WeWork Removes In-Office Phone Booths Due To Formaldehyde Contamination

Joanna Estrada
October 22, 2019

Discussing the health risks of formaldehyde gas - a chemical which is used in various building materials -WeWork's email warns: "Short-term exposure to formaldehyde at elevated levels may cause acute temporary irritation of the nose, throat, and respiratory system, including coughing or wheezing".

Topline: WeWork is taking 1,600 in-office phone booths out of service in some of its US and Canada locations after tests came back positive for elevated levels of formaldehyde, the company said Monday in an email to tenants obtained byForbes.

Although WeWork refused to identify the manufacturer at fault, they added that "out of an abundance of caution, we are also taking approximately 700 additional phone booths out of service while we conduct more testing".

After first announcing it was delaying its initial public offering, and then undergoing a change in senior leadership that included co-founder Adam Neumann stepping down as CEO, WeWork announced late last month that it was filing a request to withdraw its initial public offering filing.

In the email, WeWork wrote to its members that WeWork had performed an analysis after a member informed them about eye irritation and the odor. The booths are small, enclosed spaces where members can talk on their cell phones or work in privacy.

One tenant contacted a WeWork community manager in August to report that people were having eye irritation, light-headedness, and nausea after using phone booths. In a statement, WeWork said: "The safety and well-being of our members is our top priority and we are working to remedy this situation as quickly as possible". WeWork continues that alternative quiet spaces are also going to be provided like in conference rooms and in unused offices. On 15 October, today, they mailed the members in that regions to warn around 1,600 phone booths setup at the location of WeWork. The company declined to comment on the cost of testing and replacing the booths.

More costs are the last thing needed at the company, which some analysts say is fast running out of money.

WeWork warned tenants that it found "potentially elevated levels of formaldehyde" in phone booths throughout its locations in the USA and Canada.

The high levels of formaldehyde were caused by the manufacturer of the phone booths, according to the WeWork spokesperson. High levels of exposure may cause some types of cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The office-sharing company is pulling thousands of phone booths out of service, it said in an email to tenants Monday morning.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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