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NJ Lottery workers being sickened by moldy Sandy scratch-off tickets, employee claims

New Jersey LotteryNew Jersey Lottery: NJ Lottery workers being sickened by moldy Sandy scratch-off tickets, employee claims
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LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. — Some New Jersey Lottery employees got a little more to scratch off than they bargained for.

For six months, tens of thousands of moldy Superstorm Sandy scratch-off tickets have been sitting in a warehouse at the state lotto's headquarters in Lawrenceville sickening several workers, according an employee who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

"We're all suffering from headaches," the employee said. "If you go into that room, you start experiencing respiratory problems. You feel like your chest is heavy and your sinuses are congested."

In addition to getting a daily whiff of the mold since early November, the employees were asked by their superiors to process and account for each pack of storm-damaged tickets. They were equipped with masks, gloves and protective suits.

"Even with the masks you can smell it," the lotto worker said of the mold. "Even with the gloves you can feel the sliminess of the mold."

Bill Quinn, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Treasury, which oversees the state's lotto, said the tickets were brought to the warehouse because the state couldn't destroy them immediately after getting wet from Sandy.

"They still had to count them to make sure that the retailers were getting the proper amount of financial credit for returning these tickets," he said Wednesday. "I don't think there's any way they can estimate how many came back."

Quinn said after the mold appeared on the tickets in a couple weeks, a health and safety officer from the state was brought in to assess the situation.

"She then evaluated it and came up with the plan to seal the boxes," Quinn said. "She trained the warehouse workers in how to do it safely and made sure that they got the protective equipment. They were checked to see if they had any pre-existing medical problems that would've been a problem for them to do the work."

The employee, however, does not feel it is his job responsibility.

"We're warehouse guys. We're not mold and remediation guys," he said. "We're not qualified to be touching that stuff."

Also lacking from the safety equipment provided was a respirator, which the lotto employee said was requested.

Gov. Chris Christie's administration released a press release last month about mold guidance for New Jersey residents recovering from Sandy.

"Those performing remediation work need to be protected with gloves, a respirator, protective clothing and goggles," the press release stated.

Quinn said there was discussion about the lotto employees using respirators, but ultimately it was decided not to use the device.

"There was a concern about a technical issue about whether could be safely operated by the workers or would require special training to operate," he said.

The lotto worker said concerns about the warehouse conditions to the union, and state and national occupational safety agencies all fell on deaf ears.

He then took matters into his own hands.

The employee sent a sample last month of the mold for testing.

It came back with high levels of stachybotrys and aspergillus/penicillium, according to the test results obtained by The Trentonian.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention website states symptoms related to excessive mold exposure include asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis and allergies.

The lotto employee said he and other employees have went to the doctor with flu-like symptoms.

The employee said he has since received medication for the flu-like symptoms, but he is still receiving headaches.

"I never get headaches much, but the last three or four months my head is pounding," he said, adding the headaches disappear on the weekends when he's not working. "It feels so bad, I feel like I'm going to throw up."

The lotto worker said the employees hired an attorney, who sent a letter requesting them to be seen by a state doctor six weeks ago, but they haven't heard anything.

Quinn said the employees have not registered any complaints to management about health concerns.

"They have talked to human resources about an odor in the warehouse," Quinn said of the complaint last month from the union. "In terms of complaining about the safety or the risk of working in the warehouse, they have not brought that to management."

When asked why the five to six crates of storm-damaged scratch-offs are still sitting in the warehouse after the tickets were processed, the New Jersey treasury spokesman said the state is trying to dispose of them safely.

"They've been trying to figure out what to do with the boxes and how they could process them," he said.

Quinn declined to comment if it's proper protocol to keep mold lingering for six months where state employees work.

He added the crates will be removed May 9 from the facility for destruction and remedial action will be taken if the mold is still causing a hazard.

But what might remain in the warehouse is worrisome to the lotto employee.

"They're going to clean that room," he said. "But God knows where else it is."

The warehouse workers' deeds did not go unnoticed.

"They gave us a certificate for going above and beyond the call of duty," the employee said sarcastically.

Trentonian

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15 comments. Last comment 4 years ago by rdgrnr.
Page 1 of 2

United States
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September 7, 2011
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Posted: May 2, 2013, 5:15 pm - IP Logged

Don't forget to bring your "certificate" when you get to court. lol.

    rdgrnr's avatar - walt
    Way back up in them dadgum hills, son!
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    Posted: May 2, 2013, 8:14 pm - IP Logged

    I bet lawyers everywhere are just slithering and writhing and undulating in their cocoons of slime just thinking about this one.


