Health authority says toxicology report found no significant levels of toxic vapours
Eastern Health CEO Vickie Kaminski answers questions during a live online question and answer session on The Telegram’s website Tuesday. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Eastern Health says a review of a toxicology report has concluded that Building 532 in the Pleasantville area of St. John's is safe for both employees and patients.
The health authority today released the findings of a review by a toxicology expert into potential health concerns related to creosote vapour at the building.
"Based on the information reviewed, the toxicology expert concluded that employees and patients are not being exposed to significant levels of toxic vapour from creosote treated wood, including carcinogens, and that the conditions at Building 532 do not pose a health hazard to employees or patients," Eastern Health said in a news release.
Vickie Kaminski, president and CEO of Eastern Health, said with the completion of this toxicology report, coupled with the results of recent air quality testing, "we can confirm that Building 532 is a safe work and treatment environment."
She said the health authority is "committed to protecting the health and wellbeing of our patients, clients and employees and will continue to work with our occupational health and safety team committee and employees to ensure that we are doing our best to maintain a safe and comfortable environment at Building 532.”
As a result of the latest report, all programs and services will return to full operations at the building, including the Recovery Centre which will move back to the building effective today at 5 p.m.
People requiring assistance or access to the Recovery Centre are asked to call (709) 752-4980.
In late January, Eastern Health said air quality testing concluded the building was safe for the people working there as levels of creosote vapour were well below the minimal acceptable level.
The testing was done after nine Eastern Health employees at two facilities located in the same Pleasantville building refused to go to work out of fear for their health due to the presence of creosote in the building’s foundation.
At least six workers at the Rowan Centre and two from the Opioid Treatment Centre at Building 532 exercised their right to refuse work under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The workers are members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE).
The Rowan Centre — a day treatment site for adolescents dealing with substance abuse or gambling issues — and the Opioid Treatment Centre are located in a new section of Building 532.
Patients and staff from the Recovery Centre, also located in Building 532, were temporarily relocated in December to the Waterford Hospital in St. John's after several workers complained about rashes.
Eastern Health said in December, it made the decision to temporarily relocate the Recovery Centre from Building 532 to the Waterford Hospital as a precautionary measure while extensive air quality testing was completed and a toxicology expert consulted. Employees from other programs operating out of Building 532 were also temporarily relocated.