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First Court Decision Made on “New House Syndrome”

Posted June. 24, 2004 21:29,   


The first court decision on “New House Syndrome” calls for the builder to pay for expenses to improve air quality if a resident suffers from the syndrome’s effects.

Although this court decision will speed up the trend to use pro-environmental materials that don’t produce harmful substances, construction companies may resist because this decision comes at a time when there is still no criteria to judge interior air quality.

On June 24, the Central Committee of Environmental Dispute Control in the Ministry of Environment (led by Kim Myung-hwa) ordered LG Construction to pay 3,030,000 won to Park, a female resident of a new apartment in Yong-in, Kyonggi Province, who claimed compensation of 10,000,000 won against the construction company and Yong-in City. The committee turned down her claim against the city.

According to the central committee, Park’s 7-month old daughter developed a skin rash four to five days after the family moved into their new apartment. They had kept the room temperature at the maximum highest setting and had refreshed the interior air for two weeks before moving in on January 10. The skin rash showed significant improvement within a month after Park moved her daughter to her parents’ home in Namyangju-shi, Kyonggi Province in April. The committee made a decision declaring that the density of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds significantly exceeded the standard recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Japanese government.

LG Construction said that it is confused by the court decision since the measured level of harmful materials can vary according to the location and the method used, and because there is “no recommended safety level.”

A symptom that a resident of a new house suffers due to harmful substances produced by building materials.

Wan-Bae Lee roryrery@donga.com