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Sewer Gas & Exposure Concerns

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Published on Mar 31, 2016

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, sewer gas is a complex mixture of toxic and nontoxic gases that can be present at varying levels depending upon the source. It is formed during the decay of household and industrial waste. Highly toxic components of sewer gas include hydrogen sulfide and ammonia. Sewer gas also contains methane, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxides. The agency also reports that chlorine bleaches, industrial solvents and gasoline are frequently present in municipal and privately owned sewage treatment systems.

Sewer gas is a concern due to its unpleasant odor, health effects associated with exposure and breathing toxic gases, asphyxiation concerns, and the potential for creating fire or explosion hazards. Its presence can also lower property values. Sewer gas can enter a home or building through a floor drain, from a leaking or blocked plumbing roof vent, or (if the gases are in the soil adjacent to the building) through cracks in the foundation.

To help prevent exposure to sewer gas, flush floor and sink drains and other plumbing fixtures with water to prevent the traps in the pipes to the sewer from drying out and occasionally check the roof plumbing vents for any signs of blockage (caused by debris such as leaves or bird nests). Also check that vents are not located too closely to air intakes or windows used for ventilation. Hiring a qualified professional to check for cracks in vent and drain pipes and to ensure the plumbing was built to code can be helpful.

People who suspect they may be exposed to sewer gas can also turn to indoor environmental professionals who offer testing for the airborne pollutants associated with sewer gas and can test the structure for negative air pressure that could be a contributing to the problem.

These are just a few things to know about sewer gas and how to keep it from impacting the indoor environment. To learn more about this or other property, indoor air quality, health and safety, occupational or environmental issues, please visit the websites shown below.

Clark Seif Clark http://www.csceng.com
EMSL Analytical, Inc. http://www.emsl.com
LA Testing http://www.latesting.com
Zimmetry Environmental http://www.zimmetry.com
Healthy Indoors Magazine http://www.iaq.net
Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters http://HudsonDouglasPublicAdjusters.com
VOETS - Verification, Operations and Environmental Testing Services, LLC http://www.voetsnyc.com

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