Gas Infiltration Questions

The infiltration of gasoline vapours into my house is happening even when I have all the doors and windows closed.

How is the gas vapour getting INTO my house ?

There are storm windows on most of the windows – mostly vintage aluminum triple track ones with screens, but I have a couple of antique wood ones, too.

The doors on the house are the original wood doors, with the exception of the door on the back porch, with the vintage aluminum storm door. Oh, and the wood storm door on the kitchen is a replacement, that has a tempered glass insert.

I have door sweeps on all the exterior doors, except the back porch. I also have a door sweep on the door that leads to the back porch from the kitchen, and both foyer doors. Both foyer doors are original to the house and fit properly in their jambs.

I have weather stripping on the kitchen door and the front door.

The vintage aluminum storm windows are attached with screws and a horrid amount of caulk. This led to irreparable damage on several window sills as there wasn’t any place for condensation to go but down. The rotten window sills have been replaced.

I had a blower test done before I had the new furnace installed, then again after so I could qualify for the rebate. It showed a few places where there was some air leakage around a few windows, even the ones with glued on storm windows. I replaced the broken basement window, sealed up the terrible powder room fan vent hole and caulked along the baseboards on exterior walls.

There are no obvious gaping holes on my house. There’s a little missing mortar here and there, minor.

The front door is slightly smaller than the jamb. Any door has to be or it will not open or close properly. London is very humid so a wood door in a wood jamb that fits tightly in the winter might not close at all in summer. A door is usually about 1/4″ (7mm) narrower in with than the opening, and about 1/2″ shorter..

https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/door/door-repair/how-to-fit-a-new-door-into-an-old-opening/

The sash windows have to be slightly smaller so they can open and close as well. There is no significant rot on any of the wood sash window frames, and they are all still seated properly. A couple of panes have small cracks but the glass is not loose or missing. I have replaced most of the damaged glazing putty on the ground floor windows. I have curtains or blinds on most of my windows which help with privacy and retaining heat.

Houses that are sealed too tightly have indoor air quality problems.

Depending on the wind speed and direction a room might be cozy or drafty.

Gasoline vapours are entering my house because they are vapours. They are forced in and through minute openings around the doors and windows by the wind direction. This is not an error or deficit in my house’s construction.

Gasoline vapours are entering my house because of the vents made for vapour release, from the underground storage tank, which are in a dangerous and inappropriate location.

I could remove all my original windows and doors and replace them with inferior modern garbage doors and windows. Maybe even frames and jambs, too. I would still suffer from the infiltration of gasoline vapours because the vent is situated too close to any doors and windows, in violation of TSSA’s own guidelines.

Perhaps if my house was a windowless extra thick-walled industrial building, situated as far back as possible on the lot, with the front door situated on the south wall, also near the back of the lot, then the gasoline vapours would not enter the building ?

 

Mutants ?

 

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A couple of years ago I got some free morning glory seeds from the seed exchange at the library. They did okay on the chain link fence by the used car lot’s washrooms. I saved those seeds and planted them the following year.

I saved all the seeds in one jar, and planted them as they fell into my hand. The first year’s morning glories were a mix of common light purple and regular dark purple ones.

The first morning glories that bloomed in 2018 were closest to the house. They were mostly white with pale pink centres, a few with purple fragments or streaks. The rest of the vines further away from the house were all regular purple and dark purple ones. I wondered how the white and streaked seeds were only in this location, as they weren’t mixed in anywhere else ? How did they self select from a random planting ?

It took months before it occured to me that those white morning glories might have been affected by the gas fumes. The plants right below the vent pipes were normal. The fumes wouldn’t sink like a stone unless the air was perfectly still – they would travel a short distance as they dissipated and sunk…

When I collected the seeds in the fall the white and streaked plants were different. Normally the seed pods have about 4-6 seeds, from every flower. The white ones only had a single seed, occasionally a second stunted seed.

I’m not a plant biologist, but this seems odd, and significant. The only seeds I planted the second year were from the first year’s plants ?

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Effects of Gasoline Inhalation on Humans

Oh sure, car companies are making their product greener than ever before. Yeah, gas companies are making their product burn more “cleanly” whatever that means.

Here’s some light reading:

https://journals.lww.com/epidem/Fulltext/2004/07000/Chronic_Low_Level_Exposure_to_Gasoline_Vapors_and.510.aspx

(Underground gas tank storage leak exposes many residents to low level benzene in the gasoline for years. Elevated leukemia rates ensue.)

