HR Strange But True!
February 24, 2010

Over 20 workers have become ill from mildew, mold--and fungi--that developed in their building after a massive flood. A series of high-level consultations have produced some rhetoric, but little action to alleviate the situation, and workers are getting impatient. Ironically, the employer--and owner of the building--is the state of Alabama, and the workplace is the State Capitol!

According the an article in the Montgomery Adviser, state workers have been reporting nasty maladies since the moisture from receding flood waters left the State Capitol damp, resulting in odors, peeling wallpaper, and noticeable growths on the walls--including in the Press Room!

Several sick workers have had their doctors tell them to request to be moved to another work location, including one woman who had surgery to remove a layer of fungus from her nasal passages. However, administrators say there would like to move the employees, but space options are limited, and “we just don't have another place to put anybody.”

A parade of state and federal agencies, as well as legislators, have inspected the building, according to the article, including OSHA, NIOSH, the EPA, the state Department of Health, and the Legislative Building Authority. Several local universities also examined the facility, concentrating on the walls and air ducts. Tests results from state and hospital laboratories, viewed by the newspaper, showed the presence of the toxin-producing penicillium mold and cladosprorium fungus, among other allergens.

However, there seems to be a dearth of conclusive statements on the sick building, with blame going to inconclusive air quality tests, legal concerns about litigation, and even federal standards, for the lack of action. It was even hinted that the employees may have become sick from their own homes.

“This is not the healthy building the private sector or public sector would want," said one state senator, but he added that there is little money--or public support--to build a new government building, or, some say, even make major capital improvements to the ductwork. So the facility administrators came up with a temporary and “financially feasible” solution in this economy--19 dehumidifiers.

Source: Montgomery Adviser

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