Environmental Quality Assignment
Professor Pam Haise
By Kelsey Sanderson and Jen Buckell
Topic – Off Gassing
Off Gassing - Off gassing is the evaporation of volatile chemicals in non-metallic
materials at normal atmospheric pressure.
VOC - volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are quot;compounds that vaporize (become a gas)
at room temperature.quot; This process is referred to as quot;off-gassingquot;.
Major sources of Volatile Organic Compounds in the home to watch out for:
Household products like hair spray, perfume, room deodorizer
Appliances and electronics such as copiers, printers, computers
Structural building components such as blown foam insulation, wall coverings
Major sources of VOC’s in the home to watch out for
• Pesticides used for agriculture have been proven to have very
harmful effects on health, sometimes causing illness, cancer and
death to humans
• They are a leading cause of poisonings here in Canada and have
been estimated to account for thousands deaths each year globally.
• Not only is pesticide use harmful to humans through off gassing
and exposure, it is extremely harmful to the environment causing
run off into our water supply and killing animals, which are crucial to
the function of the food chain.
• Children are exposed to potentially carcinogenic pesticides from
use in homes, schools, other buildings, lawns and gardens, through
food and contaminated drinking water, from agricultural application
drift, over spray, or off-gassing, and from carry-home exposures of
parents occupationally exposed to pesticides
•Off gassing occurs with many products used to build industrial
warehouses and production factories.
•Factories then produce many items and products that off gas as
•This creates a cycle of off gassing
•Using reduced VOC products, building materials and chemicals can
decrease the negative impact on both humans and the
environment, but these organic, natural and reduced VOC products
are not as common and are more expensive then products, which do
•These products include: bamboo flooring, cork flooring, paint
(releases no VOC’s), floor finishing and stains (non toxic, low
VOC), Dura foam sealer (No VOC’s, non ozone depleting formula)
These products could reduce large amounts of hazardous off gassing
and “sick building syndrome”, as well provide a safer and
healthier environment for all occupants and users.
Sick Building Syndrome
Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) or
Building-related Illness may be more
common than you think. It's a modern
day disease of our airtight energy
efficient homes and the stagnant
chemical or biological pollutant filled
air that may consequently accumulate
indoors. Sick Building Syndrome
started to become a problem in the early
1970's when increasing numbers of
people began reporting allergic-like
reactions and headaches from
unspecified causes. SBS symptoms
result from build up of vapors and
particles from off gassing and
breakdown of these products in tightly
sealed buildings, which are poor in
Social and Cultural
• Off gassing is a part of everyday life.
• We are at times extremely exposed to off gassing without even
realizing it. For example:
• When we are in our cars, we are being exposed to many
chemicals, from our seats, air freshener, glues, plastics and
metals that comprise our vehicle.
• At work not only products such as; whiteout, glue, markers
and chalk off gas, but our desks and surroundings in the whole
building may be off gassing.
• At home products for cleaning, insulation, flooring and
furniture all create the hazard of off gassing.
• In a society where we are constantly trying to get more for
less, we are putting our health and environment in danger.
Products sold in bulk such as paint primer, cleaner, building
materials and adhesives all can produce a large amount of off
gas when left to sit until further use.
Off Gassing in Other Countries
The United States is using technology such as; spray foam
insulation, ThermaPureHeat, and indoor air quality testing to reduce off
• Company’s such as AM Construction located in the United States specialize in, Foam
spray insulation: foam that insulates walls, crawl
spaces, roofs, attics, basements, wineries and foundations. It is environmentally friendly
because it does not contain ozone depleting chemicals, formaldehyde or asbestos. Toxic
substances are not emitted based on current off-gassing tests.
• ThermaPureHeat offers the following service to decrease the effects of off gassing due
to formaldehyde. The ThermaPureHeat® process can be used to accelerate the process of
off gassing. Our technique for off gassing formaldehyde greatly reduces formaldehyde in
• Company’s like NTA, Inc. provide air quality testing services which, “not only ensure
the integrity of your test, but they also help solve any deficiencies identified by the test.
They also provide precise documentation of results and methodologies in an easy-to-
understand format. all businesses should consider air testing on a regular to annual basis
to ensure they are providing a safe working environment for there employees, As well home
testing will also help ensure a safe and healthy environment for your family and friends.
Off Gassing in Other Countries
Off gassing is not effected by culture. All cultures use products that
produce off gassing and cause harm to the environment. Although
some highly populated countries such as China produce more off gas
because they are manufacturing and using more products that cause
Off gassing effects agriculture in other countries, just as much as it
does in Canada. Pesticide use may be greater or less in some countries
due to laws and regulations. However in countries with little or no
laws on pesticides the effects of off gassing will be greater. Larger
populations, higher insect infestation problems and increased food
supply and demand all have an impact on the amount of off gassing
Effects Off gassing is effecting the air we
breath, indoors and outdoors. Making it
harder to breath while doing recreational
activities, this can be very discouraging to
participants. The participant’s vulnerability
increases significantly through the frequency
of exposure to a particular threat, and the
intensity of effort exerted in that degraded
Recreation facility’s may rely on products for their pools, gym’s, outdoor areas and indoor
skating rinks, which all create a large amount of off gas. The following gives a brief description
of these hazards in relation to their use in areas of a recreation facility.
• Ice arena air pollution. Indoor air has been shown to contain harmful substances in ice arenas.
The problem stems from the machines used for resurfacing, which produce toxic
gases, primarily carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.
• Indoor swimming pools. Health risks have been found to result from both air quality and water
quality. The most commonly identified risk is posed by gas chlorinators, which are used for
• Sports fields and parks use pesticides and herbicides , which can cause negative effects on
humans range from allergic reactions and respiratory ailments to
nausea, numbness, paralysis, birth defects and even death.
Prevention of off gassing is one way we can reduce the amount produced and the effects
it has on our health and environment. The following are some suggestions, which can and
should be used by individuals, businesses and industries to prevent off gassing in current
everyday life and the future.
•Greener cleaning products.
•Reduced VOC paint and household renovation items.
•Using little or no pesticides
•Making sure your home and office has a clean air
filtration system or source.
•Regular air quality testing.
•Do not buy chemical products in bulk, if they are not
going to be used immediately.
•Products like gas, varnish, stains, paints and other open
and unused chemicals can cause a large amount of off
gassing, and should not be brought indoors.
•Dispose of unused and old chemicals by bringing them to
a Household Hazardous Waste Depots
•Participate in recreation activities with reduced off
gassing such as; salt water pools, outdoor sports on
pesticide free fields, outdoor skating rinks.
Although it may seem impossible to avoid off gassing, we can all make
changes to reduce the amount produced and the effects it has on our health
and environment. By following the prevention tips and choosing to go green
with cleaning and building products we can begin the change. Although this
threat may not seem critical to some, it truly is a problem that contributes to
our already degrading environment and growing pollution levels. If we have
the opportunity to reduce our footprint and green house gasses, we should
take advantage. Our planet and future health relies on the changes we make
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