EAST VILLAGE — An East Village resident has set up an online fundraiser so that she and her neighbors can move back home and breathe easy — literally.
Lindsey Bornstein, a resident at 41 E. Seventh St., has set up a GoFundMe page to conduct independent air and dust toxicity tests in her building and neighboring 125 Second Ave., which are both located near the Second Avenue explosion site. The page has raised more than $400 of its $3,900 goal, according to the website.
Both buildings were evacuated for safety reasons after a massive gas explosion tore through 121 Second Ave. on March 26, killing two men and razing three buildings. After inspections by city agencies, the vacate orders for most of the buildings’ units were lifted on April 14, according to the Department of Buildings website.
Two apartments remain vacant in 41 E. Seventh St. because they are filled “rafter-high with junk,” according to the DOB, while the landlord of 125 Second Ave. is repairing the building's five remaining evacuated apartments.
However, Bornstein said she and other tenants are worried about the buildings’ air quality, since tests were only conducted outside on the street and not in the buildings. She and other tenants have not returned to their apartments because they are concerned about the possible carcinogens and toxins in the air and dust, she said.
“We’re a little scared to move back,” said Bornstein, 26, who had lived in her apartment for six years.
According to a Housing Preservation and Development spokesman, the apartments that their vacate orders lifted were in a “safe and habitable condition.”
Two separate “air quality monitoring operations” were taken at the site — one by a contractor hired by HPD as well as the Department of Environmental Protection, he said.
Tests for airborne asbestos were negative, the spokesman added, and both 125 Second Ave. and 41 E. Seventh St. have no history of lead paint violations, no past closed violations nor current open violations for lead paint.
But for Bornstein and other tenants, those tests aren’t enough. She said an independent firm has already agreed to test both buildings for lead, asbestos and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons — which may cause cancer, according to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry — as long as they come up with the money.
Until then, Bornstein refuses to move back to her apartment.
“My level is at a point where I won’t move back until these tests are conducted. It’s my health and my safety that’s on the line,” she said.