New condos called ‘sickest’ buildings in NYC

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By Teri Karush Rogers  |
September 27, 2010 - 5:29AM

They may be sleek, glamorous and washer-dryer friendly, but are new condos harmful to your health?

According to an article in the September issue of the Cooperator, new buildings tend to be among the ‘sickest’ in New York City. Three air quality specialists  blamed the problem on inadequate ventilation caused, ironically, by green-minded engineering.

“The need to save energy has led to the construction of the air-tight building, often with windows that do not open,” a representative of New York air-duct cleaning company ENVIROspect, Inc., explained to the monthly co-op and condo newspaper. “As a result…the only ventilation that serves the building are the installed heating and cooling systems.”

If the systems are poorly maintained or suffer from condensation leaks, then mold, bacteria, spores, pollen and viruses can collect in the standing water inside. Bird feces and “indoor and outdoor effluents” can also circulate through ventilation systems, according to the article.

"We are seeing building systems fail and we can predict that on buildings not even built yet,"   indoor air quality specialist Gil Cromier of Occupational Risk Control Services told the Cooperator. He said that the glues and resins in the wood composites commonly found in new construction are also causing some problems.

Residents of sick buildings can experience excessive coughing, wheezing, throat and eye irritations, skin irritation, nausea, headaches and fatigue or upper respiratory conditions, according to the Cooperator article.

BrickU bottom line: This is yet another reason why how well a building is run matters as much as how much you like the apartment. If you're buying or renting a place in a newer building (or you already live there), you may want to make sure the sponsor, landlord or board understands the importance of preventative HVAC maintenance.

Related posts:

How to buy a NYC apartment

Is your apartment making you sick? Top 3 places to look for mold

Confessions of a pre-construction buyer

How to analyze a rendering

The perfect condo

Renegotiating the price of a new condo

Fed-up condo owners flock to Midtown war room

Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral

Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

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