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Epa, Protect Thyself


Up Front

EPA, PROTECT THYSELF

Environmental Protection Agency staffers say they know about indoor air pollution first hand: They kvetch that EPA's Washington headquarters has a lousy ventilation system that makes them sick. So the agency, after two decades at its six-building Waterside Mall complex near the Potomac River, is moving almost a mile away to Pennsylvania Avenue. The exodus, begun recently, is in stages over the next four years as space becomes available.

Underscoring the agency's predicament is a Dec. 23 jury award of $948,000 to five EPA staffers who blame Waterside Mall for ailments that range from eye irritations to an inability to concentrate. The landlord and the management company, who are the defendants, are trying to get that overturned, arguing that the jury didn't conclude that all five were physically harmed. The landlord says private and government tests show nothing wrong with Waterside.

At any rate, it's a comfort to staffers that the new digs have one edge over the current HQ: windows that open. At Waterside, the EPA brass are among the few with that privilege.Mary Beth Regan


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