Asked on Jul 29, 2013

Carpet glue!

Heather D
by Heather D
Hi everyone,
My new office at work was recently carpeted and painted. It looks nice, but it smells horrific! The carpet glue smell is pungent and makes me feel nauseous. I had no choice but to move into the office on schedule, so the smell is something I'm trying to deal with. The problem is... I cannot open a window. I work in a historic building, and the window does not open. I do have the a/c on and a fan blowing to try and air it out as best as I can.
Does anyone have any suggestions to help remove the sickening carpet glue smell in a large room without windows?
  11 answers
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jul 29, 2013
    Bummer...This is one reason a lot of my clients go with pre-finished wood flooring or Tile. Off gassing is a problem with many modern products. Unfortunate there are not too many options. The best may be working with an ozone system, I'll tag @Woodbridge Environmental he is our expert with ozone.
  • Heather D Heather D on Jul 29, 2013
    Thanks, Kimberly! I'll look into the plant idea. We don't have any windows, so there's zero sunlight. I'd have to find something that could grow without sunlight, if that's even possible!
  • First off there are regulations regarding fresh air supplies in office buildings. If windows do not naturally open, then the owner of the building needs to supply fresh air into the rooms. This is code. Off gassing of carpet is a big issue. Its not just the glues that are making things smell, its the plastics in the carpets as well as the dyes used to color it. Ideally they should have opened up the carpet in the store and have it air out a few days before installing it. We always suggest this to our clients who are doing renovations. If the carpet company is not willing to do this, I tell them to shop somewhere else. Ozone may help, but its effectiveness is limited so I do not think that would be the correct path to go on. Not sure what kind of office environment your in, but I assume your not the only one effected by this odor. It is unsafe to be exposed to this. These odors are carcinogens and should not be taken lightly. I strongly suggest that you speak to your manager and inform them that they must remove the odors to make it safe. While plants will help, they will not solve this issue for several weeks. Do not bother with sprays or other chemicals that mask the odor or claim it will make it go away. It will not. Until the carpet fibers and the adhesive they used has dried and out gassed you will continue to have this problem for several weeks to come. The only correct way to remove this is to air it out. And that should be supplied by building code. A few years back we had an office building that was suffering. The clients thought it was the fact that they were next to a major highway that was causing their smells and ill health. We did what is called a Suma Can test. This is a stainless bottle that is put under a high vacuum at the lab. We place this can in the offending areas and tap into it with a special regulator that allows the room air to enter and fill the can over several hours. We decided to pick the 8 hr fill time to allow us to bring into the can any odors that would normally occur over a period of a work day. When we got the results back, it turned out that there were two issues. One being they much like you were in an office that had fixed windows and inside rooms. They had fresh air supply attached to the AC system called economizers which introduce outside air as the heat and AC system worked. But we found these to be turned off by the building owner as they did not want to heat and or cool outside air that was being introduced into the building. This in turn allowed CO to build up in the structure. This in turn made people tired faster during the day. But the surprising issue was toner dust from the Lazar printers that was the offending issue. Had they kept the fresh air coming into the building they would not have had this issue. But they felt that the air from the highway was the issue making people sick which it was not. The only issue that the highway caused was the need to have new filters changed out twice a month to keep the pollutants out of the fresh air supply. Once they had that schedule figured out when to change them, the issues went away.
  • Heather D Heather D on Jul 30, 2013
    Thank you for taking the time to address my issue, @Woodbridge Environmental ! I appreciate it. I'm sort of stuck with the window issue. I work in an old Courthouse, deemed historic and sacred, so a lot of the normal rules don't apply. And if they do, well my department manager's hands are tied, as our elected officials make the decisions, and apparently air quality isn't a high priority. I'm at basement level, and the one window I do have is partially taken up by an a/c unit, while the top half is sealed shut. There just isn't any way to get it open. I do have my double doors open into the hallway, and the entry way into the courthouse is open, so a little fresh air from outside may eventually get to me. My boss moved too quickly on this office move. We had months to move, and I wanted to give our carpet time to air out before we moved the rest of the office down, but he didn't see it that way, and moved us anyway. So now I'm kinda stuck! What about an ionizer? Or one of those Himalayan salt lamps that I see?
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jul 30, 2013
    Time to look for new job...with a boss that actually cares about his people? I have recently done some work in a condo unit in Denver, a few months ago they replaced the old VCT tile in the basement lobby with some new vinyl tile. Its been over two months now and the stink of that plastic is still mind blowing to me. Fortunately no one has to "live" in that space but mere pass through it.
  • Heather D Heather D on Jul 30, 2013
    That's one thing about working for the gov't... they don't exactly care about the people a whole lot. =) I love this job, so I won't be leaving it, but if it comes down to it, I'll wear a mask or something! Thank you everyone for the suggestions.
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jul 30, 2013
    Get a photo of you working in a "hazmat suit" and have is posted with the local news. Just watch the sparks fly after that. You could headline it. "City employees forced to work in Toxic Environment"
  • Heather simply bring up the subject with the local health officer and inform him if you get ill from the fumes, that you and your cohorts will hold them responsible. Because it is a county property or even deemed historic, they must by law provide fresh air based upon the occupancy of the building. They can do this and if they do not want to, I would seek out the advice of your DR and a local attorney to draw up a letter of demand. An ionizer is the same as a ozone machine. Not going to remove the chemicals that you smell. Its not the odor that is the issue, it is what is causing this odor in the first place. I know its hard, you do not want to cause issues for fear of your job, but your health is much more valuable and if they did discharge you over it, you would have grounds for an unlawful discharge. Keep us posted on how you make out.
  • Diana Deiley Diana Deiley on Mar 27, 2016
    Would like to know how your problem was resolved. There are laws to protect you.
  • Maxine Rebstock Nasset Maxine Rebstock Nasset on Oct 13, 2019

    I've left my doors open for three weeks now and still cant stand the smell of the bnb lue, I thought the glue was illegal, I'm greatfu it's in my patio room and not my house, I feel like I dont want to pay them the full amount of money, does anyone know if there is a legal recoursr