The Department of Health is denying the air is dangerous near Moncton's École Champlain, a school in the middle of an industrial area.

Over the last year, the provincial government has been testing the air near the primary school that is surrounded by heavy industry and sees hundreds of large trucks rumble by the building each day.

Health concerns from parents and local residents go back decades. In recent months, parents have been calling on the government to move the school from the area.

Dr. Paul Van Buynder, the province's deputy chief medical officer of health, told a public meeting on Tuesday night that the department's testing has shown the air quality is not that bad.

"The type of dust that we're seeing is not the type of dust that the Health Department is particularly worried about," he said.

Van Buynder said the department cannot demonstrate the air in the area is creating any adverse impact on the health of people in the area.

The school was built in 1969 when only an asphalt plant, which is roughly 150 metres away, was in the neighbourhood. There are now dozens of industrial companies that have cropped up near the kindergarten to Grade 5 school.

Senior collapses

The public meeting last well over two hours, but it ended abruptly with a senior collapsed after making an impassioned speech about air quality in the area.

'You know with his breathing and his heart problems it's not easy but where he was so concerned with this meeting, he wanted to attend.'— Ray Gould

Rod McAleese, who is in his 80s, had stepped up to the microphone and told government officials how he had spent his entire life in the area and he was convinced there were problems with the air.

"You don't live there, does the mayor live there? No. But we do," he said.

"You say it won't hurt you, but we've had all kinds of deaths over there from cancer and breathing trouble."

Minutes later McAleese was spotted slumping over in his chair.

Van Buynder and several others helped get him down and tried to keep him conscious until an ambulance arrived.

McAleese was taken to The Moncton Hospital and it is not yet known what caused him to collapse.

Ray Gould, a friend of McAleese, said the man has some health issues but he was determined to attend the public meeting.

"You know with his breathing and his heart problems it's not easy but where he was so concerned with this meeting, he wanted to attend," Gould said.