New toxin and toxic 'pathways' identified on GSA side of Bannister Federal Complex with sick workers

A report issued by the Centers for Disease Control identified a new toxin threat and five potential exposure "pathways" for toxins in the search for what is making workers sick at the Bannister Federal Complex.

The CDC investigation is in response to health concerns identified by an NBC Action News investigation.

Click here to report your Bannister Federal Complex health concern.

In addition to identifying shared ventilation systems between the office building side of the complex and the nuclear bomb-part manufacturing side, the report identified new concerns about formaldehyde.

Sick former worker Barbara Rice tipped the NBC Action News Investigators to the health concerns after spending months tracking illnesses among her colleagues.

"So many have died," Rice said about her colleague. "I'd say over 110 of them."

They worked in the General Services Administration side of the complex where the new CDC report has now identified formaldehyde above the recommended exposure limit.

The CDC identifies formaldehyde as a potential occupational carcinogen.

GSA officials note, although it failed CDC standards, the level of the toxin was below acceptable OSHA standards.

The report also identified the toxic metals beryllium, uranium, and volatile organic compounds on the GSA-side of the complex.

"The immediate question is are the employees who go there on a day to day basis, like myself working in a healthy environment and I believe that we are and we continue to do monitoring and testing," said GSA Regional Administrator Jason Klumb.

"For years we believed that we were safe," Rice said. "We now believe we were deceived."

Rice believed they were safe because she says officials repeatedly said office workers were protected from the toxins on the manufacturing side of the complex where Honeywell makes parts for nuclear bombs.

"They have emphatically said that the ventilation systems are separate," Rice said.

The CDC report identifies five potential pathways for toxins including shared ventilation systems, exhausted air from the Honeywell Plant, and an opening in a firewall.

"I think the way they've written it still leaves questions unanswered and this is one, because, as I've said, I believe we don't have shared ventilation systems," Klumb said.

GSA officials say they have conducted surveys indicating currently no shared ventilation systems exist.

Klumb's office says the mystery the CDC is referring to is whether the complex shared ventilation with the bomb manufacturing plant prior to current renovations.

The report indicates initial blood testing failed to find links to illnesses on the GSA-side of the complex to beryllium, a toxic metal on the manufacturing side used to make parts for nuclear bombs.

"A few more individuals still need to take the BeLPT (beryllium test), however these initial results do alleviate some concerns," Klumb said in an official statement. "I assure you that we will remain vigilant in our environmental and occupational assessment of Bannister - regardless of these test results."

The GSA statement summarized the CDC results with the following bullet points:

--NIOSH interviewed 196 former GSA and tenant agency employees, 70 current GSA
and tenant agency employees, and 76 current and former Kansas City Plan employees.

--NIOSH identified five potential pathways of exposure between National Nuclear
Security Administration and GSA space.

--Because the federal complex receives drinking water from the City of Kansas City,
NIOSH does not believe groundwater and soil contamination are likely contributors to
occupational exposure.

--Formaldehyde was found in a 2002 air quality test of one office space that was above the NIOSH exposure limit. However, the amount found is below current Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.

 

 

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