're leap years ahead of the United States or any other country in the world and you should be very proud of that. And it's due to people like Mrs. Holden and Mrs. Cremasco, who have helped to stimulate the doctors, psychologists and educators in that area to start to pay attention to all of this.
Heather Holden: I'm very concerned that the world is not changing fast enough. The other side of that is, can we make the world change? No, we can't make the world change. In our board, one of the things that we looked at was not only what we do, but when we do it. I would ask the people at the food place, when they're cleaning the floor, "Why are you cleaning the floor with products like that when people are there? Why don't you clean the floors when no one's there, when in fact you can open doors and ventilate the place following the cleaning?"
One of the first things that we were able to implement when we went to what we call our "designated school model" was that the two schools that we have take precedence on the priority list in the summer time when regular summer maintenance is being done. It is done as soon as the doors close and the kids are gone. From the time it's finished until September, the buildings are ventilated. In some cases, that allows the board to not change what they're doing. Do they wax floors during school time between September and June? No. They wax floors in the summer when nobody is there and they ventilate. It's having choices. So what are the other things that we can have done? Two are timing and consultation.
We have a practice in our board that you do not paint, first of all, in any school during instructional time. Specifically, in our designated schools, you do not paint from September until June. If you paint, you paint first thing at the end of June or the beginning of July. The windows must be kept open and the building must be ventilated so that it will be safe in September. That has worked well.
Now, does it break down? Yes. We talk to the maintenance superintendent and say, "Somebody painted." He says "No, they didn't; they're not supposed to paint." I said, "Then you go to the school." Sure enough, somewhere along the line, the process broke down. But, as a matter of practice, the timing of when specifically schools do things is absolutely crucial and that, in many respects, it doesn't cost any money. It's a matter of choice, priority and attitude.
Roy Cooper: Thanks, Heather. Next question.
Questioner #4: In past years I've seen studies showing a strong correlation between fluorescent lighting and ADD versus full-spectrum lighting. But I haven't seen recent literature showing the comparison between new T8 or T10 lights that school boards and everybody else is putting in full-spectrum lighting. Can you comment on that?
Reg Barsoum: Two things about T8 lighting with magnetic ballasts that you should know. One is that - pardon me, not a magnetic ballast but electronic ballast - because it is an electronic ballast, the frequency at which the fluorescent light turns on and off is in the thousands of cycles per second. That means that even your subconscious can't register that. That is much faster than the normal magnetic or electromagnetic ballast that your subconscious does register and, once it starts to deteriorate, you can actually visually see it at times. That's one dramatic improvement.
The other is that the colour of light from T8 lighting approximates full-spectrum light. It gets very close to it. Another thing about T8 lighting and electronic ballasts is that they're extremely energy efficient. So when you put these things in you're actually going to recognize somewhere between a three- to seven-year payback. You don't get that with normal full-spectrum lighting, so you won't get as much support for it.
Questioner #4: But that doesn't quite answer the question. Are there studies showing a significant difference? I understand there's a major difference between the T8 and the LT12s and that's why I'm asking. But, are there also studies showing a significant difference in productivity, grades, and ADD between the T8 and the full-spectrum, totally aside from the issue of cost?
Reg Barsoum: I'll let someone else answer that. I'll just give you an example. At our board we do have in the one school where we made the change, a student with epilepsy who has commented some twelve months after this lighting was put into his school that he hasn't had a seizure in the time since the light has changed.
Roy Cooper: Dr. Rapp would like to add a comment.
Dr. Rapp: Again, I say, "The Big Five". Put the children directly under the light and see if there's any difference in "The Big Five". It's like a smoke alarm in a room. It tells you that something has gone wrong and we can tap into the body system. Take the children that are having trouble and put them under the light. Do "The Big Five" under the light, and not under the light.
See if there's a difference and, if there is a difference, then you need to conduct some studies before you start using those lights throughout the schools. I think it's very encouraging that that child had stopped having seizures because, if you've read any of Ott's work, there is no doubt that you can have seizures under certain lights, depending on what's coming out. The regular old-fashioned light bulb is far superior - maybe not from the light viewpoint, but from the health viewpoint - than fluorescent lights unless they're shielded and a lot of other things, and those are much more expensive.
Heather Holden: At our designated secondary school, we had a special portable designed, mainly because there was no space in the building. We chose to build a portable and in that portable - along with the help of Bruce Small who helped us in designing - we put both types of lighting. We had regular old-fashioned screw-in light bulbs, as well as fluorescent lighting, for just that reason.
