Lung Association Hails Introduction of Legislation to Improve Indoor Air Quality

NEW YORK, NY (04/16/2008)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Association of the City of New York (ALACNY) applauds Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and Council Member Rosie Mendez for their leadership today by introducing the Asthma-Free Housing Act of 2008 before the City Council. The legislation will greatly improve indoor air quality by codifying how buildings will be inspected and remediated for indoor allergen hazards, such as mold, cockroaches, rats, mice and dust mites, that exacerbate asthma and other respiratory diseases.

“We thank Public Advocate Gotbaum and Council Member Mendez for introducing a bill with important benefits for lung health in New York City,” said Michael Seilback, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy of the ALACNY. “This legislation will protect all New Yorkers, especially those suffering from asthma and lung disease, who are currently left without recourse when it comes to reducing exposure to respiratory health hazards in their homes.”

While the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) have guidelines for indoor pest and mold problems, the guidelines are just that – recommendations not enforceable by the City. In addition, many of the guidelines involve pesticides which are hazardous to those with and without asthma. To address mold, landlords often paint over infestations without addressing their root causes, like moisture infiltration.

The bill, introduced today, requires that landlords inspect the apartment of susceptible persons -- those diagnosed with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and lung cancer -- and promptly correct any hazardous conditions. If HPD issues a violation, landlords will have 21 days to make the appropriate repairs, and HPD will be ultimately responsible for correcting the violation if a landlord fails to comply. The legislation also sets up a referral system that will allow health professionals, with consent of their patients with asthma, to request that DOHMH perform an inspection within the home.

“Everyday I see first-hand the harmful effects of poor indoor air quality on the families that I treat,” said Lester Blair, MD, Associate Chief of Medicine, New York Downtown Hospital, and member of the ALACNY Board of Directors. “Asking families to manage asthma in an environment that fundamentally exacerbates the disease is asking them to manage their disease with one hand tied behind their backs.”

“This legislation is a meaningful step for lung health in our city where one in eight residents suffers from asthma,” continued Seilback. “We call on Speaker Quinn and the entire City Council to bring their support behind the bill and pass this vital public health measure immediately.”


About the American Lung Association of the City of New York: Founded in 1902, the American Lung Association of the City of New York is a voluntary non-profit health organization dedicated to the fight against lung disease and the promotion of lung health through research, community education and advocacy. Lung diseases, such as asthma, emphysema, lung cancer and pneumonia, are the third leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for one in seven deaths. For more information about the work of the American Lung Association of the City of New York, please call 1-800-LUNG-USA or visit