Go Back  The Hull Truth - Boating and Fishing Forum > BOATING FORUMS > Dockside Chat
Reload this Page >

Sick building post hurricane - help

Notices
Like Tree5Likes
  • 3 Post By FASTFJR
  • 1 Post By lyman24
  • 1 Post By Retiredearly

Sick building post hurricane - help

Old 01-11-2019, 08:11 AM
  #1  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Wilmington, NC
Posts: 2,348
Default Sick building post hurricane - help

We're pulling our hair out over this at work - hoping someone here can help.

I work in a fairly new (built 2007-2008) 5 story bank/office building. My firm occupies floors 3 and 4. During Hurricane Florence, the HVAC covers on the building's roof blew off, and rainwater entered the building through the ductwork. The 5th floor was soaked. They replaced the carpet and drywall, and as far as I know Floor 5 has been OK since.

The 4th floor (where I am) got wet in spots, but not everywhere. A remediation team came in. They cleaned (but did not replace) carpet. They also cut out sections of drywall where it got wet. They ran fans and dehumidifiers for a few weeks. We moved back in about a month after the storm. Soon thereafter, some folks on one side of the 4th floor started getting symptoms, mostly eyes burning, sore throat, coughing and chest tightness. Since then it is getting worse, not better. I went into my office for one hour four days ago and had to leave because I could not breathe. I still cannot take a deep breath without coughing. A coworker went to the doctor last week with chest pains. They ran all sorts of tests and concluded she was having a reaction to some environmental irritant. It's bad.

We've had several mold tests done, and all are negative. There is no visible mold or smell. Because there are no objective findings, the landlord is not wanting to pony up more $$ to fix anything, as we're unsure about what exactly to fix. The only odd thing that was visible is that soon after we moved back in, there were white flakes (looked similar to ash) coming out of the HVAC ductwork, That's not happening anymore though.

I know we're going to need to hire an industrial hygienist or some such person, but what say you guys on THT?
Graddy-fied is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 08:14 AM
  #2  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Tampa Florida
Posts: 4,094
Default

sounds like you have mold hiding some where. could be inside the walls, under the carpet, in the air vents.
Rolandt03 is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 08:46 AM
  #3  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Fairhaven, MA
Posts: 8,368
Default

Could be that accumulated dust/dirt/air pollutants on the roof and/or in the HVAC units and ductwork got dislodged by the water, dried out, and is now being distributed throughout the bldg. by the air handlers. Some ultra fine filters fitted over some of the grilles for a couple of days might show something. Your idea of hiring a specialist is a good way to go, since you're a tenant in the building.
Cobia 217 is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 09:04 AM
  #4  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: South East Pa
Posts: 9,271
Default

Might want to test for Legionnaires disease
KeithS, Just1more and Double tyme like this.
FASTFJR is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 10:49 AM
  #5  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Tarpon Springs, FL
Posts: 7,146
Default

Sure sound like the problem is in the A/C system. Was that cleaned including the air handler and ducts?
mikefloyd is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 11:01 AM
  #6  
Senior MemberCaptains Club MemberPLEDGER
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: On The Razors Edge
Posts: 9,919
Default

Chances are, the duct work is "lined" and the lining is contaminated with bacteria spores, from being wet so long. Bacteria thrives in dark places, like ductwork. Like FastFJR said, probably Legionaires.
Just1more is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 11:09 AM
  #7  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Fish'nFool's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Anywhere but here...
Posts: 24,027
Default

When you say mold tests were done, what kind of testing exactly?

There are indoor air quality tests that can be performed with special equipment under the direction of an environmental engineer. If there is anything in the air eg spores etc this test will catch them.

If an IAQ test was performed, ask the property manager for a copy of the report. If it wasnt, demand that one be performed. And if they dont do it, your office head should commission to have it done.

It is quit possible some of the reaction could be from either residual biocides/chemicals left behind on the carpet, in duct work etc used by the remediation company and/or years of dust and dirt that was on and under the carpet and in the duct work that got churned up from the cleaning/remediation. The duct work should've been cleaned/treated as well.

I would inquire with the property manager about how much outside make up/fresh air is the building HVAC allowing in. There is an industry standard for outside make up air. Perhaps this got screwed up during the repair process and the building systems are out of whack - this could adversely impact IAQ. You might also ask if they would consider increasing the outside make up air to bring in more fresh outside air (which is not without it's own consequences) to see if this internmently improves the IAQ.

Last edited by Fish'nFool; 01-11-2019 at 11:20 AM.
Fish'nFool is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 11:44 AM
  #8  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: South East Pa
Posts: 9,271
Default

Overview

Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia — lung inflammation usually caused by infection. Legionnaires' disease is caused by a bacterium known as legionella.

