Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dangers of asbestos: Widow blames lung cancer on husband's exposure at work

Companies need to keep workers'
health and safety in mind -
or they may face costly litigation.
The widow of a man who recently died of lung cancer has filed a lawsuit against the company that employed him for exposing him to asbestos.

According to an article in The Record in April, Katherine Jackson filed a lawsuit in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Illinois Central Railroad, alleging that the exposure caused her deceased husband’s fatal condition.

Jackson alleges her recently deceased husband, Claudy Jackson, worked as a fireman for the railroad company from 1948 until 1951. 

During that time, Claudy Jackson was exposed to asbestos, diesel exhaust, environmental tobacco smoke, silica, welding fumes, toxic dusts, gases and other fumes, according to the complaint.

As a result of his exposure, Claudy Jackson experienced great pain, disability, mental anguish and nervousness and incurred medical costs, the suit states, and on April 26, 2008, Claudy Jackson died after a battle against lung cancer.

His wife claims the company did not follow proper health and safety procedures and is seeking a judgment of more than $200,000, plus costs.

Source: The Record

The dangers of asbestos exposure

The WHO identifies asbestos as one of the most dangerous occupational carcinogens, declaring the need to eliminate asbestos use and associated health damages. An estimated 107,000 people worldwide die from asbestos-related diseases.

Asbestos is a mineral fiber commonly used for insulation in constructions. It is relatively affordable, which makes it attractive in developing countries.

Asbestos-related lung diseases, particularly mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis (asbestos induced lung fibrosis), typically develop after decades of lag time from first exposure.

Protect workers' health and safety with powerful air cleaners

Air purifiers and major air filtration systems from Electrocorp designed for mold and asbestos abatement projects can help keep the indoor air clean by removing chemicals, particles, fibers and gases from the air with a large activated carbon filter and a HEPA filter.

Electrocorp's air cleaners use only safe and proven filtration technologies. Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Related posts
  
 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wildfires lead to busier ERs: Report

Wildfires can lead to poor air
quality and health complaints.
People who are exposed to wildfire smoke – particularly that from smoldering peat – are at risk of suffering from cardiac and respiratory illness, according to new research led by EPA.

The health complaints associated with wildfire smoke dramatically increased the number of emergency room visits, says the study, which examined the 2008 peat bog fire along the North Carolina coast.

ERs saw a 66 percent increase in people complaining about heart and lung conditions such as asthma, heart failure, heart attacks and others while the wildfires were burning and for several days afterwards.

Toxic chemicals released by wildfires 

Peat bog fires such as the 2008 fire the team studied release more irritating chemicals than normal forest fires, Cascio says, although scientists don’t yet fully understand how those chemicals affect the body.

Peat bog fires are different from more typical forest fires because the soil burns along with the vegetation, according to Chris Meggs of the N.C. Forestry Service.

The burning soil lends a different smell to the smoke and is the reason that these fires release more irritating chemicals.

There were at least two such fires burning in North Carolina this spring, and many more continue to rage across North America.

Officials, employers urged to act during wildfires

Researchers involved in the study hope to help public health officials manage wildfire events.

These types of studies have provided valuable insights to affected communities in the past and prompted officials to evacuate some schools and advise businesses to close during raging wildfires.

Another important goal of the EPA study, according to the article, was to shed light on which people are most sensitive to wildfire smoke.

It’s not just asthmatics who need to beware of smoke, researchers say, but also “patients with heart failure, (who) should be particularly aware.”

Source: News & Observer

Industrial-strength air cleaners for better indoor air

AllerAir and its industrial division Electrocorp offer air filtration systems with high efficiency particle filters and deep-bed activated carbon filters to help remove harmful chemicals, particles and odors associated with tobacco and wildfire smoke.

Clients can choose from powerful air purifiers for the home and office to industrial-strength units for use in various commercial and industrial applications, for spaces ranging in size from 500 sq. ft to 500,000 sq. ft.

Contact Electrocorp air quality experts at 1-866-667-0297 for more information.


Related Posts
  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Banana workers blame chemical for sterility, health problems

The chemical DBCP was banned
in the US in the late 1970s.
In a major health and safety complaint, Latin American banana workers have filed a series of lawsuits against company giants such as Shell Oil, Dole Food Company and Dow Chemical, among others, for exposure to a harmful pesticide between 1960 and 1985.

The banana farmers from Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica allege they have been exposed to the chemical dipromochloropropane, commonly known as DBCP.

It was sold under the trade names Fumazone, Nemagon and Oxy 12.

The workers injected the chemical into the soil or sprayed it on the plantations to protect the produce against microscopic worms called nematodes.

They were exposed to the toxic chemical for more than two decades and suffer varying degrees of sterility, the lawsuits claim.

The chemical, which has long been banned from use in the United States, has also been linked with cancer, miscarriages, corneal damage, chronic skin disorders and renal system failure.

In the case of the banana workers, the inability to have children also left them stigmatized in their communities, where large families are the norm, the claims say.

The lawyer who is bringing the cases to US courts says they have evidence that the companies knew well in advance of the chemical’s harmful side-effects.

The claim quotes a confidential animal testing report from Shell, prepared by its consultant toxicology expert in 1958, which said that “among the rats that died, the gross legions were especially prominent in lungs, kidneys and testes”, and the report concluded that “Testes were extremely atrophied.”

Subsequent tests also allegedly showed that DBCP was "readily absorbed through the skin and high in toxicity in inhalation" and that "testicular atrophy may result from prolonged, repeated exposure."

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified DBCP as a suspected carcinogen in 1976, and the chemical was banned in the United States by 1979. However, the lawsuits claim that use of the chemical continued on some plantations until the 1990s.

Source: Courthouse News Service, The Independent


Worried about chemical exposure?

Electrocorp has designed air filtration systems to improve the indoor air quality for workers in chemical processing plants, warehouses, and many other industrial and commercial uses.