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/8306786/Living-with-100-yards-of-petrol-stations-damages-your-health-study-claims.html

(2011 Spanish study recommends that residences should be a minimum 50 yards away from the closest gas station, after measuring pollutants particularly benzene. 100 yards distance is recommended for schools, health care facilities, etc.)

https://phys.org/news/2018-10-gas-stations-vent-toxic-fumes.html

(Columbia University study discovers that the airborne losses from gas fumes via vents are TEN TIMES as much as originally believed. More benzene is released from venting than previously thought. You know, that carcinogen.”The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s Minimal Risk Level (MRL) for benzene exposure over a period between two weeks and a year was exceeded within 7 or 8 meters of the two gas stations.”)

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-10-small-gas-stations-significant-health.html

(Small spills at gas stations while refuelling create a cumulative risk, including benzene contamination of soil and groundwater.)

Click to access tp72.pdf

(1995 EPA report on the Toxicological Profile for Gasoline. Many documented effects via various routes including inhalation, skin exposure, oral exposure. Negative outcomes include DEATH, neurological problems, heart problems, cancer, reproductive problems, breathing problems, chemical burns and so on.)

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323426.php

(Lightweight article outlines health effects of gasoline exposure, including gas huffing)

https://www.nap.edu/read/4795/chapter/28

(University level textbook chapter about gasoline toxicity)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1520019/?page=1

(1994 “Neurotoxic Effects of Gasoline and Gasoline Constituents”. “Occupational exposure to gasoline has been associated with numerous signs of neurotoxicity. Significant effects on intellectual capacity, psychomotor and vasomotor function, immediate and delayed memory, and an increased proportionate mortality rate(PMR) due to mental and psychoneurotic conditions have been reported for gasoline service workers…”)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3222489/

(2011 Study of the Adverse Health effects from living in proximity to industry, including of course gas stations. Adverse Pregnancy outcomes, childhood cancers, cardiovascular, respiratory illnesses and other diseases are increased with variable results from the proximity. Hint: this proximity in no way increases positive health outcomes.)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/leukemia-rates-high-for-kids-living-near-gas-stations/article20434890/

(2018 Globe and Mail story about a study that found that children ages 2 -6 who lived close to gas stations were four times more likely to develop leukemia and eight times more likely to develop acute non-lymphocytic leukemia)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3271273/

(2012 paper about benzene induced leukemia in humans and risk assessment. “Benzene is associated with multiple adverse health effects. It was shown to induce hemotoxicity in humans over 100 years ago…” “Benzene metabolism is inherently complex and occurs principally in the liver and also in the lung with secondary metabolism occuring in the bone marrow.” )

If you are tired of reading you can watch this:

 

There is substantial research on the negative effects of gasoline and gasoline additives. This is not news, and is much worse than previously considered.

Yet there are no guidelines from the CSA or the TSSA on the distance underground gasoline storage tank vents should be from a residential property. In Canada. In 2019.

 

Yet Another Gas Infiltration

As of today (Feb.26, 2019) I had my third gas infiltration in one month.

I noticed it as I always do, by smell, upstairs. I followed my nose and the fumes were all over the house. 3:10 p.m..

I ran to Brutus, worried that this infiltration might make him a goner.

I made another report to the Ministry of the Environment, as I will keep doing.

How many drops of poison does it take to taint the well ?

Canaries

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/story-real-canary-coal-mine-180961570/

Honky (Sick -July 2018 – Jan.2019):

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Not long after the gas station opened at the beginning of July, 2018, I noticed something was wrong with my big white cat, Honky. His eyes were often puffy and red, and he had gotten increasingly picky about food. During one mealtime Honky began running all over the house, growling and hissing. I didn’t know if he was being bothered by one of the other cats or if he had been stung by an insect or what. It was very odd.

This happened again a few days later. Then it started happening almost daily. He was really upset and panicked. His reaction was like getting zapped with an electric shock. I figured he must have a bad tooth that needed to come out, so we went to the vet.  Honky had an abscess over his upper fang. He was given an antibiotic, which helped him to feel a little better, and some pain meds. The pain medication was supposed to be given orally. It was a small amount of liquid that is applied to the inner cheek. However – getting ANYTHING in the mouth of a cat with severe oral pain is nearly impossible. Honky obviously felt terrible.

After he had the extraction(s) I hoped he would be on the mend. I had been through dental stuff with several other cats and usually they start to feel so much better in a few days, when their mouth isn’t tender any more, with the bad tooth or teeth gone. Honky seemed like he felt a little bit better, though not as much as I expected.

The puffy red eyes were still coming and going. I wondered what was causing this ? The vet didn’t know. It wasn’t mechanical – like when a cat has entropian eyelids (the eyelids turn in and the hair irritates the eyes).