You can't catch legionnaires' disease from person-to-person contact. Instead, most people get legionnaires' disease from inhaling the bacteria. Older adults, smokers and people with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to legionnaires' disease.

The legionella bacterium also causes Pontiac fever, a milder illness resembling the flu. Separately or together, the two illnesses are sometimes called legionellosis. Pontiac fever usually clears on its own, but untreated legionnaires' disease can be fatal. Although prompt treatment with antibiotics usually cures legionnaires' disease, some people continue to experience problems after treatment.

Symptoms

Legionnaires' disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to legionella bacteria. It frequently begins with the following signs and symptoms:
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Fever that may be 104 F (40 C) or higher
By the second or third day, you'll develop other signs and symptoms that may include:
  • Cough, which may bring up mucus and sometimes blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Confusion or other mental changes
Although legionnaires' disease primarily affects the lungs, it occasionally can cause infections in wounds and in other parts of the body, including the heart.

A mild form of legionnaires' disease — known as Pontiac fever — may produce signs and symptoms including a fever, chills, headache and muscle aches. Pontiac fever doesn't infect your lungs, and symptoms usually clear within two to five days.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you think you've been exposed to legionella bacteria. Diagnosing and treating legionnaires' disease as soon as possible can help shorten the recovery period and prevent serious complications. For people at high risk, prompt treatment is critical.

Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic

Causes

The bacterium Legionella pneumophila is responsible for most cases of legionnaires' disease. Outdoors, legionella bacteria survive in soil and water, but rarely cause infections. Indoors, though, legionella bacteria can multiply in all kinds of water systems — hot tubs, air conditioners and mist sprayers in grocery store produce departments.

Although it's possible to contract legionnaires' disease from home plumbing systems, most outbreaks have occurred in large buildings, perhaps because complex systems allow the bacteria to grow and spread more easily.

How the infection spreads

Most people become infected when they inhale microscopic water droplets containing legionella bacteria. This might be the spray from a shower, faucet or whirlpool, or water dispersed through the ventilation system in a large building. Outbreaks have been linked to a range of sources, including:
  • Hot tubs and whirlpools on cruise ships
  • Grocery store mist machines
  • Cooling towers in air conditioning systems
  • Decorative fountains
  • Swimming pools
  • Physical therapy equipment
  • Water systems in hotels, hospitals and nursing homes
Although legionella bacteria primarily spread through aerosolized water droplets, the infection can be transmitted in other ways, including:
  • Aspiration. This occurs when liquids accidentally enter your lungs, usually because you cough or choke while drinking. If you aspirate water containing legionella bacteria, you may develop legionnaires' disease.
  • Soil. A few people have contracted legionnaires' disease after working in the garden or using contaminated potting soil.

Risk factors

Not everyone exposed to legionella bacteria becomes sick. You're more likely to develop the infection if you:
  • Smoke. Smoking damages the lungs, making you more susceptible to all types of lung infections.
  • Have a weakened immune system as a result of HIV/AIDS or certain medications, especially corticosteroids and drugs taken to prevent organ rejection after a transplant.
  • Have a chronic lung disease such as emphysema or another serious condition such as diabetes, kidney disease or cancer.
  • Are 50 years of age or older.
Legionnaires' disease is a sporadic and local problem in hospitals and nursing homes, where germs may spread easily and people are vulnerable to infection.

Complications

Legionnaires' disease can lead to a number of life-threatening complications, including:
  • Respiratory failure. This occurs when the lungs are no longer able to provide the body with enough oxygen or can't remove enough carbon dioxide from the blood.
  • Septic shock. This occurs when a severe, sudden drop in blood pressure reduces blood flow to vital organs, especially to the kidneys and brain. The heart tries to compensate by increasing the volume of blood pumped, but the extra workload eventually weakens the heart and reduces blood flow even further.
  • Acute kidney failure. This is the sudden loss of your kidneys' ability to perform their main function — filtering waste material from your blood. When your kidneys fail, dangerous levels of fluid and waste accumulate in your body.
When not treated effectively and promptly, legionnaires' disease may be fatal, especially if your immune system is weakened by disease or medications.

Prevention

Outbreaks of legionnaires' disease are preventable, but prevention requires meticulous cleaning and disinfection of water systems, pools and spas.

