A Study Showing That Concrete Is Highly Porous, Allowing the Penetration and Diffusion of Chemicals
Collated & written by Murray Thompson (BAppSci Environmental Health 1998, Hons I Social Ecology 1999, University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury) June 2004, February/April 2012 Web sites: &

This study has been created in order to demonstrate clearly that available and reputable scientific studies and industry experience highlight the fact that concrete slabs upon which residences are situated are extremely porous, and to the extent that almost any chemical situated under or next to the slab will be absorbed by the slab. I have produced this study to specifically emphasize that it is much more than probable that the synthetic pyrethroid termiticide Biflex that was applied around, and immediately next to, the concrete slab under my Department of Housing (DOH) unit located at BLIGH PARK (north-west Sydney), on the 7th December 2000, diffused through that slab and outgassed into my unit as vapor for at least 1½ years after application (the period in which I could overtly smell an organic, kerosene-like odor inside my unit). The presence, then, of the pesticide vapor in the living space of my unit resulted in the production of a series of extremely distressing poisoning symptoms over that period of time and beyond in both myself and my 8 year old child, and also in my neighbour (whose unit shares the same concrete slab as mine). At the very least, the gaseous solvent portion of the termiticide compound entered my unit via the foundation slab. Note that only just before my trial against the Department of Housing, which started in November 2010, I discovered that the builders of the unit had dumped unused concrete around the perimeter of the unit’s foundation slab. This concrete dump (which was joined to the slab) was immediately under where the Biflex pesticide was pumped during its main 7th Dec., 2000 application of hundreds of liters. See the following photos for evidence of this:     enceOfHoleDug.pdf enceOfHoleDug,Part2.pdf enceOfHoleDug,Part3.pdf

How ‘open’ or consistently spread are the pores or spaces inside concrete. and do these pores affect the concrete in any way? Concrete contains two types of pore: capillary and gel http://www. Capillary pores (approx) 1. First. but are much smaller than capillary pores. and the site of mechanical and chemical events. and do not play a significant role in the permeability of the paste. http://www. 2. However. moisture transfer or shrinkage that can cause premature cracking before any external loading occurs (Lamour. randomly distributed throughout the binder. diffusion. what is concrete? Concrete is a heterogeneous material constituted of a rigid skeleton with sand and aggregates embedded into a porous hydraulic binder. mechanical and physical events like hydration. they do have an impact on time dependent .com/watch?v=DO_iW2qcLfE&fmt=18 http://www.Murray Thompson August 2004 CHEMICAL DIFFUSION THROUGH CONCRETE 2 And see the following video evidence of the concrete dump joined to the foundation slab:      Discussion 1. Concrete is therefore the site of chemical. The concrete behavior is linked to the evolution of the cementitious matrix which can be considered as permanently aging material. Do you want to work from home? Natural Organic & Herbal Herbal Products Weight Loss That Works! Concrete structures are thus highlighted as Therefore. A hydraulic binder as Portland cement is a finely ground material which is first in a plastic and workable state on mixing with water and then reacts with water to form hydrates responsible for the rigidity.3 um in size are the largest and form an interconnected system. Also: Concrete is a porous material. Gel pores on the other hand comprise some 28% of the or sorption (Advanced Cement Technologies [online]). which provides a fairly direct path for aggressive http://www. moisture movement can occur by flow. Haouas & Moranville [online])

Also: The presence of capillary pores and air voids influence concrete permeability to a large extent. in particular. By what process does Xypex penetrate concrete? Why must the concrete be wet prior to a XYPEX application? The active ingredients in XYPEX penetrate the concrete by a process of chemical . As well. is porous. concrete-block. concrete may then deteriorate “with chemical reactions of unhydrated cement and water. Conceivably also. 2002 [online]).Murray Thompson August 2004 CHEMICAL DIFFUSION THROUGH CONCRETE 3 movements in concrete. chemical treatment for waterproofing. One such product is named Xypex. It can be applied on concrete. carbonic ions and calcium silicate hydrates” (Watanabe [online]). Further: “Slab failures from caustic attack. There exist products designed specifically to take advantage of the porosity of concrete. even though some predict a service life of 40 years with the application of current best practice” (CSIRO 2001 [online]). concrete. Hamdan and Jin. can reduce the service life of slabs down to as little as five years. So. by its very nature. uniquely generating a non-soluble crystalline formation deep within the pores and capillary tracts of concrete (Xypex Chemical Corporation 2002b [online]). with most slabs providing an average life of only ten years. which “is designed to penetrate and react with the mineral constituents of cement-based materials. The state of deterioration is often invisible and is only evident when there is a significant reduction in the load carrying capacity (Sutan. such as shrinkage and creep (Eagle Cement (Natal Portland Cement) [online]). Xypex is therefore designed to penetrate concrete in order to prevent the concrete from allowing such penetration of fluids. What is Xypex? XYPEX is a non-toxic. repair and protection of concrete from a range of aggressive media. The deterioration of concrete in a structure is a result of several degradation mechanisms that [cause a decrease] in the integrity of the structure. Without this protection concrete would be open to the ingress of any pesticide put in the soil next to or above/around the concrete. pesticide sprayed in the air would also move into concrete structures. cement stucco or the mortar between bricks” (Xypex Chemical Corporation 2002a [online]). 3. The ingress of aggressive agents into the pore structure is responsible for various durability problems in concrete structure. C 3A and chloride ions.

