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BLASTING & CARBON MONOXIDE-Fire Fighters take note

Discussion in 'Safety Issues' started by atgreene, Jun 26, 2009.

  1. atgreene

    atgreene Senior Member

    Dec 1, 2005
    Sebago, Maine
    For any construction/excavation folks who work around blasting or fire fighters who get called to Carbon Monoxide alarms in the area of blasting I just wanted to let you know of some recent issue we have been having in the city.

    About 2 years ago we had a sub-division going into a neighborhood where a large amount of blasting was taking place amongst existing houses. The existing houses started to call 911 in the evening complaining of an odd smell and co alarms sounding. When companies arrived on scene and tested they found over 800 parts per million of co in the basement of one house. Elevated levels elsewhere in other houses. In discussions with the blasting company it was found that they had blasted at the end of the day in the foundation hole next door and left. Overburden and mats had been left in place.

    Fire Dept. enacted new rules. No blasting after 2 pm, holes must be opened for 2 hours after blast.

    Next incident that I am aware of I responded to a street where a street waste water line was being installed (3 weeks ago). The line was 24' deep on one end where it drained into a swamp, so they had to blast as they went to get through the ledge. Person got home from work, entered their house to find co alarms going off. When we arrived we found 400 + ppm in the basement and the house smelled of brimstone. Checked 6 other houses nearby, found 2 others with a brimstone smell and 20-30 ppm. Same deal, company blasted and left for the day, hole covered.

    New rules by Fire Dept. Blasting company must monitor houses in the neighborhood.

    Last week another project different neighborhood same issue. Blasted, people had co in the house.

    This am, medical facility with an expansion project, co alarms sounding. The blasting company was doing surface blasting of ledge. They did not uncover because it was surface blasting. They also hadn't monitored because it was a commercial building.

    So even more rules are coming out. Blasting co. is going to have to buy a co monitor and some more restrictions will be forthcoming.

    Has anyone else been seeing this? CO is colorless and odorless, but in several of our cases the blasting smell was also present.

    Apparently the co from the blast is trapped in the ground and will follow the path of least resistance (pipes laid in sand, sewer lines etc...,) and come into houses and catch basins that way. We never had heard of other depts. having issues, but we've had 3 different ones in 3 weeks now.

    Have there been changes in blasting agents? Different make-up of blasting material?

    For what it is worth, stay out of confined spaces after a blast until it is checked, monitored and your confined space permit is done. If it is pooling in basements it certainly is pooling in catch basins, trenches and pits etc...

    Here's a link from CDC that is in ref. to a death caused by co on a job where the catch basin had 1900 ppm of co 2 days after the blast. http://www.cdc.gov/Niosh/hid3.html

    Be careful out there, and FF's, be aware. :usa
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2009

    JDOFMEMI Senior Member

    Jan 4, 2007
    Thanks for the heads up. I have never heard of a problem around here, but its good to be aware.
  3. digger242j

    digger242j Administrator

    Oct 31, 2003
    Self employed excavator
    Southwestern PA
    It's real lucky there were CO detectors in place. Imagine the repercussions if somebody had died...
  4. D5G

    D5G Senior Member

    Nov 20, 2007
    WOW! Thats crazy! Thanks for the info, and be safe out there.
  5. John C.

    John C. Senior Member

    Jun 12, 2007
    Machinery & Equipment Appraiser
    I've never been around blasting that was within 2 miles of any buildings. I have smelled the brimstone at times after a shot at the coal mines.

    Does anyone know if the effect happens using ANFO, is it just stick powder or something else completely?
  6. Mass-X

    Mass-X Well-Known Member

    Nov 19, 2006
    It's a potential danger with all the explosives I'm aware of. ANFO actually poses several post-blast dangers not experienced with standard C4/stick explosives.

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