Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hospital commits to green practices

Hospitals can become more
environmentally friendly.
The New Jersey Hackensack University Medical Center has officially agreed to become even more “green” by a memorandum of understanding with the EPA.

As part of their continued effort to “go green”, the hospital pledged to reduce air pollution, use less plastic, increase recycling efforts and initiate other environmentally friendly practices.

They plan to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent, install water-conserving equipment, complete a roof garden and more.

The hospital’s women’s and children’s buildings already boast a green design, top-notch energy system and non-toxic cleaning products.

In order to improve indoor air quality, the hospital is planning to install a “living wall” with more than 30 plant species that help clean the air and break down indoor air pollutants.

According to the North Jersey Record, the EPA has developed partnerships to aid hospitals, colleges, retail and other businesses in becoming more environmentally friendly, because buildings are responsible for 40 percent of the nation’s energy consumption and 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.

Source: North Jersey Record

Air cleaners for hospitals and healthcare settings

The indoor air quality in hospitals and healthcare facilities is often compromised by a wide range of indoor air pollutants, including bacteria, viruses, chemicals, volatile organic compounds, dust, particles, mold and more.

Electrocorp offers powerful air cleaners for hospitals and healthcare facilities that can remove these contaminants on a 24/7-basis.

The air cleaners feature many pounds of granular activated carbon for gaseous pollutants and odors, a HEPA filter for particles and dust and optional UV germicidal filtration for the neutralization of bacteria, viruses and mold.

For more information and options, contact Electrocorp.
  

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Vapor intrusion a concern at toxic spill sites

Vapor intrusion can happen in any home.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warned last week that 10 homes in the Phoenix area of a polluted toxic spill site had concerning levels of chemicals indoors.

The original source of the pollution is a former Motorola plant that accidentally leaked chemicals (including trichloroethylene, or TCE) from industrial solvents into the ground in the 1980s.

TCE is a known carcinogen and scientists say it could be harmful even at relatively low concentrations.

The EPA and others are monitoring the levels of chemicals in the area, but last year, they measured for the first time the ambient air inside nearby homes to check for vapor intrusion.

Vapor intrusion is what happens when chemicals and gases from contaminated groundwater and land enter homes through cracks and fissures in the foundation or building. Once inside the home, they can build up and become an even bigger health hazard.

The homes that measured concerning levels of TCE will be equipped with special machines, which circulate outdoor air inside the home and prevent vapor intrusion by utilizing pressure.

Source: Arizona Republic

Clean the air with portable air cleaners

An industrial-strength air cleaner with many pounds of activated carbon and HEPA as well as other filters can help keep the ambient air clean and prevent a buildup of toxic substances.

Activated carbon is one of the safest and most trusted filter media for the removal of airborne chemicals, gases, fumes and odors (including VOCs such as formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, trichloroethylene and more).

With other filters like HEPA and UV, the air cleaners also remove airborne particles, dust, bacteria, viruses and mold.

Electrocorp offers air cleaners for environmental consultants (to be used in single and double-family homes at certain Superfund sites) as well as air cleaners for a wide range of industrial and commercial applications.

Find out more about our government buyer program as well as selected clients, or contact Electrocorp for more information.
  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dry cleaners looking for green laundering methods

Greener dry cleaning machines can reduce
exposure to harmful chemicals.
Some dry cleaning businesses are taking the plunge, investing in new clothes laundering machines that do not use harmful chemicals and solvents.

New closed circuit system machines don’t release volatile organic compounds and work faster than the old machines, helping the company’s bottom line.

Not only do the new machines work 20 minutes faster, they also use much less of a dry-cleaning solution than their predecessors did.

The new machines are much better for the environment and for the air quality inside the business, making it a better health and safety option.

The most common solvent in the dry cleaning industry is still perchloroethylene (perc), a suspected carcinogen that easily becomes airborne or can contaminate the business’ surrounding land, water and air.

The problem is that most dry cleaning businesses are small and located close to schools and homes.

With a closed-circuit system, a smaller amount of solvents is used and the they are contained in the system, making it a much safer and environmentally friendlier choice.

