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Building & Neighborhood Issues

Published: Summer 2001

PREVENT MOLD PROBLEMS BY MINIMIZING MOISTURE
Today's new environmental hazard is mold. Mold has been around forever, but its harmful nature is just beginning to be recognized. As buildings are being made more and more airtight, moisture is retained and mold can grow. Molds can be found almost everywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can and do grow on wood, paper, carpet and foods. Often difficult to recognize, mold is found in many colors and many forms, thriving where moisture and darkness meet. Mold contamination can cause allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints. Long term exposure to mold has been known to cause serious health problems. If mold is a problem in your building, you must act quickly to clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.

There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment. The focus must be on controlling indoor mold growth by controlling moisture. The website of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) provided the following useful information about mold control at www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/ moldresources.html.

  • Quickly fix the source of water problems or leaks to prevent mold growth.
  • Promptly clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings to prevent mold growth.
  • Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. (Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles that become moldy may need to be replaced.)
  • Do not install carpeting in areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem (e.g., in bathrooms or on concrete floors with frequent condensation).
  • Reduce indoor humidity to 30% -60% to decrease mold growth. This can be done:
  1. by venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture generating sources to the outside
  2. by using air conditioners and de-humidifier
  3. by increasing ventilation, and
  4. by using exhaust and whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning.

DEFIBRILLATION DEVICES ENHANCE SURVIVAL LIKELIHOOD
Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death among adults in North America. Nationwide, more than 350,000 people go into cardiac arrest each year. Most of them die. Doctors have determined that if medical help is available within a few minutes following a heart attack, the chance of survival increases dramatically.

A two-year study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the American Heart Association was initiated this year. It will train volunteer in the use of a small, portable automated external defibrillator (AED) to determine the potential for saving lives through early use of this device in heart attack victims, when minutes count for survival.

The AED is capable of 'talking' a non-medically trained person through the life-saving process. It requires placing two soft pads on the patient's chest and pressing a button. The machine is designed to detect rapid, tremulous and ineffectual heart contractions occur in the wake of a heart attack. The machine itself determines whether the patient requires an electric shock.

If, as expected, this study proves the value of AEDs, the ultimate goal will be to make AEDs available at many locations, so that heart attack victims can have better chances of survival.

Your cooperative or condominium may want to consider purchasing an AED and making residents aware that it is available for their use in an emergency.There have been no known lawsuits against lay rescuers providing CPR as Good Samaritans, nor any against AED users. However, the perceived potential for a suit against a lay rescuer using an AED has in some cases been a deterrent for companies or organizations considering establishing a public access defibrillation (PAD) program. To help overcome these concerns, the American Heart Association has led an effort to provide limited liability to lay users of AEDs. New York is among the states which have adopted comprehensive legislation to provide lay rescuer coverage.


FOOD WASTE DISPOSERS ENCOURAGED BY NYC
Kitchen food waste disposers or garbage grinders were approved for use in New York City in 1997. These under-the-sink devices are encouraged for their contribution to reducing the city's waste stream. State of the art disposers contain no harmful blades; instead, they hammer waste food to a pulp for disposal through the sewer system where it is turned into environmentally beneficial bio-solids with agricultural uses. In addition, diverting kitchen waste from the curb helps prevent the presence of rats and other vermin seeking food in the garbage.

Now that the City must export all garbage it collects to distant landfills, every effort is being made to control the waste stream. Incentives are being offered for the installation of food waste disposers in new buildings and apartments undergoing renovation.

Cooperatives and condominiums with aging plumbing will want to check with their engineers before permitting (or encouraging) the installation of food waste disposers.

 
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