Metal workers from building 169 say it's typical for new employees to have health issues their first couple of weeks, until their body adapts to the environment.
After OSHA found high exposure levels of cancer causing agents like Chromium (VI), Lead and Beryllium on the base, employees are speaking out on their health problems.
"The doctor saw something, it was a spot on my lungs and it concerned her," said Spencer Bryan.
"It got bad. It got bad up until the point until June of last year, when they moved me out of the environment that everything started clearing up," said Willie Johnson.
Spencer Bryan and Willie Johnson both previously worked in building 169 at Robins Air Force Base and both men experienced different health complications that they say are rooted in their work environment.
"Beryllium was found in the building so I contacted my doctor and I asked the doctor was there anyway that that might not have been diagnosed right? Since Beryllium was found," said
After a spot was found on Spencer Bryan's lung, doctors initially diagnosed him with sarcoidosis, but after OSHA violations found high levels of Beryllium his work area, his doctor changed his diagnosis to Berylliosis.
"If I hadn't been diagnosed, or gone in for the x-ray I would have never known I had anything," said
According to the CDC, symptoms of the disease may include:
• Weight loss
and in severe cases, Berylliosis can lead to chronic lung disease.
Before moving to building 169 a couple of years ago Willie Johnson's never had any respiratory problems. After the move Johnson had hard time breathing and was diagnosed with asthma.
"I went to both doctors and he wrote a note saying that Mr. Johnson does have, does have a breathing problem. It was picked up on the job. They also recommended that I be moved to another work environment," said Johnson.
Johnson says his skin was also affected by contaminant exposure. His eyes and hands were irritated. Finally, Johnson's condition got so bad that his finger nails peeled off. His symptoms went on for more than a year before he was relocated out of building 169.
"My fingers were busting, they would bust open, so the gloves didn't stop it. This is when my fingernails and this happened back in 2009 also. These two finger nails went to just peeling, falling off, and this is all in the doctors notes on this right here," said Johnson.
According to the union president, Tom Scott, there have been around 300 grievance cases filed by workers from 169, 670, and the air line. The most deadly concern for employees is long term exposure to these contaminants has been proven to cause cancer.
"We have a husband and wife that work in that same building and both of them have cancer and their doctor is attributing it possibly to the Chromate (VI), the long term exposure. I'm not a M.D., and I can't say 100 percent, but I'm getting reports from employees that they have cancer and they're attributing it to the Chromate (VI)," said Scott.
Major General Robert McMahon says there is a process in place for employees who believe they've been exposed.
"Every worker in the department of defense, every worker at Robins Air Force Base, every worker at the
Willie Johnson says that even after going to the base clinic and his own personal doctor, he didn't find relief until he was moved out of the building.
"Cause now like I said now that I'm out of the environment since June of last year so everything has cleared up, but prior to that it was an ongoing process," said Johnson.
Major General McMahon says any base employee who believes they're having health complications due to contaminant exposure to contact Occupational Medical Personnel on the Base.