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I work in a University office that is a small triangle in shape, about ten feet at the window and five feet at the door, with a length of about fifteen feet. The University has used this office to also host about eight Dell servers and several PCs along with two good sized UPS units.

We only have the office HVAC, and that sometimes fails. When I show up in the morning, the window has been shut for security. If it has become hot (sometimes 90 degrees in the summer) the servers are racing to cool, and the air has an acrid sulfur electronic smell that is choking.

I open the windows and turn the fan on, but by then I am coughing all day. This has been going on for two and a half years. Our director refuses to move the servers because he says there is no 'empirical' data to show that server fumes in a very small office without the proper HVAC causes any trouble for the lungs.

Does anyone out there have a site that has studies for the effect of server gases on the lungs?

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closed as off topic by Zoredache, faker, Ward, Scott Pack, Iain Dec 21 '12 at 20:12

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Going about this the hard way. Just make sure the HVAC fails on a long weekend when the weather's hot. No more servers (that work), no more problem. Maybe you'll even get a working HVAC out of it too. –  HopelessN00b Dec 21 '12 at 17:29
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If you can't get them to do something you need leave. You're not being paid enough to ruin your health. –  Dan Neely Dec 21 '12 at 18:35
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"Yeaaahhhh...We're going to need you to ahhh...go ahead and move into the small triangular office that our servers are in...and ahhh...while you're in there we're going to need you to ahhh...try and take care of our rodent problem while you're in there. Greeaaat thaaaaanks..." Either you are a bad worker and they want you to quit or they really don't care about your working environment. If it's the first one then I'd find another job. If it's the second, ask to be seated somewhere else... No, actually in either case I'd probably find another job. –  August Dec 21 '12 at 18:37
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Not sure this is really a technical question, but it sounds like mfinni is dead on about UPS outgassing. This is an OSHA issue (or equivalent agency if you're not in the US). –  voretaq7 Dec 21 '12 at 21:14
    
...And we never heard back from Steve.... –  mfinni Mar 21 '13 at 1:20
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2 Answers

There's no such things as "server gases": The "acidic sulfur smell" is probably outgassing from the batteries in the UPS units.

Go talk to HR.

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+1. The director is right. Servers do not emit "acridic sulfur smelling gases". THIs is soething else. If that is UPS outgassing it is dangerous - could easily explode. As in: Illegal (there are regulations for UPS venting). You need to properly investigate - then you have a good argument. –  TomTom Dec 21 '12 at 17:46
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Also possible that it's ozone produced by the electronics? That's no good either. –  pjmorse Dec 21 '12 at 18:31
    
"This... high oxidizing potential, however, causes ozone to damage mucus and respiratory tissues in animals, and also tissues in plants, above concentrations of about 100 parts per billion. This makes ozone a potent respiratory hazard and pollutant near ground level." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozone –  pjmorse Dec 21 '12 at 18:33
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If they don't care about their employees, they should care about their servers. This is really bad for them. Those grounds alone should be enough for some decent AC.

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