NATCA Claims Spores Responsible For Health Problems
Findings of significant mold
concentrations in the busy Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center
in Hampton, GA have resulted in a work stoppage by a contractor
hired to perform unrelated work on the facility's ventilation
According to Georgia's The Citizen newspaper, workers at
Peachtree Mechanical were not aware of the problem, until testing
revealed evidence of Scopulariopsis (above) last month.
"It has just been brought to the attention of Peachtree
Mechanical, Inc. that there are issues at the FAA with mold and
fungus," company VP Richard Denney wrote in an October 5 letter to
the FAA. "Peachtree Mechanical Inc. has not been made aware of any
issues associated with mold and fungus. We have issued a 'work
stoppage' for all of our work forces, subcontractors and vendors
until further directed by the FAA that we are clear of this
"We take this as a very serious issue and concern and must act
to protect the well-being and safety of all our employees," Denney
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association tells ANN
fungal samples were taken at the facility on September 20 by
Analytical Environmental. Scopulariopsis was found in mold growth
under the facility's elevated floor, and in the duct work.
NATCA Atlanta Center Facility Representative Calvin Phillips
says approximately half of the more than 300 controllers in the
facility have suffered various degrees of health problems over a
prolonged period of time. The union attributes those illnesses to
the mold, brought on by a chronically leaky roof at the
Phillips noted testing revealed mold spore contamination in the
control room far exceeded the parameters of the test's highest
category, "loaded." Such a rating indicates between 76-100 spores
found per cubic meter; testers found 1,700 spores per cubic
"The rampant growth of the mold was finally revealed. We are
basically surrounded by this highly toxic fungus," Phillips said
last week. "For years we have been complaining of health issues and
have suspected our sick building was to blame."
Denney says the mold poses a hazard to his company's employees,
too... and the FAA failed to tell the company about it when
Peachtree was hired to remove duct work at the center.
"This work is the housing and manifesting areas that could
possibly hold mold and fungus," he said. "We have been directed to
demolish said items above and we were never given any warning that
the possibility of mold and fungus could be present. We have not
been notified of the ongoing issues at the FAA by anyone."
FAA spokesperson Kathleen Bergen said the agency is working to
address controllers' concerns, including removal of the mold and
replacing the building's roof. NATCA counters the roof has leaked
for years... and the FAA has done little to rectify the issue.
"What is really outrageous is that employees have been
complaining about symptoms like this for years at Atlanta Center,"
said NATCA Southern Regional Vice President Victor Santore. "The
roof has leaked for years and they wouldn't fix it correctly. They
built channels in the ceiling to re-route water away from the
control floor but didn't fix the roof."