Air quality test finds no health concerns at Luzerne County’s Penn Place building

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - | May 25th, 2016 4:28 pm

By Jennifer Learn-Andes


WILKES-BARRE — The air inside the county-owned Penn Place has been cleared of health concerns, according to a study released Wednesday afternoon.

Luzerne County Manager C. David Pedri emailed the results of an indoor air quality study conducted in the downtown Wilkes-Barre office building to employees who work there. The test was ordered in response to employee complaints about mold and unsubstantiated health issues.

“As you could see from the written summary, thankfully, the overall perception of indoor air quality is favorable and the study failed to reveal any conditions which would negatively affect indoor air quality and ultimately human health,” Pedri said in his email.

The administration has initiated steps to address report recommendations involving some windows and ceiling tiles, he said.

Purchased by prior county commissioners in 1999, the building at the corner of Market Street and Pennsylvania Avenue houses some court staff, including probation, and numerous other county departments, including the controller, election, planning/zoning, drug and alcohol, purchasing, public defender, human resources and coroner.

Council members have inquired about talk that three workers at the building have been diagnosed with Legionnaires’ Disease, including one who was hospitalized last weekend.

However, a city health official said Wednesday afternoon the office hasn’t received notification of any confirmed cases of the serious respiratory illness as required by law. County officials also say they have no confirmation of such cases.

Swoyersville-based JMSI Environmental Corp. completed the test.

According to the report, which cost approximaely $6,000:

Analysis determined “normal and acceptable concentrations” of minute airborne particles and mold spores in all 70 air samples collected.

Readings indicated “acceptable levels” of humidity, temperature, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and carbon dioxide.

A visual inspection revealed several “areas of concern,” including mold contaminated ceiling tiles on Room 214A and several other areas of water-damaged ceiling tiles, window sills and adjacent drywall.

A total of less than 5 square feet of “visible mold growth” was found in the facility.

The report recommends repair and replacement of all moisture-damaged building material and the source of the leaks.

“For the most part, it appears as though the windows are leaking or have leaked at the seals. We have been told many were repaired prior to our inspection,” the study reported.

The tiles in Room 214A can be discarded as regular trash, it said.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.