After the first gasoline infiltration I wondered if this was causing it ? The puffy eyes were not directly coinciding with the day of a refuelling, though ?  Sometimes he was weepy and squinting. His eyes were never pus-y – like with a bacterial infection. He seemed like he felt unspecifically rotten, but I had no idea what was going on. His pre-surgical bloodwork had been perfectly normal, with only a couple of values slightly elevated due to the abscess.

In November the terrible mouth things began again. He acted like he had been given an electric shock when he was eating. Sometimes this would even happen when he wasn’t eating. He would be normal then suddenly he would be snarling and screeching in pain, running all over the house. Was there a retained root or a bad tooth that had been overlooked ?

Back to the vet, booked in for more probable extractions. It’s very hard to get a good look in a healthy cat’s mouth at the best of times, but a cat in acute mouth pain is not going to volunteer. The vet would get a better look while he was under. He suspected it was a condition called Stomatitis. The body launches an immune response against plaque. The gums get very raw, and in the worst cases the lining of the throat gets very inflamed and turns bright lipstick red. There can also be oral ulcers. There is no cure for Stomatitis. A full mouth extraction is a last resort, but can help some cats.  I previously dealt with Stomatitis in a couple of cats – and their issues and symptoms were similar to each others. Whatever was going on with Honky was odd, especially with the eye symptoms. A few more teeth came out. His gums looked bad but not the worst, and there were a few small ulcerated areas.

By this time Honky had become frightened about eating, and would only eat one type of pureed food, only in one type of dish. At mealtimes he would hide, and I would have to search for him. He would only eat after I pet him and soothed him and held the dish while he slowly ate, in a room with the door shut. Several weeks after the last round of extractions the horrible electric shock reaction returned again. I woke up with Honky snarling on the bed – not eating anything. It was very upsetting and awful. There were  more trips back to the vet. His mouth was healing fine, the stitches were dissolving properly, and the ulcerated areas seemed like they had started to heal. But the pain wasn’t leaving.

I wondered if euthanasia was the only kind solution ? Not only did he feel physically terrible, he was withdrawn and fearful about something as basic as eating. I felt awful having put him through two dental surgeries that didn’t seem to help at all.

I was reluctant to allow a steroid injection – if what was going on was stomatitis. Most cats have worse flare ups when the steroids wear off. Steroids are not without risk. A friend’s cat had a steroid shot for a flea allergy and died suddenly of heart failure the next day. Steroid use can also induce diabetes in some cats.

I read as much as I could about possible diagnoses, and treatment options. Different conditions can cause mouth ulcers. Chemical exposure can cause mouth ulcers and eye irritation. Lupus can cause mouth ulcers, but he didn’t have any other symptoms. Cats in late stage kidney failure can get mouth ulcers – but his bloodwork showed he was NOT in kidney failure, not even at stage 1. Stomatitis can cause mouth ulcers but not puffy eyes. Some research suggested that Bartonella (a blood borne parasite transmitted by fleas) caused stomatitis, and could also cause eye problems. Other research hotly disputed this theory, with many citations. Most cats in areas with fleas have been exposed to Bartonella, and will test positive and few get sick from it. Even testing for it is useless due to how widespread this is.

A Bartonella infection seemed to sort of fit what was going on with Honky. Even the treatment plans are widely different, with many different approaches. Honky was given a steroid injection. After about a week his mouth seemed to finally be healing, and he was now eating cautiously, but normally. The plan was, if his mouth was healing, that he would start a long course of an oral antibiotic thought to resolve a Bartonella infection. He’s responded to treatment, so far, so good.

The bigger question is what made this infection overtake his body like this, if this is what the problem was ? Honky has always been a healthy guy, aside from some genetically bad teeth. What turned on his immune response like this ?

Birdy (Sick then euthanized Dec./2018)

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Birdy was a petite odd eyed white cat who had been with me since 2005. She got her name from being abandoned on the doorstep of a former vet, in a birdcage.

Birdy was a lone wolf type, stuck in a household of several to many cats. I volunteered with a cat rescue and had many foster cats come and go. Birdy probably would have been happiest being an only cat, but I didn’t know that when I adopted her. Her solution was to live by herself in the bedroom, as much as possible. She had her special food, and water, and her solitary litterbox in there, and this suited her fine. She could come out of the bedroom when she felt like it – which she did sometimes. She just had no interest in making cat friends.

Since she became an older gal, she developed hyperthyroidism. This is a benign growth on the thyroid gland. No one knows why so many older cats are developing this, but it is very common. Birdy took twice a day medication to control the condition, and it had been well managed. She had been on this medication since 2015.

At the end of November I got really sick with food poisoning. The culprit turned out to be some new cheese I had just purchased, as I accidentally repoisoned myself with it to extend my misery. The cats seemed unnerved by my malaise and odd hours of sleeping and waking during that wretched week.

