Discovery of Toxic Chemicals Forces Poe Hall Closure at NC State University

In October, testing at North Carolina State University’s Poe Hall revealed the presence of harmful environmental contaminants known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Access to the building is now limited since the building’s heating, cooling, and ventilation systems have been turned off. Classes scheduled to take place in the building will either be held virtually or moved to a different location for the remainder of the semester.

The university will conduct further testing on the building’s air conditioning, heating, and ventilation systems, but there is currently no clear timeline for when the building will reopen.

About Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

PCBs, once used in electrical equipment until their production was banned in 1977, can cause health problems. The State Department of Health and Human Services notes that products made before 1977, such as old fluorescent lighting fixtures and electrical devices, may contain PCBs.

In a related incident, a complaint filed with North Carolina’s Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Division alleged possible asbestos exposure during renovations at Poe Hall. The complaint was resolved with a written response from the State Department of Labor.

Health Effects From Exposure to PCBs

Studies suggest potential carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic effects of PCBs in humans. PCB exposure can cause:

  • Cancer
  • Non-Cancer Effects
  • Immune Effects
  • Reproductive Effects
  • Neurological Effects
  • Endocrine Effects
  • Other Non-cancer Effects
  • Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)

NC State University Releases Statement to Staff, Faculty, and Students

A message to faculty, staff, and students read as follows:

Dear faculty, staff and students:

The university conducted preliminary environmental testing in Poe Hall, and initial results indicate the presence of environmental contaminants (PCBs) in the building, necessitating further study. Out of an abundance of caution, the university will move forward with more comprehensive testing of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.

Access to the building will be limited after 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17, and all operations will move to alternative locations in the days ahead. The building will remain accessible to those with employee card access until Wednesday, Nov. 22, at 5 p.m. Please call 919-513-3358 or email if you need to access the building after Nov. 22.

Classes and scheduled events will be moved to virtual formats or alternative locations for the remainder of the fall semester, and accommodations will be made for faculty and staff who have offices in the building.

Please be on the lookout today for an email from your college leadership regarding specific next steps, including continued access to the building during the study, and alternative work arrangements and class locations.

We understand that change can cause uncertainty; however, the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students are the top priority. Please use our campus resources if you need additional support throughout this process. We will keep you updated on the appropriate next steps as needed.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation.

Provost Warwick Arden

Executive Vice Chancellor

Charles Maimone

Executive Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration

Were You Exposed to PCBs in Poe Hall? Speak With an Attorney for Free Today.

The attorneys at Henson Fuerst are actively investigating cases on behalf of students, faculty, and staff who were exposed to the contaminants in the building in the last decade or longer. If you have questions about your legal options, contact our law firm to speak with an attorney for free by calling 919-781-1107 or submitting a case evaluation form online.

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