BUILDINGS being constructed under the federal government’s schools stimulus program are riddled with safety hazards, from slippery tiles and toxic carpets to poisonous fumes from unflued heaters.Environmental scientists, building industry experts, health groups and the NSW Teachers Federation have raised concerns about the potential risks associated with buildings in the $16.2 billion program.The NSW Integrated Program Office for the Building the Education Revolution program has maintained the buildings are of high quality, sometimes exceeding building code standards.But schools have complained of dodgy workmanship, including incorrectly fitted light switches and fans, temporary foundations, leaking water tanks and lifting carpets.With winter approaching, schools and health groups have raised the alarm about the installation of 3000 unflued gas heaters.Studies have shown that the heaters release a potentially poisonous stew of nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and formaldehyde. They are being phased out of schools in every state except NSW and Queensland.”These are new buildings going up at significant cost to the taxpayer,” NSW Teachers Federation president Bob Lipscombe said.”Heating is a very small component of the overall cost of building work. It would not cost a huge amount to put alternative heating in these new buildings. The Department of Education is not acting in a reasonable way at all.”The NSW Department of Education and Training says the heaters are safe, provided doors and windows are kept open to provide ventilation. Schools in cold-climate zones say this is impractical.Berridale Public School, in the Snowy Mountains, has an unflued heater in its new $900,000 library.”We have been constantly told the library is of a very high standard,” Berridale School Council’s Fiona Suthern said. ”It’s a building that cost close to $1 million. An unflued gas heater is not a high-standard heating device. We’re not asking for something flash – just something safe.”Richard Kalina, from the Campaign Opposing Unflued Gas Heating, said: ”I feel it’s bordering on criminal. When parents take their children to school, they should expect their children will be in a safe environment. They are not safe.”A 2007 Commonwealth health report on unflued heaters found exposure to the fumes they emitted causes increased respiratory symptoms in children with asthma, and were also associated with new asthma cases in children.About 11 per cent of children in NSW have asthma. The Asthma Foundation NSW has called on the Department of Education to remove the 51,000 existing unflued heaters in NSW schools and stop ordering new ones.A NSW Department of Education spokesman said there was ”no substantiated instances” of heaters causing illness when properly operated.The combination of exposure to unflued gas heaters, as well as fumes emitted from paint, new carpet and building materials, could cause toxic overload in children, according to environmental scientist Jo Immig of the National Toxics Network.”We are concerned about the overall toxic load,” she said. ”This is particularly important as far as children are concerned because they are much more sensitive to toxins than adults.”We recommended that schools undertake building work or renovations when children are on school holidays to minimise the risk of chemical exposure.”New buildings also posed a risk of volatile organic compounds being released from carpet, paint and new furniture, Ms Immig said. ”Carpets are potentially one of the most toxic things in the indoor environment.”Professor Margaret Burchett from the University of Technology, Sydney, said it could take months for indoor air quality to improve. ”If you smell that newness smell in a building it’s a nice smell but it’s also toxic.”Murdoch University environmental toxicologist Peter Dingle said the rooms should be allowed to air before being used.”If the teachers and kids walk into a new classroom or hall and there is a smell in the room they should not go into it,” Dr Dingle said.Tile supplier Richard Earp and slip resistance expert Carl Strautins have raised concerns about the type of tiles used in toilet blocks, canteens and entrances, which they say can lose their grip over a short time and become a slip hazard.A department spokesman said all floor tiles used were certified anti-slip in line with the relevant standard.