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Odor Complaints

Reporting an Odor or Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Problem

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston) is dedicated to providing a safe and productive workplace environment. UTHealth Houston supports a myriad of functions ranging from teaching, research, to clinical care. On occasion, odors or other IAQ issues may occur.

Odors can come from many different sources. The majority of IAQ complaints can be tied to the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. Designed primarily for temperature control, humidity regulation, odor control, and air purification, a well-functioning HVAC system can be adjusted to enhance comfort and IAQ, as necessary.

Given that individuals respond differently to smells, and considering that environmental odors often fluctuate, we utilize particular odor investigation protocols to assist us in assessing complaints about nuisance odors.

If you are experiencing any unpleasant odors or IAQ issues in your work area, please contact EHS (Chemical Safety Program) at 713-500-5832.

Contact Information

  • Emergency: 911
  • UT Police (Non-emergency): (713) 729-2890
  • Chemical Safety Program Hotline: (713) 500-5832
  • Student Health: (713) 500-5171
  • Employee Health: (713) 500-3267
  • Facilities, Planning, and Engineering (FIXT Hotline): (713) 500-FIXT (3498)

Who to Contact?
Natural gas Chemical Safety or Facilities, Planning, and Engineering

Routine IAQ Issues:

  • Rotten eggs or sewer odor
  • Musty/stagnant air
Facilities, Planning, and Engineering

Strong or unusual odors:

  • Chemicals
  • Accidental releases of hazardous materials
Chemical Safety

IAQ Evaluation Request

Chemical Safety

Serious injuries and emergencies

911 or UT Police

Action Guidelines

For Natural Gas:
  • Turn off all sources of ignition immediately, including open flames and electrical equipment.
  • Inspect laboratory gas outlets for any open valves and check local gas tubing for leaks.
  • Contact Chemical Safety or Facilities, Planning, and Engineering for a comprehensive investigation of building systems and equipment.
For Extremely Strong and Acutely Irritating Odors, Strong Burning Smells, or Visible Smoke:
  • Evacuate the area promptly.
  • Turn off all sources of ignition, such as open flames and electrical equipment
  • Do not operate any electrical appliances or devices.
  • Alert passers-by to stay clear of the area
  • If possible, close local and emergency valves, including gas outlets and the emergency gas valve for your area.
  • Stay out of the evacuated buildings until cleared by authorities like the Fire Department, Police Department, or other emergency personnel.
  • In case of an emergency, call 911 or UT Police.
For Chemical, Electrical Burning Smells, and Any Other Odors:
  • Begin by investigating whether the source of the odor is confined to your immediate area. If not, extend your search to the hallway and adjacent laboratories.
  • If the source of the odor is identifiable and can be addressed safely, take appropriate action, such as moving a benchtop procedure to a chemical fume hood.
  • Contact Chemical Safety for odors due to chemicals or accidental release of hazardous materials.
  • Contact Facilities, Planning, and Engineering for odors from construction sites (e.g., Diesel fumes, dust, asphalt, or roofing) or for issues with temperature, humidity, dusts, and musty odors.
  • Consult with Student or Employee Health Services if you experience symptoms or illness.
  • For serious injuries or emergencies, immediately call 911 or go to the emergency room.