Note too: Baroghel-Bouny (1994) among others showed that water transport occurs in porous cementitious materials through different modes: vapor diffusion. enter a residence via a concrete slab? . rock pockets.. Do you want to work from home? Note also McGrath (2000 [online] who shows that large amounts of water can move through concrete (even apparently dry concrete) in a vapor. He clearly shows that concrete cannot keep out anything unless it is treated: On the largest scale water or chemicals may move through cracks.Murray Thompson August 2004 CHEMICAL DIFFUSION THROUGH CONCRETE 4 diffusion in which chemicals in a highly concentrated solution (the XYPEX slurry mixture) will spread through a solution of lower density (water in the pores and capillaries of the concrete) until the two are equalized (Xypex Chemical Corporation 2002a [online]). However. Haouas & Moranville 2004). The above quote implies that water may be found inside a concrete slab. it is only recently that it has been generally recognized that there is a second contaminant transport process which will occur even through a very low hydraulic conductivity clay liner: that process is chemical diffusion. liquid water and air pressure driven transports (Lamour.. by diffusion through a liner. specifically. depending on flow direction dynamics set up by cooling and heating cycles) from a region of high concentration or high chemical potential through to low concentration or low chemical potential via diffusion.1994:219) (emphasis added). It is therefore clear that chemicals can be transported through concrete in either a liquid or vapor form. even if water flow in the liner is into the landfill (Rowe. construction joints and other large defects or joints in the concrete structure... This scale of flow is of primary importance with respect to “waterproofing” and involves keeping water out or in. despite more than a decade of research and the existence of good supporting field data.diffusion may be the dominant contaminant transport mechanism in a well‐constructed clay liner. Can pesticide. and that this water offers a transmission route for chemicals to move via the agency of chemical diffusion. Note what modern research on Diffusive Pollutant Transport has to say about chemical diffusion: The objective of controlling the hydraulic conductivity is clearly one of limiting advective contaminant transport (ie the movement of contaminants with moving water) through the liner. . Furthermore.. 4. contaminants can escape from a waste disposal site. gaseous or dissolved ion state (in any direction.

such as the DOH in Australia? Where does the DOH tenant fit into what should be an ethical discussion in terms of chemical applications in and around a tenant’s home? Are tenants worthy of consultation at all. the Association recognizes that these substances enter the slab via pores in the concrete structure of the slab. Note: Pesticide moisture flow upwards through the concrete slabs by vapor diffusion and capillary transmission passes through the top surface of the concrete slabs as well as through floor surface treatments (carpet. The average (slab) lets in over (10) gallons of water each day.0%”. so readily does the building industry accept that pesticides can penetrate concrete slabs. and “0. several times more than showering and cooking combined! (ibid.2130 percentage of penetration”. If cautions regarding the use of mildewcides in buildings are advocated in United States product literature. respectively (Polyguard Products Inc. However. Today's almost airtight buildings let in little fresh air and draw from the ground more "soil gas". Pores in concrete draw in water by capillary action. wood floors) and leads to un-healthy contamination problems.0 % 0. As well. biological decomposition gases and… PESTICIDE! (2003 [online]).). lists its product’s property. test method. and results (English and Metric) as: “Resistance to Penetration by Pesticides”. rich in moisture and vapors from pesticides below ground. then why are they not advocated by government bureaucracies that deal directly and intimately with dwellings and tenants.Murray Thompson August 2004 CHEMICAL DIFFUSION THROUGH CONCRETE 5 Note that the Healthy Home Association recognizes that soil around foundation slabs is host to substances that are drawn into residences via the lower internal air pressure gradient typical of homes. “ASTM F. tile. note: Safe Encasement Systems believes that the use of a coating that contains a potentially harmful or poisonous substance such as an EPA-registered pesticide . that the XYPEX Product Features brochure entitled: UndersealTM XT 750 Positive Side Vertical Waterproofing Membrane with Built-in Protection Board. radon. especially given – as in my case – that I had already made it patently obvious to the DOH prior to moving into my DOH unit that I suffered from chemical sensitive asthma? Now in going back a step to the US situation. 2003 [online]) (my emphasis). what are these substances? Soil gas. Further.

