Noise reducing windows emit ‘burnt plastic’ odor

The 41st Ward office has received complaints from five area residents who claim that a foul odor emits from windows that were installed in their home as part of a jet noise abatement program that is administered by the city Department of Aviation.

In August, the City Council held a special hearing on the issue at a Southwest Side school.

Alderman Anthony Napolitano, whose ward includes O’Hare International Airport, said that he co-sponsored a resolution authorizing the hearing even though it focused on homes near Midway Airport because it would be only a matter of time before more of his constituents would start reporting the problem.

"I’m thinking this is going to explode," he said.

An aviation department official reportedly testified at the hearing that about 85 South Side homeowners have complained about their windows and that the department has so far agreed to replace the windows at 20 homes. It also was reported that the company which installed the windows went out of business in 2014 and cannot honor warranties.

Napolitano said that the smell has been described as being similar to "burnt plastic" or "burnt electrical wiring."

Napolitano said that some ward residents have been working with the department to get their windows replaced but that they are being asked to sign a waiver so that the city would not be responsible for any additional problems. He said that the waiver is not fair to the homeowners given that the initial problem was not theirs.

The windows are part of the department’s sound insulation program for residential buildings near the city’s two airports.