I noticed Birdy was being a little picky about her food, but seemed otherwise her normal self during the days and nights of nausea. I wondered if she was just sympathetic ? She got even pickier and was struggling with constipation and dehydration. Constipation had been a constant issue for her, for years, as she was very stubborn and would only eat one type of dry food. She was given a stool softener on all her meals, but the dose sometimes had to be adjusted. Too much would make her barf, and not quite enough would not offer relief.

Once I was well enough to leave the house for more than a few minutes I bought groceries. Birdy seemed excited about the roast chicken I offered her, but would only eat a few tiny bites. This was not right.

I took her to the vet the next day (Tuesday). She was looked over and seemed thin, and okayish – except for her dehydration. At this point she was still jumping into my arms. I took home supplies for subcutaneous fluids, and hoped this could help her over a rough patch. She didn’t seem to be responding to the fluids, so I admitted her to the clinic on Weds. for a day of IV fluids. She seemed slightly improved when I picked her up, but even with an appetite stimulant wasn’t interested in eating much. She went back for more IV fluids on Thursday. Her color was starting to become worrisome, she was begining to look yellowish. Cats that suddenly stop eating can develop a condition called Hepatic Lipidosis – Fatty Liver Syndrome. The cats that develop this are usually overweight cats who stop eating who suddenly lose a large portion of their body weight. I had been assist feeding her a high calorie food called A/D since she became worrisomely fussy, starting Monday. It didn’t seem like Hepatic Lipidosis was what was going on. I kept hoping that she would turn a corner. She spent Thursday on IV fluids, but seemed about the same. At home she wasn’t interested in being close to me which was unusual. I took her back on Friday for more IV and had bloodwork run. The vet called me around noon to discuss the results. it was very, very grave. She had severe kidney failure, anemia and liver failure. She was not responding to IV fluids at all.  The dumb part of my brain was still hopeful, while the rest of my brain that knew that responding to IV hydration was the bare minimum of survival and recovery. The vet was very kind and patiently asked me questions. It was obvious that Birdy wasn’t recovering, and felt progressively worse. Euthanasia was the only kind and realistic option.

If you have never had to make this decision you have no idea how tough it is, and how terrible it is to schedule this event. I had a couple of hours to prepare myself, and they were horrible hours. When I got to the clinic (weeping the whole way) the staff whisked me to the special room they had in the back, with dim lights and soft furniture. I had been through euthanasias before. I understood that if I didn’t feel that it was the right time yet, that I could say so, and that until the point that the euthanasia drug is administered the procedure does not have to occur.

Animals are often sedated prior to euthanasia. The Birdy they brought me was limp, nearly comatose. I asked if she had already been sedated. She hadn’t. Her body temperature was dropping and her breathing was starting to slow. She was starting to die, on her own. Natural death can be a protracted and painful process that can take a long time. I just wanted to release her. She died instantly with the injection. I saw how the pink color of her toes turned ghastly pale when her heart stopped beating. My heart broke.

Here’s the thing about Birdy : she spent most of her time in the north bedroom, my bedroom. This is the bedroom that is closest to the gas station vents. The window was always open a crack, and the door usually shut. She would have had the most exposure to the gasoline vapours.

There was a passing reference in a paper about human health and exposure to gasoline vapours, regarding animals: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/tp72.pdf

Right. Liver and Kidney tumours. Page 5. Published June 1995.

“Some animals that breathed high concentrations of unleaded gasoline vapours continuously for 2 years developed liver and kidney tumours.”

Birdy had bloodwork done in June and there were no signs of early renal failure at that time. She never had liver issues or even slight anemia.

Brutus (Sick -Feb. 2019)

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Brutus looks like a tough guy but has special needs. He has a condition called megacolon. The nerves in his gut don’t work properly, which can result in severe constipation or obstipation (poop that is too big to pass). He gets fed watered down canned food only, with a stool softener added to 100% of his meals, which he eats in a separate room with the door shut. Brutus’ greatest love is other cat’s dry food – which he will gorge himself on until he is completely plugged up and feels like his belly is full of painful gravel. The cats are only fed at mealtimes, no bowls of kibble for 24/7 free feeding.  He is also a chronic carrier of Hemobartonella (not the same as Bartonella, but also a flea borne blood parasite) aka Feline Infectious Anemia. He’s had a couple of flare ups of this in the 10 years he’s been with me. It can be fatal if untreated, but the symptoms are pretty obvious to me now. So far it has responded to a course of doxycycline. Other than that he is just a normal cat.

