Advice Pls! Landlord's cut-down furnace filter has been pumping out tiny bits of fiberglass that I've been inhaling/ingesting. Health/legal advice needed, please!
I was Swiffering under end tables, etc today and found the Swiffer covered with thick dust-bunnies of tiny blue fibers -- as though I had been running a blue-jeans factory here. Not my 'usual' dust at all. What could this possibly be, I wondered.
Then I remembered that my HUD Landlord (in a Project-based Section 8 complex) had said several months ago that 'they couldn't get' the correct size of furnace filter for my unit, so they would start cutting down larger filters to fit my furnace. (My furnace was replaced before they remodeled all units but mine -- due to my Multiple Chemical Sensitivities -- so my filter is a different size than all the newer furnaces.)
Landlord brought a new, cut-down filter with blue fibers in January, just in time for the bitterly-cold weather.I sneezed and huffed and chuffed through the winter, chalking it up to allergies.
Today, making a start at Spring Cleaning, I started to Swiffer in the hard-to-reach places under furniture, and found the strange mats of blue fiber. (These same areas had been cleaned in late December.)
I am assuming that the blue-fiber dust-bunnies are shreds of fiberglass from the cut sides of the furnace filter, and that I have been inhaling and/or ingesting bits of fiberglass for the last three months. I also assume that there are now bits of fiberglass in the heating system, including in the duct-work, ready to be blown into my living space.
I will begin researching the health effects of inhaled/ingested fiberglass bits as soon as I post this. I am hoping that someone here will be able to offer me guidance to related sites on health effects.
I also wonder about the possible legal implications for the Landlord, in terms of what I can expect (if anything) in terms of (1) preventing future contamination by providing the correct size of filters, (2) protection from any residual fiberglass in the heating unit and/or duct-work. Can I expect Landlord to provide (for example) some kind of filters to place over the vents, to prevent the fiberglass from entering my living space? Can I expect the Landlord to have the ducts professionally cleaned?
Advice and links will be very welcome. I'll be out in teh Intertubes doing my own searching, so I may not respond immediately to comments. Thanks to all!
spun glass; lasts up to 30 days
maximum air flow
alleviates strain on equipment
This is a standard grade furnace filter of
the same type that has been protecting
furnaces and central air conditioners around
the world for over 50 years. The filtering
medium is continuous filament spun glass.
The frame is made with one continuous
piece of chipboard to guard against corner
separation. For peak equipment protection
and energy efficiency, these filters should be
changed monthly in periods of high use. Buy
a case and be set for the year!
[Spec sheet info ends]
So they are fiberglass, and they should be changed monthly (not very 3 months, as Landlord is doing).
Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 4:32 PM PT: UPDATE Mon 3/31/14 -- Last night, after learning a good bit about the fiberglass strands used in furnace filters, I researched better-quality filters and learned a lot more. (Thanks for the links, guys!) Before buying anything or talking to Management, I decided to talk to the Maintenance Guy to get his thoughts. (He's a nice young guy, a college-educated Millennial.) He was very forthcoming with ideas and we discussed several steps toward remediation. He is also very willing to work with me in regard to my chemical sensitivities at every step. He suggested finding some kind of filtration material that he will install inside the vents -- I had expected to have to beg and/or fight for that, and expected to have to put something over the vents. The furnace's enclosure is very dirty/dusty; he will bring a HEPA shop-vac and clean all of that out, and clean the furnace's coils. He will take off the folding metal louvered doors to the enclosure and I will clean them with my own cleaning solution. I will do a thorough cleaning (which I had just begun anyway). He will provide either MSDS sheets or enough info on every product he brings into the apartment so that I can research it for chemicals I have to avoid. All in all, I found the interaction to be very positive. We established a baseline plan and talked about our various tasks, and agreed that we would work out details as we go along. This will give me the opportunity to write an email to the Manager (who is out of the office until Thursday) praising the Maintenance Guy for being to pro-active and helpful in arriving at a plan for a Reasonable Accommodation in regard to the furnace-filter problem. All in all, a very good outcome, imo!