Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2000-0176-2829, The Centre for Well-Being at The Phoenician Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona.
In response to a confidential request from employees, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a health hazard evaluation at The Centre for Well-Being at The Phoenician Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona. The request indicated that some employees were experiencing respiratory difficulty, chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, neurological problems, hair loss, and skin rashes. Molds and mycotoxins were listed as possible agents contributing to the reported health problems. On June 19-21, 2000, NIOSH investigators conducted a health hazard evaluation at the health spa. The environmental component included a ventilation system assessment, measurement of indoor environmental quality indicators (carbon dioxide [CO2], temperature, and relative humidity [RH]), and limited microbial sampling. The medical component included on-site interviews with 25 employees, telephone interviews with four employees who were presently not working because of health problems they believed were related to the work environment, discussions with three private physicians, and a review of medical records for four individuals. The environmental evaluation identified problems with temperature and humidity regulation and air delivery in the treatment rooms. Temperatures ranging from 66 degrees F to 87 degrees F, and RHs ranging from 31% to 67% were recorded on the day of sampling. Elevated CO2 concentrations (up to 1800 parts per million) were recorded during client treatments, indicating insufficient ventilation. Problems with the operation of the thermostats controlling individual room fan coil units were found and contributed to the wide fluctuations in temperature and RH, and build-up of CO2. Two rooms served by the central ventilation system were receiving little or no supply air. Visual assessment did not reveal widespread microbial contamination. Water-damaged ceiling tiles were noted in two treatment rooms, and two sinks showed evidence of water damage. The symptoms reported most frequently by current employees were headache, memory loss, forgetfulness, concentration problems, and fatigue, all of which employees attributed to working at the Centre. Individuals interviewed over the phone reported similar, although usually more severe, symptoms. Many of the interviewed employees reported nonspecific symptoms that are not suggestive of any particular medical diagnosis or readily associated with a causative agent. NIOSH investigators recommend that problems with the regulation of temperature, humidity, and air delivery within the Centre be corrected. A follow-up evaluation should be conducted by the employer to ensure that environmental conditions meet recommended guidelines and employee health complaints are minimized.