County building evacuated after roof patching fumes enter air intake

Staff writerSeptember 18, 2013 

A building leased by Pierce County in Tacoma was evacuated Wednesday after employees smelled an odor and some complained of illness, according to Tacoma Fire.

Firefighters found a pail of roof patching compound left open next to an air intake on the roof of the building about 12:30 p.m. at 615 S. 9th St., Battalion Chief Jeff Chandler said.

Some evacuated workers said they had a headache or nausea, and there was one report of vomiting, Chandler said. He didn't believe anyone was taken to the hospital and said the symptoms were resolved when the workers left the building.

The allowable maximum level for that particular compound in a work place is 500 parts per million, and crews registered a level of 130 ppm at the Pierce County building, Chandler said, noting that levels may have been higher before crews arrived.

It took longer than usual for the fumes to dissipate, because warm weather caused the air conditioning system to recirculate the building's air supply, Chandler said.

They said people could reenter the building about 2:15 p.m.

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy said she didn't get any report of injuries from the incident.

The pail was from a contractor the owner of the building has resurfacing the roof, McCarthy said.

The County leases the building to house human relations, information technology and budget and finance employees, she said.

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