Source: The Spokesman-Review

Clean the air in dry cleaning businesses

Not every dry cleaning operation has the resources to upgrade their equipment right away. However, fumes from perchloroethylene and other petroleum-based solvents remain a concern for the people working there or living close by.

Electrocorp offers industrial-strength air cleaners with deep-bed activated carbon filters, HEPA and other filtration technologies to remove the widest range of indoor air contaminants.

Activated carbon is the most trusted and effective air filter to adsorb chemicals and gases such as perchloroethylene, formaldehyde and petroleum-based fumes.

The air cleaners can be used as stand-alone air purification systems (and can be moved around according to need) or they can be wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted or attached to the existing ventilation system.

For more information and options, please contact Electrocorp today.
 
Related posts:

Friday, February 24, 2012

When going to work can make you sick

Labor Department workers blame poor indoor air quality and black mold for health issues
Indoor air pollution can lead to a range of health effects.

Sometimes, the realization of how important indoor air quality is only dawns when people start feeling sick.

Over the last five years, workers at the Department of Labor and Workforce Development building have submitted multiple health complaints and brought indoor air quality to the forefront of priorities.

The building, which was nicknamed Plywood Palace (plywood emits VOCs such as formaldehyde and other chemicals), has been subject of mold mitigation efforts, renovations to fix leaks and re-wrapping with an aluminum fa├žade, but many employees are still reeling from the health effects.

Some employees have developed allergies or experienced severe allergic reactions to pollutants in the building. Others have reported irritated eyes and throats, difficulty breathing, headaches, confusion, memory loss, swollen glands, sinus infection, chest pressure and other symptoms.

Not only are these symptoms distracting and affecting morale, they have also led to an increase to the absenteeism rate due to sick leaves, for example. Employees are moved around in the building as mold is found and covered up with plastic to prevent the release of spores.

The building was constructed in the 1980s and is suffering from major construction problems, including leaks, breached vapor barriers and more.

The employees say their symptoms subside when they leave the building, which is a major sign for poor indoor air quality issues and sick building syndrome.

Source: Juneau Empire

Improve indoor air with quality air filters

The right air filters can help remove irritating and potentially harmful indoor air contaminants.

Electrocorp offers industrial-strength air cleaners for offices, mold & asbestos remediation and facility management.

The air cleaners contain a large activated carbon filter for the removal of chemicals, gases, odors and fumes, HEPA filters to trap particles and dust as well as optional UV germicidal filtration to neutralize mold, bacteria and viruses.

For more information and options, contact Electrocorp.
  
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Schools commit to green cleaning

Environmentally friendly cleaning products will help with safety, air quality and environment, officials say

Schools often have to deal with poor indoor air quality.
A Vermont bill that requires public and independent schools to purchase environmentally preferable cleaning products and air fresheners was passed recently.

The bill aims to protect school children and staff from toxic chemicals in cleaning agents that have been linked to a wide range of health symptoms, including asthma and cancer.

A similar switch happened in 2004 for all state buildings in Vermont.

According to some officials, many Vermont schools are already using greener and environmentally friendly cleaning products.

More and more schools are participating in the EPA’s Tools for Schools program, which offers tips and tricks to make the school environment safer and healthier.

While some opponents warn about higher costs initially, advocates say the bill will ultimately save money due to illness and absenteeism.

Schools that made the switch reported fewer cases of asthma, nausea and headaches, advocates say.

Source: Bennington Banner

Improve indoor air quality in schools

Even with greener cleaning products, many schools still have to deal with indoor air pollution caused by building materials, mold and moisture problems, poor ventilation, personal care products and other sources.
Activated carbon air cleaners
remove chemicals, odors and
other contaminants.

While opening windows helps a lot to improve indoor air quality, extreme weather, very cold or hot temperatures, outdoor air pollution and noise may stand in the way.

Portable air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA can help remove indoor air pollutants continuously and provide cleaner air.

Activated carbon can remove airborne chemicals, gases, odors and fumes, while HEPA traps dust, particles, pollen and other irritants. Optional UV germicidal filtration can provide extra protection by neutralizing contaminants such as bacteria, viruses and mold.

