Portable Classrooms

As You Sow initiated enforcement actions against many national manufacturers, lessors, and distributors of portable classrooms to address indoor air emissions of formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds from construction materials that required a warning under Proposition 65.

In 2001, over a dozen national companies reached an agreement with As You Sow that included commitments to begin using alternative building materials that result in exposure to fewer toxic substances such as engineered wood products, adhesives, caulks, tapes, mastics, and glues.

The manufacturers also agreed to provide ventilation in the sub-roof areas on all portable classroom and modular building products ordered for manufacture after July 1, 2001, and to issue advisories regarding the availability of alternative materials and the advisability of properly ventilating the buildings upon installation and prior to occupancy. The settlement ensures that California’s modular buildings are now constructed with more environmentally friendly building materials and will reduce the use of exposures to formaldehyde and other toxic compounds.

Subsequently, the California Air Resources Board and the Department of Health Services conducted a comprehensive study of portable classrooms throughout California. The study examined not only volatile organic compounds and other Proposition 65 chemicals, but also their overall environmental health conditions including issues relating to mold contamination, adequate ventilation, temperature control and application of pesticides. A final report entitled “Environmental Health Conditions in California’s Portable Classrooms” was provided to the California State Legislature in November 2004.