He was rescued from the euthansia list from Hamilton Animal Control. They used to have a policy that cats at the city shelter had three days to be found by their owner or euthanized. Something like 95% of the cats at that shelter were euthanized, as many as Toronto which is a much, much bigger city. They’ve changed some policies and I’ve heard Hamilton is much better now in this regard. Anyhow – I said I would foster Brutus, then realized that his issues made him unadoptable. I had also gotten too attached between all the worry and drama of Brutus and his problems – which were of course completely unknown as a sad cat in a cage with a big X on his chart.

On Feb. 9, 2019 I had another gas infiltration. You don’t have to go back very far here to read about it. It was the second infiltration in 10 days. This had never happened before. The most terrifying thing is that there is NOTHING I can do to get rid of the gas fumes. Even if I opened all my doors and windows – the fumes are coming from OUT THERE. Doing this would just let more gasoline vapours IN.

The next day, Feb.10, 2019, Brutus seemed a little off his food. He barfed up his breakfast shortly after he ate. He ate some of his supper but seemed like he wasn’t feeling great. The next day he ate about half his normal meals, and seemed dehydrated.

On Monday night (Feb. 11) I was giving him a once over and discovered his lips looked yellowish. This was really not good.

He went to the vet the next morning.  I was feeling especially fearful as this is exactly how Birdy’s troubles started out, too. The vet was nervous but she didn’t say so. In vet speak: “A yellow cat is a dead cat.” Jaundice is a symptom of very serious liver issues that are difficult to properly diagnose and treat. Brutus’ bloodwork was very alarming. His liver values were crazy sky high. For a cat with these results, you would expect a severely nauseated, weak cat with a tender belly that can barely stand. Yet while Brutus was under the weather he seemed sort of okay ?

In contrast to Birdy’s bloodwork, Brutus was not anemic, did not have kidney failure and was responding to IV fluids. Getting an accurate diagnosis for cat liver problems is a challenge, that usually involves an ultrasound, needle biopsy and possibly a surgical biopsy. This gets expensive, and invasive, particularly for a cat in potentially frail condition. The possible reasons for Brutus’ liver problems were Hepatic Lipidosis (he had been eating every day, so unlikely), a blockage in his liver or gallbladder ducts, a cyst or tumour, possibly cancerous, or an infection.

The biopsy process is not without risks, particularly as cats with liver problems can develop blood clotting problems.

It seemed that since he was responding to IV fluids, that he was probably not blocked, and that it was probably not a tumour. The best guess was that he had an infection. He was started on antibiotics and retested the next week. While his liver values were still above normal, they had come down considerably, so he was responding to the treatment. Brutus’ condition was confusing. He seems like he will be okay (I say this cautiously). Even during other health crises, Brutus never had liver issues.

I am extremely concerned that this sudden, apparently acute decline happened the very next day after another infiltration. What would any reasonable person think, in this situation ?

Gasoline vapours are heavier than air so they sink. The cats would breathe a more concentrated amount of vapours, for a longer period of time, when the house was infiltrated, as the fumes settle on the floor at ground level.

I hate this so much.

Will the rest of my cats start to fall like dominoes, too ? This is already too many.

https://www.ewg.org/research/polluted-pets/chemical-exposures-and-pets-health

 

How do gasoline vapours behave ?

Painting: Ed Ruscha, 1965

https://www.cob.org/services/safety/education/pages/gasoline.aspx

“In spite of the routine use of gasoline, many people are unaware or unappreciative of the dangers of gasoline. Gasoline is dangerous because it is highly volatile. The fumes are capable of ignition up to 12 feet away from a pooled source. It can float on water and may spread long distances, making ignition and flash back possible. Gasoline may ignite from a nearby spark, flame or even static electricity and become a ‘fireball’ with a temperature of 15,000 degrees F…

…Gasoline produces ignitable vapours that are 3 to 4 times heavier than air and can travel for great distances along the ground. Gas vapours tend to accumulate in low or enclosed spaces. ”

GASOLINE PRODUCES IGNITABLE VAPOURS THAT ARE 3 TO 4 TIMES HEAVIER THAN AIR AND CAN TRAVEL FOR GREAT DISTANCES ALONG THE GROUND.

GAS VAPOURS TEND TO ACCUMULATE IN LOW OR ENCLOSED SPACES.

Hey TSSA ! That’s Not Okay ! (Oct./2018)

I reported another gas infiltration in early October, 2018. A few days later an inspector from the TSSA was at my door(Oct.15, 2018).

I was pretty mad talking to this guy. It turned out that he was the inspector who had originally APPROVED the vent location. How on earth could he have the right to inspect his own work ? Wasn’t that a serious conflict of interest ?

This Winnipeg building inspector got in trouble for doing just that:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/winnipeg-housing-inspector-may-have-inspected-his-own-work-1.1359638

I tried to emphasize that the vents were not in an appropriate location, and that anyone with normal vision could see that my front door and most of my windows were in proximity to this vent. This would have been obvious – and therefore they should not have been located there.

