Pyrrhotite Problems Massachusetts
A mineral called pyrrhotite that for decades was put into a concrete mixture used to build thousands of homes in Connecticut and Massachusetts is causing the foundations to crumble. The worst-hit homes finally get some relief this summer.
As many as 34,000 homes constructed in northeastern Connecticut between 1983 and 2000 may have concrete foundations containing pyrrhotite and are at risk of cracking or crumbling. Pyrrhotite is an iron sulfide that can be found naturally in aggregates, or rocky materials such as gravel, sand, or stone that are added to cement to make concrete. When iron sulfides are exposed to oxygen and water, a series of chemical reactions convert the iron sulfides into other compounds.
These other compounds are expansive – take up more space than the original iron sulfides – and ultimately lead to cracks or holes in the concrete. The cracks in the concrete foundations grow over
time, putting the inhabitants of the homes at risk.
Homes across western Massachusetts are at risk of becoming structurally unsound. The presence of the mineral pyrrhotite is leaving homeowners with crumbling foundations and no way out. When the mineral pyrrhotite is exposed to oxygen and water it reacts and causes swelling and cracking
Massachusetts homeowners whose foundations crumble beneath them because their concrete is tainted by a reactive mineral got some potential help this week from the Statehouse.
Lawmakers approved a program that could reimburse people for having their concrete inspected or analyzed in a laboratory to see if it is contaminated with the offending pyrrhotite. Lawmakers also approved a separate proposal to create a commission to study the problem, which might affect thousands of homes in eastern Hampden, southern Hampshire and western Worcester counties.