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Indoor air pollution, an essentially unregulated condition, continues to be a growing concern among commercial and industrial building owners, tenants, schools, developers, and the general public. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 30 percent of new and remodeled buildings experience indoor air quality ("IAQ") problems. Moreover, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health identified IAQ problems as an "epidemic" of the 1990s. Poor IAQ may be caused by conditions such as inadequate ventilation, chemical contaminants (e.g., adhesives, carpeting, and cleaning agents), or biological contaminants (e.g., mold, pollen, and bacteria). Deficient IAQ has led to claims of adverse health effects by building occupants referred to as "sick building syndrome" or "building related illness."

The attorneys and technical consultants at MGKF have a broad range of experience addressing IAQ concerns. In addition to working with our clients' consultants toward diagnostic evaluation and remediation of IAQ issues, we have advised clients on the legal and practical impacts of these situations. Specifically, we have assisted clients in communicating with tenants, employees or other parties regarding IAQ concerns. We have also advised clients on potential IAQ legal liabilities that may arise for building owners and operators, employers, construction contractors, engineers and architects, HVAC manufacturers, material suppliers, real estate professionals, and landlords and tenants. In addition, our state cleanup program practice frequently requires evaluating and developing remedial strategies for potential vapor intrusion from subsurface contamination into indoor building spaces.

As a rapidly growing area of environmental litigation, and one without a comprehensive set of governing regulations, IAQ claims implicate creative theories of liability, as well as unique problems of proof and causation, workers compensation, and insurance. MGKF attorneys and technical consultants are well-suited to evaluate these issues from a legal and technical perspective and represent clients in these types of claims. More information may be found on our litigation practice area pages.


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Examples of indoor air matters in which MGKF has assisted clients include the following:

  • MGKF has assisted the owners of apartment buildings to investigate and address IAQ concerns within HVAC systems and elsewhere such as mold, radon, and other contaminants to which tenants could be exposed.
  • The firm counseled the owner of a New Jersey corporate office center in investigating potential IAQ impacts to tenant spaces associated with vapor intrusion from soil and groundwater contamination beneath the property, which was under remediation by the former owner. MGKF assisted the client by preparing requests for proposal for a consulting firm to perform indoor air testing, evaluating test results, and reviewing the consultant's draft report for compliance with New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency vapor intrusion guidance documents.
  • The firm has utilized its knowledge of Occupational Safety and Health Administration workplace IAQ requirements to represent clients with potential indoor air problems in industrial buildings, hospitals, schools and universities, municipal offices, and other places of employment. In these matters, we have counseled on applicable testing, reporting, hazard communication, worker protection, and related obligations.

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