ethyl benzene. Don Want.. Can organic chemicals enter a residence any other way? Recent investigations have found that organic chemicals may contaminate drinking water by permeating buried plastic pipes and gasket materials. given that the reliability of concrete slabs is essentially an unknown factor when chemical pesticide barriers are applied around a residence. It was also found that PB [polybutylene] was more permeable than low-density polyethylene to toluene and that chlorinated hydrocarbons permeated PB faster than unchlorinated hydrocarbons.htm. REFERENCES Advanced Cement Technologies [online]. in fact.106%20Concrete%20Permeability. Holsen.. Do you want to work from home? Natural Organic & Herbal Herbal Products Weight Loss That Works! As well. 5.Murray Thompson August 2004 CHEMICAL DIFFUSION THROUGH CONCRETE 6 (mildewcide) is a step that should be taken only after extensive consideration and discussion with all parties involved (Safe Encasement Systems Midwest 2001). toluene. Gasoline compositions such as benzene.106 CONCRETE PERMEABILITY High Reactivity Metakaolin (HRM) Engineered Mineral Admixture for Use With Portland Cement. building codes also need to be seriously addressed. 2004) . Technical Bulletin 10. which “is making a submission to the DEC (old EPA) in respect to prior notification rights for pesticide applications under the NSW Pesticide Act” (Personal email. Mr. and xylenes appeared to be highly permeable to PB and gasket material (Park. readily. This is. Slab integrity needs to be tested for porosity before any decision to introduce a toxic nerve agent to a human habitation is made. http://metakaolin. The Pesticides Act (1999) obviously needs a significant overhaul in order for it to take into account the duel imperatives of the concept of Chemical Trespass and basic human rights (the right to be notified of a chemical application). accessed: July 04. currently a task being undertaken by the Australian Chemical Trauma Alliance (ACTA) in South Australia. Many lipophilic compounds tested were found to permeate to a detectable level in consumers’ tap water within a month at one third of their aqueous solubilities. 16th May 2004). Concrete slabs are well known to soak up water and chemicals from their surrounds. Jenkins & Selleck 1991).

LCPC Paris. AWWA Bookstore Download Center. Holsen. Ph. Cooper Union Student Chapter. 01-5 December 2001.safeencasement. 2000 [online].xypex. accessed: June 25. Caractérisation microstructurale et hydrique des pâtes de ciment et des bétons ordinaires et à très hautes http://www.pdf. 2004. accessed: July 27. 467. 2004. accessed: June 2004. L. PO BOX 255 Lavington NSW 2641. revised June 5. Xypex Chemical Corporation. LMT Cachan 61. Haouas. http://arwbled2004.npc-eagle. 2000. Canada. Safe Encasement Systems Midwest 2001. Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées.csiro..scix.. accessed: June 25. Water Permeability vs Waterproof -. Jenkins.healthyhomeassociation. Patrick J. 2003. R. May 25.. Encasement For Mold And Mildew Situations.htm.techstreet.htm. 2004. Richmond. A. accessed: June 26. thesis.6. Ph.. & Moranville. Lamour. Technical Bulletin No. pp. New Solution to Costly Alumina Industry Concrete Failure. accessed: June 26. accessed: May 15. .cmit. Bontoux.M.K.asp?dealer=5011& T. Journal of the American Water Works Association (October). Eagle Cement (Natal Portland Cement) [online]. B. Chemo-hydro-mechanical behavior of concrete at early ages. [online]. http://www. McGrath. http://www. Concrete M.. and Selleck.htm. CSIRO 2001 [online].D.E. 2004) Healthy Home Association 2003 [online]. Park. 2004.ASCE Met Section Construction ‘Permeation of Polybutylene Pipe and Gasket Material by Organic Chemicals’.za/site/awdep.. Australia. Avenue du Pdt Wilson 94235 Cachan Cedex France. 1991 [online].Murray Thompson August 2004 CHEMICAL DIFFUSION THROUGH CONCRETE 7 Baroghel-Bouny V. D. http://www.pdf. (1994). http://www. http://www. 45 Union Road.

Hamdan. http://www.htm.C.C.. Xypex Chemical Corporation 2002b [online]. eds. in Landfilling of Waste: Barriers. S. Frequently Asked Xypex Chemical Corporation 2002a [online] accessed: July 04. http://www. London.hi-dry. TX. accessed: July 27. Building Research Institute. Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. Watanabe. 2004) Polyguard Products Inc. Spon. (http://www. 75120-0755. 94300 Kota Samarahan.H. Cossu and R.ndt.csiro. R. GENERAL STRATEGIES FOR PREDICTING PHYSICAL DURABILITY OF BUILDING AND BUILDING COMPONENTS. UK. Japan. Faculty of Engineering. accessed: June 19. Sarawak.polyguardproducts. E. 2004. R. ‘Diffusive transport of pollutants through clay liners’. & F. UndersealTM XT 750 Positive Side Vertical Waterproofing Membrane with Built-in Protection Board . Rowe. E.K.p Tsukuba. http://www. 2002 [online].xypex.Murray Thompson August 2004 CHEMICAL DIFFUSION THROUGH CONCRETE 8 Sutan. T.cmit. http://www. accessed: June 25. 2004. Malaysia. 2004) * * * . 2004. Christensen. N. [online] 2003. 1994. accessed: June 25. and Jin.pdf. Ennis.

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