Foul-smelling problem overwhelms workers

County officials said last year the bothersome smell isn't dangerous.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County officials are again trying to find the cause of an offensive smell at the Department of Job and Family Services building.
James Petraglia, county human resources director, said the county health department will provide him the names of air quality testing companies that can check out the facility, located in the McGuffey Plaza on North Garland Avenue on the city's East Side.
Petraglia said the smell appears to be coming from the rear left corner of the building near the cafeteria area.
He said JFS employees have filed 11 workers' compensation claims, complaining they have become sick because of the odor.
Commissioner chairman Anthony Traficanti said commissioners also will go to the facility and inspect it to see what's going on.
Petraglia said the county has had Simon Roofing & amp; Sheet Metal Corp., which made roof repairs last year, look at the sealing material put on to see if their product is causing the problem.
"The odor becomes pronounced when its becomes warm outside," Petraglia said, who said he has walked through the affected area.
"We are going to look at all aspects of what may be causing the odor, including the insulation, sealing material, ventilation, etc.," Petraglia said.
On the roof
He added that the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation also will take a look at the building's roof to determine what is causing the odor.
Last year, the county looked into the bothersome odor, which is a nuisance but which county officials said at that time was not dangerous.
Vindicator files show the Department of Environmental Health and Safety at Youngstown State University conducted preliminary tests on the air inside the building for hydrocarbons and found 1.5 parts per million in the samples. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says levels become unsafe when they reach 100 parts per million.
Petraglia said YSU is no longer doing that testing work, and that is why the health board is getting a list of air testing companies for the county.
Workers were sent home last year because of the complaints. That hasn't happened this year.

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