LCC fixes sick building problem: 'We're cautiously optimistic'

LCC fixes sick building problem: 'We're cautiously optimistic'

EUGENE, Ore. - Lane Community College has searched for answers for decades to the question of why employees working inside a building keep getting sick.

Dozens of employees have suffered from respiratory problems, watery eyes and skin irritation after working inside Building 4 on the LCC campus.

This summer, the college hired a group of independent consultants to investigate.

"And proactively consulted with Oregon OSHA to take, again, a really comprehensive look at the building systems," said LCC human resources director Dennis Carr.

They found hollow columns, supporting the building, were at the root of the problem.

"At the very base is the foundation and actually dirt, soil," said Carr. "And what one of the consultants determined is that, that soil at the bottom, when it got moist, was a source of potential microbial growth, fungus and bacteria."

That bacteria got into the air, making staff sick.
    
Now crews are working around the clock to repair the damage.

"We will put a concrete seal at the base of the columns, the columns themselves have been comprehensively cleaned," said Carr. "Some upgrades to our exhaust systems and heating ventilation systems, all of those things will be put in place in addition too."

Carr said there still may be more problems down the line, but for now it's seems like the best solution.

"We're cautiously optimistic that this is the primary cause of some indoor air quality challenges."

The college said they hope to have all the repairs done within the next couple of weeks, before fall classes start.

Employees can voluntarily move back into the building beginning Monday, Sept. 19.