About a week later (Oct. 22, 2018)I heard a large truck next door. When I looked over it was another tanker, getting ready to refuel. BUT – the TSSA guy was there as well. I grabbed my camera, and stood in the window, of the north bedroom, seething. I felt very angry that I was having to fight this fight. Eventually the manager showed up, and the TSSA inspector was at my door again. He explained that he was there to witness a refuelling. I asked him if he brought any equipment to take air quality samples, or an infrared camera to document the fumes.

He looked surprised by my questions. He told me that he would be using his sense of SMELL. Great. How could this be quantified ? Was my sense of smell better than his sense of smell ? How could this be used in a legal or scientific context ? We could argue over our memories of the strength of the smell, with $ 500.00/hr lawyers sitting around ? I thought this was completely ridiculous and unprofessional.

The tanker began the refuelling process. The inspector watched as the hoses were attached, and the manager stood around with his cellphone. Soon there was an obvious gas odour, and gas fumes were VISIBLE coming from the top of the vent pipe. The manager was recording this on his camera phone. The inspector walked around, and in my front yard, by the driveway next to the front door, the smell of gasoline was very strong. He had to admit that there was a problem. This was happening with the vapour control procedure being used appropriately by the tanker driver.

It was a grey and chilly day. I went inside, and the fumes were not terrible inside. I walked in all the rooms to check. I could smell the gas in the front foyer, but that was as far as they penetrated, that day. I went back outside.

I felt pretty angry that this was happening. With that vent location, how could it NOT happen ?

There was some verbal back and forth with the TSSA dude. He claimed that the vent pipes were actually located further away than code specified. I went inside and grabbed my print out. The code specified a distance of 6 m. However this only applies to railyards and bulk loading facilities, of which I was neither. There was absolutely NOTHING in their code about the vents in relation to residential property. I read out the sections that specified that the fumes were not to enter an opening in an adjacent building, like a door or window, and that the fumes should NOT affect people ! But they were affecting people. I am affected, and all my friends and family are affected by having to listen to my dull grievances regarding this matter. Will my house go up in flames ? Will my pets get cancer ? Will I get cancer ? What if I did want to sell and move ?

I asked the TSSA dude if he would purchase a property that was regularly infiltrated by gasoline vapours ? I asked him if he would feel safe with his family living there ? He did not answer. I asked him what he thought this might do to the value of my property, as this would need to be disclosed to a prospective buyer, or I could be sued for not disclosing an obvious deficit.

I asked him what actions would be taken by the TSSA regarding this matter ? He didn’t really say. He said he thought that maybe the vent pipes could be made taller ? I said that wouldn’t help as it was their location in relation to my doors and windows that was the problem. I said that since I was on a lower elevation that the fumes WOULD sink, that was just gravity and science.

I said that I felt the vent location was an issue related to the entities who had renovated the property. This vent location never should have been approved. I also said that as far as I knew the present gas station owners had purchased this as a turnkey business. It was my opinion that the TSSA and the developer and possibly the petroleum contractor that did the renovation were all responsible, and should pay the costs to move these vents to a safer location.

I told the inspector that the TSSA should deal with me in WRITING regarding this matter.

Then, of course, nothing happened.

 

Boring But Important: Gas Station Vapour Recovery System, Explained

Gas stations typically have underground storage tanks for gasoline and diesel fuels. The newer tanks are designed to be resistant to corrosion, with a system to detect leaks anywhere on the line. Some tanks are fibreglass, some have double walls with the outer layer surrounded by brine, and steel tanks are used in locations where there is a large volume of heavy machinery on the ground above. Some stations have tanks with compartments for different grades of products.

I have no idea what kind of tanks are next door, nor whether they are a safe distance from my property. I do know they are close.

Underground tanks get filled by a tanker truck. They connect a hose from the truck to a sort of coupler attachment, which connects to the tank below. They also connect (or are SUPPOSED to) connect a second hose, using a second coupler device, which goes from the underground storage tank back to the truck. This is supposed to create a closed system, where the fuel vapours go back into the tanker truck, and are later processed to be reclaimed and turned into liquid fuel.

When there is a discrepancy in the pressure of the gasoline vapours, the excess vapours are directed to go out the vent pipes.

There is no way to make this process hermetically sealed.

This video is from 2006. It is about a type of new (then) camera technology that was developed, that makes gasoline (and other chemical) fumes visible. The footage when the inspector pops off the ground level covers for the underground tanks is pretty horrifying. The vapours blacken her face, hands, shoes and parts of her clothing with an exposure to the opened plate, that is less than 10 seconds. That is not even with them opened with the coupler device placed on top:

This is Stage 1 vapour recovery. Stage 2 is the special nozzles that are supposed to recover vapours while a vehicle is being filled at the pump. The Vapour Recovery system allegedly collects 96% of the vapours that would be released into the environment.

