Hazardous Caulk Poses Threat to Older Condos Remediation May Be Expensive

Condominium associations and their property managers have shown that, like owners of other types of buildings, they are eager to do their part to be good stewards of the health of the planet, as well as the health of the occupants of their buildings.

They have implemented recycling programs, installed energy-saving compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), added insulation and replaced weatherstripping on their buildings, and swapped out old appliances for newer energy-efficient models. These types of actions help us all to do our part to reduce our impact to the natural environment. In most cases these practices, either directly or indirectly, also increase our potential for living healthy lives by reducing our exposure to pollution and associated contaminants.

But for some buildings, there is another source of contamination that is currently unknown to the owners and occupants. This contamination source, discovered by environmental industry experts only in recent years, threatens the health of owners and users of these buildings.

So what is the source of this contamination that condominium owners and their property managers need to be aware of? It’s an old caulking material that was applied to buildings during their construction or renovation.

Caulk Banned by EPA

Prior to the early 1980s, caulk that was used to seal window frames, door frames, and masonry control joints commonly contained high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which manufacturers added to caulk to give it elasticity. Based on evidence suggesting that PCBs are developmental toxins, and due to their other toxic effects, PCBs were banned in the United States in 1977. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that exposure to PCBs can adversely affect a person’s immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system. In addition, PCBs are considered to be a potential cause of cancer in humans.

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