During the construction phase of the Beijing Olympics local development was booming far above levels seen today. To increase the production rates of construction sites the ingredients used in the concrete production where modified to speed up the setting process. To do this urea-based anti freeze was added to the concrete in large quantities. While the addition of the urea-based anti freeze enable the concrete to harden and set in a much shorter time span the long term repercussions of this chemical are far more detrimental. Once hardened the concrete begins to release gaseous ammonia, this process is amplified dependant on temperature, when in a hot climate the process is accelerated and more ammonia is released.
A study conducted in 2006 in regards to the effects of human exposure to ammonia released from concrete walls shows that the release of ammonia will continue to occur for over 10 years after the manufacture of the concrete. Ventilation in these spaces is key to reducing the concentration of the ammonia and thus reducing the potential for human harm. Typical symptoms of exposure to ammonia gas include headaches, burns, and even permanent damage to the eyes and lungs.
It is highly recommended that if you live or work in a building constructed in or around this time you investigate the ammonia levels found in your environment to ensure that any potential risk is minimised.
Environment Assured is fully equipped to investigate any suspected ammonia or indoor environmental concern you or your family may have. Feel free to contact us to discuss any environmental concerns.
Bai Z., Dong Y., Wang Z., Zhu T.(2006) Emission of ammonia from indoor concrete wall and assessment of human exposure, Environment International 32 (4), 303-311