Fast-pace building practices which don’t leave enough time for concrete slabs to dry are behind a worrying rise in pungent odours and potentially harmful indoor air environments.

With the pressure on to have developments completed and habitable as quickly as possible, it’s becoming increasingly common to find slabs that are not given enough time for the water in the concrete to evaporate or ‘cure’.

As these ‘green slabs’ are appearing more and more across the building industry, so are their even more worrying symptoms.

Sick building syndrome can occur where potentially harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) are released into the indoor air environment because of the reaction between concreting processes and adhesives.

When water is prevented from evaporating from the cement and becomes trapped between the slab and a hard backed, impervious floor covering, the trapped moisture can draw salts from the concrete slab and become alkaline.

When the non-porous flooring materials - like vinyl, glued timber floors or PVC backed carpet - are installed and adhesives are exposed to high PH levels, it often results in a chemical reaction that releases VOCs, damaging the health of the occupants.

The good news is that the trouble is entirely preventable, as long as due consideration is taken during the specification and construction scheduling stages of a project.

A solution to sick building syndrome

One of the biggest hurdles is, as industry tests show, it can take several years for concrete to properly cure.

The best, most cost effective solution would be to use a total package floor covering solution, such as the EcoSoft® carpet tile range available from leading Australian carpet supplier Above Left. The product allows evaporation to occur, enabling green slabs to breathe and cure naturally over time, reducing the likelihood of moisture forming between the green slab and the floor covering. Thus minimising the risk of adhesive failure through alkaline hydrolysis and the release of VOCs – avoiding those nasty, harmful gases.

The EcoSoft® carpet tile is a non-PVC, industry standard carpet tile, made from 80-90 per cent recycled PET (e.g. discarded water bottles) and is around 40 times more permeable than most other carpet tiles on the market, offering superior breathability and compatibility with green slabs.

Additionally, that means the EcoSoft® range are comfortable under foot, offer excellent acoustic benefits, have the maximum possible sustainability classification of ECS4 and are dimensionally stable - all pre-requisites for a high quality carpet tile.

EcoSoft® complies with Indoor Air quality requirements as prescribed by the Carpet Institute of Australia (ECS) and the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) in the USA.

Above Left also provides a Warranty for relative humidity (RH) level up to 95 per cent, providing installation instructions are followed.

For more information, visit Above Left online