Date: Fri, 20 Nov 2009 16:17:11 -0800
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Lucy Dillman <lucydillman**At_Symbol_Here**COMCAST.NET>
Subject: Re: Latex degradation, low humidity,
Chinese drywall? a bit more information
In-Reply-To: <48A020E1942E024DB0F2A6B68A1312440783A5F1F9**At_Symbol_Here**>

I was using a cleaner called Sporicidin and it gave me some breathing problems.  We finally determined that the layout of the lab created a "dead space" where the air turnover was not as good as in the rest of the room, so the Sporicidin permeated wipes outgassed enough in the garbage can under the hood that it was enough to bother me. 
One thing I learned from working in a sick building (they found that water had run down between the outer wall and the dry wall, creating a happy mold environment, even though no evidence of water leakage was apparent in the work areas) is that there is a very wide range of tolerance to these poisons.  We had everything from someone who seriously almost died of the reaction to the molds to people who had no reaction at all and thus thought the person who was so very ill was a hypochondriac.  The ill person finally quit, and within a few months was recovering.  She was always one of the most happy, positive people at the company, even though she was getting more and more ill, so I think I can rule out psychosomatic illness in her case.  Sick building syndrome can also include neurological and psychological components that might be seen as malcontent or discontented workers: "troublemakers" if you will. 
Numerous complaints were ignored, even when we finally had frank water on the floors, until the floor below us was being remodeled and when they removed some exterior drywall they found it absolutely inundated with mold.  After that, the flat roof underwent extensive repairs, the entire building was enshrouded in visquene and all the walls and windows recaulked and sealed.  After that, symptoms started to abate in the remaining employees.
Fluorescent light exposure will degrade latex gloves, but they also degrade over time even just stored in their boxes.  Good inventory control will help minimize this problem, with a "first in first out approach" and by not ordering huge quantities, even if it is cheaper.  It isn't cheaper if you have to throw out 50 boxes of gloves, or if someone suffers and exposure due to holey gloves.  Being someone who suffers from latex sensitivity (and nitrile glove sensitivity) I would point out that people may be having trouble due to that, too.
I hope this is helpful to you.  You always have good input into these discussions.
Lucy Dillman
----- Original Message -----
From: Debbie M. Decker
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Sent: Friday, November 20, 2009 3:36 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Latex degradation, low humidity, Chinese drywall? a bit more information

Thank you all soooo much for your input and ideas.

I think we can safely rule out Chinese drywall.  This is a one pass air building and there is a tremendous amount of air being hogged out of the building.  It=92s been up and operating for about 5 years or so.  The walls are carefully sealed and painted with an epoxy-type paint so that the walls are easy to clean.  Minimal organic solvents are used - maybe a bit of alcohol or acetone and all of that work is accomplished in a fume hood.  There is no ozone producing equipment in this part of the building - no printers, copiers, fax machines, =93ionizing=94 air cleaners, etc.  That equipment is in the office area and there aren=92t any of these problems there.

But your ideas around chlorine-type cleaning materials and lighting effects have some promise.  We=92re going to be looking into what type of lighting is installed.  We think they use mostly quarternary ammonium-type cleaners but we=92re not completely sure.  We=92ll also ask about pesticides but the air system for the research greenhouses is a separate system and those areas don=92t seem to have these problems.

Again, thank you for your input - great discussion!



From: Debbie

I neglected to include in my previous post that I thought of ozone first of all, since I have had that issue before.  0.02 to 0.03 ppm of ozone was detected in the areas in question.

Thanks for your input, so far.

From: Debbie M. Decker

Please excuse the cross-postings:

I=92m working with a group that works in a secured, containment facility.  The supply air is one pass, the exhaust is HEPA filtered and air change rates are in the 10-15 ACH.  Rubber bands, latex gloves, the gloves on a glove box, rubber stoppers, etc. degrade very quickly in this building - a matter of months.  This causes consternation among my building occupants - =93if latex degrades so quickly, what is this building doing to me?=94

I have done the following:  datalogged temperature, %RH, CO and CO2 twice, at different times of year, for a week.  First set showed extremely low humidity - below 20%rh - all other measurements within customary.  Second round showed %rh in a more normal range - 35-40%rh.  Magnetic fields were at or below background.  No radioactivity was detected.  The building doesn=92t have any weird smells, evidence of mold or water intrusion.  The mechanical system is working as designed, filters in place and without high pressure drop, coils clean, etc., according to my building engineers.

People complain of headaches and stuffy noses, general malaise after working in the building for some period of time.  Someone has suggested Chinese drywall might be a culprit but I don=92t know as it quite fits.

Whaddya think?  All ideas welcome, at this point.




Debbie M. Decker, Campus Chemical Safety Officer
Environmental Health and Safety
University of California, Davis
1 Shields Ave.
Davis, CA  95616
(530)754-7964/(530)752-4527 (FAX)
Co-Conspirator to Make the World A
Better Place -- Visit and join the conspiracy

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