Thursday October 24, 2019
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What's the DET's response? PDF Print E-mail

Parents in the Blue Mountains raised the issue of low-NOX heaters five years ago, and so far the DET’s response has been to issue statements claiming the heaters are safe, in contradiction to the NSW Health Department’s advice that people only have flued gas heaters in their homes.


The DET's only response is to launch a $2M study that effectively delays action, forcing children to sit through another winter in toxic classroom environments.

“Children in public education deserve at least the same standard of care as those in private schools. The ongoing replacement of unflued gas heaters with so-called 'low-NOx' burners is throwing away good money.”

~ John Kaye, Greens MP

The DET’s track record

Twenty years ago a statewide campaign exposed the dangers of unflued gas heaters in schools. As a consequence, the DET committed to replacing the old heaters with ‘low-NOx’ burners. Yet, even today, there are more than 200 schools across Sydney still with high-NOx heaters.

Do we need yet another study?

Despite existing Australian and international research showing how dangerous these heaters are, the DET commissioned a $2 million study to test whether the heaters have an adverse impact on children’s health. Another study will inevitably put the issue back another twelve months before it’s seriously looked at. At this stage, the results won’t be known until some time in 2010 and we don’t know exactly what the testing covers. There is data available from all over the world to confirm that unflued heaters do not equal good air quality. Meanwhile, the NSW government continues to fit out public schools with gas heaters that are failing to meet World Health Organization standards.

In addition, there is a swathe of concerns about the study. One of the many issues is that, ignoring the Australian standard, the DET bought cheaper New Zealand–made testing equipment. The use of these instruments is not considered best practice anywhere in the world, and Australian experts fear they are not sensitive enough to pick up the minute nitrogen dioxide levels that are associated with increased rates of asthma and other respiratory conditions.

Based on the DET’s own estimates it would cost less than the $2 million price of this new study to immediately fit out all Blue Mountains public schools with safe, flued gas heaters.



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