Electrocorp offers industrial-strength air cleaners for schools and universities that use environmentally friendly and recyclable materials.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and options.
  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Boat making health and safety: Exposure to fumes

Chemicals and fumes can
be toxic in enclosed spaces.
Boat manufacturing and maintenance often requires working with noxious chemicals – too bad some companies are still not taking this health and safety issue seriously.

Recently, a man died after being found unconscious in a boat’s hull where he was overcome by fumes.

At the catamaran manufacturer years before, an employee fainted after inhaling large quantities of chemicals.

Products workers might encounter include contact glue, carpet cleaner and other cleaning agents. In boat manufacturing, workers are also often exposed to styrene, a chemical used to make plastic products.

According to the employees testifying at the inquest, they were not told that inhaling these fumes could cause them to pass out or even die and that it was not common for workers to wear masks when working with the chemicals.

Since the incidents, the company had taken steps to reduce risks and train workers appropriately, they said.

According to the testimony, some workers liked to use the chemicals in enclosed spaces because it would get them high.

Source: Illawarra Mercury

Powerful air cleaners for removing chemicals

Aside from source control, ventilation and personal protective equipment, workers handling chemicals and other hazardous substances in boats and enclosed spaces can benefit from a portable and powerful air cleaner with the right air filters.

Electrocorp offers industrial-strength air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA plus optional UV germicidal filtration to remove the widest range of harmful chemicals, gases, fumes, odors, particles, and other irritants.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and options.
 

Related posts: 
  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Occupational asthma: What you need to know

Exposure to certain chemicals and other substances
may cause or aggravate asthma, experts say.
Certain workplace chemicals or other pollutants may cause or aggravate asthma.

Asthma is a common lung disease brought on by inflammation and narrowing of the air passages that causes people to wheeze, cough and have trouble breathing.

The condition can affect a worker’s quality of life and ability to work and it can also be life threatening if it is not managed properly.

It is sometimes difficult for people with work-related asthma to make the connection because the symptoms are the same as regular asthma.

With work-related asthma, symptoms are usually worse on working days and workers may feel relief when they are away from the workplace during their days off and on vacation, for example.

Experts have identified a number of workplace pollutants that may cause or aggravate asthma:
  
  • Chemicals, including isocyanates
  • Metals and metal-working fluids
  • Dyes, drugs and enzymes
  • Grains, flours, plants, gums
  • Animal and shellfish protein
  • Fungi (mold)
  • Wood dust
  • Vapors, gases, dusts, mists, sprays or fumes from industrial materials
  • Cleaning products
  • Dust mites
  • Indoor air pollution due to poor ventilation
  • Outdoor air pollution and smog (for outdoor workers)

Tips for prevention
Activated carbon air cleaners can help
remove airborne chemicals and vapors.

Employers can and should do a number of things to improve indoor air quality at the workplace and help protect workers from exposure.

If possible, the asthma-causing or –aggravating substance should be eliminated from the workplace or replaced by a less hazardous substance.

Employers and managers can introduce helpful policies, procedures, safe work practices and job rotation to minimize workers’ exposure. This includes providing personal protective equipment when needed.

To control the exposure, think about closed-off areas where hazardous agents may be released into the air, improved ventilation systems and air cleaners to contain gases and vapors at the source.

Monitoring the exposure levels and training employees are other important steps.

On the other side, employees, too, need to work together with their employers to make sure the workplace is as safe and healthy as possible. They should also be aware of the symptoms of occupational asthma and report any health issues promptly.

Source: MRO Magazine

Clean the indoor air with air filtration systems

Electrocorp offers industrial-strength air cleaners for a wide range of applications that can efficiently remove airborne chemicals, gases, vapors, particles, dust, mold and other contaminants.

Electrocorp’s air cleaners feature a deep-bed activated carbon filter, HEPA filter, pre-filters and optional UV germicidal filtration.

