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Chelsea Hotel Construction Dust Has Lead 26 Times Federal Limit, City Says

By Maya Rajamani | April 14, 2017 10:52am | Updated on April 17, 2017 7:47am
 The Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street.
The Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street.
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CHELSEA — Dust created by ongoing renovations at the Chelsea Hotel has tested positive for lead 26 times the federal environmental standard, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said.

The department halted renovations at the historic West 23rd Street hotel and collected samples at the end of March after receiving a complaint about dust created by unsafe construction work.

Some of the dust that was collected tested positive for lead, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

“We have recently identified dust lead hazards at [the hotel] and we’ve ordered the owners to address the conditions,” she wrote in an email.

The hotel’s owners must “take steps to conduct work safely and contain exposure to dust particles,” she added.

Dust from one of the windowsills was found to have 6,500 micrograms of lead per square foot, well above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's “acceptable standard” of 250 micrograms per square foot for interior windowsills, a test report provided by the Health Department shows.

A set of stairs leading from the sixth to seventh floors of the hotel had dust that contained 280 micrograms of lead per square feet, above the 40 micrograms per square foot standard for floors, the report shows.

Health Department inspectors visited the hotel twice after the initial inspection and didn’t find any “visible signs of dust” in areas where the hotel’s remaining tenants live, so construction has resumed, the spokeswoman said.

"Minimizing exposure to lead in all forms is best," but young children are at the greatest risk of exposure because they're more likely to ingest lead-positive dust while playing, she noted.

A trio of hoteliers, including BD Hotels co-founders Richard Born and Ira Drukier, recently purchased the hotel and are in the process of redeveloping it into condos and hotel space.

Adding to the construction issues, the city’s Department of Buildings recently hit the owners with a series of stop-work orders and a slew of civil penalties.

In December, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development took the owners to housing court after finding they hadn’t corrected violations that should have been remedied following an October 2015 order, an HPD spokeswoman said Wednesday.

A housing court judge in February ordered the owners to correct all of the existing violations at the hotel, with the owners forking over $30,000 in civil penalties, she said.

Nevertheless, there were 149 open HPD violations at the site as of Tuesday, the most recent of which was issued on April 5, she said.

The hotel’s owners didn’t respond to requests for comment Thursday.