New video shows an exterminator, called to a Cleveland office to treat bed bugs, dousing the room with improper chemicals, including a toxic dust that may have made several people sick.
The surveillance video, made public on Thursday, was recorded on February 18th at the Social Security Administration Office inside the Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building at 1240 E. 9th Street.
The exterminator, from Cleveland’s Central Exterminating Company, can be seen spraying chairs and carpets with pesticides after hours. Then on February 19, several employees went home sick, and the office closed early.
An Ohio Department of Agriculture report from April, which was made public in late August, said those chemicals were improperly administered.
The report said an insecticide called Talstar P, which was only supposed to be administered in cracks and crevices, was liberally sprayed across carpets and chairs in the office. That exterminator also applied a bed bug control agent called Alpine Dust, but used the same bulb duster that he also used to administer Apicide, a dust that’s only recommended for the outdoor control of bees.
According to the EPA, human contact with Apicide can cause some of the symptoms that SSA employees reported, including nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Lab tests that showed the presence of Apicide in the office led an inspector to conclude there was contamination from the bulb duster.
On February 19, the report said several employees complained of sickness including nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Rick Hanna, with the American Federal of Government Employees said the office was open to the public on February 19 for about 40 minutes. They want anyone who may have been in the office that morning and then got sick to come forward.
"They have a right to know,” Social Security Administration claims representative Maureen Gaughan said. "I would have a right to know if I had visited this office and became ill and didn’t know why.”
CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY
Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said Thursday his office is now investigating.
Sen. Brown sent a letter to General Services Administration Great Lakes Regional Director Ann Kalayil asking questions about what happened and when along with an explanation as to why the incident was not reported publicly for several months.
“I want to know more about what happened, who took responsibility, how much exposure individuals had,” Sen. Brown said.
The Central Exterminating Company has not responded to requests for comment. A Social Security Administration spokesperson said their office would work with employees on their workers compensation claims and consult with health and safety experts on what to do next.
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