Find out more about Electrocorp’s air cleaners for
  
Contact Electrocorp for more information.
  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Chemical industry news: Voluntary efforts increase to reduce toxic chemicals

Chemical manufacturing plants are
voluntarily phasing out some
toxic chemicals, the EPA reports.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released results of a voluntary effort by eight chemical manufacturers to reduce emissions and use of long-chain perfluorinated chemicals (LCPFCs), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

The chemicals are used in hundreds of manufacturing and industrial applications and reducing their impact on the environment and human health has been a priority for the EPA and health groups.

Long-chain perfluorinated chemicals persist in the environment for a long time and they can build up in animals and humans.

The companies, which are participating in a special voluntary program overseen by the EPA, have developed more than 150 alternatives to long-chain perfluorinated chemicals and informed the EPA that they are on track to phase out LCPFCs by the end of 2015.

The EPA is working to involve more companies in the program to reduce these toxic chemicals.

Source: EPA

Reduce levels of indoor air chemicals

While it is great to reduce emissions of toxic chemicals, chemical manufacturing companies and other industries may also want to reduce the levels of toxic chemicals in the ambient air.

Electrocorp offers industrial-strength air purification systems with activated carbon and HEPA that can remove the widest range of indoor air contaminants, including more than 200 airborne chemicals and gases.

For more information and options, contact Electrocorp.
  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cancer-causing chemicals found in chip factories

Workers at chip-making lines may be exposed to
carcinogens such as benzene and formaldehyde.
A new study found traces of leukemia-linked carcinogens in semiconductor-producing factories and other chip makers, according to the Korea government.

The study was conducted between 2009 and 2011 at various factories and found low levels of benzene, formaldehyde and radiation.

While the levels were below those generally deemed a health hazard, this is the first time a study found evidence of these chemicals in chip factories, something that civic groups and employees have been saying for a long time.

At Samsung, workers became worried after some employees died of leukemia while or after working at the chip manufacturing lines, according to an article in the Korea Herald.

Benzene was found in 0.00038 ppm and 0.00990 ppm in two different chip-making lines ― both below the permitted 1 ppm.

The levels should not pose a health risk to workers exposed to them for eight hours a day over a lifetime, officials said.

The study also showed higher than permitted levels of arsenic, a carcinogen linked to lung cancer.

Source: Korea Herald

Remove airborne pollutants with industrial-strength air cleaners

No matter what the concentration of benzene, formaldehyde and other toxins, these chemicals can be harmful to human health.

An industrial air cleaner with the right air filters can help remove airborne chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde and help keep the air clean.

Electrocorp’s air cleaners for commercial and industrial applications feature the most relevant filtration media and the largest adsorbent surface areas for maximum efficiency.

The filtration system contains many pounds of activated carbon and can be filled with a variety of carbon blends to target specific pollutants, a HEPA filter for particle filtration, pre-filters and optional UV germicidal filtration.

For more information, contact Electrocorp today.
  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mold irks office workers, who won’t move back into building

Exposure to mold has been
linked to health problems.
The Colbert County Board of Education offices are infiltrated with mold.

But even after the renovations recommended by an environmental consultant, one official isn’t sure he would let the staff move back into the building.

Instead, they are asking for a new building to be provided or built.

The employees knew there was a problem with the current building because they saw water leaking into it.

Mold can start growing after 24-48 hours, and in this case it had already spread by the time a new roof was installed.

While the mold in these offices was not toxic, it is recommended that people with allergies or respiratory problems stay away from it.

Mold was found behind vinyl wall covering, growing between the wallpaper and the wall board, and around block walls as well as air conditioning vents.

According to the environmental consultant, renovating the building by removing the moldy materials and fixing or controlling the moisture levels inside the building would prevent a mold problem from recurring.

The office workers exposed to the mold complained of skin rashes, sores, hair loss, headaches when inside the building, metallic taste in the mouth and stomach problems.

Source: Times Daily

Reduce mold and other indoor air pollution at the office

Mold can be a serious problem, and the key to controlling mold includes prevention (proper building maintenance, fixing problems right away), remediation (mold removal) and air cleaning.

An air cleaner with activated carbon, HEPA and UV germicidal filtration can remove the widest range of indoor air pollutants, including the mold mycotoxins, musty odors and spores associated with mold.

