Surprise Found in Metairie Commercial Inspection
I came across a fantastic surprise on a commercial inspection in a Metairie Dental Office. Pictured are the dental supplies on the counter.
Under the sink, I discovered copper water supply pipes that were black colored. (see pic 2)
Immediately I thought about Chinese Drywall, but this was on the third floor (out of flood level) of a very “commercial type” building that was clearly constructed sometime in the 1960’s or 70’s. Not a likely candidate for contaminated drywall. Then I quickly found a suspicious box of a white powder in the same cabinet. (see pic 3)
Written on the front was Calcium Sulfate (see pic 4), which of course has sulfur compounds that react with and corrode copper.
The sulfur emissions, which have the odor of rotten eggs, cause copper surfaces to turn black and powdery, a chemical process indicative of a reaction with the sulfur compounds. Copper pipes, wiring, and air conditioner coils are adversely affected.
I did not smell any sulfur when I opened the cabinet door. This was a pretty small box, so I thought it would have little to no affect on the health of the office workers. Conversely, high sulfur concentrations in the air are very dangerous. Homeowners have reported a variety of symptoms including respiratory problems such as asthma attacks, chronic coughing and difficulty breathing, as well as chronic headaches and sinus issues from being exposed to these emissions.
I have observed this many times around New Orleans. The dentist (smart enough to attend his own inspection) did not voice any concern over the open box of Calcium Sulfate. Neither did I, so of course I did not recommend that the box be removed or even sealed. But the dentist probably thought I was weird for being so geeked out about finding this small puzzle. It was not a complex scientific discovery, but at least it’s something. After so many years of performing inspections, its always fun to run across something new and exciting. It happens with high frequency.