E.G. from Los Angeles County, California writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
HOA has hired a contractor to resurface balcony decks. They are about halfway through and when they got to my area of the complex I noticed an excessive chemical smell. My unit is in a corner of atrium layout and it was no wind and humid that day so I thought the lack of air movement might be the problem. I asked the contractor for info on the deck resurfacing materials. He provided SDS sheets that said chemicals in their packaging are highly toxic and contain isocyanates. When you mix Part A with Part B, it starts a polymerization reaction and the mixture cures and becomes non-toxic. Curing can take up to 48 hours. There are very specific instructions in the SDS requiring user to assess their particular situation and what PPE to use for workers. This product is also used for topping/wearing coats in parking garage decks so it is very heavy duty. MAJOR PROBLEM is that the manufacturer’s instructions require all nearby buildings to seal door, windows and HVAC air inlets to prevent the off-gassing isocyanates from entering interior occupied space. The manufacturer instructions also recommend that the work be done on weekends, nights, etc. to minimize exposure. The contractor is not following these instructions and basically polluting condo interior air with isocyanates. The contractor didn’t even send out safety warnings to residents to keep doors and windows shut. Can you imagine how dangerous this material is if the manufacturer is telling parking garage deck contractors that they need to seal adjacent buildings and here we have full strength off-gassing of isocyanates soaking into condo interiors from as close as the unit’s balcony!!! It is clearly the wrong material for inhabited condos unless you move everyone out or seal the entire complex. This material works for car traffic. Yes, the instructions say it works for balconies also but who would use it for anything but new construction. I brought this safety issue to the Board and they are backing the contractor saying the materials are non-toxic to residents. What should I do?
Mister Condo replies:
E.G., I am sorry that your Board decided to back the contractor and potentially agree to expose residents to potentially harmful toxins. Since neither the Board nor contractor seem concerned with the safety of residents, your only other options lie outside the community. Perhaps your local Board of Health or Fire Department would step in if notified. You might want to speak to an attorney and see if you have legal rights or recourse. Of course, as a practical matter, the job is likely over by now so whatever you do now may be too late and after the fact. However, if your actions prevent even one person from toxic exposure, it is worthwhile, in my opinion. Hopefully, the Board will pay closer attention to materials used in other projects. The safety and health of all residents should always be a top priority. Good luck!