I’ve had some odor complaints when occupying a question desk that had various answers. An uncapped sewer outlet was one of the most found sources of a strange odor. Many times it had no really definitive type of odor, but a musty odor was the most frequent. The sources ranged from a dry floor drain – sometimes hidden – to an old urinal drain in the wall that had been walled off but had no cap. I would check for something like that first. The drain traps must be filled with water, or if not used, mineral oil that will not evaporate.
The rotten orange has also been one of my most frustrating finds. During my Cal/OSHA days a bank had a complaint of runny eyes and a sharp but evanescent odor. I searched high and low for hours and finally found a very rotten orange in a desk drawer. It was so green it was overlooked in the first round of looking because it looked like a green sponge.
The odor identified may not be the actual one found. Mimics are found and each person may have a different take on what it smells like.
Good luck on finding it,
Ken Smith (former CIH in retirement)
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Timothy Hauser
Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 1:35 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] odor question
I’ve had chemical odor complaints localized in office areas at several locations. The occupant would insist that it was caused by some chemical contamination or air flow issue from lab areas… Upon investigation it was caused by uncapped marker pens and once even by a moldy orange!
Timothy M. Hauser, CHMM
Manager, Environmental, Health & Safety
2800 Woods Hollow Road, Madison WI 53711 USA
Timothy.Hauser**At_Symbol_Here**promega.com | Direct (608) 298-4807 | Cell: (262) 844-1665 | Fax: (608) 277-2677
may sound strange, but some of the men's urinal deodorant blocks have similar
We are investigating an Indoor Air Quality issue in an infrequently used faculty office which is full of books, papers, a computer server, etc. The odor is mothballs, and we cannot locate the source. (Believe me, we've been trying!) We've done a lot of work already, investigating, ruling things out, etc. My question to this list is:
Has anyone had an odor issue where a mothball odor was caused by something other than mothballs?
I am aware that the chemical which causes the distinctive odor in mothballs is either naphthalene (older products) or 1,4-Dichlorobenzene (newer products). This faculty member is not doing any chemistry but rather investigates materials and their mechanical properties.
All thoughts are appreciated.
Daniel C. Herrick
EHS Coordinator, MIT
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Laboratory for Manufacturing & Productivity (LMP)
Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE)
Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 3-056
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
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