5 Ways Your Old Apartment Building Is Slowly Killing You

Categorized as Real Estate
Old Apartment Building

Most of the old apartment building across America were built using harmful chemical elements. If inhaled or ingested for prolonged periods, these compounds could lead you to develop acute health issues. Examples include cancer, respiratory issues, infertility, neurological problems, etc.

Yes, most construction operations in the 20th century included the use of compounds that are currently banned. The building materials that are harmful to your health include lead pipes, asbestos in paint, phthalates in flooring, etc.

In this blog, we will discuss five such elements that can be harmful to your health if you’re living in an old apartment building.

1. Presence of Lead in Pipes

Many years ago, lead was used to create plumbing hardware like long water pipes in apartment buildings. That’s because it’s a tough, malleable, and easy-to-bend metal.

The industry installed lead water pipes in various American cities between 1900 and 1950. During that time, some cities even mandated the use of lead pipes due to their durability.

An estimated 9.2 million lead pipes are currently functional across the country. Till the early 20th century, the construction industry preferred lead over iron because of its longevity and flexibility.

However, over the years, research has shown that lead concentrates in water can lead to acute health hazards. The side effects of lead poisoning include loss of appetite, weight loss, constipation, premature births, hearing loss, etc. Some people might also experience high blood pressure, mood disorders, and muscle pain.

2. Asbestos in Paint

In the early 20th century, asbestos was widely used in paint and was called the ‘miracle mineral.’ That’s because it was indestructible, flexible, inexpensive, and widely available. It also improved the paint’s appearance, durability, and quality.

Ideally, this mineral has microscopic fibers that can help with thermal insulation, water resistance, adhesiveness, and more. It is also resistant to electricity, heat, and corrosion. Hence, asbestos-infused paint could enhance thermal insulation if it were applied to the roof and walls.

Even though asbestos is a natural mineral, it’s a known carcinogen. For instance, if you inhale or ingest the fibers, you can develop serious health risks like mesothelioma, organ scarring, inflammation, etc. Shortness of breath, chest pain, and a dry cough are also symptoms of asbestos exposure. Once exposed, these harmful health issues will linger for many years to come.

3. Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) in Wood

Wood-framed houses are easy and quick to construct with readily available materials. That’s why it has been used to build houses for centuries. As technology advanced, the quality of wood homes became better. One of the reasons this happened would be chemical preservatives used to enhance the wood’s quality.

A good example would be chromated arsenate, used as a wood preservative. CCA is a pesticide with components like arsenic, copper, and chromium metals. The construction industry used this to ensure the wood’s durability.

This chemical could protect the wood from fungi, pests, and termite infestations. As a result, the quality and integrity of the buildings didn’t degrade over time.

You’ll notice CCA is usually present in commercial wood poles, shingles, pilings, posts, etc. Old construction companies also used it in the permanent foundation beams for optimal support.

Unfortunately, research shows that CCA usage can lead to adverse impacts on human health. That mainly happens because the metals present in this pesticide leach and accumulate on everyday items in your home.

Continuous ingestion and inhalation of this chemical might lead you to develop issues with your brain, kidneys, lungs, spleen, liver, etc. Moreover, it can cause stomach and skin irritations and lead to developmental delays in children.

4. Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs) in Window or Door Caulks

Until 1979, PCBs were used to make joint materials and sealants for buildings, like caulks, grouts, etc. It was also a common element in electrical equipment, like old lighting fixtures.

Between 1930 and 1979, PCBs, or Aroclor, became a favorite in the construction industry due to their flame-retardant properties. Technically, it’s a man-made chemical used as an additive to ensure durability, adhesiveness, and flexibility in building materials.

However, PCB-containing buildings pose a huge health risk as they can contaminate soil, indoor air, and stormwater.

If you live in an old building, you can get exposed through inhalation, skin absorption, and ingestion. For instance, PCB can off-gas, collect as dust particles, or stay in the air. Eventually, this toxic substance can leach into floor tiles, carpets, furniture, utensils, etc.

According to TorHoerman Law, the side effects of PCB exposure include liver damage, some types of cancer, immune system deficiencies, etc. Other potential health issues include learning disorders, brain fog, confusion, miscarriages, frequent rashes, and more.

Currently, anyone who suffers from PCB exposure symptoms can get a medical assessment, start treatment, and then seek legal help. Victims can seek compensation for their medical bills, permanent disability, suffering caused, and other damages.

5. Phthalates in Flooring or Wall Coverings

In older buildings, phthalates were a common component used to make things flexible. Primarily, the construction industry used this chemical to manufacture flooring or wall coverings. This class of chemical compounds had immense durability and pliance, making them perfect for creating energy-efficient roofing and flooring.

Phthalates are also used to manufacture flexible sealants and other adhesive construction products. With the help of this element, construction workers could extend the longevity of building surfaces and ensure easy maintenance. In some cases, it had unique properties, making this chemical use less energy and help fight germs.

However, hidden behind these benefits is a huge list of negative impacts on human health. Phthalate poisoning through inhalation or skin absorption can lead you to develop headaches, nausea, intense coughing, irritation to the eye, skin rashes, etc.

You might develop issues with reproduction since these toxins are endocrine disruptors. Children are also vulnerable since phthalate exposure can lead to developmental delays, reduced growth rates, etc.

In conclusion, you should be aware of the hazards lurking in your apartment building if it’s an old construction. One way to check that is by assessing the air quality in your home. You can also take samples from the pipes, walls, and paint to run tests and ensure they’re free from toxins.

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Lisa Smith

By Lisa Smith

Lisa Smith is a digital marketer who specializes in leveraging online platforms and strategies to drive business growth and engagement.