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I live on the 2nd floor of an 8-unit apartment building that

was built in 1929. The building...
I live on the 2nd floor of an 8-unit apartment building that was built in 1929.

The building hasn't been renovated or well-maintained and is kind of falling apart. It was recently sold to a new owner, who immediately began construction work to re-bolt the foundations of the building.

This work has been going on for several weeks and I've noticed strange smells and there is dust covering the hallways (though not in my apartment unit).

The owner assured me that this has been permitted by the city (I checked, it has) and that it is completely safe, that the dust is from cutting wood.

The renovations are going to continue for 6+ months, so I am making arrangements to move out, but won't be able to for at least a few weeks. But I'm wondering if it's even safe for me to stay until then.

I felt fine for the first few weeks of work, but yesterday I got a sore throat, headache and my lungs feel crappy. Of course, I'm concerned about the possibility that I've been/am being exposed to lead and asbestos in the dust from the work already going on. It could also be a cold, but considering what's going on I'm just anxious.

It would be a huge inconvenience for me to re-locate immediately, so I'm trying to figure out if it is actually unsafe for me to be here packing for several more weeks, or if I am over-reacting. I don't really trust the owner when he says everything is safe, of course he's going to say that.

I looked up the construction company and they are EPA certified to deal with lead paint, however I haven't observed any efforts being made to contain the dust. But I don't know if that's problematic or not.

Thanks.
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Answered in 2 minutes by:
9/14/2013
Rick
Rick, General Contractor
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 23,026
Experience: Licensed construction supervisor with 35+ yrs. experience.
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Rick :

Welcome, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will do my best to help you with your issue.

Rick :

It's quite possible that just the extra dust in the air is what's causing your discomfort. If the job is permitted then I doubt there is any long term health hazard like lead or asbestos. But just a lot of dust in the air can cause respiratory problems

Rick :

Since the contractor is EPA certified it's not at all likely that he is disturbing lead paint or asbestos.

Rick :

If there is dust covering the hallways then you can be reasonably certain that there is significantly more dust in the air than normal. This can lead to short term problems like you describe. You can call your local board of health and ask for their input.

Customer:

In general with house-bolting are there generally abatement or containment procedures that are implemented? Or is it work that does not require such steps? I don't really understand what it is they're doing, so it's hard for me to wrap my head around.

Rick :

They could be drilling into the foundation concrete/stone or even minor demolition in a house of this age will put a lot of dust into the air. So will cutting wood. Most remodeling project stir up a lot of dust which is usually not harmful on a long term basis but can be irritating and cause respiratory problems on a short term basis. I can't give you medical advice as to how long you would have to be exposed to nuisance dust for longer term respiratory problems to occur.

Customer:

Okay. Yeah, I know you can't give medical advice, but I figured home improvement experts would have a better idea than I about what they're actually doing and how likely it is to involve disturbing lead/asbestos. Which is all I'm really worried about. Thank you!

Rick :

You're welcome!

Rick
Rick, General Contractor
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 23,026
Experience: Licensed construction supervisor with 35+ yrs. experience.
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