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Library manager reports on odd odor in new building

By Jennifer Gillis
Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2010

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Pittsboro, NC - We are providing these answers to clarify issues related to odors that some people have reported in the Chatham Community Library.

Staff and patrons first reported an unpleasant "new smell" odor not long after the library opened. To some people, the odor appears to be a bit stronger when the air conditioning or heat system is not running and when less air is circulating. Some people do not notice an odor at all, while others seem very sensitive to it.

Chatham County asked an air quality expert to investigate the issue to make sure there was no safety issue involved. Herrick Engineering Inc. in Cary ran a series of air quality tests during the weekend of October 23-24.

The test results revealed very minute levels of several airborne chemicals. None are anywhere near being at hazardous level, as compared to OSHA's Permissible Exposure Limits. The highest level of any airborne chemicals was pentane, which was at a level of 0.36 ppm (parts per million) in the library.. OSHA's permissible exposure limit is 600 ppm.

In a letter dated Nov. 5, 2010, Mr. Herrick stated that it is still appropriate to have normal use of the Library since the odor is not creating any hazard to those in the building.

Herrick Engineering continues to perform other testing to determine the source of the odor, which could be coming from new furniture items; however, other sources are possible. We We will provide an update if the source is identified and addressed.

Jennifer Gillis is the branch Manager at the Chatham Community Library. (919) 545-8083

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