WeWork phone booths removed from Raleigh location due to potential elevated levels of cancer-causing chemical

Andrea Blanford Image
Monday, October 28, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- WeWork has removed phone booths that had potentially elevated levels of a cancer-causing chemical inside from its downtown Raleigh location.

Last week, ABC11 reported that the phone booths were still present inside Raleigh's One Glenwood location, with signs taped to the doors, warning members not to use them.

A WeWork spokesperson confirmed to ABC11 on Monday that 31 potentially impacted phone booths were removed from WeWork One Glenwood over the weekend.

WeWork previously said the phone booths had "potentially elevated levels of formaldehyde caused by the manufacturer."

Formaldehyde is known to be a human carcinogen, according to the 14th edition of the Report on Carcinogens, put out by the National Toxicology Program, which is headquartered at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park.

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable gas at room temperature and has a strong odor, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the EPA, formaldehyde is commonly used in wood construction and manufacturing but exposure to elevated levels can cause eye, skin, nose and throat irritation, with high levels of exposure potentially causing some types of cancer.

A member who leases office space inside WeWork at One Glenwood said for months prior to the company taking the phone booths offline, he spent several hours a week making calls inside the phone booths and had experienced eye irritation and nausea on multiple occasions. He said he could also smell a strong odor.

In email correspondence obtained by ABC11 last week, WeWork staff at Raleigh's One Glenwood location told a concerned member that the process was delayed because a sprinkler system needing to be disconnected before removal.

All of this comes as WeWork has dealt with a series of issues at the corporate level.

ABC News reported that after first announcing it was delaying its initial public offering and then undergoing a change in senior leadership that included co-founder Adam Neumann stepping down as CEO, WeWork announced late last month that it was filing a request to withdraw its initial public offering filing.