ORANGE (CBS) — A toxic chemical linked to cancer and other health issues has been found in the ground under an office building used by Orange County government employees.
A group of current and former workers at the Social Services Agency building in Orange filed lawsuits in January alleging they became sick with lupus and other autoimmune diseases after prolonged exposure to contamination from fumes coming from the building’s basement.
New tests have confirmed the presence of a chemical known as “perc” in levels that are generally within guidelines from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but slightly exceed the more stringent guidelines under California law.
While perc has been found in the soil, testers have not found any evidence that the chemical is in the building’s air.
Deborah Martin worked for 14 years in the basement of the Eckhoff Main Office in an area called the Red Room before she suffered a miscarriage and was later diagnosed with pernicious anemia.
“This is more than coincidental, that there’s only six people that sat in that room and none of us have had healthy pregnancies,” Martin said. “None of us have good health now.”
70 employees will be transferred to another facility while county health inspectors conduct additional testing. The union representing a large number of the employees wants to shut it down immediately.
The facility was formerly owned by National Oil Well Varco, a manufacturer of oil drilling equipment, before the county acquired the building in 1993.