Judge to Hear Worker Claims of Toxic County Building

A group of current and former Orange County social workers will ask a Superior Court this morning to compel the county to allow toxic testing at a county building that they say has made them sick.

Since 2009, a growing number of workers have been asking county officials to conduct extensive gas sampling in an area known as “the red room” in the building, located 800 N. Eckhoff St. in Orange.

Workers allege that the room, which is on the ground floor of the facility, has triggered a series of autoimmune diseases such as lupus in workers who were stationed there in recent years. Some also say that their exposure to toxins from the building could be responsible for birth defects in their children.

The building, which houses the Social Services Agency Children and Family Division handling adoptions, lies in the midst of an industrial zone near the county public works yard and the Sheriff Department’s communications facility.

Social Service Agency officials have resisted calls for such testing in recent months, arguing there is nothing wrong with the building. With more current and former workers coming forward, however, pressure has begun to build.

Earlier this month, county supervisors pressured county CEO Tom Mauk in public, asking why tests had not been conducted. Mauk relented and announced that testing would follow. He did not specify, however, what kinds of soils tests will be conducted.