State tries again to fix air quality at Insurance Division |

State tries again to fix air quality at Insurance Division

More than a month after efforts to kick the pigeons out of the Insurance Division’s ventilation system resulted in headaches and respiratory problems for employees, officials are making a final push to eliminate the problem.

In the first attempt to fix the problem, a contractor sprayed a grapeseed oil-based product into the vents. The pigeons left but the chemical smell caused many of the 80 or so division employees to suffer respiratory and other problems. In fact, the literature on the product, Rejex-It, warned that “prolonged inhalation may lead to respiratory tract irritation.”

The building on Fairview Drive was shut down four days and employees sent home while work began to clear the building’s air.

Business and Industry Director Dianne Cornwall said despite efforts by the owner of the building and several contractors, there are still a few employees complaining about the air in the building.

“The problem has continued and we’ve been working on the building ever since,” she said.

Cornwall said the building owner has installed a new duct system and new air handler.

“We’ve scrubbed the building top to bottom several times. We hired an industrial hygienist to test the air. We’ve had OSHA and the Department of Agriculture in there,” she said.

She said about five of those workers have been moved to her offices to get them out of the building.

This weekend, Cornwall said, they will try one more thing to clear any remaining vapors from the building, what’s called a “burn down.”

That involves turning the heat up to about 90 degrees for 24 hours.

“We’ve told staff to remove candles and pictures, anything they don’t want ruined,” she said. “Then the air guys come back in and turn the air conditioning on for Monday.”

Also next week, Cornwall said the division will get the air quality test results from the private industrial hygienist.

“We’ve done everything legally and physically possible,” said Robin Reedy, chief of staff to Gov. Jim Gibbons. “Our main concern has been the health of the employees.”