IAQ Question - When old oil meets new concrete coatings...

By William P Robinson posted 03-16-2021 07:27 PM

I'm investigating an indoor air quality concern raised as a result of an unknown odor that we are unable to identify. The odor is similar to hydraulic oil or a very strong solvent.

Here are the existing conditions and what we have been able to determine:

The room is an old engineering lab used since the 40s with all means of machinery and equipment having passed through over the years. It was completely remodeled in 1993 and all original duct work remained in place. The room is 1,578 SF with 20’ ceilings and is well ventilated with roughly four complete air changes per hour and a dedicated exhaust out of the building. There are no unsealed floor, ceiling or wall penetrations other than the entry and exit doors. The room is under negative pressure and there are no sources outside the space that are contributing to the odor, nor any of the components or chemicals currently in use inside the room.

Three months ago the entire concrete floor was ground and polished to receive new coatings including a moisture barrier and a small amount of two-part epoxy. Only about 185 LF was painted around the perimeter and at the base of pillars in the room as an accent color - the rest was a clear seal. Both products are water based. Odors began to emerge soon after the space was cleared for occupancy once the flooring work cured completely. Odors were not a problem prior to the new product application.

After speaking with vendors and obtaining samples and reviewing SDSs of each product, it is highly unlikely that the odor is coming from the chemicals applied to the polished floor surface. Both products cured properly and any odors from the application process likely dissipated within 72 hours of application.

The odor is not detectable above the supply registers at about 10’ from the floor. Our instruments were unable to detect VOCs or a hazardous environment. We have installed charcoal filtration to help reduce the odor but it has been several weeks and the odor is not dissipating in spite of significant ventilation.

So here's the question:
Could hydraulic oil or solvent odors from the ages trapped over time have been exposed as part of the concrete grinding process, and if so would these same odors be able to permeate the moisture barrier and/or epoxy through moisture vapor transmission or some other way?

If this is not the right question to ask, let me know.

Either way, I'm in dire need of a solution to neutralize, eliminate or encapsulate the odor regardless the source.

SDS information is below:

MyPDFPB.pdf MyPDFPA.pdf sase-spr3-sds2.pdf