                                                 
                         
                                             

     

     

     

     

                                                                                                       

    "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"

                                                                                                --Edmund Burke

     

     

      MADDOG10's avatar - smoke
      Beautiful Florida
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      July 18, 2004
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      Posted: May 2, 2013, 8:17 pm - IP Logged

      Make sure they have the certificate framed so they can put it in the casket at the funeral parlor. Is everybody that insensitive in this State..

      You don't fool around with MOLD period....!

                                                   

                                                     "  When Injustice Becomes Law, Resistance Becomes Duty "

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        Posted: May 2, 2013, 9:04 pm - IP Logged

        Remediation work cost MONEY.  Someones bonus much higher up the ladder would have been in jepardy if that person had done the right thing and paid for proper remediation of the tickets.  Dont mess with a mans (or womens) bonus! Its what keeps upper management happy.

          Littleoldlady's avatar - basket
          Clarksville
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          Posted: May 2, 2013, 9:09 pm - IP Logged

          I can't believe they were so dumb as not to give the workers respirators..without the respirator, the rest of the stuff means nothing.  If mold gets into their bodies..someone's goose is going to be well done.

          If you know your number is going to hit, have patience and then KILL IT!

          You never know when you will get another hit.

            RedStang's avatar - tallman zps6gf4inoc.jpg
            NY
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            Member #121961
            January 21, 2012
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            Posted: May 3, 2013, 1:01 am - IP Logged

            That stachybotrys is one of the worst molds out there, especially when it dries and blows around. I can also see some lawsuits from this.

              noise-gate's avatar - images q=tbn:ANd9GcR91HDs4UJhjxO7cmeMQWZ5lB_FOcMLOGicau4V74R45tDgPWrr
              Bay Area - California
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              December 12, 2012
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              Posted: May 3, 2013, 1:53 am - IP Logged

              That stachybotrys is one of the worst molds out there, especially when it dries and blows around. I can also see some lawsuits from this.

              Getting a lawsuit together for this one is easy- winning it is another.

               

              Did you read this....

              Quinn said after the mold appeared on the tickets in a couple weeks, a health and safety officer from the state was brought in to assess the situation.

              "She then evaluated it and came up with the plan to seal the boxes," Quinn said. "She trained the warehouse workers in how to do it safely and made sure that they got the protective equipment. They were checked to see if they had any pre-existing medical problems that would've been a problem for them to do the work."

              The employee, however, does not feel it is his job responsibility.

               

              The State can say we " Did our part", we brought in Health and Safety officers etc etc, as apposed to doing nothing about the situation.

              Plus NJ is already coping with major losses from Sandy, the idea that they will be sued over lottery tickets to drain the State coffers even further?- This one can go either way, but l see the State winning this one.

                sully16's avatar - sharan
                Ringleader
                Michigan
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                October 28, 2009
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                Posted: May 3, 2013, 8:38 am - IP Logged

                Yikes, Mold is not something to fool around with, Just burn it!

                Did you exchange a walk on part in the war ?

                For a lead role in a cage?

                 

                                                            From Pink Floyd's " Wish you were here"

                  dallascowboyfan's avatar - tiana the-princess-and-the-frog.jpg
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                  Posted: May 3, 2013, 11:12 am - IP Logged

                  Gross....."Even with the masks you can smell it," the lotto worker said of the mold. "Even with the gloves you can feel the sliminess of the mold."

                  They need to get rid of the tickets quickly.

                  I Love Pink & Green 1908

                    Avatar
                    Downhere, S.C.
                    United States
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                    Posted: May 3, 2013, 2:24 pm - IP Logged

                    Don't forget to bring your "certificate" when you get to court. lol.

                    Haha

                    US FlagPlease Pray For Our Troops And Their Families.

                      helpmewin's avatar - dandy
                      u$a
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                      Posted: May 3, 2013, 2:30 pm - IP Logged

                      Yikes, Mold is not something to fool around with, Just burn it!

                      I Agree!

                        savagegoose's avatar - ProfilePho
                        adelaide sa
                        Australia
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                        Posted: May 3, 2013, 3:04 pm - IP Logged

                        its simply solvd, the boss can go down there and count them all.

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                          Texas
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                          Posted: May 3, 2013, 10:21 pm - IP Logged

                          Why not hire someone who's more equipped in dealing this kind of job? They need to find workers who have training as well as equipped with protective gear in doing this job. Definitely workers will complain if their health is being compromise.

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                            New Member
                            Richmond,Virginia
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                            March 6, 2013
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                            Posted: May 6, 2013, 11:41 am - IP Logged

                            What should I play today?????