Here’s a simple diagram:

VaporRecovery.jpg

This is an excruciatingly boring educational video from 2012, produced by USA’s Environmental Protection Agency. It outlines how this system is supposed to work:

Since the first infiltration of gasoline vapours into my house (Aug/2018) I have been watching, and photographing the tanker trucks refuelling next door. The process takes about 20 – 30 minutes. On days when there has been NO perceptible gas infiltration, the process and equipment used appears identical to the days when there have been gas vapours in my house. It is the same operator, most of the time. The gas infiltrations have happened on warm days, cold days and very cold days. I have not been keeping track of other variables like wind speed or wind direction, humidity or barometric pressure. The gas infiltration is not happening with every refuelling.

When the TSSA inspector came the first time (Oct. 15, 2018 I think) he said the system had been checked and was working properly. Yet when he returned to observe a refuelling (Oct. 22, 2018), there were visible gas fumes coming from the vent pipe(s) and my front yard smelt very strongly of gasoline fumes. This time my house was not infiltrated.

I believe that no matter how the system is functioning – and it is designed to release excess gas fumes during a refuelling to relieve pressure in the tank – that the location of these vent pipes in relation to my property is unacceptable. Making taller or shorter vent pipes, or putting up a solid barricade wall will in no way solve this issue.

Ontario Regulation 455/94, under the Environmental Protection Act,” Recovery  of Gasoline Vapour In Bulk Transfers” states in Section 7 (Service Stations):

” 2. For each calendar year, the vapour control system must operate properly during 95 per cent of the time during which gasoline is transferred for receipt at the service station.”

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/940455

From the Government of Canada document CAN/CGSB-3.1000-2013 – Vapour Control systems in gasoline networks ICS 75.200 this statement is repeated, many times, in bold text: ” Discharge of flammable vapours may constitute a fire,  explosion, human health and environmental hazard.”

Click to access P29-003-1000-2013-eng.pdf

Yet there is nothing in ANY code that states what a safe distance from a residence of any type is, from a vent which discharges these vapours !

 

 

What Happens During a Gas Infiltration ?

As I write this (Feb.9, 2019, 11:53 a.m.) a gas infiltration has just happened.

I was at the computer, around 11:20 a.m. when a whiff of something hit my nose. I got up and walked around. In the north bedroom the smell of gas was strong by the windows. I opened the blackout blinds, and could see a tanker truck with two hoses engaged.

Something in me always wants to downplay this – like it isn’t THAT bad.

When I smell gas I walk around the house, into all the rooms. When there is a negative incident with refuelling, the smell is always strongest by the windows on the north side. I guess this is because there is a certain amount of play the windows must have to open and close. This is why on stormy days, even with the storm windows in place, I can feel cold air by certain windows. This depends on what direction the wind is coming from.

Environment Canada’s website says as of right now (11:59 a.m.) that is -9C, pressure 104.5kPa, Dew Point -13.4 C, Humidity 69%, Wind WNW 15 km/hr, Windchill – 15.

At 12:02, the west bedroom on the 2nd floor still smells strongly of gas.

On my walk around the house, the living room smelt the least like gas, the back room behind the kitchen smelt the most like gas. The kitchen smelt strongly, the dining room smelt strongly, the two bedrooms upstairs smelt strongly. The door to the powder room is kept closed. That room smelt slightly. The sewing room did not have much of a smell. The bathroom upstairs did not have much of a smell.

Upstairs, the fumes are stronger when I am seated, than when I stand up.

As I go down the stairs there is point near the landing where I don’t smell gas, then a few steps down from that I really smell gas.

I take a couple of photos as the truck is refuelling, to document that there are two hoses in use.

At 12:11 – approximately 40 minutes after a fuelling, the gas smell is still strong.

I call the Ministry of the Enviroment to make another report. I write down the ID number of my report, and read it back to the representative. This representative asks me how bad this incident is on a scale of 1 -10. That is hard to quantify. I tell her that if a 10 is a refuelling with no vapour control, in the summer, with all the windows open, that this is a 6/10. And that all my doors and windows are closed.

As of 12: 19 p.m. I can still smell gas in the west bedroom. I check the rest of the rooms. One of the cats is laying on a piece of cloth on my worktable, and he looks odd – laying in a funny position with his eyes open. I touch him and he responds and he is fine. The rest of the cats are normal.

Today I go in the basement. It has a window on the north and south sides. I don’t smell gas.

