SANTA ANA (CNS) — Orange County’s chief executive told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday that a new series of tests would be conducted at a Social Services Agency building in Orange, where some current and former county employees claim they got sick.

A group of current and ex-social workers are suing the county, saying fumes coming from the basement made them ill. Some have said they were diagnosed with lupus and other autoimmune diseases. At least one former county employee has blamed a child’s birth defects on something in or around the building.

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“We are on it and taking it to the next level,” said County Executive Officer Thomas Mauk. “But I just want the board to understand there’s already been a lot of effort and investigation to date with no negative findings.”

Nick Berardino, head of the Orange County Employees Association, told the union’s membership last week in a letter that, “despite numerous pleas and a court order, the county continues to refuse to allow adequate testing for toxic chemicals at the building.”

A Social Services Agency spokeswoman said several tests had been done over the past couple of years, but no health hazards were found.

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Some county employees want the soil under and around the building at 840 N. Eckhoff St tested for pathogens.

Agency spokeswoman TerryLynn Fisher said soil tests are “not consistent with accepted industry standards and could return a false positive.”

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