Building Mold Dispute

The following news story makes me think of the Department of Motor Vehicles building we talked about recently on this blog. The issue here is a Social Security Administration office in Rapid City, South Dakota. According to the Rapid City Journal,

An air quality study of the building at 605 Main St., conducted after second-floor employees there expressed health concerns, found evidence of mold in the basement and frayed fiberglass insulation in the air ducts.

Workers from the Social Security Administration office in the building say their managers have not taken their concerns seriously. They have written a letter they plan to send to the state's Congressional delegation seeking help.

"Throughout the past two months the employees of the Rapid City Social Security office have voiced major concerns regarding the air quality in our building due to the chronic symptoms that arise when entering the building and dissipate upon leaving work," the letter says.

The employees say they are concerned for their own health and for the health of the approximately 130 clients who come into their office daily.

The study does not reach a conclusion about the cause of the workers' symptoms, however, saying "minimal air movement" between the basement and the Social Security Administration office via stairwells and an elevator shaft "indicated that the basement was not the most probable source of the symptoms," the report said. "The presence of the mold cannot be eliminated as a source of the complaints based on these observations, however."

Nine of 20 Social Security employees discussed health symptoms with the Federal Occupational Health office during the office's July 15 inspection, according to the report dated Aug. 3. Of those, six reported itchy, watery or dry eyes, seven reported sneezing and six reported nasal or sinus congestion. In their letter to the elected officials, the employees say the symptoms are so severe some have had to use personal sick leave.

The letter continues: "It is extremely disheartening that this letter and these steps have to be taken. However, the concerns of the employees are obviously not reciprocated by SSA management, as they persistently do nothing, providing no plans or updates, and continue to knowingly and negligently endanger the health of all employees and public clients."

For more on this story, click here.

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