Assistant Director of NC State Environmental Health & Safety resigns as complaints from students, faculty continue

The assistant director and lab safety manager of N.C. State University’s Environmental Health and Safety office, has resigned.

In an e-mail last week to Chemistry department professors and lab safety officers, Mahdi Fahim said he would leave the position after 15 years.

Madhi Fahim, assistant director of Environmental Health and Safety at N.C. State University. (Photo: NC State)

“I apologize if I have not always been able to provide the quality service you need and deserve,” Fahim wrote.

The resignation comes amid mounting questions about and dissatisfaction with the office’s handling of the possible exposure of students and faculty to volatile organic compounds at Dabney Hall, home to the Chemistry department. Policy Watch reported on the long history of the building’s problems last week.

Graduate students, faculty and safety officers said the the Environmental Health and Safety office had been slow to respond or even do proper testing despite students reporting headaches, nausea and vomiting while working in the building, whose aging and inadequate HVAC system has been a problem for many years.

Ken Kretchman, director of Environmental Health & Safety, told Policy Watch that the chemistry students, staff and faculty have “bad information” based on faulty analytical methods. Kretchman told Policy Watch that his department’s own air sampling, which he said adheres to the EPA standard for industrial workplaces, has found no concerning levels of VOCs, with all of them registering well below the recommended exposure limit. 

In an e-mail to Chemistry professors and safety officers following Fahim’s resignation, Kretchman defended Fahim’s performance and the office’s work.

“Due to one statement in Mahdi’s announcement, I feel the strong need to add to his short message,” Kretchman wrote. “Madhi has been one for whom I have received nothing but compliments over his years of service. Again, just recently, he tackled a customer need in a manner which was beyond expectations. He subsequently indicated to me he did not see it that way.”

“He will be missed and I wish him all the best with the rest of his career,” Kretchman wrote.



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