We've been very fortunate that we have not had a student who has had that problem, but we certainly built it into the plan. It's there and it seems to me that these are the alternatives that people need to think about. What is it to install some wire and old-fashioned light bulbs? It's not really a whole big deal. But it can be for that student. The cost of that wiring probably is a lot less than what it costs to educate a student at home for a long period of time.
Roy Cooper: It looks like you're not going to get an answer, because I don't think there is any research.
Questioner #5 (Bruce Small): First, my applause to everything that's happened here. We started our work with the school boards over a decade ago and this just warms my heart to see the whole subject moving so fast. Now that we've mastered the technique of creating a room or a school and just need to spread that across the world, is anyone looking at the curriculum and the way we teach, and the way children learn in more general terms, to see whether we're not just creating a healthy box to put an unhealthy system in. [Laughter and applause.]
Heather Holden: I think this one is going to be for you [Sue Baker]. [Laughter.]
Questioner #5 (Bruce Small): Now let's start out with a very specific question. Perhaps, Doris, you may have some advice as well as the others. Are we doing something wrong in creating a system that teaches children and forces children to be sedentary for years? I've often wondered whether that was part of my background - years and years of sedentary behaviour. Is there any evidence to show that having more activity would actually influence whether the body becomes unstable and is more susceptible to sensitivities?
Dr. Rapp: If you're asking that question, I really don't know. But I think we can learn by sitting and I think that the bigger issue now is not how we are instructing but the area in which we are instructing. We have all we can handle trying to clean up the rooms without saying clean up and use the right kind of books, paper, marking pens and things of that sort. I think that if we tackle that problem first, that's more than enough. Although these other issues such as what's served in the cafeteria and things like that need to be addressed at some point, right now I don't think it's what we need to be talking about.
Questioner #5 (Bruce Small): There are a number of ways, perhaps. We could set up some experiments, even just with EK breaks or stretch breaks plus your "Big Five" to test the effects.
Heather Holden: In my experience in my area, there are a number of schools that have taken on that kind of thinking of very structured physical education going on on a daily basis for specific periods of time, none of which was going on before. I can't tell you the outcomes of that except that some schools, on an individual basis, are truly starting to foster the whole healthy living kind of thing.
The school where the Learning Disabilities Association resource centre is located, as a new school, has really got what we might call a green theme. Not only is the building a relatively safe kind of building, but the whole focus in terms of students - and this is a secondary school - is this whole idea of healthy, active living over a long period of time, to the point where they've put a fitness centre into the school as a way of encouraging students to take on a daily routine of fitness.
I think the other thing to address the whole issue around a curriculum is that there is a lot more going on, and I am not well versed in this at all, but the whole issues of multiple intelligence. In other words, do we just foster left-brained kids or do we think that those right brains are valuable in our society. Do we recognize that there are those kids who learn from sitting, but there are also those kids who do best when they pace. I do my best thinking when I pace up and down and sort of fume and whatever. If you put me at a desk, I feel confined. And I think that we are starting to move in terms of looking at people as far more complex than sit in a row, sit in a line, and this is what we do. I think that it is really starting to come. I think we also have a Ministry that is looking to be more accountable about the outcomes for kids. The whole question will be how do we reach those outcomes, recognizing that everybody has a different road to get there? But I think that door is open now. There is lots of research coming out now about the whole multiple intelligence idea. There's a gentlemen named Gardner who has written books, and if you look at the educational and professional development for teachers, you'll see teachers going to conferences and workshops on multiple intelligence. I think that that is really a start in that area. We are all different. Our brains are all different. And I agree with you. Sit in the row and face the front and never turn to the side - I think those are days gone from schools, or I hope they are anyway.
Roy Cooper: Can we move on or do you want.... Okay, the Ministry's got to have a say.
Sue Baker: Definitely. I thought I was going to have the whole time. Here I've only got a little spec, but I've only got a little bit to say. One of the key elements in education reform is curriculum reform. There is a woman who is a former director of the Durham Board, Pauline Lang, who is heading that up. There are some interesting things happening there. From a special education point of view, although there are only two of us education officers left for the Province of Ontario, we have really tried hard to insinuate ourselves and I won't repeat here the names that the two of us are sometimes called, but we try to get the special education perspective into all of the curriculum development, the secondary school reform, and so on, so that people are aware that the needs of exceptional students are to be considered.
