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ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
AIR CLEANER PURIFIER TYPES
AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEM ODORS
AIR POLLUTANTS, COMMON INDOOR
BACKDRAFTING HEATING EQUIPMENT
CARPETING & INDOOR AIR QUALITY
CHEMICAL ODOR SOURCES
COMBUSTION GASES & PARTICLE HAZARDS
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
EMERGENCY RESPONSE, IAQ, GAS, MOLD
FIRE & SMOKE ODOR REMOVAL
GASES, EXPOSURE, TESTING
GAS DETECTION INSTRUMENTS
GAS EXPOSURE LIMITS & STANDARDS
GAS LP & NATURAL GAS SAFETY HAZARDS
HEATING SYSTEM ODORS
MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
OIL HEAT ODORS & NOISES
OZONE MOLD / ODOR TREATMENT WARNINGS
PLUMBING SYSTEM ODORS
SMELL PATCH TEST to FIND ODOR SOURCE
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
VOCs VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
Concrete dust & odor hazard source tracking & remedy: this article describes odor & dust complaints traced to concrete: new pours, sawing or cutting concrete, substances spilled onto and absorbed into concrete, and other concrete or masonry-related odor and dust hazards. We include citations of expert sources on concrete dust exposure hazards, and we discuss how to deal with odors from wet or contaminated or spilled-on concrete floors or walls.
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At ODOR DIAGNOSIS CHECKLIST, PROCEDURE we introduced the concept that while concrete itself is not normally much of an odor source once it has cured, people may observe or complain of "concrete dust" odors in buildings where concrete dust is present, especially when combined with moisture.
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Reports of concrete dust odors are particularly likely near concrete cutting operations - a situation that may present an airborne particle hazard.
Concrete Absorbs Spills, Animal Urine, Odors, Even MCOCs or VOCs
Other "concrete odors" may be traced not to the concrete itself but to substances that have been absorbed into the concrete, such as animal urine,chemical spills, or cleaning products.
For example, leaving a dog or cat shut in a garage or basement where there is an un-sealed concrete floor eventually means you will want to consult ANIMAL or URINE ODOR SOURCE DETECTION and then ANIMAL or URINE ODOR REMOVAL
At VINYL SIDING or WINDOW PLASTIC ODORS we include a case report of an un-sealed concrete floor absorbing odors from nearby outgassing plastic siding & windows, trim, or soffit materials.
Our photo (left) illustrates a clean and seal approach to an old concrete floor in a building now used as a restaurant in Poughkeepsie, New York. Vinyl-asbestos floor tile was removed and the floor was cleaned and sanitized.
In a final step the new owners polished then sealed the concrete, leaving old stains in place as a point of interest that shows the building history.
The general approach to curing an odor traced to a spill on raw or un-sealed concrete involves these steps:
Do we always need to seal the concrete slab or wall? No.
In contrast with the re-sealed slab-on-grade concrete floor shown above, our wet basement cleanup and repair photograph at below left was a different matter. A crack in the building's foundation wall (center of the distant wall in my photo) leaked roof spillage into the space beneath a basement floor that had been installed on sleepers (2x6 lumber glued to the floor slab).
No one noticed that water was beneath the floor until more severe weather conditions combined with snow and ice outdoors put so much water below the floor that it appeared up through the subfloor and onto the carpet-over-plywood that had been installed in this finished basement.
The prolonged presence of water in the sub-floor space led to a flooded basement complaint requiring demolition and cleaning.
To minimize the chances of a costly mold contamination problem (that would have required more extensive demolition) the owners cut up and threw outside the soaking wall-to-wall carpeting and removed other wet items from the basement immediately on discovery of the water problem.
Using a shop vac water was removed, then the subfloor was also removed to give access to the space below.
Questions arose including: should we paint a sealant on the concrete floor surface before restoring the new floor? Is there a problematic mold reservoir on the under-side of the wood sleepers and does that need to be addressed?
We pulled up a few sample sleepers in the floor area that had suffered most protracted leakage (these were the most-stained boards) and saw no mold on the underside (glue had sealed the wood surfaces). When the floor was cleaned, dried there were no odor complaints and there was no visible mold. (We also made use of some air and surface tests. No sealant was applied to the concrete. A new floor was installed.
Concrete dust odor complaints: sources, causes, mitigation
Common Sources of "Concrete Odors" found Indoors [Opinion]
Reader question: I visited a school in Boston today. In some parts of the building there was an irritating smell that seemed like cement dust. I was told the smell has been there for at least a year. I had been to the building a few times about three years ago and I noticed no smell then.
Photo at left: fresh concrete being placed at a New York construction project. There may be a "wet concrete smell" associated with new pours but that is not genrally associated with IAQ or odor complaints - Ed.
The smell was exactly like what I remembered coming from a limestone rock I got in central Florida when I washed it. Tonight I smelled the rock when it was dry and put my nose right up to it and no smell. Then I got it wet and it had that same very strong irritating dust smell as the school. So at least with with my limestone rock it is washing and getting it wet that causes it. So it is not like dust you can wash away.
I think a woman at the school said they had done a lot of cleaning. Maybe getting cement/concrete wet? I remember this smell, but never as strong, from when I was a kid. Public schools or maybe my father's university office building built probably in the late 1960s earl 70s with exposed concrete.
The smell at the school really bothered me and one of the staff members was herself bothered by it enough to open a window. I am pretty sure it is not good for you especially if you have asthma. Any ideas you have on this will really be appreciated. - K.H. 9/17/2013
The smell seems so much like dust even though it is couterintuitive that it is caused by wetting my limestone rock. So maybe it actually is dust that is somehow chased out of the rock by wetting. Maybe the folks at the school keep mopping to clean it but that creates it. I remember at the school today the smell made me remember the that dusty smell from right after a school janitor would mop the hall when I was a kid. - K.H. 9/17/2013
Take a look at SMELL PATCH TEST to FIND ODOR SOURCE and think about doing a couple of simple tests using that procedure. Kenneth, I've thought about this further and have the same impression as you.
. The initial rainfall actually increases the level of airborne dust - a subject that I am studying. AIR QUALITY STUDY San Miguel de Allende (just in its infancy, I need more samples).
Please keep me posted on how things progress, and send along photos of the area you are discussing, or additional details if they occur to you, such as the relationship between the odor detection and time of day, weather, building cleaning operations, operation of HVAC systems etc. Such added details can help us understand what's happening and often permit some useful further comment. What we both learn may help me help someone else.
What are the Harmful Constituents in Concrete Dust
Concrete Dust & Odor References Describe Concrete Expozure Hazards & Silicosis
Some useful references about concrete are below. Some of these address the hazards of concrete dust or its control, others, odor sources.
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