use of concrete forms for subfloor (posted by J.E. Millican)

[ASKNACHI]This question was posted on by J.E. Millican (from MOSES LAKE, WA 98837). [/ASKNACHI]1/8/2008

About a year ago, in early January of 2007 I became ill with what I thought may have been some form of the flu. After consulting my regular physician she referred me to another doctor. After seeing many specialists and with no apparent answers I eventually saw an allergist in September. By this time I had quit my job due to my inability to do much at all. My symptoms include extreme fatigue, headache, nausea, dizziness, bronchial problems, sneezing and weakness. I am now receiving early retirement (I am 62) and have filed for disability.

One of the things that the allergist suggested I do was have my house inspected, as I might be suffering from “sick house syndrome”. I did this and found that I had elevated levels of VOC’s, especially in my garage and master bedroom. I had someone pull up the carpet in the master bedroom and we again measured the VOC’s and found that they had risen. We also noticed that the plywood subfloor was made from what appeared to be 2’ x 8’ concrete forms that had been treated with some form of petroleum based substance.

Since the carpet was pulled up I am not able to spend much time at all in the room as my symptoms become worse quickly. I have since felt mostly worse if I am in the house. I have consulted with my attorney and he is attempting to find someone to take my case. I am looking for anyone who might be able to help me determine if they are aware of a similar situation and how it was resolved.


J.E. Millican

Your attorney should be able to answer that question.

What does that stand for?

Thanks …Mike
Never saw that abreviation being used till now.


The petroleum based substance you are referring to is form oil which is used to prevent the forms from sticking to the poured concrete. This oil is definetely toxic and a known carcinogen, when we apply it to our forms we are to wear respirators. I know this because I have been a Formsetter for the past seven years , forming and pouring foundations for residential and commercial construction. Any builder who used this plywood for a subfloor is an idiot ,and shouldn’t be in construction if he doesn’t realize that the form oil could be a health hazard. Good Luck and I hope you don’t suffer any extended health problems.

Is there any way to possibly seal the forms or encapsulate to stop the off gassing from the sub floor?

Have you considered installing a heat recovery ventilator to increase air changes in the house or those particular rooms?

I did a quick Google search using the following…
“sealing to prevent VOC off gassing”

Form Release Agents Defining, selecting and applying concrete form release agents.