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Evaluating a persistent nuisance odor in an office building.
J Occup Environ Hyg 2012 Jan; 9(1):D1-D6
The persistent chemical odor in the office is likely associated with airborne VOCs, specifically aliphatic oxycompounds (possibly alcohols), released from the carpet adhesive and/or the carpet backing. We reached this conclusion considering that these VOCs were found in air samples collected from carpeted areas of the office (the area with the persistent odor) and from headspace analyses obtained from two bulk carpet samples from the office. These same VOCs were not detected in air samples collected from two nearby businesses that were not carpeted and did not have any odor complaints. The office was not properly ventilated, and this could have contributed to the intensity and persistence of the odor. Although these VOC exposures were not quantified, we estimate that they were below recommended occupational exposure levels because of the low response obtained from the TD technique used to identify them. VOCs even at low concentrations can be a nuisance odor to some individuals. Low levels of formaldehyde were also found in the office and in the two adjacent businesses and may be contributing to office employees' irritation symptoms. Eye, nose, throat, and respiratory irritation as well as nausea and headache are consistent with irritation due to VOC and formaldehyde exposure. However, these symptoms are also common to the general population and cannot be directly linked to specific work exposures.
Respiratory-irritants; Humans; Men; Women; Vapors; Indoor-environmental-quality; Air-quality; Pulmonary-function; Pulmonary-system; Ventilation; Office-equipment; Office-furniture; Office-workers; Odor-threshold; Odors; Indoor-air-pollution; Indoor-environmental-quality; Organic-compounds; Organic-vapors; Oxides; Dioxides; Volatiles; Temperature-effects; Temperature-measurement; Relative-humidity; Air-quality-measurement; Air-sampling; Sulfides; Formaldehydes; Paints; Adhesives; Water-analysis; Ventilation-systems; Heating-systems; Air-conditioning-equipment; Air-flow; Air-monitoring; Outdoors; Alcohols; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-levels; Exposure-limits; Alkalis; Health-surveys; Author Keywords: HETA 2011-0004-3128
Diana Ceballos, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Parkway, MS R-11, Cincinnati, OH 45226
630-08-0; 7783-06-4; 124-38-9; 50-00-0
Issue of Publication
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Page last reviewed: May 5, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division