Lead Dust Scare Prompted Longworth Cafeteria Closing

A Capitol Police officer escorts a Sodexo worker from the Longworth House Office Building  Friday after an apparent construction accident left some people in the Longworth cafeteria feeling sick. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The possible release of lead paint dust amid construction in the Longworth House Office Building cafeteria led Capitol Police and D.C. fire officials to escort 10 people from the building, a least two of them on stretchers.  

The building was not evacuated, but the cafeteria area was cleared out and shut down, according to a statement from the House Sergeant at Arms office. The workers there were taken to local hospitals to be evaluated for potential exposure to lead, the statement said.  

Paula Sumberg, spokeswoman for the Congressional Office of Compliance suggested that agency may look into the matter.  

The agency oversees compliance with workplace health and safety conditions for congressional staff. Even though food service workers on the House side are not government workers, Sumberg said the office may investigate any occupational hazards that occur on the Hill.  

“Hopefully we will get to the bottom of it as well,” Sumberg said  

This incident comes as the area is being renovated to install a Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins in the back of the cafeteria.  

A spokesman for Sodexo, the food service provider for the House side of Capitol Hill, said the Office of Architect of the Capitol determined Friday morning there had been a potential release of lead paint dust in an area of the kitchen that was not used for food preparation.  

While local authorities were responding, Longworth cafeteria employees began reporting concerns and were sent to area hospitals, Sodoxo Spokesman Sam Wells said.  

Wells said the cafeteria would remain closed until tests on the area are completed and that construction would resume as quickly as possible.  

Stephanie Akin, Bridget Bowman and Bill Clark contributed to this report. Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter Related: Doughnuts, Ice Cream Temporarily Displace Longworth Seating

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