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First Tests May Put Cracks In ‘Toxic Windows’ Theory Around Airports

Author: Pam Zekman

(CBS) – Friday was the day many residents near Chicago’s airports have been anxiously awaiting.

They’re finally getting some results of air-quality tests from inside their homes, after living with a noxious odor they blame on soundproof windows.

CBS 2’s Pam Zekman talked with the testing lab.

“Our preliminary data that we have at this point does not indicate or does not even suggest that we have a health effect,” environmental engineer Chris Eberts says.

That’s the conclusion of this report, just released, in which the air quality in nine homes near Midway Airport was tested.

“Each home was tested twice, and what we found there was, there was no significant health effects that we could attach to the windows at all,” Eberts says.

Formaldehyde was detected above standards in one home. That chemical can cause symptoms that some homeowners are experiencing, like burning eyes, nose and difficulty breathing.

But Eberts doesn’t believe the windows are a source of formaldehyde.

“Formaldehyde is a common problem because it’s found in so many home products, particularly in fabrics, curtains, carpeting, furniture,” Eberts says.

So, what’s causing the smell? The experts still don’t know. Eberts says the tests did not cover things like the finish or the glue or spacers used in the window installation.

Department of Aviation officials say that is the next step.

“We’re not done. We’re going to continue to test and to understand what’s going on with the windows,” Erin O’Donnell says.

More tests will be done, starting with 16 homes this summer on hot, sunny days to replicate when homeowners say the smell is the worst.

So far, the city has confirmed odors in more than 300 out of 800 calls from residents who have the sound insulation windows.

Officials urge others with similar problems to report them.

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