Electrocorp offers industrial-strength air cleaners for mold and asbestos remediation and the most relevant filtration media.

For more information, contact Electrocorp.
  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

European asbestos trial finds two industrialists guilty

Asbestos trial sentences two men to prison
and to pay damages.
An Italian court on Monday sentenced two men to 16 years in prison over thousands of asbestos-related deaths.

The Swiss billionaire and Belgian baron were major decision makers in a company making Eternit fiber cement and were found guilty in failing to comply with safety regulations.

As part of their sentence, they were ordered to pay damages to civil parties that could add up to millions of dollars.

The trial piqued worldwide interest since it could be a potential precedent for similar trials.

Exposure to asbestos fibers continues to affect former workers and nearby residents, with many developing cancer and lung disease.

The company went bankrupt six years before asbestos was banned in Italy in 1992.

Asbestos was a widely used material in building insulation and other building materials because of its ability to absorb sound and to resist fire.

However, the material has been banned in Europe and North America because the inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause lung inflammation and cancer, sometimes only 20 years after the exposure.

Asbestos continues to be used in developing countries.

Source: Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Take precautions when dealing with asbestos

Even though asbestos has been banned for some time, it can still be found in many older buildings and homes.
Electrocorp's AirRhino:
Industrial-strength air cleaner

During renovation and remodeling projects, it can become a risk factor to human health, if the asbestos-containing material is being disturbed and sets free tiny asbestos fiber that can be inhaled by workers and building occupants.

It’s important to rely on professional asbestos remediation services whenever asbestos is involved.

Additional help with industrial-strength air cleaners can assist in removing asbestos fibers as well as other particles, dust and chemicals linked to the construction work.

Electrocorp offers portable and powerful air cleaners for mold and asbestos remediation with highly effective particle filters as well as activated carbon filters to remove the widest range of indoor air contaminants.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and options.
  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Pool chemical affects lungs of competitive swimmers: Study

Chlorine vapors and byproducts may affect
the lungs of competitive swimmers: Study
Indoor pools exposing swimmers to chlorine may be tied to lung damage similar to that seen in people with mild asthma, according to a study cited in a Reuters article.

The French/Canadian study involved 23 elite swimmers, 10 mild asthmatics and 10 healthy, non-allergic people, who had to perform breathing tests and have their lung tissue tested. The samples were taken during the off-season.

The researchers found that the swimmers’ lung tissue samples had almost six times as many immune cells associated with asthma and allergies, compared to the lung tissue of healthy participants.

It was a similar amount to the lung tissue in mild asthmatics.

Unlike the healthy participants, both swimmers and asthmatics groups had evidence of scar tissue in the lungs.

The results do not mean that elite swimmers will develop asthma later, as inflamed lung tissue was not associated with asthma symptoms like coughing and wheezing.

However, more research may need to be done about the effect of chlorine in water and air as well as the chlorine byproducts that are formed when chlorine reacts with human sweat, urine and hair, for example.

Some of these byproducts may be hazardous to human health escape into the air just above the waterline, where swimmers breathe them in, the researchers say.

The chemical exposure may also make swimmers more sensitized to allergens like pet dander, pollen and dust. More than half of competitive swimmers are sensitive to these allergens, the researchers say.

Still, the benefits of physical exercise may still outweigh any concerns.

The researchers’ tips for reducing chemical exposure in pools include:
  • Avoid pools with a strong chlorine smell in the air. This is a sign that pool chemicals are badly managed
  • Try saltwater pools (although they also use chlorine)
  • Practice good hygiene: Always take a shower before entering a pool; never use it as a urinal

Source: Reuters Health in Chicago Tribune

Reduce airborne chemicals with carbon air cleaners

Activated carbon is one of the most trusted and effective air filters for chemicals, gases, odors and fumes.

Electrocorp offers industrial-strength air cleaners with large activated carbon filters as well as HEPA and optional UV filtration to remove the widest range of indoor air contaminants.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and options.
 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Site history an important factor when planning new schools

Children are susceptible to poor indoor air quality in school.
Having enough schools is important, but not every site is suitable.

