The Phylmar Group, Inc.
During the 1994 southern California Northridge earthquake, a public library sustained considerable water damage to its book collection resulting from ruptured fire sprinklers. The books sat water logged for several weeks until clean up could be performed. The library also had a history of water damage from a leaking roof and several building design flaws. Shortly after the book clean up, several employees began complaining about a variety of respiratory symptoms. Library management had air sampling performed and a visual inspection of the building. Phylmar was retained to evaluate the possible health effects associated with the airborne concentrations of mold reported in the air sampling reports. Phylmar provided a detailed analysis of the possible and likely health effects associated with exposure to fungi. It was concluded that individuals without predisposing medical conditions or compromised immune system function are unlikely to suffer serious adverse health effects because of infections or allergic responses from microbial contaminants in the Library. This information was communicated to library staff, management, and union personnel during an open question and answer session. As a result of ongoing library personnel medical concerns, the consultant was asked by library management to identify an allergist who evaluated all personnel who requested a physical examination. The consultant coordinated the examinations and ensured that all personnel requesting an evaluation were seen. Individuals with medical histories or baseline evaluations indicating a predisposition to allergies were referred to their personal physicians for follow-up. This process successfully avoided the mass filing of workers’ compensation claims by library personnel.