PSFA remains closed due to odor issues, but roof repairs completed


Lauren J. Mapp

The PSFA building was closed temporarily on March 13 after roof construction resulted in an odor throughout the building. Some faculty members said this odor resulted in health symptoms such as sore throats, itchy eyes, nausea and headaches. Fans were placed throughout the building in an effort to reduce the odor.

by Bella Ross, News Editor

This story was updated at 11:20 a.m. on March 27 with the most recent information available.

The temporary closure of the Professional Studies and Fine Arts building over odor issues from a roof project remains in place even though the construction work has been completed, a university official said.

PSFA was closed on Wednesday, March 13, after faculty and students complained that ongoing work to repair the roof had created noxious odors that caused some people to experience sore throats, itchy eyes, nausea and headaches.

The building is not expected to reopen until Monday, April 8 — the first day of classes after spring break. That will give officials time to ensure the odors are gone, university spokeswoman La Monica Everett-Haynes said.

“While the PSFA Building’s roof work is now complete, the temporary closure is being maintained to ensure the vapor odors have dissipated, and to prevent further disruptions for students, faculty, staff and visitors who use the building,” Everett-Haynes said in a March 19 email.

The two roofing materials that university officials said created the odor, Tremfix and POWERply Standard Cold Adhesive, are designed to prevent water damage.

SDSU’s Environmental Health and Safety Team was notified of the odor issues in PSFA on Jan. 30, and the first gas and indoor air monitoring tests on the building were done that day, Everett-Haynes said.

But, she said, “Test results indicated within-range, low-level amounts of vapor levels, indicating that they were not toxic.”

The university also hired Millennium Consulting to perform additional air monitoring in the building. The company’s first tests were on March 9 and will continue during the closure, Everett-Haynes said. She has not responded to a question about how much the consultant is being paid.

The noxious odors persisted in PSFA for weeks, and some faculty members were given the option to move their offices out of the building. That started happening on March 4. But no campus-wide announcement about the odor problem was made until March 11. Two days later, the building closed — six weeks after the first air monitoring began.

It’s not known how many faculty, staff and students used the building during that time, but 245 separate classes were relocated during the closure, a university document shows.

As of March 25, the university has received 22 “incident only” reports in relation to the odors in PSFA, according to a campus-wide email. This means these individuals did not pursue medical treatment as a result of the reported symptoms. The email offered no information on when these reports started to arise and how many are from students.

In an effort to address the concerns of students, the email invited the university community to attend an open forum on the issue on Wednesday, April 3 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in Templo Mayor, over spring break. An outside individual with “medical expertise” will be available at the forum to answer questions, which must be submitted online before the event.

While an exact date was not identified, the email said a second forum would be held the following week, after the building’s reopening date.

Millennium Consulting will continue to conduct air monitoring throughout the temporary closure. While full payment information is not yet available, Everett-Haynes said “the university does not anticipate costs to exceed $10,000.”