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Results of measurements of volatile organic compounds (VOC) in dwellings of the district Zuilen in the city of Utrecht

Resultaten metingen vluchtige organische verbindingen in een aantal woningen in de wijk Zuilen te Utrecht

Synopsis

In December 1993 and in January 1994, serious odour complaints were reported in the residential area Zuilen in the city of Utrecht. A long standing soil pollution with gasoline, combined with exceptionally high ground water levels was implied. This caused the gasoline to enter the sewerage system through defective sealings, causing odour complaints in and outside the polluted area. In addition the high ground water level affected the crawling spaces in several of the houses built over the polluted site, also influencing indoor air quality. It was discovered that similar complaints had been reported in previous years. To assess the actual exposure of the occupants to VOC, the RIVM carried out measurements in several of the dwellings. It was found that in most of the houses, there was a distinct increase in the concentrations of VOC as compared to normal. This increase was associated with odour annoyance and health complaints, such as irritation of the eyes, headache and loss of appetite. On the basis of these measurements the Municipal Health Service of Utrecht concluded that the extra exposure was unacceptable, although, taking into account the periodicity of the complaints (supposedly strongly related to the groundwater level) and the concentrations found, irreversible health effects were highly unlikely. The emergency measures , administered by the department of Physical Planning of the city of Utrecht, seemed highly effective to prevent gasoline from entering the sewerage system, but less effective to prevent pollution of the crawling spaces. It seemed useful to recommend control measurements, even in the light of complete sanitation by the end of this year.
 

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