Oxnard hospital gets last-minute OK to use toxic fumigant on mold

Times Staff Writer

With only a few hours to spare, administrators at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard were given state authorization Friday to use a controversial toxic fumigant to combat a mold problem that has plagued the facility for years.

The Department of Pesticide Regulation approved an emergency application to spray chlorine dioxide at the hospital, which runs the busiest emergency room in Ventura County. It is the first time the chemical compound, used for decades to purify municipal water sources, will be applied as a gas to eradicate mold in California.

Critics had questioned whether it’s appropriate to use chlorine dioxide in a hospital and warned about its potentially harmful effects.


But Glenn Brank, a spokesman for the state agency, said all appropriate regulatory requirements had been met. The hospital, which temporarily closed this week, had been racing to meet a state-imposed deadline so that it could remain on its fumigation schedule.