Laboratory Odors-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Laboratory Odors

Our laboratories contain lots of chemicals and related items that smell.  Some of them smell quite bad.  Sometimes there are accidents or just un-planned releases of these materials.  So what do you do then?  Unfortunately, sometimes, you just don't say anything, leave the area, or hope nobody notices, or maybe expect that the smell will be diluted outside before people get bothered.  Don't do that.  Don't keep that information to yourself.

EH&S pretty much always gets these sorts of calls, where people complain about an odor in their building or office area.  So a lot of people, EH&S and usually Security and FMS, spend a lot of time and trouble scurrying around to try to find the identity of the smell and its location, for the purpose of fixing the problem.  If there is someone who knows up front what is going on but doesn't tell anyone, this time and trouble being spent, not to mention the prolonged discomfort and concern of others in the building, is unnecessary.

Presumably, people are feeling guilty and perhaps foolish for having caused the problem and that is the reason for their silence.  Be assured that we understand that accidents happen and that unplanned reactions or problems occur in the laboratories.  We are much more interested in identifying the problem and correcting it than we are in blaming someone for it.  So, please, if something you are doing (or have done) is affecting others with its odor or some other discomfort, please call 8-8182, the EH&S main office, and report it promptly.   It will save a lot of work by a lot of people, and the problem will be addressed much sooner.