For instance, if a statement of needs from an IPRC says that a student is a kinesthetic learner, as Heather [Holden] was just saying, we know that different people learn differently - then that statement of needs must be addressed in the student's program.
The other good thing is that there is a general move towards more activity-based learning. You see students in an average grade six class doing science experiments, walking around, talking to one another, and that is very useful. There's a draft document out about kindergarten with the major defence on the role of play in how children learn, especially how very young children learn. I think that hopefully we'll see that continuum between a lot of that kind of activity to maybe the Grade XII level where there are maybe more kids sitting in rows. Let me just see if there was anything else. I think I've covered all the points I wanted to make. Thanks.
Roy Cooper: Reg would like to...
Reg Barsoum: You might want to call in a behavioural consultant in our education centre by the name of Doug Morris. You probably know him, Bruce. We're building a pilot new school in North Lake. It's called North Lake Woods Public School, in the north end of Waterloo, and we're piloting it as a healthy school. We're trying to incorporate in this whole school what we've learned from the eco programs, but we're also piloting it from the point of trying to tie in some sort of curriculum items into that aspect. That is just as little as educating the students on what to watch out for, that they may be reacting to.
Questioner #5 (Bruce Small): I'm going to pass on the microphone. Just a five-second footnote. For those in the audience who are not familiar, home schooling is also an option for sensitive children. My daughter, as some of you know, has just turned 21 and is still a homeschooler and is doing successfully with that option as well.
Questioner #6 (Leslirae Rotor): I was glad to hear Sue [Baker] mention that she understands that when you accommodate people with special needs, you often benefit a lot of people. I think that this is particularly true of people with environmental sensitivities because not only are you making it more convenient for other people, but you are actually preventing the occurrence of a disability in other children. It also benefits the children who are undiagnosed which unfortunately right now is a fairly large proportion.
You mentioned in this letter that you'll be sending to school boards, that the wording would be about allowing these children to attend school. I hope, by that, you mean allowing children to attend school without adverse health, learning or behavioural effects, because it does very little good for a child to physically be in a classroom and not be able to learn or to be acting out, to be violent, or to be semi-comatose. You know, it's fine to be there but they have to actually be mentally and emotionally present as well.
I was also wondering, you say that a decision hasn't been made yet on the exceptionality grouping under for the Education Act. I just want to put in a comment. There's no existing exceptionality groupings which actually cover environmental sensitivities in that this is a disability which, by implementing the measures, we can actually prevent the child from being disabled. It's fine to have after-the-fact behaviour modification, it's fine to have after-the-fact remedial work, but why? I mean, it's an act of cruelty if we are actually, in effect, pouring poison into the air and causing these children to become ill, then giving them behaviour modification and remedial learning in order to try and cope with the fact that they are this ill. If we simply do not pour the poison into the air, then we can avoid this problem in the first place. [Applause.]
Dr. Rapp: I have to make a comment in relation to that. If any of you want to do a scientific study, in my book - that one there and the new one that's coming out - I have a history form for children who are entering school. I believe that if you read over the history sheet that you can predict which children are going to be the behaviour and learning problems of tomorrow from their history from birth through toddler-hood. If you could predict this, you could prevent many of the school problems, the learning problems, and not have youngsters like the women who just spoke who had Ds until she finally cleaned up her environment to such a degree that she could realize her full potential. I think this is extremely important.
There's one other thing I thought of that I should tell you and that is have two parties in your school: one with junk food and one with vegetables. You'll quickly show that it's not the excitement of the party that's causing the problems. Do "The Big Five" before and after and you'll spot the kids right away who have problems.
Heather Holden: Just to comment about the identification. Although there is no specific category as the present categories exist, in Halton, when we come to the decision that a student is in need of attending our designated school, that interventions are needed far beyond what we are able to do in a home school, we do identify students through the IPRC. We identify them as having a physical disability. If you read the definition that is in the blue handbook, 1984 Special Education Handbook, and read the categories there's no reason why you can't use that.
Questioner #6 (Leslirae Rotor): There's no reason, but unfortunately a lot of school boards will not do it under that category. You're lucky in Halton.
Heather Holden: Well, I think though the case can be made if you request an IPRC, one of the things that you have to decide if you want this child identified, by law, presently you must use the categories available. Which one fits this child? You can then argue that if they say no we're not going to, then you can go to appeal. In essence, in some respects I would say, Waterloo Board does identify students, we identify students. The reality is that you have some precedent there, but you can argue your case through the IPRC process.
