Odor Concerns

Odor Concerns

If there is sudden-onset irritation that affects a number of people, or an odor that you believe represents an IMMEDIATE health or safety threat, call the YSU Police 911.

If you notice an unusual odor in the work area, we recommend the following actions:

  • If you smell natural gas, contact Facilities at extension 3239 to check for leaks.
  • If the odor is present only in a single room, it is most likely caused by something in that room, such as rotten food or something in the trash. Look around in the room to see if you can determine the cause. Dry sink traps are notorious for producing sulfur-like odors. If you have a sink or floor drain that is not frequently used, pour some water into it to fill up the trap and block odors from the sewer line.
  • If the odor is a localized odor that seems sulfur-like but you cannot find a dry trap (see previous bullet), call Facilities and ask to have a plumber check for a hidden drain or uncapped pipe.
  • For more widespread odors, look around your work area for any out-of-the-ordinary activities, such as painting, construction, housekeeping or grounds-keeping work. If the odor appears to be related to these activities, occupants’ concerns about the odor may be alleviated just by knowing what is causing the odor. If you are not able to determine the cause of the odor yourself, contact Facilities. 
  • Diesel odors are usually transient and due to diesel-fueled equipment in use or trucks idling near air intakes, allowing the odors to come inside through the HVAC system. In this case, ask the drivers/operators to move away from the air intakes or turn off the diesel-powered engine.
  • YSU is a non-smoking campus and cigarette smoke should not be an issue.
  • For recurring odors with no apparent source, keep a record of the days and times that you notice the odor. This may help you identify a pattern and thereby recognize the cause of the odor
    • Do NOT store perishable food in desks or on shelves. Store perishables in a refrigerator.
    • Periodically clean out refrigerators so that items do not remain long past their expiration date.
    • Dispose of garbage in appropriate trash receptacles in a timely manner. If your trash receptacles are not being emptied regularly, notify appropriate housekeeping staff.
    • Monitor the microwave when popping popcorn to avoid burning the popcorn if left unattended.
    • Avoid use of deodorizers and air fresheners. Many complaints of unpleasant odors result from the deodorizer/fragrance used by a well-meaning employee trying to mask another unpleasant odor. Even worse than the odor, these products can cause irritation.
  • ​Things employees can do to prevent unpleasant odors:

For more information about chemicals and odors related to indoor air quality, see the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s page on the topic.

If none of the above are applicable, ease contact EOHS at extension 3700 for an investigation.