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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 4:44 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 6:07 am
Posts: 24
Hi,

DW and I have been living in an apartment high rise since last winter. This spring we started noticing that whenever the wind kicks up, a strong mildew and mould smell comes wafting into the washroom from under the sink and behind the mirror where there is apparently an opening in the wall with access to ventilation ducting. Sometimes the smell has been so concentrated that it was positively overpowering. I am allergic to both mildew and mould, verified by SPT. So when this happens I get stuffy runny nose, sneezing, wheezing (asthma), and on the worst days, bad nausea and a foggy-headed feeling. DW gets splitting headaches.

<EDITed for brevity> We reported it to management, and the super came and taped some ducting he said was cracked. It seemed to improve things somewhat, but my washroom still gets toxic.

Today is another particularly bad day. I have taken to keeping the washroom door closed to limit the mouldy airflow to the rest of the apartment, and putting on an N95 respirator every time I go in to use the washroom. No, I'm not kidding. Even so, I am still sneezing and wheezing from this whenever the wind kicks up, and with the kind of summer we're having, it happens a lot. It doesn't look like it's going to stop anytime soon, either. It's making me nuts because I have to drink lots of water due to the heat and to keep my lungs hydrated, so I have to use the washroom a lot - there's just no way around it.

I am relatively new to Canada (as an adult, anyway) - so I don't know what kind of architectural situation would cause this scenario, and I don't know the laws or how one ought to handle this. What I do know is that our apartment is making us sick, we have several months left on our lease, and it's like pulling teeth to get anything done about it. Is there a way to force the owner/manager to get it fixed? Does the health hazard enable us to get out of our lease early? Any other ideas? Thanks for any help you can give. :(

_________________
Self: Asthma; allergic to cats, dogs, grasses, housedust, moulds, various tree pollens, most tree nuts, ragweed, cockroaches, tobacco, most hair products, many soaps and lotions, and many chemicals
DW: Cashews, latex, springtime pollens


Last edited by Eep on Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:49 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6429
Location: Ottawa
I'm not sure where you live but your province should have a Landlord Tenant Act.
Make sure you put your requests in writing and keep a log of everything.

Know your rights and gently inform the landlord that you are aware of them as well. 8)

Here is some key information for Onatario http://www.ltb.gov.on.ca/en/Key_Informa ... 11890.html

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2009 11:31 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 6:07 am
Posts: 24
Ooops, sorry I forgot to mention my location. :oops: I'm in Ontario, so the info you sent is very helpful and pertinent. It answers in detail, everything I wanted to know. Thank you so much Susan, you're the best!!

I'm definitely getting my records in order because I suspect this is going to be a process. It does look like I can get out of my lease and move out early, among other things, if necessary. I feel a million times better knowing I have options! I honestly can't thank you enough.

_________________
Self: Asthma; allergic to cats, dogs, grasses, housedust, moulds, various tree pollens, most tree nuts, ragweed, cockroaches, tobacco, most hair products, many soaps and lotions, and many chemicals
DW: Cashews, latex, springtime pollens


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:41 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2007 9:22 pm
Posts: 173
I'm so glad that Susan could be such a big help. She is really great and has been such a huge help to me too. :D
I hope that you are able to get out of your lease. There is no way that you should have to remain in a home that is making you sick! Good luck!

_________________
Married mom of 4 living children and a baby girl in Heaven.
Between myself, my husband, and our children we have way too many allergies to list.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:52 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6429
Location: Ottawa
Aw shucks! :oops: I don't do it alone...this is a great community!

You can see from the links that this is a common issue.

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 11:46 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 6:07 am
Posts: 24
_Susan_ wrote:
Aw shucks! :oops: I don't do it alone...this is a great community!

You can see from the links that this is a common issue.

Nevertheless, you helped me in a big way and so I can't help but express my gratitude for your awesome help and support! :D

kmommy wrote:
I'm so glad that Susan could be such a big help. She is really great and has been such a huge help to me too. :D

She's awesome!

kmommy wrote:
I hope that you are able to get out of your lease. There is no way that you should have to remain in a home that is making you sick! Good luck!


Very true, thank you! Some repairs have now been done but I may still pursue that route.

Here's an update, in case anyone's interested:

I was considering my options, and just when I had decided I was going to try to get a city inspector down here (a week after my second note, detailing all the health problems it was causing me, including trouble breathing), the super finally showed up at the door and said he'd be coming the next day with a plumber. :roll:

The plumber (in the super's absence) explained that this was a known problem in this building. The main exhaust pipe vents air to the outside so that the waste water goes down in the plumbing. 15 years ago they had just abutted our exhaust pipe with the main exhaust pipe and just puttied it in place. Naturally the putty eventually cracked open. He removed and replaced a roughly 46cm section of pipe and put in a proper T-joint. :idea: He confirmed this is not in our head, the backflow of this air is unhealthy and can make you very sick. And he said he'd had to do this same repair for a number of other apartments in our building but "they want to do all the work they can themselves before calling a plumber." So back when the super came over the first time, saying he couldn't smell anything and acting like we were crazy and as if he didn't know what we were talking about, that was all show! What a piece of work! :evil:

I was holed up in the bedroom with the air purifier, but there was also no evidence my other half - or the plumber, for that matter - could see of any "taping" of the pipes that the super claimed to have done last time he was here. The wall behind the mirror had a hole to access the pipes, which was covered by a thin section of cardboard-like drywall just duct-taped in place! Thus explaining why the toxic exhaust from the pipe was blasting directly into our washroom - including all the waste vapours from all the floors below us. <gag> Is it any wonder we've been sick?

Btw, we found a Wikipedia article on sewer gas, which has a perfect description of some of the symptoms we've been having, in addition to allergic attacks of eczema, hives, sneezing, and wheezing.

Quote:
Sewer gas often has a “rotten egg” smell due to the hydrogen sulfide content, which can be detected by human olfactory senses in concentrations as low as parts per billion. Exposure to low levels of this chemical can irritate the eyes, cause a cough or sore throat, shortness of breath, and fluid accumulation in the lungs. Prolonged low-level exposure may cause fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, irritability, poor memory, and dizziness.


So after the plumber opened bigger holes in the wall and fixed the pipes, the super duct-taped the drywall sections on and then actually spackled it closed this time. I'm still waiting to see if I start feeling better over the next week or so. If I do, you can bet I'll be using my newfound energy looking for better digs elsewhere!

Let this serve as a warning to others - some apartment buildings' staff will act like it's all in your head and try to make you feel like you're crazy, lie to your face, and do shoddy work, all to avoid the expense of making proper repairs. If your apartment is making you sick, ride management's case to get it done or take it to the city or Landlord Tenant Board. Don't wait, and don't let them convince you that nothing can be done. I did, and boy am I sorry.

_________________
Self: Asthma; allergic to cats, dogs, grasses, housedust, moulds, various tree pollens, most tree nuts, ragweed, cockroaches, tobacco, most hair products, many soaps and lotions, and many chemicals
DW: Cashews, latex, springtime pollens


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:43 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 6:39 pm
Posts: 2928
Location: Toronto
Wow, Eep, that's rotten that the super pretended it was in your heads when he knew darn well.

I'm really glad you got the plumber in.

Hope you feel better very soon. Gwen

_________________
Allergic to soy, peanut, shellfish, penicillin


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