What is that Smell?

Jul 11 07:41 2012 Leighanna Cumbie Print This Article

We’ve all been there.  We walk into our office on Monday morning and something doesn’t smell quite right.  You look around thinking maybe you left a muffin in your drawer or a candy bar melted after the power outage, but you find nothing.  Since it’s not that bad and it comes and goes you spray air freshener in your cubical and press on.  But the smell get worse throughout the week and you aren’t the only one smelling it anymore.  What is that smell?  Where is it coming from?  

We’ve all been there.  We walk into our office on Monday morning and something doesn’t smell quite right.  You look around thinking maybe you left a muffin in your drawer or a candy bar melted after the power outage,Guest Posting but you find nothing.  Since it’s not that bad and it comes and goes you spray air freshener in your cubical and press on.  But the smell get worse throughout the week and you aren’t the only one smelling it anymore.  What is that smell?  Where is it coming from? 

Indoor air quality is an important component to keep employees healthy and productive.  Symptoms of deficient air quality can present in many different ways such as fatigue, headaches, difficulty focusing, and soreness of the nose, lungs, throat, and eyes.  These symptoms can be early warning signs for problems that lead to longer lasting health issues.  One indicator of poor air quality or that something un-sanitary is growing in your office building is a foul smell. 

Smell is a strong indicator that something somewhere has gone awry.  Foul odors are also one of the most difficult things to diagnose in a large office environment.  Many times a maintenance manager or a building maintenance company will call an industrial hygiene firm to come out and perform some air tests.  A good industrial hygienist will come out with several pieces of equipment and begin sampling the air.  Typically they will need to take at least one sample in the infected area, one sample outside the infected area, and one sample outdoors. 

These different samples allow them to compare the infected area sample with what is in the air “normally” inside and outside.  Sometimes they take more than one sample in the infected area.  In cases where the mystery smell more resembles a musty odor, then the hygienist might pull up a piece of carpet to see if there is any mold growing underneath.  If they see anything that is suspicious looking on the surface then they should take a “surface sample.”  This sample will give the lab something to analyze besides just spores in the air.

Many factors play a role when it comes to air quality.   Bacteria do produce odors and when there is adequate buildup of certain bacteria then there will be smell.  Identifying why those particular bacteria have become prevalent in any situation is the job for an industrial hygienist.  People often try to clean odors with bleach.  While bleach will kill the surface bacteria, it does not penetrate deep and kill the root cause of the bacteria. 

Indoor air quality is a catalyst for airborne pathogens and should be taken seriously within every office environmentIf you start smelling mystery smells contact an environmental, health and safety firm to perform tests in your office building.  To find a firm near you click here

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About Article Author

Leighanna Cumbie
Leighanna Cumbie

I just moved from Chicago to Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I have two dogs and am a car enthusiast. Safety in today's work environment is a passion of mine.  

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