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June 8, 2001

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Send your questions about Iowa State sites, people, history, policies and "things" to Ask Inside, 2044 Communications, e-mail:

Q: I often notice a strong natural gas smell along Stange Road, near the entrance to Veenker golf course. Should I be calling someone when I smell gas there?

The short answer is "no." What you're smelling is an odorant added to natural gas by the natural gas supplier, in this case Alliant Energy (natural gas is naturally odorless). The fenced-in apparatus on the east side of Stange Road at this location is the site where Alliant adds the odorant for the gas lines that serve the ISU campus. When Alliant crews perform routine maintenance at that site, some residual odorant is left behind -- and that's what you're smelling. Humans have an extreme sensitivity to this odorant (we can smell it in a concentration of one-millionth of 1 percent), which is why it is used. The residual odorant you may smell in that locale is not a hazard.

Source: Lou Mitchell, ISU Environmental Health and Safety

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