STAR-BULLETIN / 1999
A "significant level" of dust mites has been detected at City Hall.
Honolulu Hale infested with dust mites
What has eight legs, eats dander, multiply easily and occupies Honolulu Hale, including Councilman Rod Tam's office?
Dust mites -- a lot of them, apparently.
A report that was to be discussed today by a City Council committee found that City Hall has "a significant level" of dust mites in offices throughout the building. The "Indoor Air Quality Investigation" by Kimura International also found a couple of instances of mold and lead dust, primarily in the work spaces of the City Council.
"If anything, (the report) validated other councilmembers' concerns; and to tell you the truth, we knew it was bad, but I don't think people realized how bad," Council Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz said.
Samples were taken last September, and the final report was completed in May. The Council's Executive Matters Committee was to discuss the report today.
Dust mites are microscopic creatures that are a major cause of allergic reactions to dust. Dust mites belong to a family of the eight-legged arachnids, the report said.
Mites munch on particles of skin and dander and thrive in places where people live, yet they do not bite, cannot spread diseases and usually do not live in people, the report said.
One of the 11 spots at City Hall with a significant level of dust mites was Tam's office.
Tam has consistently said that his allergies are aggravated when he is in his Council office, which is one reason he conducts most of his Council business outside of City Hall.
"No one believed me. So they came in here with the technical testing, and they found out what I said was true," Tam said.
Over the weekend, workers pulled out the carpet from Tam's office and replaced it with vinyl tile. They also cleaned the chairs and removed a sofa from his office.
"It's a lot better now. I was in the office yesterday and today. I don't have the teary eyes, and I don't use constantly the Kleenex," he said.
Dela Cruz said other members of the Council also complained of mold and other problems. Both Dela Cruz and Tam said a lack of maintenance is to blame, and that could cost the city millions of dollars to clean up.
Tam blames former Mayor Jeremy Harris with not keeping up with the maintenance of Honolulu Hale.
"It's on the past administration. In fact, we had complained to the past mayor. The past mayor and the City Council were not on good terms. Maybe this was a punishment for us," he chuckled.
But Dela Cruz said he wants to question the current administration on its plans to take care of the problems.
In a letter to the Council, administration officials said they are already addressing the concerns.
Mold prevention will include monitoring water leaks, replacing water-damaged ceilings and checking the air-conditioning system.
An indoor air-quality report found "a significant level" of dust mites in several locations at City Hall. Here are some of those locations:
» Common area in the Department of Corporation Counsel wing.
» Front common area located in the purchasing area of Department of Finance Wing
» Rod Tam's office, located in the second floor City Council wing.
» Common area in the first floor of the Office of the City Clerk.
» Print room of the second floor of the Office of the City Clerk.
» Rear common area of the second-floor Office of City Clerk wing.