This blog has featured tons of entries about schools plagued by vapor intrusion from contaminated land, water or air, the effect of nearby highways and industrial plants, mold, radon and other factors known to influence the indoor air quality in schools.

Building schools on suitable sites should be a priority, since children are so much more susceptible to environmental pollution. As they are still growing, they eat, drink and breathe more in proportion to their body size than adults do.

In one of the latest school-location dramas, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is planning to build an elementary school in a working class neighborhood that would mean polluted property, a high-traffic area, train tracks and towering industrial plants nearby.

School would sit on contaminated land

The proposed site previously housed a gas station and a car wash.

Preliminary testing revealed eight underground gasoline storage tanks (one of them leaking) and unsafe levels of the chemical benzene in the soil.

Benzene is often used as a solvent and can also be a gasoline additive. The final extent of the contamination won’t be known until more testing is done.

CPS bought the property “as is” and would have to pay for all cleanup costs before building a school on top of it.

The school district paid $1.1 million for the property, and officials say there is a desperate need for a new elementary school in the community.

Aside from the soil concerns, the area also suffers from poor indoor air quality because of a coal-fired power plant in nearby Hammond and thousands of trucks, cars and freight trains.

Poor air quality or contamination issues become a concern because pollutants can enter the building and build up indoors.

Parents are concerned about the proposed site and would have preferred an expansion to the existing schools.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Good IAQ a must in schools
RAP Series: Carbon
air cleaners.

Whether it’s an old or a new school, good indoor air quality is a must nowadays.

Studies have shown that indoor air pollution in schools can cause or aggravate asthma and respiratory disease, lead to poorer attendance and lower productivity as well as other serious health issues.

Proper upkeep of the building, good ventilation and in many cases air cleaning will help keep the indoor air quality in schools at the optimal level.

Electrocorp’s air cleaners for schools and universities feature a deep-bed activated carbon filter for the removal of harmful chemicals, gases and odors, a HEPA filter for fine particles, dust and allergens and optional UV germicidal filtration for the neutralization of bacteria, viruses and mold.

The air cleaners are stand-alone filtration systems or they can be attached to the ventilation system. They are designed to run around the clock on a low setting to keep a steady supply of clean air circulating in a room.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and options.
  
Related Posts:
  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Lawsuit filed over benzene exposure at work

A Texas man has filed a lawsuit about
benzene exposure in his workplace.
A Texas plaintiff blames oil and chemical companies like Chevron, DuPont and Exxon for the leukemia he developed after being exposed to benzene.

The plaintiff worked as a pipe fitter for various companies for 26 years and says he was exposed to benzene in the workplace and through products made by the defendants.

The lawsuit accuses the companies of negligence because they knew benzene to be harmful. The plaintiff says he suffered physical impairment, disability and will need medical monitoring until he dies.

What is benzene?

Benzene is an industrial chemical used as a solvent in the manufacture of drugs, synthetics and dyes.

The chemical is a colorless or light yellow liquid at room temperature. It has a sweet odor and is highly flammable.

Benzene is widely used in the United States. It ranks in the top 20 chemicals for production volume.

Immediate symptoms of benzene exposure can include drowsiness, dizziness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, headaches, tremors, confusion, unconsciousness and death (at very high levels).

Long-term health effects may include anemia, excessive bleeding and a weakened immune system, increasing the chance for infection, irregular menstrual periods and a decrease in the size of ovaries, low birth weights, delayed bone formation, and bone marrow damage (in animal studies) as well as cancer (leukemia).

Source: Injury Board Blog

Create a healthy workplace with industrial-strength air cleaners

Electrocorp offers industrial air cleaners with many pounds of activated carbon, the most effective filter media to remove a wide range of chemicals, gases, VOCs, odors and fumes. Activated carbon has a high adsorption capacity for benzene, for example.

The air cleaners also feature particle filters and pre-filters to ensure a long filter life.

Find out more about Electrocorp’s air cleaners for chemical manufacturing plants, chemical and odor control and other commercial and industrial applications.

