The Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) at Simon Fraser University is raising the alarm about toxic mould found in the Education Building on the Burnaby campus.
TSSU spokesperson Melissa Roth said while it appears the problem has existed for several years, the union is concerned that it was never informed of the issue or potential dangers until it started asking SFU’s administration about rumours it had heard.
The TSSU represents 3,500 staff at SFU, including sessional instructors and teaching assistants.
Roth said at a recent town hall meeting on the subject she heard a member of another campus union say they had been working in the building for 20 years and experienced symptoms for much of that time.
Part of the problem is that people often aren’t aware what the symptoms are of air quality issues related to mould, she said.
When TSSU members were surveyed, few knew about the mould issue or remediation work in the building.
“However, when I started saying the symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, flu-like symptoms that never get better or that are associated with the space, I can tell you right now there are five members that believe this has happened to them.”
Some have had to take time off work or take migraine medications “all because of spending time in specific rooms in that building.”
Roth noted a U.S. study found 29 per cent of adult-onset asthma is due to indoor air quality.
“Because of this communication issue, people don’t know that they are being [subjected] to these conditions. This is not just staff and workers, but students. There are classrooms still being used in that building. If you don’t know that you’re being [subjected] to this, we are concerned they won’t know to tell their doctor.”