Evaluation of employee health concerns and suspected contamination at an office complex
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Evaluation of employee health concerns and suspected contamination at an office complex

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    The Health Hazard Evaluation Program received a request from the manager of a federal government office complex. Employees were concerned about health problems including cancer, gallbladder problems, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Some employees believed their health problems were associated with contamination of the buildings, soil, and groundwater from an adjoining weapons component manufacturing agency. The entire complex consisted of 13 buildings with the largest structure at the site containing over 1 million square feet across three floors. This structure contained two main areas: (1) Buildings 1 and 2 (office and warehouse space where most of the complex's employees worked) and (2) the weapons component agency. A floor-to-ceiling fire wall physically separated Buildings 1 and 2 from the weapons component agency. We reviewed environmental sampling records, did a visual inspection of Building 1 and 2 ventilation systems, spoke with employees about their health. We also tested former and current employees with sarcoidosis (an inflammatory disease that is nearly identical to chronic beryllium disease) for sensitization to beryllium, which was used for weapons manufacturing. Our evaluation found (1) no reports of employee overexposures to volatile organic compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, beryllium or other metals, solvents, formaldehyde, or radon; (2) no evidence of beryllium sensitization among 22 persons tested; and (3) no cancer excess or abnormal pattern of disease. We noted that (1) Buildings 1 and 2 have separate ventilation systems from the weapons component agency and (2) potentially contaminated exhaust air from the weapons component agency was unlikely to enter the outdoor air intake(s) for Building 1 and 2. We recommended the employer encourage employees to learn about their personal cancer risk factors and educate employees on what they can do to reduce their risk for cancer. We also advised the employer to stop all investigations of cancer incidence and routine air and surface wipe sampling for chemicals.

    NIOSHTIC no. 20044140

    NIOSHTIC No. 20044140

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