Contact us for more information and recommendations.
  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Styrene: A brief look into plastics, issues and concerns

Styrene is often used in the
manufacturing of boats.
Styrene is a widely used chemical for making plastic materials. It is a main ingredient in polystyrene, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, synthetic rubber, paints, expanded polystyrene and in hard or foam resins.

Because it resists corrosion and makes for strong materials, styrene is often used in the manufacture of marine watercraft, cultured marble countertops, solid-surface products in bathrooms and kitchen and more.

It is often applied with a bucket and roller or sprayed on and it has a strong odor, which means regulators see it as a potentially harmful substance to workers.

In June 2011, styrene was listed as a substance “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” in the 12th Report on Carcinogens in the United States.

What is styrene?

Styrene is also known as ethenylbenzene or vinyl benzene. It is an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5CH=CH2.
Styrene is listed as "reasonably
anticipated" to be a carcinogen.

Styrene started being commercially produced in 1925 in Germany. Today, about 15 billion lbs. of styrene are produced internationally.

People are usually exposed to styrene by inhaling the fumes.

The open molding operations in the composites manufacturing industry are causing the greatest occupational exposure to styrene.

Wearing a respirator suitable for organic vapors can reduce styrene exposure but does not eliminate it entirely.

The industry’s safe-exposure limit for styrene is 50 ppm (parts per million) over an eight-hour day.

Since styrene’s listing in the 12th RoC, there have been considerable industry efforts to have the chemical delisted.

Source: Composites Technology 

Carbon air scrubbers for airborne chemicals and vapors
Activated carbon or
charcoal

Styrene vapors and other chemicals and gases can be adsorbed by specially impregnated activated carbon, the most efficient and trusted filter media for gaseous pollutants.

Electrocorp offers industrial-strength air cleaners with granular activated carbon and particle filtration for an all-around air cleaning system.

Find out more by browsing Electrocorp’s air cleaners for chemical manufacturing plants or by contacting one of Electrocorp’s IAQ representatives.
 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Smoking in casinos – time for a ban?

Smoking in casinos is still allowed,
but health concerns spur debates.
Casinos have long been exempt from smoking bans that were implemented in other public places.

Many casino owners and patrons believe smoking and gambling go hand in hand.

Still, ever-mounting evidence of the negative health effects of smoke and exposure to secondhand smoke is causing lawmakers to reconsider their stance on the issue.

In Kansas, smoking has been banned in indoor settings except private residences, adult care homes, up to 20 percent of rooms in hotels, some private clubs, tobacco shops and casinos.

What carries higher costs - a ban or no ban?

A ban on smoking on casino floors could cost the casinos and the state millions of dollars, opponents of the ban say.

But didn’t restaurant owners say exactly the same thing? Most places are thriving now because people still go to restaurants and are not bothered by cigarette smoke.

According to the casinos, a large number of gamblers also smoke – and banning the cigarettes would be like banning popcorn at the movies, they say.

However, smoking does not only affect the smokers themselves, it also puts the casino workers at risk as well as the other non-smoking gamblers.

Tobacco smoke contains thousands of dangerous chemicals that cling to surfaces and constitute serious health risks, including higher risks of lung cancer, heart disease, bronchitis and asthma.

Source: Wichita Eagle

Improve the indoor air quality in casinos

Experts warn that ventilation systems in many casinos are simply unable to handle the tobacco smoke on the casino floors.

One way to improve the indoor air quality is by using suitably placed air filtration systems with activated carbon + HEPA and special smoke and tar filters.

Electrocorp offers portable as well as wall-mountable and HVAC-compatible air cleaners with the safest and most effective air filters for casinos, bars and restaurants.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.
 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

EPA to rule on future regulation of dry-cleaning chemical

Many dry cleaning operations use the
chemical solvent perchloroethylene,
a probable human carcinogen.
Representatives from the dry-cleaning industry have been meeting with the EPA to discuss changes to the national emission standards for perchloroethylene (or perc).

When the EPA released its rules for perc dry-cleaning operations in 2006, it was decried by industry reps as too harsh, and by environmental groups as not being harsh enough.

The rules included a phase-out of the use of perc in businesses that were located in buildings where people also lived.

What is perc?

