New concerns grow with test results from chemical testing at NC State's Poe Hall

Tom George Image
Friday, February 9, 2024
Poe Hall chemical testing results raise new concern for faculty
More questions are being raised about the health and safety of faculty and students after toxic chemicals were discovered at NC State's Poe Hall.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- More questions are being raised about the health and safety of faculty and students after toxic chemicals were discovered at NC State's Poe Hall.

Since November, the doors to Poe Hall have been closed after the initial reports of toxic PCB chemicals came out and more testing was ordered.

Results from the additional testing commissioned by the university confirmed PCB chemicals, although in a lower quantity than the EPA warning level. The test results raised new concerns and prompted yet more testing -- this time with the HVAC system to see if that was the source of the chemicals.

It's something that's concerning for professors like Stephen Porter with the College of Education who spent more than a decade a Poe Hall.

"Before the pandemic, I was there every day during the week to work. And I would often, like a lot of faculty, come in on the weekends. I had small children, and so it was a good place to come in and get some work done. So yeah, that's why people are concerned," Porter said.

Porter was so concerned after toxic chemicals were detected at Poe Hall that he got a special blood test for certain kinds of cancers. Thankfully it was negative, but others are now coming forward -- including women facing breast cancer diagnoses -- to hire attorneys to look into whether possible exposure from Poe Hall was to blame.

"Specifically to our clients, we represent some women with breast cancer who had not had any family history of breast cancer, who were very young to have that diagnosis. And the commonality was the fact that they had spent years in Poe Hall," said Ben Whitley with the Whitley Law Firm.

Whitley said that possible litigation will depend on further investigation, but he is concerned by the recently released study commissioned by the university. PCB chemicals were banned in the 70's for their connection to cancer.

"I think handling toxic exposure cases like this exposure time is often one of the issues that either the other side will bring up to blow holes in your case or that we have to make sure we prove as far as part of building our case," he said.

As for those at the heart of this, faculty with the College of Education, which was housed at Poe Hall, are soliciting feedback this weekend on a no-confidence vote for university leaders.

They said while they couldn't control when the building was built, they felt the response to the situation wasn't urgent enough.

"I think faculty and staff and former students who worked in the building have experienced a severe loss of trust because the university (has) not shared information with us," Porter said.

The no-confidence vote would be considered symbolic since faculty don't have control over hiring or firing of top university leaders. They do hope it leads to more transparency.

In response, Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a statement in part, "Reports of individuals with illnesses and health concerns are unsettling, and I assure you that we are seeking answers about the building with them in mind."

The university also said it is committed to continuing the testing process on the HVAC system.