Every fall, the Weber Leisure Center gymnasium floor is re-varnished in order to prepare it for heavy use during busy winter months. Because a strong odor lingers for a few days after varnishing, the following precautions are taken annually to reduce the odor:
- The gymnasium is sealed off from the rest of the building to help contain the fumes.
- The HVAC exhaust system in the gymnasium is run 24 hours per day to help remove the fumes from the gym.
- Large ground level exhaust fans are used to blow the fumes from the gymnasium to the exterior of the building.
In September 2017, an independent testing company was hired to conduct a baseline industrial hygiene exposure assessment (testing the chemical fume levels throughout the building). The tests were proactively set up to ensure that patrons and staff are not exposed to chemicals that are harmful and that OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recommended exposure levels are followed. The exposure limits determined by OSHA are intended to ensure that workers are not repeatedly exposed to chemicals (eight hours a day for a working lifetime) that can cause adverse health effects.
The Skokie Park District provided the product’s MSD (Material Safety Data) sheet to the testing company, in order to identify the chemicals in the product, allowing the company to know which chemicals to test for. The report below details the testing methods, areas tested, and sample levels. All areas were tested on two dates: 1) the day the varnish was applied and 2) the day after the gymnasium was reopened.
The only area that reported higher than recommended OSHA levels was inside the actual gymnasium, on the day the product was applied. At the time of the test, the area was sealed off from the public, with patrons prohibited in the area. Only trained and protected workers were allowed in the area.
The test conducted nine days later was within safe levels of exposure. All other adjacent areas tested below OSHA recommended standards on both days of testing. The report also reinforced recommended procedures for the application process, which the park district had already put in to place.
For more information about this story or the report below, please email or call Michelle Tuft at firstname.lastname@example.org (847) 674-1500, ext. 2181.
Weber Gym Industrial Hygiene Exposure Assessment