Healthy Indoors Magazine

HI August 2017

Healthy Indoors Magazine

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MAY'S WAYS— August 2017 20 If someone in your family or where you work complains about a building odor and you don't smell it, it doesn't mean that the person is imagining things. Some people have a sharp- er sense of smell than other people do. In addition, a scientific study has confirmed that women of child-bearing age tend to have a far better sense of smell than men or younger or older women have. In another bathroom, a wicker basket was off-gassing a strong varnish smell that made the whole room reek. The homeowner threw the bas- ket out, and the problem was solved. I looked at one large office building in which workers were complaining about unpleasant odors that seemed to waft over in their direction. Their workspaces were located near the bathrooms. There were spray cans of "air fresheners" in both bathrooms. Each of the bathrooms had an exhaust fan as well as a supply from the heating/ cooling system. In one of the bathrooms, more air was being supplied than exhausted. This raised the air pressure in the room. Air flows from greater pressure to lower pressure, just as water flows from a higher level to a lower level. This bathroom was We frequently receive calls about building odors, which can be irritating and at times, even make people feel sick. It seems pretty obvious that when a basement smells musty, there is most probably mold growth present. And the smell of a dead animal such as a mouse inside a wall cavity is unmistakable and very unpleasant. But mold growth and dead pests aren't the only sources of odors. In this article, I will discuss some unusual, unanticipated odor sources. Bathroom odors One man called me because of a strong odor in his guest bathroom. He was embarrassed to have his friends use the space. He'd had the room scrubbed from top to bottom and the toilet checked to be sure that the toilet seal was intact (otherwise, sewer gas could have leaked into the room). The culprit was the sink overflow that was full of mold and bacteria. He poured a mild bleach solution (one part bleach to ten parts water) down the over- flow, scrubbed the area out with an old toothbrush, rinsed the overflow, and the problem was solved. Some Unusual Sources of Building Odors ©2017 Jeffrey C. May May Indoor Air Investigations LLC We identify the sources of indoor air quality problems through thorough inspections and air and dust sampling. Check out our website for a description of our services, which include phone consultations, site visits, report reviews, and expert-witness work. www.mayindoorair.com Sink overflow with microbial growth May Indoor Air Investigations LLC

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