Chemicals used to treat a bed bug problem at a Cleveland Social Security office were improperly administered, according to a report recently released from the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Several employees were sickened and now there’s concerns members of the public may have also been exposed to a toxic dust.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture investigated the February incident. Their report from April was only now made public. It found that an exterminator with the Cleveland-based Central Exterminating Company incorrectly applied chemicals inside the office on the evening of February 18.
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 administered a bed bug control agent called Alpine Dust, but used the same bulb duster that he also used to administer Apicide, or carbaryl, a toxic 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.”
The union has now requested that Senator Sherrod Brown's office investigate. They're calling for members of management to be terminated.
A Social Security Administration spokesperson did not answer a request to allow newsnet5.com to ask questions on camera, but sent a statement that read in part, "Going forward, we will continue to work with our employees and help them with their workers compensation claims. We are working with health and safety experts to determine any additional actions needed. Social Security remains committed to ensuring the safety of our employees and the public."
A manager at the Central Exterminating Company did not immediately responded to multiple requests for comment.
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