I had a terrible headache/migraine yesterday, which lasted all night. It was with me when I woke up. I took OTC pain medication, which sometimes can help to dull the pain a little. As of now, the pain has intensified.

Is this unrelated, psychosomatic or a result of breathing gasoline vapours that I cannot escape from ?

There is nothing I can do to clear the house of these fumes, except wait.

 

 

Dodged A Bullet ?

When I bought this house it had an ancient gravity fed furnace. It was probably original to the house. It had been converted from coal to gas in about 1960. The pilot light was an open flame, with no safety sensors whatsoever. You can backtrack through this blog to read all about it, or just look at its picture again:

furnace.jpg

I wasn’t confident about lighting the pilot light, and no furnace company dudes I called for quotes would light the pilot, either. I got a new furnace installed.

I much preferred cooking with a gas stove. The one in the house was electric. Before I moved here, I was searching for a nice vintage gas stove. In my previous home, I had a 1920’s Acme gas stove, made in Guelph. Older gas stoves can be primitive (depending on the age) in that they do not have a regulator, so you have to light the oven with a match. You light the oven, then it tells you how hot it is and you adjust the setting accordingly – the opposite of more modern stoves where the oven will heat to what it is set to. They have a pilot light which is a small flame that stays on all the time. I don’t do any gourmet cooking or baking that I need a fancy chef’s stove for. The Acme stove had been more than adequate for what I needed it to do – make food hot.

I spotted an utterly stunning and rare late 1940’s Odin Beautyrange (gas) for sale on Kijiji:

odinbeautyrange.jpg

I don’t know much about the manufacturer. I had seen other Odin stoves in typical white porcelain, and an Odin catalogue. I don’t know if these amazing all chrome stoves were made as a luxury item, or for store display, promotional contests or what. I have seen a couple of others online, but with no information. All I knew was that I was deeply in stove awe.

One important detail about owning a vintage stove is that unless you have a skilled mechanic who KNOWS vintage or antique stoves, or have the moola to have one shipped across the country to a mechanic/restorer, it is very important that you are able to test the stove before you buy it. The seller had got it from somewhere, but didn’t have it hooked up, and had never personally used it. I contacted the used appliance store that had sold us the 20’s Acme 11 years previously. The son had taken over his dad’s business, and had THROWN OUT decades of old stove parts. He was willing to have a look at the stove if I paid him to make a service call to somewhere where the stove was hooked up to gas. A stove like this weighs 200 or 300 lbs, with steel construction, and heavy parts. They are not exactly portable. There was a lot of back and forth with the seller, but ultimately we could not make this transaction work as there was nowhere to test the stove. I called used appliance places for miles around but could not find anyone who was experienced or competent dealing with a vintage gas stove. The brand was uncommon, so finding parts if it needed them would be tough. I can’t describe how it broke my heart to NOT have such an amazing stove. With a stove like that it wouldn’t matter how terrible my kitchen was – visitors would only be able to gaze at that stove.

As I have been researching the implications of the location of the vent for the underground gasoline storage tank, and dealing with the infiltration of the vapours into my house, I started coming across articles like this, about the flashpoint and volatility of gasoline vapours:

https://www.cob.org/services/safety/education/Pages/gasoline.aspx

and this, about many fires that were a result of spilled gasoline or solvent in a garage, storage room, etc. that became explosive when in contact with the gas water heater’s pilot light:

https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-xpm-1995-07-01-9507010380-story.html

or this:

https://lasvegassun.com/news/2011/jul/31/two-men-injured-gasoline-fumes-flash-fire/

All the advice I could find is like this:

http://www.esfd.org/index.php/facts-and-safety-tips/fire-safety/flammable-substances-facts-tips

but I couldn’t find anything about when a large volume of gasoline vapours are coming from OUTSIDE the house, from a higher level (ie the gas station’s vent), then sinking to a lower level inside a house, with appliances with a pilot light.

What could have happened if I had that ancient furnace still up and running ? What could have happened with a vintage stove with a pilot light ?

I will say this: no one from the TSSA or the licensed Petroleum Contractor ever knocked on my door, or left me a note inquiring about what kind of gas appliances I had, or how old they were. No one asked these questions of the neighbours across the street either. There is at least one house that I would not be surprised to discover has an old or ancient gas furnace and/or gas water heater and/or gas stove and/or gas dryer in use.

Yet no one even asked !

Here’s the Mythbusters(with UK narration), trying to test whether a mobile phone can create an explosion at a gas station. This isn’t super relevant to my concerns, but their demonstration of the ignition of gasoline vapours with a small spark, like static, is pretty alarming. Imagine a pilot light instead, with gasoline vapours rolling in from above:

A fireman training exercise gone wrong, with accelerant vapours in a house: