WeWork to remove phone booths from offices due to formaldehyde

The chemical debacle is the latest in WeWork's string of misfortunes which include its initial public offering being delayed and difficulties in securing cash to maintain operations

The chemical debacle is the latest in WeWork's string of misfortunes which include its initial public offering being delayed and difficulties in securing cash to maintain operations

WeWork said it identified approximately 1,600 phone booths in their US and Canada locations that may be impacted, and "out of an abundance of caution" are also taking an additional 700 phone booths out of service while they conduct more testing.

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Reached for comment, a WeWork spokesperson confirmed the formaldehyde issue, saying it's taking "a number" of booths out of service at "some" locations in the US and Canada - due to "potentially elevated levels of formaldehyde caused by the manufacturer". The saga led to the ousting of its chief executive officer, Adam Neumann, and a withdrawal of the stock offering prospectus.

WeWork has faced a cash crunch in recent weeks after abandoning its initial public offering last month amid tepid interest from investors anxious about WeWork's massive losses and corporate governance problems. The company says it began testing for formaldehyde after a tenant complained of eye irritation and a bad smell after using one of the booths, which are more like enclosed cubicles than somewhere Clark Kent might get changed in. The company has now removed an additional 700 booths. The company, which is believed to be rapidly running out of money, declined to identify the manufacturer of the phone booths or say how much it would cost to replace them.

Crucial quote: "The safety and well-being of our members is our top priority, and we are working to remedy this situation as quickly as possible", a WeWork spokesperson said in a statement. The company was valued at as much $47 billion in a fundraising round last January - only to see its value drop to under $20 billion in the now-squashed IPO.

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They also said several people in their team had experienced the same issue. Long-term exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to certain types of cancers.

Formaldehyde is a chemical which is used in different building materials and WeWork email also warns that the short-term exposure in this formaldehyde gas might cause an acute irritation of throat, respiratory system and even in nose. Some studies since then suggested that formaldehyde exposure is associated with certain types of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

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

Phone booths are scattered around WeWork locations and provide a private space for tenants to make phone calls.

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