Some State Workers Suffer From ‘Sick Building Syndrome’


UPDATED: Thursday September 26, 2013 9:04 AM

Inside a Marietta law office, Janet Montano says she can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

She says she was forced to change jobs after years of batting health problems inside her 150 E. Gay St. office, which houses several floors of offices for the Ohio Attorney General.

“It’s just a much better environment,” Montano said. “I no longer feel like I have the flu by the end of the day. My skin doesn’t hurt. My eyes aren’t burning.”

Inside her old office, she says, there were leaks, pipes breaking and tiles falling down.

“There’s black material puking out of the ceiling tiles,” she said.

Montano says that the black material was mold.

Still, testing done for the building owner in 2007 returned a clean bill of health.

The testing found there was “no unusual environmental conditions … that could be plausibly related to (Montano’s) health effects.”

Montano says she brought home mold kits and did her own testing. She grew the mold in petri dishes.

Her union also tested, and a report from a certified lab showed that there was no mold in the air but there were high levels of mold spores on some surface areas.

“I have been to several specialists, and they are all of the same conclusion, that the building is making me sick,” Montano said.

After several rounds of appeals, Montano got the state industrial commission to agree. It signed off on a report saying that her illness was due to “sick building syndrome,” which causes breathing issues.

10 Investigates wanted to know whether it was an isolated case. Several hundred employees work in the building.

10TV discovered other documented cases.

Confidential records show that three other people have complained.

The Industrial Commission of Ohio has conclusively determined that one of them also is suffering from sick building syndrome, and another has been found suffering the same thing - that decision may still be appealed.

“A lot of our employees and others inside the building are getting sick,” said Chris Mabe, the president of the union for the state employees involved.

He says other people in the building have felt it, too, but are afraid that if they complain, they will face problems at work.

Mabe says the DeWine administration has failed to do anything helpful.

“I believe there is an issue in the building nobody wants to bring to the top and resolve,” Mabe said.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine declined to comment for the story. Mabe said the Attorney General needs to act.

“We would hope the AG’s office is interested in helping these people,” he said. “Until the issue is resolved, move those people out of the building.”

Montano agrees.

“I am concerned you have someone that is so powerful and should be the protector of the people, and they’re absolutely ignoring all of our pleas for help,” she said.

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