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You can develop life threatening diseases by continuing to work in a building where you may be sensitive to chemical substances, toxic mold, fungi, and other airborne pathogens. MORE INFO.
What do you do? Quit? Complain? What can be done?
Depending upon your individual reaction to the workplace conditions, it may be necessary to either leave and find a
Many useful and informative LINKS have been provided for you to gain more insight into this problem that is becoming more evident with time.
The end result is that mycotoxins (depending on which ones) can cause major organ damage and affect every major organ in your body, from the brain on down - including brain, thyroid, heart, pancreas, liver, kidneys. One thing that I highly recommend for fatigue and pain sufferers is to have your cortisol levels checked. I could have avoided years of suffering had I known that I was so low on this. If you are very low, an MRI of your pituitary gland is essential.
Although you may not be able to see, smell, or feel the molecules of dirty air infiltrating your lungs and body, sick buildings harbor dangerous pathogens that you are inhaling with every breath and clinging to the largest organ on your body - your skin. One of the most deadly pathogens is the highly toxic mold, Stachybotrys, that produces mycotoxins. Another is formaldehyde from new office furniture that is outgassing the fumes.
If you have MCS or "multiple chemical sensitivities", you may be able to smell toxins and also manifest allergic reactions to toxins, viral particles, and fungal mold spores that spew forth from the air ducts (heat and air conditioning) of a sick building.
In a building with poor ventilation or in an airtight building, chances are that you are at least at risk of any illness that one may have in the building. Many buildings that were constructed airtight with windows that do not open are vacuum sealed containers of invisible "thingies" enveloping and entering your being all day long. These "thingies" can cause any or many of the symptoms listed above.
Should you see ceiling tiles that are wet and/or moldy, be sure to report it immediately to your company to have them replaced and to have the air system thoroughly cleaned, if that's possible. If you feel that your health is being compromised, a report to management should prompt an OSHA certified inspection within 30 days of the complaint.
Working in a sick building with or without symptoms may eventually lead to life threatening or crippling diseases. MY STORY goes into detail about this.
CROSS-CONTAMINATION of your home and car are inevitable. It's almost impossible to avoid that when exposed daily to mold spores. You'd have to wear a Haz-Mat suit before entering the sick building and then remove it and dispose of it after leaving it. Changing clothes and showering right away at home will help some.
You may not think so, but you do have options. I know that most people don't like to complain because they feel that it may very well be a threat to their job or that there will be reprisals. In my opinion, I'd rather not compromise my health than to have to suffer greatly while at work or even at a later date.
A MUST: This is not an option, but a must! Take pictures of any wet ceiling tiles, leaks, discolored ceiling spots, and wet furniture and carpeting. A regular camera is the best tool for this surreptitious task since digital pictures may not hold up in court. They can be too easily altered. However, it is harder to get quick flash pix without being noticed. I also wish that I had recorded my session with my company when we discussed "reasonable accommodations". Don't be afraid to ask to record any private conversations that they may have with you. You can be sure that they will have some sort of witness present to record the session. Also obtain copies of ALL of your medical records, x-rays, CTs, etc.
OPTION 1: Put a complaint in writing to your supervisor about why you feel there is a problem with the air in the building. Make it a diplomatic complaint and explain that it could be affecting all others as well with their production output. Let them know that "you know they care about their employees as well as what they are producing". Follow up on what action the employer has taken to check the facility.
OPTION 2: Look for another job. That simple. Line something else up if you feel that you would have reprisals should you opt to complain about this. Remember...
OPTION 3: If you have been injured by the air quality already, you are entitled to Workman's Comp or disability. You may even try to get early retirement, depending on your employer and the time you have in. The downside to this is that without the definite statement from a Doctor saying that your injury or illness was caused by the sick building, you may not be able to collect anything. Please read MY STORY for more on this.
NYS Workman's Comp advocates are also influenced by the opposition insurance companies. I found one to be useless - totally deaf to my story despite the medical proof. A RICO investigation should be initiated for the collusion between the state, the corporations, and the insurers.
OPTION 4: Call OSHA for a referral to an occupational health clinic nearest you to document and review your case. You may be asked to submit to a home inspection and psychiatric exam. Don't take these requests to mean that the clinic Doctor is not on your side. It is just to cover all aspects of what could become a court issue. They will also require blood testing if you haven't already had it. NEW: There is now a urine test by Real Time Labs in Dallas TX for mold and mycotoxins in the urine.
OPTION 5: If you believe that your illness is building related and your doctor also believes it and will issue a statement to the fact that the workplace is making you ill, you can ask for special accommodations under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) through the EEOC (http://www.eeoc.gov). If your company refuses to make reasonable special accommodations for you, then you may be entitled to other compensation. Be sure to document everything and send certified letters with copies sent to yourself for proof.
OPTION 6: You can litigate or ask for a settlement if you can prove that your injury/illness was in fact from the workplace. There are many class action lawsuits for those workers injured by working in asbestos laden buildings.
OPTION 7: Go directly to OSHA and EPA to ask for air quality investigation of the workplace. For this, you will need to fill out forms and have at least 2 workers making the complaint. I have provided many LINKS to expedite your reports. Ask questions about the company's investigation. The most dangerous mold, Stacybotrys, has to be fastidiously sought out and cultured in bulk samples and then through specific culturing.
Most co-workers will not help you out for fear of losing their jobs. You need to be armed with a flyer of the long term and short term effects of mold in order to persuade some of them to come into your court, no pun intended. Eventually, even if they aren't apparently reactive now to the mycotoxins, they will be affected later on - possibly for life.
OPTION 8: Join the "sickbuildings" mailing list. Learn of others nationwide who are battling the same thing. Go to www.yahoogroups.com to register to be on the mailing list. Then do a search for the "sickbuildings" list and join the forum. Not only will you get to meet others who have similar problems, but you will get up-to-the-minute international news of all toxin related issues. It's a fascinating list. There are many professionals on the list who will be willing to help you by answering your questions and directing you to the proper help in your area. Be aware that the list is also monitored by "the dark side" - the insurers and the corporation lawyers.
MOLD SPECIALIST DOCTORS: A list has been initiated of state-by-state specialists as referred to us. If you have someone to recommend, please use our referral form. Thank you. List Updated 3/06/13
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