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The findings and recommendations as per the Hygienist report were drawn from a questionable examination methodology and a reporting language subject to hyperbole. The key elements of the Hygienists report subject to dispute were:
- The Hygienist tested a range of surfaces across the principally affected tenancy focusing on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) which are toxic in nature.The Hygienist adopted a daily exposure criteria that is at odds with the recommendations of organisations such as the World Health Organisation and the Cancer Council.
- The Hygienist asserted that one or more samples tested were in excess of recommended daily exposure levels and as such all tenancies in the property required further testing. However, of the 32 samples taken within the principally affected tenancy, just four exceeded recommended exposure levels with two samples being from the seat of the fire and two taken from an adjoining wall directly affected by the fire. This suggested contamination was likely to be limited only to the principally affected tenancy.
- The recommendation for decontamination of ceiling cavity of the principally affected tenancy and one other tenancy as well as further representative sampling to be undertaken in the surrounding tenancies.
- The recommendation for soft furnishings or porous materials in the principally affected tenancy and one surrounding tenancy be discarded and replaced due to the costs and difficulties in removing contamination from these items successfully.
- The recommendation that disturbance from ceiling decontamination process is likely to cause dust laden with contaminants to fall onto the surfaces below spreading contamination and as such the removal or covering of stock and furnishings to avoid further contamination is necessary.
With sufficient reason to doubt the methodologies and recommendations of the Hygienists report, the challenge for Oriel was to disprove its findings.