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The Mold Grows

D District air ducts not cleaned for 13 years

Last week we wrote about the “final air quality report on D District” that was released to the public on March 15 (“What’s Black & Blue and All Covered Up”, Artvoice v9n11). Since that story ran, other news outlets have been peppering Mayor Byron Brown with questions regarding a possible coverup of the true environmental conditions in the precinct, in light of the admission that Indoor Air Pro contractors were contacted at the beginning of this year to clean the air ducts before the air quality testing by Leader Professional Services took place.

I’d like to take this opportunity to clear up a couple misconceptions people took from the original article. First, the officers who performed their own, unauthorized tests did so around February 11 or 12—before the building was made off-limits to them. Some readers may have taken away the false impression that they snuck in when they weren’t supposed to.

Second, Officer David Sadlocha, a longtime cop at the D—or Delta—district, had only been diagnosed with cancer in November of last year. His life expectancy was put at several years, and he’d only been battling it for a matter of months before he entered the hospital with pneumonia and died on March 16.

In the meantime, a new police concern has come our way in the form of a budget item request for the building from 2004. Along with asking for some basic things like replacement chairs and tables for ones that were broken, two requests for contract services were made. These include a fresh coat of paint inside, and a thorough cleaning of all the ductwork. According to polcie, neither service had been performed since the precinct had reopened in 1997, after eight months and $2 million worth of construction at the time.

So the air ducts hadn’t been cleaned for seven years at that point. According to officers who work there, they were never cleaned at all, even after the 2004 request, until Indoor Air Pro was called back in January. That makes 13 years since they’d last been cleaned.

Calls to City Hall seeking confirmation or denial of this claim have not been returned.

At a press conference for the opening of the temporary station at All Saints R.C. Church Society on Monday, March 22, Mayor Brown said, “Yes, the air filters were looked at, the air ducts were looked at, but those air ducts don’t pull air from inside the building, they pull air from outside the building. So even if those air ducts were completely cleaned—which they were not—but even if they were completely cleaned, that would not have any impact on the over 60 items that the independent testing company tested for.”

In fact, an email sent to this office by the mayor’s spokesperson, Peter Cutler, on March 12 admits that the filters were changed prior to testing, and the official report from Leader indicates that the ducts were being cleaned when they got there.

Further, a call to Paradigm Environmental Laboratories, another subcontractor used by Leader Professional Services to test the asbestos air samples, echoed what Galson Laboratories told us last week—you should not to clean up a potential environmental hazard before you know what you’re dealing with. “I wouldn’t recommend it unless you know what’s gone on in the building,” a representative said.

—buck quigley

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