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Opinions on how to handle funky fumes in new space please

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by MurrayBoy, Jul 3, 2018.

  1. MurrayBoy

    MurrayBoy Grumbler

    Hi all, this is a long one! Sorry! I just moved into a new space in the same building as where I have been for the last 2yrs as a commercial picture framer.I've leased space for many years in the building as an artist and have had no problems at all. I've also had a good relationship with maintenance and management. I don't want to burn any bridges because of all this.
    Maintenance repainted everything and re-waxed the floors before I moved in. It looks like they used aerosol oil based primer in spots and then painted over it with latex on the walls and then proceeded to shut everything up until I moved in 2 weeks later. When I opened the door the fumes were intense! They gave me 3 days to move from one location to the other location. So I had no choice to try and air it out and work through it. I rented an air scrubber and tried wearing a respirator for fumes. Unfortunately, it made me so sick I had to go to the ER. The chemicals irritated my lungs and I was put on prednisone. I spoke to the manager of the building and maintenance. They are concerned but I get the feeling they think I'm kinda making it up. The fumes are still there (not as bad) when I come in and had to have a bunch of fans going and the windows open . Its put a huge burden on the shop and me being able to complete orders while trying to put my shop back in order. Maintenance has decided to encapsulate the paint with a new paint that is supposed to stop the outguessing. So they want me to move everything out and do this. The thing that bothers me the most is that they haven't been paying for all of this and think it's not a big deal to be moving everything around. So far I have the air scrubber rental, respirators, special filters for the central air,ER visit (super expensive!), and a missed anniversary concert from ER visit.It's up to about $4,000. It's been a month since they redid the space. Obviously, some chemical or application method didn't mesh well! How would you all handle this? It's such a bizarre thing to be dealing with that is having a huge impact though.
    Also, the ER physician wanted to call the county health inspector and have my space looked at. But since the management is being supportive, I felt it best to give them a chance to fix it first.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2018
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  2. bruce papier

    bruce papier MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    You may want to talk to the landlord and then the call the health inspector. The health inspector might be able to put a finger on the offending chemical. This will save everyone a lot of headaches (maybe literally). As it sits now, everyone is just guessing as to what went wrong without really knowing what to fix.
    shayla and MurrayBoy like this.
  3. Al B

    Al B CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    My wife has run into this several times with new construction and remodeling. The first incident was new carpeting in our local library. It took a few visits until we figured out the connection to the new carpeting. She didn't go back until it finally aired out enough. The next was a major construction renovation that she was involved in. She and one other person were the only people that got sick, so many were skeptical. The other person chose not to return. My wife had to go back so she had to find a way to deal with it. Her doctor sent her to an allergist. He had her bring the specifications from the paint, tiles, and carpeting that were used in the building. He sent them to a lab with her skin samples. He found what she was allergic to. He was able to put her on medication until the building finally aired out enough to an acceptable level for her to breathe and be not be covered in rashes.
    MurrayBoy likes this.
  4. MurrayBoy

    MurrayBoy Grumbler

    Thank you for the replies. I set up an appointment with an allergist and hopefully we can get to the bottom of it. One problem I'm having is that maintenance can't remember which products were used in my space. They have an idea but are not certain what exactly was done. For instance they can't remember if the floors were waxed. I think at the very least this will make them realize that better record keeping is a must. I know they used an aerosol primer that the safety sheet is pretty scary.I think I will go ahead and contact the health department for suggestions. After a month the fumes should be gone. When I came in today the fumes built back up over since Tuesday so it seems unlikely the off gassing won't be gone any time soon!
  5. Al B

    Al B CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Let us know how you do - best of luck with this.
  6. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Do you have a business attorney you work with on your lease and other matters? I think you need someone who knows the way things are supposed to be handled in situations like this. It sounds like there was major incompetence on their part in the handling of toxic substances and lax record keeping. (Just my opinion.) But, you don't want to suffer long term consequences of this, nor to expose your employees and customers to unsafe conditions.
    :cool: Rick
  7. cjmst3k

    cjmst3k SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I would indeed recommend having the health inspector out before having them do any more work. This gives you leverage, but even if you don't use the leverage, it gives the landlord incentive to correctly address this.

    We had a 4 year major issue with our space due to the landlord, and they promised for years they would address the issue and they were also friendly about it. And they dragged it out and in the end did not address the issue correctly, and through a series of half measures. I sued the landlord, and the landlord acted to resolve our issue.

    In your case, the health inspector witnessing the issue before work begins should be able to give you a neutral party to observe, and also should know whether their means of "resolution" are correct, or are not the right avenue.
  8. Daniel Smith

    Daniel Smith Grumbler

    Might check to see if an Ozone Generator will work to kill the odors. They are used to get rid of fire odors and might work with yours. While it is running you can't be in the place. Running while unoccupied overnight may help?
    Grey Owl and ckelley like this.
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