Floyd County Annex Employees Fear Mold, Asbestos

By Shannon Davidson

(NEW ALBANY, Ind., June 16th, 2004, 6:30 p.m.) -- After years of complaints from dozens of county employees, the Floyd County Commissioners say they're finally taking steps to rid the Annex building of mold, mildew, and possible asbestos. The irritants are believed to be the cause of several health problems the employees say they've developed from working there. WAVE 3's Shannon Davidson reports.

Annex employee Karen Bell says "employees have complained of headaches, coughing, sneezing, respiratory problems."

Employees at the Floyd County Annex, many of whom say they are not authorized to talk on camera, say their health is affected on a daily basis, everytime they walk through the front door of the building.

"You could smell it before you open the door, actually," Bell says. "But once you open the door, it was like, knock you over."

Bell was referring to is the moldy smell that permeates the building. One employee told us she has been hospitalized three times due to her respiratory problems. After several complaints to the health department, an environmentalist was sent to investigate.

WAVE News has obtained a copy of the memo that environmentalist sent to the county commissioners. Among the findings: multiple areas of probable asbestos pipe insulation exposed in the basement, along with water and probable mold growth throughout the basement.

In his memo, the environmentalist also reported a musty odor throughout the basement and first floor offices and noted that he himself experienced a sinus headache after touring the building for 45 minutes.

Floyd County Commissioner John Reisert says the county is working with structural and environmental engineers to come up with a solution. "It is a dilemma. And the bad part is, right now, we have nowhere to put anybody if we had to close the building down."

Reisert says wet mattresses, toys, boxes of books, and other items will be removed from the basement Thursday.

Reisert says the building was checked in 1996, and no asbestos was found. He is working with a structural architect to find out whether the county can keep the building operating temporarily while they can build another structure or if they can afford to restore the existing building to what it should be.

Online Reporter: Shannon Davidson

Online Producer: Michael Dever