The air cleaners use a very deep bed of activated carbon to remove chemicals, gases, fumes and irritating odors from the air.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.


Related articles

Monday, June 27, 2011

Volcanic air pollution -– a hazard to workers in volcanic regions

Volcanic eruptions release toxic gases
and substances in the air.
With volcanic eruptions disrupting the lives of residents in Chile, Iceland, Hawaii and other regions, Electrocorp’s air quality experts have been receiving e-mails and calls about air filtration systems for volcanic smog (VOG).

Volcanic eruptions release noxious sulfur dioxide gas and other pollutants into the atmosphere, which react with the oxygen and atmospheric moisture to produce volcanic smog (VOG) and acid rain.

The ash clouds do not only affect flight traffic – they can pose serious health risks for the people living and working in the affected regions.

Health effects of volcanic smog

VOG has been shown to aggravate pre-existing respiratory ailments, while acid rain can damage crops and leach lead into building water supplies. It consists of gases as well as tiny liquid and solid particles. VOG is composed of sulfuric acid and other sulfate compounds and it can also contain toxic metals.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2, the main component of VOG) is a poisonous gas that can penetrate deeply into the airway and cause respiratory distress in some individuals. The tiny aerosol particles in volcanic smog can also penetrate deeply into the lungs and irritate the tissue.

People living and working in areas downwind of active volcanoes have complained about a wide range of health effects, including skin irritation and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.

Source: US Geological Survey (USGS)

Air cleaners for VOG

Electrocorp and AllerAir have designed air purifiers for VOG that remove dangerous airborne chemicals, gases and particles associated with VOG. Electrocorp is the industrial division of AllerAir Industries.

The specially designed air cleaners feature a custom blend of deep-bed activated carbon for enhanced adsorption of noxious chemicals and gases, as well as a medical grade HEPA or Super-HEPA for the removal of fine particles.

Suggested air purifiers from AllerAir for homes and offices affected by volcanic smog include the 5000 VOG and Air Medic+ VOG.

Electrocorp’s in-house technical design team works with environmental consultants, government agencies and IAQ professionals to provide complete air cleaning solutions to a wide variety of industrial and commercial applications.

Suggested air filtration systems from Electrocorp are dependent on the size of the indoor space and include the RAP Series, RSU Series and I-6500 Series, among others. The systems can help clean the air in spaces ranging from 500 sq. ft. to 500,000 sq. ft. (SSU Series).

For more information, contact an Electrocorp exec rep at 1-866-667-0297. Ask about the special carbon blend for VOG and other groundbreaking features.

Note: Always follow public advisories and evacuation orders.

Friday, June 24, 2011

OSHA warns of poor indoor air quality in commercial buildings

IAQ in office buildings and public institutions
should become a priority, report says.
In a new guidance document for building managers, owners and employers,  the Occupational Safety and Health Administration calls indoor air quality (IAQ) “a major concern” because it can impact the health, comfort, well-being and productivity of building occupants and employees.

For many office workers, city high-rises and large offices that accommodate many workers have become the norm.

Workers typically spend 40 hours or more a week in these office buildings.


The indoor air quality in commercial and institutional buildings is dependent on the following factors:

  • The building’s original design
  • Location
  • Renovations
  • Ventilation (HVAC system)
  • Maintenance of the building envelope and HVAC systems

While the reasons for poor IAQ may vary, but the OSHA document names overcrowding, dampness (mold), and internally generated pollutants from building materials, cleaning products and mechanical equipment such as office printers as common sources.


Health effects of poor indoor air quality

Many workers can be affected by poor IAQ, depending on their immune system and levels of exposure.

Symptoms may include irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, dizziness, rashes, muscle pain, fatigue, aggravated asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Bad IAQ has also been linked to respiratory disease, heart disease and cancer.

Apart from short-term and long-term health effects, poor indoor air quality can also affect worker productivity and lead to costly repairs or other expenses.

That is why OSHA recommends a proactive approach to address IAQ concerns and to put measures in place that will prevent problems or make it easier to deal with problems if and when they occur. This may help employers save costs, increase operating efficiency and improve worker productivity.

For a complete guide to proactive IAQ management in commercial buildings and institutions, read the OSHA report.


Improve IAQ instantly with portable air cleaners
Ink fumes from office printers may irritate
workers and contribute to poor IAQ.

While it is important to maintain existing HVAC systems, often they simply do not provide enough ventilation and airflow, especially in large or overcrowded offices. In addition, the fumes from printers and electronic equipment may affect workers nearby.

Electrocorp offers specialized air cleaners to improve the indoor air quality in offices and commercial buildings quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.

Electrocorp’s product line includes portable air cleaners such as the RAP and RSU Series, the Numerical Series for smaller offices, the PrintSafe air purifier with source capture for printers, the I-6500 Series for larger spaces and a variety of other products to provide cleaner air instantly.
Electrocorp's PrintSafe
for office printers.

The reliable air cleaners are designed to work around-the-clock and require very little maintenance.

Electrocorp’s air filters are so effective because they incorporate a deep-bed activated carbon filter as well as a HEPA filter for the removal of chemicals, particles, mold mycotoxins, odors and other irritants.

Many Electrocorp air filters can also accommodate a UV lamp to neutralize biological contaminants such as bacteria, viruses and mold spores (mycotoxins).

Contact one of Electrocorp’s air quality experts for more information: 1-866-667-0297.
 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Natural gas and air pollution - How does fracking affect the environment and residents?


Play Video

One of our colleagues from the blog Air Quality Online by AllerAir posted an interesting video report done for the New York Times on the concerns of local residents living in the shadows of natural gas development.

This has been a hotly debated topic for a while, since natural gas production was touted as a "greener" energy source, and witnessed an explosion of growth all over North America.

Opponents argue that the production process spews serious pollutants into the air like VOCs and other toxins that may have serious long-term health effects. One former EPA employee says the industry has been given a pass on environmental laws.

