Tests Showed Higher Than Acceptable Levels of Mold in State Building

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A retired state worker wants to know if working in a moldy state building for decades is what made him ill.

The Iowa Law Enforcement state building office, where state employees train police officers and state troopers, had high levels of mold.

Rod Van Wyk instructed officers at the Iowa Law Enforcement state building office for 26 years. Since he retired six years ago, he's had a stroke, cancer and heart problems. He now wonders if the mold-infested building made him sick.

“If the mold is as bad as they say, why are they housing police officers in there and why are they housing instructors in there?” Van Wyk asked.

Van Wyk said these are the people who have to approach strange vehicles they pull over for speeding, and they’re the people who show up at your house when you call 911. Shouldn't they at least get safe working conditions when they train?

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Political Director Dave Price went to Gov. Terry Branstad to share Van Wyk’s concerns.

“Those facilities are old and they've had some problems with water leaking over a long period of time and not too unlike what we had at Terrace Hill,” Branstad said.

Price asked the governor if he thinks the mold problem is responsible for state employees’ illnesses.

“Well, I’m not aware that it's made people sick at this point but I think it's important that we do everything we can to remediate the mold situation and the appropriate action so people don't become sick,” Branstad said.

But Van Wyk worries it's too late.

“I'm not here to have anybody feel sorry for me. I don't need anyone's sympathy. I don't need anybody's empathy. But I would really like to see some competence in state government. Why do we have sick buildings? Why are they sick and why hasn't it been taken care of?" Van Wyk said.

He said he's not just concerned about himself, but also all those other colleagues over the years and whether they were more at risk training than being out on the streets with criminals.

Iowa law enforcement academy director Judy Bradshaw told us she had the building tested in December.

Tests showed higher than acceptable levels of mold.

She ordered the building's ventilation system thoroughly cleaned and follow-up tests showed the mold level dropped substantially. Bradshaw said the ductwork, lighting and pipes still need replacing, but she said it makes more sense to build a new facility.

However, the governor and lawmakers have so far failed to agree on how to pay for that. In the meantime, employees and officers continue to work in the building.