Toxic, Unnecessary, Poorly-Timed Painting- by A.Quinn

The second week of December, painters arrived and painted our hallways and vestibules. This brings up three issues:

1. **Why they needed to paint during holiday season
when so many people had decorations up or being moved in – wreaths on doors etc.,

2. Why anyone would paint closed areas in winter when there is no possibility of airing/venting toxic fumes.

3. Lack of proper notice/communication ****

As to #1. I called the office and was informed
by Sean that the hallways had to be painted. Why? Is it an end-of-year money thing for Elliman? It couldn’t have waited until Spring? The walls and handrails of this building were not in dire need of paint. Was this a board mandate? Did anyone take our quality of life/holidays/health into consideration? As to #2. Clearly, they were not using low or no-VOC paint. The paints they used release VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, for months after application. VOCs can include highly toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.* *I called the office and asked that the bulkhead windows be opened so we could vent the fumes. Sean and Gilbert arrived. They said they had “opened” the bulkhead window but didn’t mention that the window opening had been sealed off from outside with plexi, which I discovered after they left and I went to upper 5th floor because the air was still so stagnant and toxic. **Of course we cannot leave the roof door open for days so the only venting of hallways and vestibules was into our apartments. **The painters told us we had to leave our apt. doors open until 6 PM for them to dry. They didn’t dry until the 2nd day. My breathing was compromised. **I had to open my own apt. windows and stuff towels under the doors to get some immediate, short term relief.** I am still sick.** * *As to #3. Not one resident in this building knew to remove anything from vestibules because there was no reference to “vestibules”. Gail’s letter referred only to “common hallways and handrails”. Sean’s response was that “vestibules” are common areas. Can someone please define “common areas” and “vestibules” for me? There are many 4-bedroom simplex units with their own vestibules. Am I to believe that their vestibules are mine to hang out in? Sean said he had no idea that our building was being painted at this time. I replied, “You are a Douglas Elliman employee. How can you not know?” Gilbert started laughing. Sean just looked dumbstruck. I understand that many people are not knowledgeable about toxic fumes from certain painting/construction materials. Apparently this includes our management and it’s not just Gail Davis. How shall we proceed?


10 thoughts on “Toxic, Unnecessary, Poorly-Timed Painting- by A.Quinn

  1. Does your website have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d
    like to send you an e-mail. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing.

    Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

  2. I find these publication toxic. Can’t you read?!!!Vestibules ,of course include your entry way ! I am very discouraged that this is the general tenor of most comments. Where are the people who can talk calmly about these issues without playing the “blame game”

    • Hey pat,
      your point is well taken. I think the point of the article was written about the “timing” of certain repairs…perhaps it would have been best to paint during warmer weather so the ventilation could be improved…don’t you think? Sometimes the tone is justified at times but as the WatchDog promotes you can always change and improve the dialouge if you choose to partcipate and bring up issues that concern you by writing for the blog…or you can just sit back and comment on those that made the effort… Get involved for all it can only help.

      • Hey Pat et al,

        Yes, I can read. And the point of #3 is that no reference to “vestibules” was in the notice of painting. I know my post is not easy for you to read because formatting was lost in transfer to the blog and I haven’t had time to re-do it. But if you go back and look, you see that I say, “As to #3. Not one resident in this building knew to remove anything from vestibules because there was no reference to “vestibules”. Gail’s letter referred only to “common hallways and handrails’.” IF the word “vestibules” or the phrase “entry ways” had been used, I wouldn’t waste my time thinking/writing about it.

        No worries. We’re all busy and all make mistakes.

  3. This reminds me of 2 years ago on CHRISTMAS EVE, when they polyurethaned all floors of the sponsor’s apartment in 162 Bank Street. Without any notice whatsoever, the building was totally engulfed in toxic fumes — with no ventilation, no fans, no fume protection, nothing! — all in 10 degree weather. All apartments were sickened by the fumes. We called the office repeatedly for help (closed, of course), we opened the front doors for ventilation in the freezing cold, we taped up the apartment’s door with garbage bags to try to block the stench (which traveled through all the vents anyway), and we opened all our own windows in the freezing cold to try to clear the air. It was absolutely appalling! And then it was all repeated again a month later for the second coat — another great job, Gail and Douglas Elliman!

  4. Yes, the recent painting can very well the the cause; certainly it had impact. Our immune systems are overloaded with industrial toxins now. There is zero reason to increase the burden on our bodies with paint, particularly with the type of paint “we” use for our hallways when it can’t be properly vented. And we have small children, elderly and immune compromised residents. What are “we” thinking??

    This untimely painting is part of the ongoing revelation of how completely not-green we, as a coop, are. The Energy, Garden, House committees have certainly not been Environmentally informed committees. (“I look forward to your texts and messages”, as Craig Ferguson says. 🙂

  5. Hmmm, Is the recent painting of our hallways why I started to have more serious allergic reactions suddenly? I never thought about the paint chemicals. their effect on us and venting, etc. We are literally bombarded with toxins from all sides. The truck traffic on Washington Street stands stalled all the time now. The construction site is again active. etc, etc.

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