On Tuesday, the New York City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings heard testimonies in relation to Intro 0385-B which establishes protocol to address asthma-inducing indoor pollutants. The bill requires that landlords and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene inspect, inform, and eliminate any hazardous materials found in buildings, which pose major threats to health.
Asthma is especially high in New York City, with rates as high as 1 in 4 in some communities. In particular, low-income residents are disproportionately impacted by mold, roach and rat infestations, which have been linked by many studies to respiratory illnesses including asthma. These populations are also the least equipped to deal with the high costs of medical bills and missed days of school and work, and often do not have the means of relocating in order to evade the pollutants that have plagued their homes.
The hearing, which lasted more than 4 hours, included testimony from a range of constituents including public health professionals, lawyers, doctors, and tenants who have been subjected to unsuitable building conditions that often endangered the health of their children. Many of the testimonies highlighted the current lack of regulation on the matter, and the difficulties associated with fighting building conditions in court. There is currently no protocol that outlines steps necessary for building owners to deal with pollutants, and a few testimonies cited instances where bleach was applied to a mold infestation, only exacerbating the problem.
NYLCV’s own Adriana Espinoza, NYC Program Manager, testified in support of Intro 0385-B. She argued that the bill will move us toward a more comprehensive mitigation strategy that will prevent asthma cases before they even occur. Adriana went on to praise the bill for empowering physicians to provide referrals for inspections for patients who may live in mold and pest infested conditions, thereby addressing asthma at its source rather than as a reactionary measure.
When resident spend more than 90% of their day indoors, it is vital that indoor air quality be regulated in order to protect the health of all New Yorkers. NYLCV has worked hard to improve outdoor air quality, and now it is time that indoor air quality be similarly improved under Intro 0385-B.