U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs Affected by Mold


Photo by Melanie M

Is The Place You Work Affected by Mold?

As Reported by the ABC’s I­Team, the St. Petersburg VA Benefits Office would leak through the large central skylight every time it rained. Water would come down through the building materials and leak into the ceiling soaking walls and floors with water. Water that comes from a roof is considered Category 3, dirty water. Water from a roof generally contains contaminates such as dust, debris, bird and rodent feces. Due to the category of the water, mold is more susceptible to grow from the damage. Because of the moisture and contamination of the building materials, signs of microbial and mold growth started to grow on VA’s building materials.

VA Union President Valery Riley claims workers have long been documenting the water damage and excess moisture caused by the leaking roof. Riley, who works in the building, experienced a runny nose, fatigue, headaches, and eventually had a respiratory attack that she attributes to the mold in the VA office building. Dr. Patrick Klemawesche was interviewed stating that even in healthy people, mold will have respiratory irritation and that “one of the most telling signs that the environment is causing the problem is that the symptoms are getting worse every time the victim is in that environment.” Other employees that work in the mold infested building are noted as also being severely affected and even vomiting.

The I­Team report had video of the ventilation system that showed signs of dust and poor maintenance. When there is a larger building, air circulation is a critical part of the mechanical system to create a comfortable environment. When there is a mold infestation one location of a building, the air circulation becomes a vehicle for mold spores that can then contaminate the entire building.

The great news at the end of I­Team’s report is that the VA is taking the right steps to correct the mold problem. The VA is repairing the sky light, setting up containment around mold infested areas that tested higher than safe and are completing the remediation of the mold in these areas. After all of the demolition is completed, the VA will have post mold remediation clearance testing completed to verify the air quality is good and the building is ready for repairs. Through these efforts, the St. Petersburg VA building should be cleaner than ever and fully open for business again.

Another note from the I­Team report is that employees of the VA are complaining about mold symptoms but there is nothing in the article about protective measures by the employees. If you are in an office, home, or building affected by poor indoor air quality or mold, be sure to not enter the known mold or moisture infested areas. If the entire structure is contaminate, you should relocate.


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