State finds two serious health violations at New London Police headquarters

The ceiling of the shift commander's office in the New London Police Department headquarters bubbled and leaked during a Jan. 23, 2018, rainstorm. When plasterboard was peeled away, rotted material and potential mold was exposed, as pictured here. (Courtesy of the New London Police Union)
The ceiling of the shift commander's office in the New London Police Department headquarters bubbled and leaked during a Jan. 23, 2018, rainstorm. When plasterboard was peeled away, rotted material and potential mold was exposed, as pictured here. (Courtesy of the New London Police Union)

New London — The state Department of Labor found two serious occupational health violations in the City of New London Police Department headquarters during a Jan. 26 visit, according to a report released Friday.

Marigrace Riley, an occupational hygienist for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, visited the building at 5 Governor Winthrop Blvd., at the request of city Risk Manager Paul Gills, to investigate conditions caused by water infiltration and evaluate indoor air quality, the report said.

The investigation found indoor air quality was within acceptable limits, but confirmed microbial growth on several materials, including ceiling tiles, plasterboard ceiling, plasterboard walls and carpeting.

“Inhalation of airborne fungi has the potential to create adverse health effects, including but not limited to, respiratory irritation and allergic-type reactions,” the report said.

The report also found that the building was not equipped or maintained to prevent rodents, insects or other vermin from entering and staying inside. Mouse droppings were found on desks in the detective bureau, the report said.

The city must correct the problems by April 2, including removing and replacing any plasterboard that has microbial growth, removing and replacing water-stained ceiling tiles, and cleaning or removing and replacing other water-damaged building material.

“The condition that caused the staining/damage should also be investigated and repaired,” the report said. It also recommended instituting “a continuing and effective extermination program” by April 2.

The inspection monitored air quality for carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, temperature and relative humidity, and found all within acceptable limits. Indoor air samples for fungal spores were lower than those found outdoors, the report said.

But a wipe sample from the wall above the suspended ceiling in the hall outside the detective bureau confirmed a large amount of fungal growth, the report said. Four “bulk” samples also confirmed fungal growth, with significant growth found on a sample of plasterboard ceiling in the shift commander’s office, the report said.

Vacuum samples of carpet dust collected in the shift commander’s office also showed fungi, the report said.

Mayor Michael E. Passero noted in a news release Friday that all air quality levels surveyed were well within recommended ranges, and samples for fungal spores were lower than those found outdoors.

“The inspection did find deficiencies in the maintenance (housekeeping) of the building to include additional efforts in dealing with rodent infestation,” he said. “It should be noted that the building is currently on a regular rodent extermination schedule, but additional efforts are suggested in the report.”

The Department of Public Works has made "major improvements to police headquarters over the past several months and additional efforts are scheduled, such as replacing ceiling tiles, wall repair," replace the facility's boiler, and additional roofing measures "to address the water infiltration issue," he said in the news release.

Employees who work in the three-story brick building, built in 1983, have reported concerns including respiratory irritation, asthma problems, eye irritation and frequent sinus infections, according to the report.

d.straszheim@theday.com

The ceiling of the shift commander's office in the New London Police Department headquarters bubbled and leaked during a Jan. 23, 2018, rainstorm. Some plasterboard pieces fell to the floor as the ceiling leaked, as pictured here. (Courtesy of the New London Police Union)
The ceiling of the shift commander's office in the New London Police Department headquarters bubbled and leaked during a Jan. 23, 2018, rainstorm. Some plasterboard pieces fell to the floor as the ceiling leaked, as pictured here. (Courtesy of the New London Police Union)

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