First bed bugs, now cancer? Is Rath Building responsible?

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Is the county’s largest building responsible for multiple cases of cancer on only a few floors?

At this point, authorities need more information to determine whether the Rath Building is making people sick. What’s certain is the air inside the building isn’t the culprit; and neither is any asbestos that remains after most of it was abated years ago.

Shortly after last week’s News 4 report about bed bugs being found at the Rath Building — and the county’s efforts to have them exterminated — the station received a copy of a fax sent this summer to the Department of Labor.

The letter asked the state to look into whether the building was housing bed bugs, but whether it was the cause of cancer in multiple people.

“Apparently it happened in July of 2016. We in the legislature were never notified,” said Legislative Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo, C-West Seneca. “Nobody talked to us. Nobody I talked to in the Rath Building had any idea this was going on.”

Lorigo is referring to a report that’s the result of an anonymous fax sent to the state department of labor, asking them to look into a possible cancer cluster at the Rath.

“The reality is, they didn’t tell us,” he said. “They didn’t tell other people. People that are coming and going from that building need to know there are potential health hazards.”

The letter asks the county to conduct its own study, specifically regarding multiple cases of cancer, and then return their findings with supporting documentation to the department of labor.

The study, done by the Public Employee Safety Health Bureau (PESH), included air sampling and consultations on various dates in August.

Helping with that test were representatives from the building’s largest union, CSEA.

“We want to make sure our members are working in a safe environment. We want to make sure when they go to work, nothing is going to happen,” said Michele Weaver, who’s the union’s health and safety co-chair. “I was a little concerned, but then there has to be so many people with the same type of cancer to be considered a cancer cluster.”

The tests determined the air was clean at the Rath, specifically CO2 and dust levels were well within limits. It also determined any existing asbestos — in floor tiles and in wrapping on pipes above ceiling tiles — was safe.

In fact, no hazards were identified in the test, and the county conducts quarterly air quality testing.

However, the test also said the question about whether a cancer cluster exists can only be answered by a more extensive study that’s beyond the scope and expertise of PESH.

In addition, the information that was provided in the report is not the kind of information used to evaluate cancer cases.

Representatives from the New York State Department of Labor did not respond in time for this report, but indicated they would. As a result, this story will be updated.Sourc


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