WeWork alerts members that at least 1,600 of its office phone booths are tainted with formaldehyde

Key Points
  • WeWork notifies tenants that it has taken at least 1,600 phone booths out of service due to reports of "potentially elevated levels of formaldehyde," according to an email obtained by CNBC.
  • The company says it might take another 700 phone booths out of service as a precautionary measure.
  • The phone booths are located in several of WeWork's offices in the U.S. and Canada.
A man enter the doors of the 'WeWork' co-operative co-working space in Washington, DC.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

WeWork is warning members that about 1,600 phone booths across some of its offices are tainted with formaldehyde, according to an email obtained by CNBC.

The office-sharing company said the affected phone booths were in some WeWork locations in the U.S. and Canada. It took several phone booths out of service last week and could take another 700 phone booths out of service as a precautionary measure, it said.

"After a member informed us of odor and eye irritation, WeWork performed an analysis, including having an outside consultant conduct a series of tests on a sampling of phone booths," WeWork said in the email to tenants. "Upon receiving results last week, we began to take all potentially impacted phone booths out of service."

The "potentially elevated levels of formaldehyde" were caused by an issue with the manufacturer, a WeWork spokesperson said in a statement. The phone booths will be removed "as soon as possible," the spokesperson added.

"The safety and well-being of our members is our top priority, and we are working to remedy this situation as quickly as possible," the spokesperson said.

The incident comes as WeWork continues to recover from a number of gaffes in recent months. Late last month, WeWork pulled its IPO filing amid sharp criticism from investors, mounting losses and a dwindling IPO valuation.

Additionally, co-CEOs Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham replaced Adam Neumann in September, after he attracted scrutiny for his unusual leadership style and apparent conflicts of interest. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Neumann also expressed a desire to become Israel's prime minister, president of the world, the world's first trillionaire and to live forever.

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