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WorkSafe BC Investigates Strong Odors Coming from Renovation Work at a Popular Public Pool

EMSL Analytical provides industrial hygiene and environmental testing services to identify mystery odors and a wide range of potentially dangerous chemicals in the workplace.

Vancouver, BC – WEBWIRE

Canada’s News 1130 recently published an article about an investigation by WorkSafe BC into renovation work taking place at a large public pool in Vancouver. According to the report, pool resurfacing work took place with inadequate ventilation which caused an objectionable odor for workers or anyone in the general area.

The strong chemical odors were said to be detectable 200 meters away and were due to styrene and methyl ethyl ketone (MEK). Styrene has been listed as ‘reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen’ in the Thirteenth Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program (NTP). It is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that is widely used to make plastics, fiberglass, rubber and latex. It is used to make polystyrene plastics and resins that can be made into foam and rigid plastic products. Styrene is used in the manufacturing of products such as tires, hoses, tanks, carpet backing, coatings, paint and metal cleaners. It is used to make resins for construction materials, boats, tubs and shower stalls. Styrene is also used in paper processing, to make dental fillings, and to make resins for various office products, including some photocopier toners and computer printer cartridges. Cigarette smoke and automobile exhaust also contain styrene.

Methyl ethyl ketone is a volatile liquid that may cause drowsiness and dizziness according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). Inhalation exposure can irritate the nose and throat. The agency reports that at high concentrations, it can harm the nervous system and severe exposure can cause unconsciousness.

“Fortunately, workers were wearing respirators according to the WorkSafe BC report, but others in the area could easily have been exposed to these chemicals in the air,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “To protect workers and the public, EMSL’s network of laboratories throughout Canada and the United States offer industrial hygiene and environmental testing for styrene, MEK and a wide range of other chemicals. EMSL is also a major supplier of respirators and other personal protective equipment to help prevent inhalation and skin absorption hazards.”

EMSL has even sponsored an educational video about styrene and exposure concerns that can be seen at:  

To learn more about this or other occupational, environmental, air quality, health and safety testing services or to access personal protective equipment (PPE), please visit, call (800)220-3675 or email .

About EMSL Canada, Inc.
EMSL Canada is an internationally recognized provider of environmental, indoor air quality and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies. 

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