2 Investigators: Window Maker Baffled By Toxic Smells

CHICAGO (CBS) — For the first time, the owner of a company that made millions making sound-resistant windows for homes around Chicago’s airports is answering his critics.

CBS 2 Investigator Pam Zekman has been reporting that some homeowners are concerned that noxious smells coming from the windows could be making them sick.

“I have absolutely no idea where the smell is coming from,” says Ron Spielman, the owner of Sound Solutions, the now-closed company that made sound insulation windows for thousands of homes around Midway and O’Hare airport.

Spielman agreed to meet Zekman at the home of Barbara and Allen Gabka, who live near Midway and have been complaining about their windows since 2015.

“I came out here in good faith out of curiosity to see what is going on,” Spielman says.

The Gabkas showed him a window frame made of polyvinyl chloride, a known carcinogen that seems damaged and peeling. There are holes between parts of the frame, leaving glass exposed and degraded spacers holding the two glass pieces together.

“You can see all around the seals are bubbling from the heat,” homeowner Barbara Gabka says.

The Gabkas also showed Spielman windows in the bedroom that they say smell the worst.

“It can be very strong throughout the whole house when the sun has been beating on it for a while,” Allen Gabka says.

That wasn’t the case during this visit, but Allen Gabka says: “I can be laying here and wonder what gases am I breathing.”

“I am at a complete loss,” Spielman says about the problem.

He denies his windows are causing the odor. “Certainly nothing that I did, that our company did, as far as manufacturing.”

And the companies that made the frames and spacers  also say their products could not be the cause.

Spielman disagrees there is any danger to the homeowners.

“Well, first of all, they shouldn’t be afraid,” Spielman says. “They should be annoyed at the smell, OK, but there is nothing to be afraid of from a health standpoint, to the best of my knowledge.”

Like others, the Gabkas are not convinced.

“I am worried about the health risk,” Barbara Gabka says. “My daughter has headaches every single day.”

The city has agreed to replace windows where the noxious odor is confirmed. And as a result of the 2 Investigators reports, Chicago has hired a company to test the windows and possibly the air quality in the homes.

This is help the Gabkas have been requesting for years.

“I can only say thank you, thank you for Channel 2 being involved,” Barbara Gabka says.

On Wednesday, the Chicago City Council Aviation and Finance committees will hold a hearing to question the city’s aviation commissioner about the controversy. It’s scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Hale Park Gymnasium, 6258 W. 62nd St.

Homeowners who have similar complaints about the sound insulation windows can file complaints with the city at 773-838-5632 if they live around Midway airport or 773-894-3636 if they live around O’Hare airport.

More from 2 Investigators

Watch & Listen LIVE