Chicago Airport System Department of Aviation

01/12/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/12/2018 17:00

Chicago Department of Aviation Announces Initial Window Testing Finds No Evidence of Health Impact

While phase one of testing did not identify an impact to indoor air quality, CDA will move forward with a second round of testing this spring to further develop air quality data and to determine the source of the odors, confirming results already obtained suggesting strongly that there is no health risk attributable to the windows.

'First and foremost, we are pleased that the testing has revealed no evidence of an impact on indoor air quality or related health concerns,' said Ginger S. Evans, Commissioner, CDA. 'But we are not done yet, and we agree with the recommendation of the experts that more refined testing is needed to bring forward the answers that the community deserves. We are committed to continued transparency on this matter, and we are looking at all of our options in addressing this issue systematically for all of our affected homeowners.'

The report released today (clickhere) contains findings from the testing performed by Amec Foster Wheeler from September to December 2017. The comprehensive testing program included laboratory testing of vinyl windows that had been installed years ago as part of the RSIP. The report released today provides a detailed overview of these guidelines as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed air quality methods used.

The overarching findings of the report are as follows:

  • There is no evidence that RSIP windows have any significant impact on air quality; or are detracting from health in the homes;
  • Based on the change in test results between the pre- and post-window replacements, indoor air quality in all nine homes tested were found to be below the Illinois Department of Public Health and/or the State of California relevant guidelines-with the exception of one home where formaldehyde was detected, and which the report indicates is most likely from sources in the home other than the windows;
  • Amec Foster Wheeler recommends, and the CDA agrees, that additional testing is needed to identify the cause of odors emitted and to develop further information on off-gassing.

'Amec Foster Wheeler's testing program, which draws upon our team's background in industrial hygiene and indoor air testing, is continuing to work to identify the source of the odors attributed to the windows,' said Chris Everts, Senior Environmental Engineer, Amec Foster Wheeler. 'Our testing thus far has found no evidence of an impact to indoor air quality caused by the windows. But because the testing has not yet identified the cause of window odors, we will continue to pursue this issue through a second round of testing.'

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has reviewed the methodology employed throughout the testing, and the subsequent findings as interpreted by the testing consultants, and specifically formaldehyde present.

'Based on our close review of this matter, we agree that it's highly unlikely that the RSIP windows are detracting from the health/quality of air in the homes,' said Dr. Julie Morita, Commissioner, CDPH. 'With more testing in order and warranted to develop a deeper understanding of the odors, we will continue working with the CDA to review findings and advise on any next steps as needed.'

Results before and after windows were replaced do not indicate that formaldehyde concentrations observed are connected to the windows. Formaldehyde concentrations observed in all homes tested are consistent with average levels the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found to be present in contemporary American homes. According to the CDC, formaldehyde is a common compound that is prevalent in everyday life, including many household items such as wood flooring, wooden cabinetry finishes, curtains and drapes, glues, paints, and gas stoves, among many others.

To measure for indoor air quality-defined as the quality of air inside and around homes and buildings, as it relates to the health and comfort of the home and building occupants-testing was performed both before and after windows were replaced in a sample set of nine homes. This methodology allowed Amec Foster Wheeler to sample and compare results from diverse indoor environments. Results were then compared to the Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines and conservative indoor air quality guidelines developed by the State of California.

Over the spring and summer months, Amec Foster Wheeler will conduct additional laboratory and air quality testing to further develop air quality data regarding window off-gassing and the sources of the odors. The CDA will consult with Amec Foster Wheeler on timing and approach for conducting the additional testing. As with the first report, the CDA will provide the full results of testing to the public.

To inform odor mitigation strategies, the CDA has outreached to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ask for support and to obtain guidance on funding options and eligibility. The CDA will also hire a forensic architect to develop mitigation measures this spring. The recommendations by this expert firm will be incorporated with additional findings of testing as CDA seeks to identify permanent odor mitigation solutions. The CDA will also retain an architecture firm to study off gassing and recommend window design modifications to address the odors emanating in some homes.

The full report, and more information about the RSIP, can be found on the CDA's website,