In media reports and documentaries such as Gasland, residents in the areas near compressors started complaining about contaminated soil and water, bad smells, persistent headaches, sore throats, dizziness, nausea and nose bleeds, among other concerns.

Air quality tests in homes have shown the existence of toxic pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, benzene, toluene and formaldehyde. Health effects caused by long-term exposure to these substances (even low levels) have not been established officially - yet.

For homeowners, business owners and employees concerned about natural gas, VOCs and indoor air quality, AllerAir and its industrial division Electrocorp offer heavy-duty chemical and odor control air cleaners for residential use and air scrubbers for commercial use.

AllerAir and Electrocorp units use deep-bed activated carbon air filters (the same material often used in gas masks) to remove airborne chemicals, gases and odors.

Contact one of our air quality experts for more information, and to find the right air filtration system for your needs: 1-866-667-0297.
 


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

IAQ in commercial and institutional buildings

Commercial buildings need work
to maintain good IAQ.
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) just released the “Indoor Air Quality in Commercial and Institutional Buildings” booklet.

This guidance document provides practical recommendations that aim to prevent or minimize IAQ problems in commercial and institutional buildings, and help resolve such problems quickly if they do arise.

The document guides to employers to help keep their buildings free of pollutants and conditions that lead to poor IAQ.

It also provides information on good IAQ management, including control of airborne pollutants, introduction and distribution of adequate make-up air, and maintenance of an acceptable temperature and humidity.

The booklet is available on the OSHA website - http://www.osha.gov/Publications/3430indoor-air-quality-sm.pdf

More details to come soon.

Green buildings can contribute to poor IAQ: Report

A new Institute of Medicine report says that the recent green building boom may have a negative impact on the average new construction's indoor air quality.

Untested new materials, airtight construction for energy efficiency and other building retrofits could either limit or alter the air flow inside buildings and it could lead to the accumulation of indoor air pollutants such as chemical emissions. Prolonged exposure may cause Sick Building Syndrome and other health effects.

Among the problems outlined in the report were indoor dampness which can lead to active mold growth, poor ventilation, excessive temperatures and emissions from building materials and equipment such as improperly placed back-up power generators.

Government agencies and other organizations are developing and promoting protocols to evaluate emissions from furnishings, building materials, and appliances, but more needs to be done to make prevention of health problems a priority, the report says.

"America is in the midst of a large experiment in which weatherization efforts, retrofits, and other initiatives that affect air exchange between the indoor and outdoor environments are taking place and new building materials and consumer products are being introduced indoors with relatively little consideration as to how they might affect the health of occupants," said committee chair John D. Spengler, from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston.

"An upfront investment to consider the consequences of these actions before they play out and to avoid problems where they can be anticipated will yield benefits in health and in averted costs of medical care, remediation, and lost productivity."

The report calls for updated building codes and standards for ventilation as well as regular testing.

Worried about IAQ, lost productivity and employee health and safety?

Electrocorp designs portable and HVAC-compatible air filtration systems to improve indoor air quality in office buildings, schools and universities, bars and restaurants and any buildings or businesses where odors, chemicals and particles are a concern.

Contact one of Electrocorp’s air quality experts to find out more about the most complete air cleaners with large activated carbon plus HEPA filters for commercial and industrial uses.
   

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Environmental fallout from wildfires and related IAQ concerns

Wildfires have a long-lasting effect on
the environment and human health.
Wildfires leave much more behind than fire-scarred buildings, ash and a swath of destruction.

As homeowners and business owners all over North America return to the regions that were affected by wildfires raging in Utah, Arizona, Florida, Colorado, Alaska and Alberta (see AllerAir's Q&A blog post), experts are worried about the environmental legacy they will encounter.

"If there's a really heavy fire and you burn up plastic ... you'll end up with some of that residual, partially burnt plastic in the soil," said Anne Naeth, a biologist and expert in land reclamation at the University of Alberta, in a recent article from The Canadian Press.

Not only were houses and businesses burnt to the ground, wildfires also claimed vehicles, gas stations and other sources of inorganic and organic toxins.

Many of those compounds, including zinc, lead, mercury, copper, cadmium from burned wiring, piping, auto parts, broken lights and thermometers; dioxins and furans from burning tires; PCBs and PAHs, probably phthalates and polybrominated compounds from other burned plastics, upholstery, etc may dissipate quickly, experts say.

Exposure to heavy metals a concern

However, the article cites one of the few studies done on the environmental impact of wildfires in residential areas, which suggests that heavy metals will probably stick around. The U.S. Geological Survey looked into what happened after fires in southern California roared through residential developments in 2007.

"For arsenic, lead and antimony, concentrations in one or both of the residential composite ash samples approach or exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency residential soil preliminary remediation guidelines," the report says.

The study also found elevated levels of chromium. As well, it found the remaining ash was so alkaline it was caustic — significantly more so than ash from woodland fires.

Exposure to heavy metals has been linked with developmental retardation, various cancers and kidney damage.

Environmental experts also voiced concerns about damaged soil, since the heat bakes the clay component of dirt almost as if firing it in a kiln, leaving it unable to absorb water.

Source: Canadian Press

Indoor air quality may suffer after wildfire

Wildfire smoke poses a very serious health risk as 80 to 90% of wildfire smoke is within the fine particle range. These fine particles are generally less than 2.5 microns in diameter and can penetrate deep into the body. 

An increase in this type of airborne particulate matter has been linked to numerous health problems including headaches, nausea, dizziness, respiratory problems, strokes and heart attacks.

Children, pregnant women, those suffering from existing respiratory conditions and older adults are even more susceptible to the effects of wildfire smoke particulate.

Smoke can also travel far beyond the main burn zone. Studies show that even a small increase in airborne fine particulate matter can affect overall health.

Air cleaners for better indoor air quality

AllerAir and Electrocorp offer air filtration systems with high efficiency particle filters and deep-bed activated carbon filters to remove harmful chemicals, particles and odors associated with tobacco and wildfire smoke.

Clients can choose from powerful air purifiers for the home and office to industrial-strength units for use in various commercial and industrial applications.

Call 1-866-667-0297 to contact Electrocorp.
   

Monday, June 20, 2011

Class action suit targets benzene spill

Vapor intrusion can harm people's health
and property values, a lawsuit claims.
Toxic vapors entering homes and buildings are not only damaging to human health, they can also hurt property values, according to one recently filed lawsuit.

 Three law firms have filed a class action lawsuit in Madison County, alleging a 1986 Shell Oil Co. benzene spill and intrusion into residences have damaged the groundwater and reduced the value of people's homes.

Property values have dropped, and residents cannot sell their homes, leaving them "trapped in their homes," the suit claims.

Most previous lawsuits involving chemical or benzene spills have concentrated on seeking damages for serious health effects, including cancer.

This lawsuit claims that benzene and other poisonous hydrocarbons have contaminated the groundwater and the soil underneath the village of Roxana. This plume of toxins has destroyed the value of the real estate in Roxana and has placed in serious jeopardy the health of Roxana's residents, it says.

The benzene in the groundwater exposes the Roxana residents to benzene vapor intrusion into their homes, attorney Chris Dysart said.

The complaint alleges that among the toxic chemicals released, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency documented the release of 8,400 gallons of pure benzene in 1986 from an underground pipeline that extended from the Wood River Refinery in Roxana to a barge-loading facility on the Mississippi River.

The complaint alleges that the defendants did nothing to clean up or otherwise address the toxic chemicals, including benzene, for more than 20 years.

Source: The Telegraph



Vapor intrusion? The right air filtration systems can help clean the air


Along with other measures to minimize the risks of vapor intrusion in single or two-family dwellings, environmental consultants often turn towards air cleaners with specialized blends of granular activated carbon to purify the air.


Electrocorp works with environmental consultants, consulting firms, environmental agencies and companies to provide industrial-strength air filtration solutions that safely remove chemicals, gases, vapors, fumes and odors in indoor environments.

Our powerful, portable air filters come equipped with the deepest beds of granular activated carbon on the market and provide a cost-effective indoor air quality solution with proven technologies to help reduce human exposure to contaminants.
RSU Series

Electrocorp’s small footprint, high-performance air filtration systems become efficient mitigation allies for challenging vapor intrusion and soil remediation projects that involve single- or two-family dwellings.

Recommended air filtration systems include:

Electrocorp offers units with negative and positive pressure and with custom carbon blends to target specific airborne chemicals and vapors.

Our engineers and air quality experts are standing by to provide you with a customized air filtration system that works.

Contact us today for more information:
Toll free: 1-866-667-0297
Website: www.electrocorp.net
Inquiries: info@electrocorp.net

  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

EPA releases information on hundreds of chemicals

EPA released two databases to inform
scientists and the public about the toxicity
of certain chemicals.
Searchable databases on chemical toxicity and exposure data now available

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making it easier to find data about chemicals.

EPA is releasing two databases — the Toxicity Forecaster database (ToxCastDB) and a database of chemical exposure studies (ExpoCastDB) — that scientists and the public can use to access chemical toxicity and exposure data.

Improved access supports EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priorities of protecting Americans’ health by assuring the safety of chemicals and expanding the conversation on environmentalism.

“Chemical safety is a major priority of EPA and its research,” said Dr. Paul Anastas, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

“These databases provide the public access to chemical information, data and results that we can use to make better-informed and timelier decisions about chemicals to better protect people’s health.”

ToxCastDB users can search and download data from over 500 rapid chemical tests conducted on more than 300 environmental chemicals.

ToxCast uses advanced scientific tools to predict the potential toxicity of chemicals and to provide a cost-effective approach to prioritizing which chemicals of the thousands in use require further testing. ToxCast is currently screening 700 additional chemicals, and the data will be available in 2012.

ExpoCastDB consolidates human exposure data from studies that have collected chemical measurements from homes and child care centers. Data include the amounts of chemicals found in food, drinking water, air, dust, indoor surfaces and urine.

ExpoCastDB users can obtain summary statistics of exposure data and download datasets. EPA will continue to add internal and external chemical exposure data and advanced user interface features to ExpoCastDB.

The new databases link together two important pieces of chemical research — exposure and toxicity data — both of which are required when considering potential risks posed by chemicals.

The databases are connected through EPA’s Aggregated Computational Toxicology Resource (ACToR), an online data warehouse that collects data on over 500,000 chemicals from over 500 public sources.

Users can now access 30 years worth of animal chemical toxicity studies that were previously only found in paper documents, data from rapid chemical testing, and various chemical exposure measurements through one online resource.

The ability to link and compare these different types of data better informs EPA’s decisions about chemical safety.

More information about the databases:
ToxCastDB: http://actor.epa.gov/actor/faces/ToxCastDB/Home.jsp
ExpoCastDB: http://actor.epa.gov/actor/faces/ExpoCastDB/Home.jsp
ACToR: http://actor.epa.gov
 

RAP Series: Robust air cleaners with a small-footprint design

Electrocorp's RAP Series:
Powerful air cleaners
Electrocorp’s Radial Air Purifiers (RAP) series features some of the most versatile and effective air cleaners in the company’s diverse lineup of industrial-strength air purifiers.

The RAPs are available in different sizes, from 23.5” height x 12” diameter up to 62” height and 22” diameter. They feature a deep-bed activated carbon filter for the removal of chemicals, gases and odors as well as an electrostatic particle filter or a Super-HEPA.

The powerful micro-HEPA + carbon combination gives these air cleaners one of the largest and most extensive adsorbent areas, allowing them to capture odor-causing pollutants more efficiently than other units.

The RAP air cleaners can accommodate 15 to 120 pound activated carbon filters and can be customized even more with regards to the filter media and carbon blends.

Around-the-clock air cleaning

The RAP units are portable, free-standing, plug-and-go air purifiers with a round design for maximum efficiency.  They are engineered for around-the-clock operation with a quiet, modern design.

The main body of the air purifier is covered by metal mesh housing, combining a large-volume air intake with robust and protective features.
RAP air cleaners can have a UV
lamp for added protection.

The overall design and capabilities of the RAP Series makes these units the best choice for clients who need fast and effective chemical and odor relief and who are concerned about biological contaminants such as mold spores, bacteria and viruses, since the RAPs can also be equipped with a UV light.


Recommended industries for the RAP air filters:
Electrocorp is a leader in the research and development of complete and reliable air quality management solutions for industrial and commercial applications.

For more information, visit electrocorp.net or call 1.888.667.0297.


Find out more about Electrocorp's air filtration systems:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Water infiltration -- bad news for buildings

Water infiltration can lead to mold problems
and sick building syndrome.
For anyone owning, managing or occupying a building or house, water leaks and water infiltration can become big problems.

Not only can extreme moisture lead to active mold growth after only 24 to 48 hours, the source of the water problem is often very difficult to find.

As Canadian building and renovations specialist and TV series host Mike Holmes explained in a recent column, there are many ways water can sneak past a building’s defenses.

Most people connect water infiltration with a leaking roof and will call a roofer right away, but Holmes points out that in many cases, the problem has nothing at all to do with the roof.

Common causes for water infiltration in a home or building:
  • The obvious causes: a hole in the roof or a crack in the foundation or caulking
  • Damp spots can be caused by water vapor entering through the exterior walls, if there is a break in the house wrap and water barrier
  • Water infiltration through permeable materials like wood or concrete
  • Condensation from inside the home or building disguising itself as a leak
  • Leak in the chimney flashing
Some of the entry points of the water can far away from where the water leak actually shows up.

How to deal with mysterious damp spots:
  1. Start with a good roofer. Water makes its way from top to bottom, and so should you.
  2. Use common sense. If the water damage appears underneath a window, it is likely because of the window.
  3. Identify the building’s vulnerable points. Materials wear out, dry out or crumble over time. Inspect the roof, the flashing where the chimney or soffits meet the roof or where different types of exterior sheathing meet, the chimney, the caulking around windows and doors.
  4. Enlist the help of a building inspector with a thermographic camera, which can be used to trace the water path and identify the source.
Source: “Water isn’t always the result of a roof leak” by Mike Holmes, Making it Right

Indoor air quality in buildings with water intrusion

Many buildings suffer from mold if water intrusion has occurred. Mold produces mold spores, which in turn contain mycotoxins that can be harmful to human health. People who react to mold can experience symptoms like nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, skin irritation and even fever and lung infections.

Besides finding the source of the water intrusion, dehumidifying the air and ensure adequate ventilation, an air filtration system with activated carbon + HEPA can improve the indoor air quality immensely by removing airborne chemicals, vapors, particles, mold spores and mycotoxins.

Electrocorp has designed air filtration systems for large buildings (facility management), mold and asbestos abatement, construction and renovation projects as well as for Home and Office use (sold under the AllerAir brand).

Contact one of our air quality experts for more information.


Related Posts:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Asbestos-related diseases and deaths in Asia to surge: doctor

Data shows that Asian countries
use the most asbestos.
In a recent press release, health officials warn that morbidity and asbestos-related diseases in Asia may increase sharply over the next 20 years, as Asia now accounts for 64 percent of asbestos use worldwide.

Dr. Ken Takahashi, Acting Director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Occupational Health, and his team put together important data on asbestos use in 47 Asian countries in an article in Respirology.

Their data showed that Cyprus, Israel and Japan had the highest age-adjusted mortality rates in Asia.

Asian countries accounted for 64% of the global consumption of asbestos in the period of 2001-2007, a striking increase from 14% between 1920 and 1970. This is a result of unregulated asbestos import and use in many Asian countries.

"Despite concerns of the global ARD epidemic and Asia's growing importance in the world, data on current asbestos use and asbestos related diseases in Asia remain limited," said Dr. Ken Takahashi.

Asbestos – a serious health threat

The WHO identifies asbestos as one of the most dangerous occupational carcinogens, declaring the need to eliminate asbestos use and associated health damages. An estimated 107,000 people worldwide die from asbestos-related diseases.

Asbestos is a mineral fiber commonly used for insulation in constructions. It is relatively affordable, which makes it attractive in developing countries.

Asbestos-related lung diseases, particularly mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis (asbestos induced lung fibrosis), typically develop after decades of lag time from first exposure.

Source: Wiley-Blackwell


Protect workers' health and safety with powerful air cleaners

Air purifiers and major air filtration systems from Electrocorp designed for mold and asbestos abatement projects can help keep the indoor air clean by removing chemicals, particles, fibers and gases from the air with a large activated carbon filter and a HEPA filter.

Our air purifiers use only safe and proven filtration technologies. Contact us for more information.

Related posts
  

Monday, June 13, 2011

Formaldehyde, other substances added to list of cancer-causing agents

The list of cancer-causing chemicals is growing.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has added eight substances to its Report on Carcinogens, a science-based document that identifies chemicals and biological agents that may put people at increased risk for cancer, a press release announced last week.

The industrial chemical formaldehyde and a botanical known as aristolochic acids are listed as known human carcinogens.

The Report on Carcinogens also lists six other substances – captafol, cobalt-tungsten carbide (in powder or hard metal form), certain inhalable glass wool fibers, o-nitrotoluene, riddelliine, and styrene – as substances that are reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.

With these additions, the 12th Report on Carcinogens now includes 240 listings.

"Reducing exposure to cancer-causing agents is something we all want, and the Report on Carcinogens provides important information on substances that pose a cancer risk," said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., director of both the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP). "The NTP is pleased to be able to compile this report."

John Bucher, Ph.D., associate director of the NTP added, "This report underscores the critical connection between our nation's health and what's in our environment."

A listing in the Report on Carcinogens does not by itself mean that a substance will cause cancer. Many factors, including the amount and duration of exposure, and an individual's susceptibility to a substance, affect whether a person will develop cancer.

More about airborne substances that may cause cancer

Formaldehyde is one of the more common indoor air pollutants because it is used in many construction and renovation materials, including plywood, carpeting, paints, glues, textiles, woodworking and cabinet-making.
Other sources include bath products, hair straightening treatments, cosmetics and personal care products. It is often found in paper product coatings and used as a preserving agent in labs and embalming, among others.
Formaldehyde can have toxic, allergenic and carcinogenic effects.

Cobalt-tungsten carbide (in powder and hard metal form) showed limited evidence of lung cancer in workers involved in cobalt-tungsten carbide hard metal manufacturing. Cobalt-tungsten carbide is used to make cutting and grinding tools, dies, and wear-resistant products for a broad spectrum of industries, including oil and gas drilling, as well as mining. In the United States, cobalt-tungsten hard metals are commonly referred to as cemented or sintered carbides.

Certain inhalable glass wool fibers made the list based on experimental animal studies. Not all glass wool or man-made fibers were found to be carcinogenic. The specific glass wool fibers referred to in this report have been redefined from previous reports on carcinogens to include only those fibers that can enter the respiratory tract, are highly durable, and are biopersistent, meaning they remain in the lungs for long periods of time.

o-Nitrotoluene is used as an intermediate in the preparation of azo dyes and other dyes, including magenta and various sulfur dyes for cotton, wool, silk, leather, and paper. It is also used in preparing agricultural chemicals, rubber chemicals, pesticides, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, and explosives. Workers are likely exposed to o-nitrotoluene through the skin or from breathing it during production and use. o-Nitrotoluene has also been detected in air and water near facilities that produce munitions, and near military training facilities.

Styrene is on the list based on human cancer studies, laboratory animal studies, and mechanistic scientific information. Styrene is a synthetic chemical used worldwide in the manufacture of products such as rubber, plastic, insulation, fiberglass, pipes, automobile parts, food containers, and carpet backing. People may be exposed to styrene by breathing indoor air that has styrene vapors from building materials, tobacco smoke, and other products. The greatest exposure to styrene in the general population is through cigarette smoking. Workers in certain occupations may potentially be exposed to much higher levels of styrene than the general population.

Source: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences


Air scrubbers provide cleaner indoor air

Electrocorp's air filtration systems help protect the health and safety of workers in a wide range of industries, including

Our air filtration systems remove persistent odors and harmful chemicals, gases, vapors and particles from the air, with the largest activated carbon filters and HEPA filters.

Contact us to find out more.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Officials to investigate health and safety risks for woodworkers

Woodworking involves many
health and safety risks.
Health and Safety officials in the UK will be evaluating the occupational risks for those in the wood-working and furniture-making industries, according to a recent article in the Guardian.

It has been 10 years since they last checked the risks officially, but a growing number of nasal cancer cases reported in longtime woodworkers prompted the new investigation.

Doctors say that woodworkers face 70 to 80 times the risk of a particular for of nasal cancer, which may develop decades after exposure to wood dust. Many other woodworkers report developing asthma as a result of their exposure to wood dust.

Workers are exposed to wood dust of a certain size and it is people who are sanding or lathing wood in conditions where they have to have quite a long exposure that they can develop this particular form of cancer, doctors said.

Often, woodoworkers are unaware they have nasal cancer until it is in an advanced state. Symptoms could be non-specific, including a blocked or runny nose with a bit of blood.

Source:  The Guardian

Woodworkers' health and safety risks

Apart from the noise, tools and other safety concerns, many of the risks associated with wood shops are connected to the air they breathe.

Wood dust, mold and fungus, sap and oils, chemical additives, and toxic solvents and adhesives can cause respiratory damage to woodworkers. Wearing a face mask often isn’t enough to stop the airborne toxins from affecting the woodworkers.

Along with sufficient ventilation and personal protective equipment, wood workers can benefit from an industrial-strength air filtration system for woodshops that is designed to handle a lot of fine dust.

It’s important to note that a simple air filter would not suffice. Filters would become clogged quickly. With a special bag filter option designed for large particle filtration, Electrocorp products such as the Dirty Dog or the I-6500 with Cyclone attachment are well equipped to work in environments with heavy sawdust or drywall dust.

The bag filters are easy to clean and reusable. This is an excellent option for situations where a HEPA filter would become blocked too quickly to be effective.

Contact us for more information: 1-866-667-0297.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Clean-up tips for flood-related mold

Mold removal may be necessary
after a flood.
The American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) warns that mold grows easily in flood-related conditions, which include standing water, humid air and wet surfaces.
      The longer these conditions remain, as in the current flooding in the South and the Midwest, the more the mold growth can spread. To address this, ASSE offers the following tips for people to consider when looking at how to clean up mold and minimize its adverse effects.

      Be prepared for the worst case scenario
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that ‘surfaces wet longer than 48 hours with “clean water” should be considered as potentially contaminated, and any surfaces in contact with “dirty water” should be considered contaminated’.
Be aware of local laws and regulations in your area concerning mold, and ask local experts for guidance.
 

      Take steps to protect your business or store from mold growth
In addition, to lessen the chances of a mold colony growing in a store/business, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that 1) the humidity level be kept below 50 percent; 2) an air conditioner or dehumidifier be used during humid months (depending on the climate); 3) adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans, in the kitchen and bathrooms, be used; 4) to add mold inhibitors to paints before applying them; 5) bathrooms be cleaned with mold-killing products; and, 6) not to put carpeting in bathrooms, basements, or other areas where moisture or water could be a concern.

 
      
Learn how to recognize mold and be aware of the health risks
Mold, ASSE members note, is a group of microscopic fungi, which also includes mildew and other organisms that rot materials on which they grow. Molds can often be invisible to the eye. A blotch of black, gray, white, red, orange, yellow, blue or violet fuzzy or slimy growth is usually the result of widespread mold growth. Besides infection and allergic reactions, excessive mold growth indoors can result in offensive, musty odors from the gases released by certain molds as they grow and die.


      
Clean up the mold
ASSE offers the following tips for cleaning a facility/building area affected by mold:
  • Avoid direct contact with affected mold areas as much as possible.
  • If it can be thrown away, throw it away. Replacements may be less expensive in the long term (and short term) than attempting to decontaminate some surfaces.
  • If it cannot be disposed of, decontaminate and then dry as thoroughly as possible. Moisture removal is a key factor to preventing future growth.
  • Wallboard can often be cut to the point of contamination and replaced with new sections.
  • Clean all tools after use, or dispose if possible, and also clean tools after each shift.
  • When in doubt about the structural integrity of a facility, obtain an evaluation by a licensed and qualified builder or structural engineer before entering. Medical clearance may also be necessary based upon the severity of mold in the area.
  • Individuals involved in mold remediation should be aware that attempts to mix chemicals to clean surfaces can cause further damage, such as the toxic gases that can be released when ammonia and bleach are mixed. Workers need to exercise caution, so as not to create additional hazards. The power supply (circuit breakers) should be turned off in the specific damaged areas/ high levels of moisture to avoid electrical shock hazards.



Concerned about mold in your building? 
 Electrocorp offers a range of indoor air purification units for mold and asbestos abatement projects to help keep workers and occupants safe during cleanup and to control mold in the future.
Contact us to find out more.
   

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Smoking ban improves air quality for bar and restaurant employees

Restaurants and bars often have to
deal with bad odors and stale tobacco.
When it comes to indoor air quality and bars and restaurants, a decrease in secondhand smoke exposure has a positive effect on the people working there.

A study of 40 Michigan bar employees revealed their exposure to secondhand smoke was nearly nonexistent 10 weeks after the smoke-free air law took effect in May 2010, according to a report in the Holland Sentinel.

The Michigan Department of Community Health study measured participants’ levels of cotinine, a nicotine metabolite, found in urine after tobacco exposure.

Four to six weeks before the smoke-free law took effect, the same bar employees’ cotinine levels were similar to levels seen in smokers.

As the study shows, their cotinine level was nearly undetectable six to 10 weeks after the law was implemented.

Though cotinine levels are the best indicators of secondhand smoke exposure, the study also measured participants’ levels of creatinine and NNAL, two chemicals also found in urine of those who have been exposed to secondhand smoke.

In the statewide study, creatinine levels remained about the same in the participants before and after the law took effect. NNAL mean levels went from .086 picomoles per milliliter to .034 picomoles per milliliter before and after the law took effect.

Workers also reported better overall general health and fewer respiratory symptoms after the law.

Source: Holland Sentinel

 
Indoor air quality in bars and restaurants

Even after a smoking ban comes into effect, bars and restaurants often have to deal with stale, lingering odors that are a normal byproduct from years of smoking.

Electrocorp offers a range of air filtration systems for bars and restaurants that can remove airborne, chemicals, odors and particles and improve the overall indoor air quality in the space.

Contact us to find out more.
  

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Asthma rates keep rising, CDC says

Asthma rates are rising, health
officials warn.
It's a development that is difficult to explain - even though outdoor air quality has been improved, there are more and more people being diagnosed with asthma, and the costs associated with treatments are staggering.

One of the reasons could be poor indoor air quality. The triggers that can cause an asthma attack can be found at work, in school and in most indoor environments we frequent, cautions a recent article from Occupational Health & Safety Online.

Asthma rates rising in the US

People diagnosed with asthma in the United States grew by 4.3 million between 2001 and 2009, according to a new Vital Signs report released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2009, nearly 1 in 12 Americans were diagnosed with asthma. In addition to increased diagnoses, asthma costs grew from about $53 billion in 2002 to about $56 billion in 2007, about a 6 percent increase. The explanation for the growth in asthma rates is unknown.

Asthma is a lifelong disease that causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing, though people with asthma can control symptoms and prevent asthma attacks by avoiding things that can set off an asthma attack, and correctly using prescribed medicine, like inhaled corticosteroids. The report highlights the benefits of essential asthma education and services that reduce the impact of these triggers, but most often these benefits are not covered by health insurers.

"Despite the fact that outdoor air quality has improved, we've reduced two common asthma triggers—secondhand smoke and smoking in general—asthma is increasing," said Paul Garbe, D.V.M., M.P.H, chief of CDC's Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch. "While we don't know the cause of the increase, our top priority is getting people to manage their symptoms better."

Asthma triggers at work, in school, indoors and outdoors

Asthma triggers are usually environmental and can be found at school, work, home, outdoors, and elsewhere and can include tobacco smoke, mold, outdoor air pollution, and infections linked to influenza, cold-like symptoms, and other viruses.

Asthma diagnoses increased among all demographic groups between 2001 and 2009, though a higher percentage of children reported having asthma than adults (9.6 percent compared to 7.7 percent in 2009).

Diagnoses were especially high among boys (11.3 percent). The greatest rise in asthma rates was among black children (almost a 50 percent increase) from 2001 through 2009. Seventeen percent of non-Hispanic black children had asthma in 2009, the highest rate among racial/ethnic groups.

Annual asthma costs in the United States were $3,300 per person with asthma from 2002 to 2007 in medical expenses. About 2 in 5 uninsured and 1 in 9 insured people with asthma could not afford their prescription medication.

"Asthma is a serious, lifelong disease that unfortunately kills thousands of people each year and adds billions to our nation's health care costs," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. "We have to do a better job educating people about managing their symptoms and how to correctly use medicines to control asthma so they can live longer more productive lives while saving health care costs."

How to manage asthma attacks

In an effort to reduce asthma attacks and the human and economic costs of asthma, CDC recommends:
  • Improving indoor air quality for people with asthma through measures such as smoke-free air laws and policies, healthy schools, and workplaces.
  • Teach patients how to avoid asthma triggers such as tobacco smoke, mold, pet dander, and outdoor air pollution.
  • Encouraging clinicians to prescribe inhaled corticosteroids for all patients with persistent asthma and to use a written asthma action plan to teach patients how manage their symptoms.
  • Promoting measures that prevent asthma attacks such as increasing access to corticosteroids and other prescribed medicines.
  • Encourage home environmental assessments and educational sessions conducted by clinicians, health educators, and other health professionals both within and outside of the clinical setting.
Source: Occupational Health & Safety Online


Improve IAQ at the workplace with powerful air cleaners

One of the many ways people can improve the indoor air quality in their buildings or workplaces involves a powerful air filtration system with deep-bed activated carbon and HEPA filtration technologies that provides the safest, most complete and most effective solution for the removal of airborne toxins, chemicals, particles and other irritants.

Electrocorp has designed a range of industrial-strength air filtration systems for various commercial and industrial applications, including

Contact one of our air quality experts to find the right air cleaning solution for your needs.

 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Chemical safety in the laboratory: The dehydration, embedding and staining process

Histology lab technicians work with
many potentially harmful chemicals.
Many histology laboratories employ complex dehydration, embedding and staining processes that involve harmful chemicals.

Ethanol
During the dehydration process, laboratory technicians may pass the tissue through an ethanol bath. Ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol) is a clear, colorless liquid with a characteristic, agreeable odor. It may cause damage to the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs and central nervous system. Long-term exposure has been linked to cancer and birth defects.

Xylene
After the ethanol, the tissue is often passed through xylene to remove the alcohol.
Xylene is a clear, colorless, sweet-smelling liquid that is often used as a solvent and in the printing, rubber, and leather industries. In histology, xylene is used for clearing the tissues following dehydration in preparation for paraffin wax infiltration. It is also used after sections have been stained to make them hydrophobic so that a coverslip may be applied with a resin in solvent.
Long-term exposure to xylene is said to cause "organic solvent syndrome", which negatively affects the nervous system and can cause symptoms such as headaches, depression, irritability, insomnia, extreme fatigue, tremors and short-term memory loss.

Paraffin
Paraffin wax is used for light microscopy. During the embedding process, dimethyl sulfoxide is often added to paraffin wax. Dimethyl sulfoxide has been linked to cancer, while molten paraffin wax creates droplets that are capable of damaging lungs.


Laboratory safety supply

Many laboratories have installed fume hoods that are ducted directly to a station and expel the fumes outdoors, or they may filter and redistribute the air. The safety equipment includes biosafety cabinets and snorkel exhaust.

Biosafety cabinets generally feature a HEPA filter, a UV light and a blower. They can filter out microorganisms, airborne pathogens and particles, but they are not recommended for protection against chemicals.


How you can improve indoor air quality in laboratories

An industrial-strength air filtration systems featuring activated carbon and HEPA filters (plus UV) can trap many gases that escape fume hoods.

The air cleaners can be portable, stand-alone units, or they may be attached to existing fume hoods to provide cleaner air.

Contact an Electrocorp IAQ expert to find out more about air filtration systems for laboratories and research facilities. Always consult a chemical or environmental expert when dealing with hazardous materials.
  
 
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Friday, June 3, 2011

Chemical safety in laboratories: Tissue preservation

Chemical safety is important for
laboratories and research facilities.
When it comes to laboratories and chemical safety, companies, managers and workers have to be extra vigilant to avoid health and safety problems.

Histology and pathology technicians are exposed to numerous laboratory hazards during the course of a day.

That is why laboratory safety is imperative; technicians must know and adhere to health and safety procedures that often include:
  • Emergency procedures
  • Disease reporting
  • Work safety instructions for equipment and work stations
  • Existing hazards and the controls in place to address them
  • Workers' rights under occupational health and safety guidelines
  • Laboratory safety and protective equipment needed to perform work safely

What do histology laboratories do?

Histology is the backbone of medicine; it involves the study of tissue. Histological stains are used to magnify microscopic structures to better study the tissue of animals and plants.

Fixation, dehydration, sectioning and staining are all part of a histology technician's tissue processing procedure, and it involves contact with highly toxic chemicals.


Chemicals used for fixation

Fixation is about tissue preservation. To maintain cell structure, chemicals like formalin (formaldehyde) are used for light microscopy. For electron microscopy, technicians need chemicals like glutaraldehyde, osmium tetroxide and uranyl acetate to make small structures visible.

Formaldehyde
Exposure to formaldehyde can cause irritation to the nose, throat and eyes, and it can also lead to coughing, nausea, wheezing. Studies have linked formaldehyde to cancer, including leukemia in humans.

Glutaraldehyde
Glutaraldehyde inhalation can cause coughing, choking, shortness of breath, nausea and headache. Exposure to this chemical has been linked to lung and respiratory tract damage as well as asthma.

Osmium tetroxide
This chemical is toxic and emits fumes even in its solid form. Exposure can lead to headache, wheezing, pulmonary edema and in extreme cases, death. Long-term low level exposure can cause insomnia larynx and pharynx damage. The chemical has also been linked to kidney damage.

Uranyl acetate
Inhaling this chemical can cause headaches, irritation of the upper respiratory tract and mucous membranes as well as kidney and liver damage. This chemical has also been classified as a carcinogen.


Air cleaners with activated carbon remove dangerous chemicals

Electrocorp specializes in customized air quality solutions and versatile units that effectively remove a wide range of serious contaminants to maintain safe, healthy and comfortable working environments that support scientific investigation.

Electrocorp's air filtration systems for laboratories include the RSU Series, the RAP Series, the I-6500 and the 6000 Series. Some units can be attached to the fume hood for extra protection against airborne chemicals.

Contact us to find the right indoor air quality solution for your laboratory or healthcare environment.


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