WINNIPEG—Results of some routine air quality tests have some staff and students at Winnipeg’s Red River College wondering if they should be worried about their health.
The tests detected manganese at levels seven times higher than current Manitoba standards in the shop used for the school’s welding program.
The college tells CTV Winnipeg it became aware of the issue in December, though instructors and students weren’t briefed until February.
College spokesman Connor Lloyd says as soon as they received the test results they started taking steps and contacted a consultant.
He says the levels are still well below what some jurisdictions allow.
Manitoba allows 0.02 milligrams of manganese per cubic metre; Saskatchewan allows 0.2; the Centre for Disease Control allows 1.0; and some U.S. states allow as much as 5.0.
“The report itself is very detailed,” says Lloyd. “We wanted to be very clear on what those facts were and what those standards were, so we could provide the right information to the students.
“These are industrial environments and there’s always a chance for exposure to anything and everything. And we want to ensure we’re within the norms and we’re exceeding those standards.”
The provincial Workplace Safety and Health department is aware of the situation at the college and says workers and students are not believed to be at significant risk.
“Measures will likely include reviewing the ventilation systems present, exploring the use of respirators, and the development of safe work procedures addressing chemical exposure limits.”
Student Ed Harrison says he’s glad steps are being taken but says he resents being kept in the dark about the situation for so long.
“They haven’t even been filling in our instructors that much. I wouldn’t even mind if they delayed the course a month, figured it out and then we graduate at the end of June.”