Posted on: January 17, 2008 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

USA. In the early 1970s, the United States of America’s Vice President Spiro Agnew brokered a deal to head-quarter a new federal agency at Waterside Mall in the nation’s capital. Over the years, various employees would later complain about numerous illnesses and, in 1997, 19 workers finally filed suit against the building managers for $40 million, claiming that they received permanent brain damage from breathing the air at work.

What was the agency in question? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the very organization entrusted to safeguard the public from environmental illnesses. The agency, of course, protested its innocence.

However, the courts would discover that the building’s managers violated a number of Health codes throughout the agency’s tenure on the mall. They used outdoor paint on the walls indoors, tarred the roof during regular office hours, routed rainwater into the ventilation system (where it sprouted fungus that then circulated throughout the building), and installed miles of resin-filled carpeting which never completely cured,  samples of which, in independent laboratory tests, killed mice after three hours of exposure.

At the time, the EPA estimated that as many as 35 percent of American office workers suffer from “building-related illness” (Sick Building Syndrome), costing the American economy $10 billion a year.


Posted to the web on 2008|01|15