Questioner #6 (Leslirae Rotor): Yes, we have gone the appeal route and that doesn't always work.
Heather Holden: I would agree.
Questioner #6 (Leslirae Rotor): This is a stopgap measure using the physical exceptionality grouping. But if we had an exceptionality grouping which included environmental sensitivities specifically and addressed environmental sensitivities, the problem would evaporate in a large number of places.
Heather Holden: I would agree with you but I would also note that there are many other children who don't have a category either. We have medically fragile kids attending school. We have kids with epilepsy attending school, acquired brain injury attending school. There are other categories, there's no doubt. And there is a need to give the same kind of protection to those kids, where their learning is impacted by whatever it is that they are afflicted with. As we give to those that sort of belong to the old club, shall we say, I'm not sure that the underlying philosophy of our Bill 82 was that the categories were an exclusive group never to be changed. I think there is a great opportunity here to look to not only this group of kids, but others and bring them in under that umbrella. I would say: continue to do your letter writing and your phoning to your MPPs, and your school board and the Ministry to say that all children who are in need of special education should in fact be protected by the law. Should there be a specific group for this group of kids? Maybe. But, then should we have a group for children with epilepsy, children suffering with cancer who are under chemotherapy whose learning is impaired; I mean there are all kinds of kids who really have needs that we are at a loss sometimes to say how do we do this. There is a great window of opportunity here.
Questioner #6 (Leslirae Rotor): There may be a loss, but a lot of those kids are treated with more compassion, because there's more understanding of cancer. A lot of our children are deliberately abused by certain school boards which is a preventable problem and, if it was identified specifically, we could get around that.
But, I just want to have one more comment. The lady who talked at the beginning, asking about what she could do for parents. The Allergy and Environmental Health Association has a package which includes a background document and also overhead slides that you can put onto transparencies and give a presentation to your school board, to your local SEAC, to anyone that you want. It's pre-prepared; you can adjust it as you like, and we've got a special price at the conference - it's only ten dollars. So, if you're interested in doing advocacy work, there are some materials available. Thanks.
Roy Cooper: Thank you. Next question.
Questioner #7 (Colleen Pawlychka): I just have a few comments about carpets. That really hit a nerve with me because I have a son who has multiple chemical sensitivities. I've seen a lot of effort in Manitoba in trying to prove or deny that carpets or a specific paint or a specific glue is affecting my child. I know that money is the route of what we're all talking about. I've seen a lot of money poured into proving that I'm wrong about my son. A lot of money has gone into that and that's wrong.
I think rather than proving that the carpet isn't affecting my son and isn't affecting the other children, I think we should not have carpeting until we're ready to spend the money on maybe a little bit more expensive carpet, or we have the time to research appropriate carpets. In the meantime, if we know that we have flooring that is safe for the children, that's what we should be using.
My son started school in a brand new school and they were still doing construction when he started. That school is now one year old. We're changing schools because he cannot continue on at that school. He'll be going to another school. At that brand new school in Manitoba, they shut the ventilation system down at five o'clock every night and turned it on at 6:30 in the morning; I fought until January to get them to increase that ventilation system. In September, they refused to even open one window other than the staff room window. No other window in the school was ever opened.
I don't believe that we should rely on the ventilation system because I don't believe that most parents can or should have to spend the time to learn about the ventilation system, the carpeting, and the particle board from the bottom up in order to ensure that their kids can go to school. Personally, I'm now at the end of the school year and I'm finding out exactly what I should have done at the beginning of the year. I don't think that that is the responsibility of every parent of every six or seven year old. So, I think we should encourage the baby steps, if that's what they're called, and get the carpets out and get the safe materials in.
Dr. Rapp: I have to comment here. I've been called to investigate a number of schools now and I can tell you that there's a traditional pattern. The school says there's nothing wrong. Everybody got sick - all the employees or a large number of employees, sometimes 50-70 per cent have symptoms. Some of them after five years still haven't even heard about why they've got their headaches every day, but they suddenly realize that it occurred when the new carpeting went in and that sort of thing. They call in the health departments and the health departments will find a few things wrong. Then they say it's corrected and the children go back into the school and within a half hour they're sick; four hours after they're home, they're better. The same thing happens to the teachers.
There's a tremendous amount of denial when they hear the health department is coming in. They air out the school and there's a massive exodus. Get your video camera ready; you'll see them leaving en masse. So everybody goes out and they air everything out. They put in fans. They do everything they can to get a good health report. Everybody goes through this tremendous denial and the kids four years later can't read, can't go out of their house, they have brain damage that I've proven. I think some of these children will never be the same and it is our fault.
Questoner #7 (Colleen Pawlychka): Can I just ask you one quick question, Dr. Rapp, regarding particle board. I don't know if you can answer me right now. Is there anyway to seal particle board?
Dr. Rapp: Yes, you can. There are safe sealers and these are available. Mrs. Holden can tell you all about them.
Questioner #7 (Colleen Pawlychka): There are safe sealers, but do they actually seal?
Dr. Rapp: Yes, they can seal it to such a degree that I believe that most - there's always somebody that's going to have some trouble - but you can seal it so that most chemically sensitive patients can tolerate it. And there are sealers for grout and sealers for all sorts of things that are safe. But again, if you have a special child you have to try it and do "The Big Five". It gives you at least a clue. It's not 100 per cent. But you can tap into the body and get some answers.
Incidentally, we have found that some schools haven't changed the filters in 15 years, that the ventilation systems are completely closed, that they've put chemicals into the ducts that are neurotoxic. There's a lot of problems but there are people such as this engineer here who are more than aware of what's going on and they can help to guide the other engineers in this country about what to do. You've got a prototype that's working. A pilot study has been done. Your country is leap years - they've got a long ways to go - but they're leap years ahead of everyone else. Let's start to take advantage of what the Waterloo/Halton/Guelph area knows and apply it throughout your wonderful country. I wish our country was as much on the ball.
Roy Cooper: Reg, do you want to respond?
Reg Barsoum: We had a portable where we had to rip out the carpet and there was still a problem. The problem was the insulation underneath the floor, between the floor joists and the ground, was also wet and was also infested. I've been into another portable that we've done the same with. We've ripped out the carpets and there was still a problem. We found that there was an insulation lining inside the ductwork of the ventilation system. It had become wet, grew mold and that brought another problem. So, my point simply is that "baby steps" would be really nice to take if there was some sort of bottom line that we know was going to occur every time we ripped out a carpet. It would be a lot easier to do.
Questoner #7 (Colleen Pawlychka): Well, I'm not suggesting that carpets all need to be ripped out. I'm saying that we have to address the issues before schools are built, not after and not half way through construction, and not to call a Parent Council meeting and say, "Okay, we've chosen the carpet, the paints, the glues, and everything else. Now, parents, what colour would you like the walls?" That's just not acceptable. We have to start at the beginning and that's what I say when I talk about "baby steps".
Roy Cooper: Okay, thank you. Let the people behind you have a chance before...
Heather Holden: Just a comment. There have been occasions in Nova Scotia and in the United States where buildings have had problems and, in investigating the problems, they have come to the conclusion that these buildings are not livable. I'm not sure that kids are provided the same kind of legal protection as employees. I think that that is an issue that must change. I think that, if you can close down a building because it is unsafe and you cannot fix it, then, we, as parents, should be able to close down a school that is unsafe and is not able to be fixed. [Applause.]
Questioner #8 (Stéphane Lecouffe): I have one question for the gentleman who is an engineer. I worked at a government department cleaning up the indoor air quality. You talked before about carpets not being the only problem; I agree with that. But if you don't have a carpet that's made of good material which doesn't offgas and if you don't use the right glues and proper soaps, ventilation will not solve the problem. Even at our building - I can't say where it is - we used outside air for that one floor, but it didn't solve the problem for people who are environmentally sensitive. You have to have an overall package - the whole thing has to be good. You cannot overcome a bad carpet material with ventilation.
Reg Barsoum: I fully agree and I did not intend to ever say that we could do that. My point, I think, right from the start, is that it is a complex issue and we have to do all that we know how to do properly - everything.
Questioner #8 (St&ecutephane Lecouffe): Most of the synthetic carpets are not biodegradable, while natural ones that aren't going to cause problems are biodegradable.
Roy Cooper: Is anyone going to respond to that because I've been told I have to cut off the discussion in order to meet the schedule. I'm sorry for the rest of the people in line, but, here's the policeman coming over.
I'd like to thank the panel for their contribution and thank you to the audience for your intuitive questions.
Greg Booth: Panelists, you must feel that you've been on the hot seat and we really appreciate it. Everybody works together here and it's nice.