Avoiding smoking is the single most important thing you can do to lower your risk of infection. Smoking increases the chances that you'll develop legionnaires' disease if you're exposed to legionella bacteria.
FASTFJR is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 12:12 PM
  #9  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Maryland
Posts: 839
Default

I have experience in commercial construction and mold remediation. Just a few thoughts: From what you described, it at least sounds like they did what they should have (remove wet items, forced air, dehumidification). Mold tests are BS. Guess what, there is mold everywhere, inside and outside of our spaces, at all times. With that said, I would focus on the HVAC system. Duct cleaning and new filters are relatively cheap, easy, and quick. And I would loudly advertise when it is completed. You'll be surprised how many people suddenly feel ok........
mattttt25 is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 12:27 PM
  #10  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 1,397
Default

Call an industrial hygienist company. They deal with this all the time, they can setup air monitors all around the office to determine what it is, what the amounts, air quality, etc... We deal with this on several jobs when it comes down to air quality.
ChannelTwo likes this.
lyman24 is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 02:35 PM
  #11  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Tuckerton Beach, N.J.
Posts: 981
Default

Originally Posted by mattttt25 View Post
I have experience in commercial construction and mold remediation. Just a few thoughts: From what you described, it at least sounds like they did what they should have (remove wet items, forced air, dehumidification). Mold tests are BS. Guess what, there is mold everywhere, inside and outside of our spaces, at all times. With that said, I would focus on the HVAC system. Duct cleaning and new filters are relatively cheap, easy, and quick. And I would loudly advertise when it is completed. You'll be surprised how many people suddenly feel ok........
This x 2. Tell everyone it was fixed and I bet they all feel better. Mold hype is such BS. Twenty years ago you never heard about it, now it's everyone's peeve. There is no more mold now than there was 20 years ago.
Clamdigger II is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 03:57 PM
  #12  
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Apopka, Fl
Posts: 78
Default

Originally Posted by Clamdigger II View Post
This x 2. Tell everyone it was fixed and I bet they all feel better. Mold hype is such BS. Twenty years ago you never heard about it, now it's everyone's peeve. There is no more mold now than there was 20 years ago.
Statements like this show gross ignorance. You're risking your health if you ignore problems associated with mold. Though I have first hand experience with it, don't believe me...google it.
johnb48 is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 04:55 PM
  #13  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Wilmington, NC
Posts: 2,348
Default

Originally Posted by mattttt25 View Post
I have experience in commercial construction and mold remediation. Just a few thoughts: From what you described, it at least sounds like they did what they should have (remove wet items, forced air, dehumidification). Mold tests are BS. Guess what, there is mold everywhere, inside and outside of our spaces, at all times. With that said, I would focus on the HVAC system. Duct cleaning and new filters are relatively cheap, easy, and quick. And I would loudly advertise when it is completed. You'll be surprised how many people suddenly feel ok........
This is not in anyone's head. The symptoms are real, immediate and common to about 10 employees who share the same space. Those employees range from admin assistants to partners, who certainly have no interest in overhyping anything.

We've already done very expensive duct cleaning. I'm not sure what else there is to be done besides replace the carpets and drywall.
Graddy-fied is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 05:04 PM
  #14  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Perrysburg, OH (transplanted Texan)
Posts: 135
Default

Chinese drywall (formaldehyde included at no extra charge) used in repair?
listingfast likes this.
Retiredearly is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 05:29 PM
  #15  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Wilmington, NC
Posts: 2,348
Default

Originally Posted by Retiredearly View Post
Chinese drywall (formaldehyde included at no extra charge) used in repair?
Not in repair, but the building was built in 2007-2008, so I think there is a chance it was used in original construction. We are exploring that.

I realize we will likely need an industrial hygienist to tell us what's going on. Just interested to hear from those who may have had similar experience.
Graddy-fied is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 05:30 PM
  #16  
Senior MemberCaptains Club Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Houston,Tx,U.S.A
Posts: 11,658
Default

Originally Posted by Graddy-fied View Post
This is not in anyone's head. The symptoms are real, immediate and common to about 10 employees who share the same space. Those employees range from admin assistants to partners, who certainly have no interest in overhyping anything.

We've already done very expensive duct cleaning. I'm not sure what else there is to be done besides replace the carpets and drywall.
Cut a few inspection holes in the sheetrock and pull up those rugs.

You will be shocked...

John
jtburf is offline  
Old 01-11-2019, 05:53 PM
  #17  
Admirals Club Admiral's Club Member
 
Fish'nFool's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Anywhere but here...
Posts: 24,027
Default

A symptom of Chinese drywall, pull a few outlets, check the copper ground wire, if it is black Chinese drywall is undoubtedly present.

Last edited by Fish'nFool; 01-11-2019 at 08:38 PM.
Fish'nFool is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
  • Ask a Question
    Get answers from community experts
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: