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Fumes Sicken State Workers A Second Day

June 20, 1986

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Mysterious fumes sickened dozens of workers at a state office building for the second straight day Thursday, and officials said they would temporarily close a section of the building.

On Thursday, 57 workers in the third-floor microfilm section of the Division of Motor Vehicles in the Truman State Office Building became ill and 15 were taken to local hospitals.

All ″recovered quickly and were able to go home,″ said Dr. Robert Harmon, head of the state Department of Health.

Wednesday, 60 workers were taken ill in the same area, and officials evacuated 2,500 people from the building.

The workers were meeting with Harmon on Thursday to discuss the previous day’s incident when they became dizzy and nauseated, said Laurel Ellison, a health department spokeswoman.

″Dr. Harmon was within a few feet of the first girl who got sick,″ she said. The workers complained of dizziness, shortness of breath and other symptoms from fumes the victims described as being like ether or pesticides.

Commissioner of Administration John Pelzer and Harmon decided not to evacuate the building a second time after concluding the problem was confined to the third floor of the eight-story building.

Harmon said checks by state health officials and experts from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources had shown ″no evidence of any type of toxic fumes, but we still don’t have a cause.″

He said the microfilm section would be closed at least until Monday so that tests could be conducted in the area. He said other sections of the building and the motor vehicle dvision would be open for business Friday.

″I think the building is safe,″ he said, but said officials were advising those people who had become ill over the past two days and pregnant women in the section not to go to work Friday.

Harmon said the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in Kansas City had been asked to help find the source of the fumes. He described the situation as ″stable and under control.″

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