An environmental consulting firm that opened up walls and pulled up flooring at the Sheriff's Operations Center in early January has suggested a potential cause of the spate of employee illnesses that led FCSO employees to call the Ops Center a sick building, and the sheriff to evacuate it entirely.
"It is Terracon’s opinion that the primary source of odors and resulting employee complaints of skin rashes and upper respiratory issues is related to the stagnant moisture and mold growth on the back side of floor finishes," states a 49-page report by Terracon Consultants, released Feb. 28.
Terracon is the latest of a series of expert consultants to weigh in on the county-owned building, which has been evacuated since June 2018 (for details on the previous testing, see our stories from Feb. 20, 2018; June 19, 2018; July 12, 2018; July 16, 2018; July 24, 2018; Aug. 23, 2018; Oct. 5, 2018 and Jan. 4, 2019).
Its report suggests further evaluation of the conditions underneath the flooring and advises the county to hire a mold remediation firm to remove the flooring in mold-affected areas and sanitize it. It faults the grading and drainage of the building and site for causing those water intrusion and mold problems, and suggests re-grading.
"Our exterior evaluation revealed paving and grading flush with the interior floor level in many areas, with poor drainage away from the building," the report states. "This condition has contributed to moisture intrusion below the walls in those areas."
The report suggests that the county have a number of additional tests conducted on the building, including: air sampling for volatile organic compounds; an evaluation of the concrete floor slab for humidity; cuts in the building's walls to check the extent of bat droppings, which have already been found there; and more cuts in the ceiling near old wood to evaluate the wood more closely for mold spores.
"A surface sample of the old wood identified high mold spore counts, which includes viable and non-viable spores," the report states. "The additional ceiling cuts can facilitate further evaluation of the extent of the old wood and provide additional sampling locations to distinguish viable versus non-viable spore types to be cleaned and sanitized."
The Operations Center building is also the source of litigation between FCSO employees and the FCSO: 27 employees have announced their intention to sue the FCSO for negligence over conditions in the building.
To view Terracon's full report, click HERE.