Bennington State Employees to Move While Building is Renovated

For Immediate Release: October 5, 2006

Contact: Communication Office
802-863-7281

BENNINGTON, VT – Commissioner of Health Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN and Commissioner of Buildings & General Services Tasha Wallis met with employees of the Bennington State Office Building to share findings and answer questions about a health survey and environmental testing conducted as part of an investigation into health concerns there.

“Although we have found no conclusive evidence to link health concerns with the building itself, we know that the building will need further diagnostic work and likely renovation, so we have decided to start the process to relocate employees now,” said Commissioner Moffatt.

“We will use the contingency relocation plans that Buildings and General Services have been working on over the past month to move employees within the next 30 to 45 days,” said BGS Commissioner Wallis. “We have identified locations for all staff and are working out the details of the move with program managers.”

In early June 2006, the Vermont Department of Health began investigating health concerns among occupants of the Bennington State Office Building. The primary health concern was identified as sarcoidosis – a disease of unknown cause characterized by inflammation in one or more organs. Because sarcoidosis is a serious illness of unknown cause, the investigation has been extensive and has included building inspection, environmental testing, health surveys of current and former employees, medical screening tests, review of medical and death records and regular meetings with employees and the Building Stakeholder Team.

An interim report on the investigation presented today by the Health Department found higher than expected rates of sarcoidosis, asthma and asthma-like symptoms among people who work in the building.

“Although our investigation is extensive, we may never know the cause of these illnesses,” said Moffatt.

A full copy of the report and extensive information about the investigation can be found at the Health Department website: healthvermont.gov, then select Community Public Health.

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