Perc is a chemical solvent, often called “dry-cleaning fluid,” which is used by the dry cleaning industry to clean clothing and textiles without water.

Perc has been a problem in some instances when it contaminated the ground, water or air surrounding the business. Some studies have shown that perc is retained in dry-cleaned clothes and that levels increase with repeat cleanings.

After meeting with both industry officials and environmental groups (who want a ban on perc, period), the EPA said it would announce its decision by the end of 2011. The new deadline is the end of April of this year.

EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System assessment on perc had been expected to come out in November, but its release has been delayed.

Concerns about chemical risk assessment

The publication Inside EPA reported that the Department of Defense raised concerns about the assessment.

Inside EPA said DOD was concerned that EPA used a different method for assessing perc’s risks than it did for a related solvent, trichloroethylene (TCE), even though the agency acknowledges the two compounds are similar.

EPA’s draft of the perc document was released in 2008 and sent for peer review.

The peer review panel completed its work two years ago, agreeing with EPA’s classification of perc as a “likely human carcinogen” but questioning some of the methodology used by EPA in determining risks for various types of cancer. 

Source: National Clothesline

Cleaner air in dry cleaning operations and adjacent businesses

Perc is a chemical that is easily adsorbed by granular activated carbon (GAC) air cleaners. Activated carbon is the most effective and cost-efficient filter media for gaseous pollutants.

Electrocorp specializes in portable, highly efficient air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA air filters for businesses and commercial applications.

For dry cleaning operations, Electrocorp offers a range of air cleaners, including the powerful RSU Series.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and options.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Chemicals at work linked to miscarriages for nurses

Exposure to certain chemicals may increase the risk
of miscarriage for nurses, researchers say.
A new study shows that nurses who worked with chemotherapy drugs or sterilizing chemicals had double the chance of losing a pregnancy than nurses who didn’t handle these materials.

Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) say the study confirmed fears that exposure to certain chemicals would lead to miscarriages.

Exposure may occur during the first trimester when many nurses are still unaware that they are pregnant, they say.

Chemotherapy drugs target rapidly dividing cells such as those in a tumor – but a developing fetus also has rapidly dividing cells.

Previous research on the subject was inconclusive and showed different results, so for this study, researchers surveyed nearly 7,500 nurses who became pregnant between 1993 and 2002.

They asked the nurses to remember how often during each trimester they might have been exposed to certain chemicals or equipment, including X-rays, anesthesia, anti-cancer drugs and disinfectants.

One out of 10 nurses had a miscarriage before the 20-week mark, which is similar to the rate of the miscarriages in the general population.

However, the rate was double for nurses who handled chemotherapy drugs for more than one hour a day.

The risk was also higher for nurses who gave patients X-rays and nurses who handled sterilizing agents such as ethylene oxide or formaldehyde.

The researchers warn that the study only drew a link between the chemicals and the miscarriages and that it did not prove that the chemicals actually caused the miscarriage.

The survey relied on the memory of the nurses as far back as 8 years sometimes, which leaves room for inaccuracies.

On the other hand, other workers (including pharmacists, drug manufacturers and veterinarians) may also be affected since they handle these chemicals as well.

Two million female nurses work in the United States, making up 4 percent of the female workforce, according to a Reuters article.

Reduce chemical exposure at work

Nurses and their employers should stick to safety guidelines and take precautions to avoid exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

Electrocorp offers air cleaners for hospitals and healthcare facilities that can also help keep the air clean.

The air cleaners contain deep-bed activated carbon filters to remove a wide range of chemicals and gases (including formaldehyde and ethylene oxide), while a HEPA filter also reduces the amount of particles and allergens in the air. Optional UV germicidal filtration helps neutralize bacteria, viruses and mold.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and options.

Friday, February 3, 2012

ABC staff worried about indoor air quality in new building

Indoor air quality at the workplace is an important subject.
Television broadcaster ABC’s construction of a new building in South Bank came in over budget, but cuts could negatively affect the indoor air quality in the space, according to reports by ABC’s current affairs program AM.

In fact, the concerns over the possible IAQ issues caused one of the project’s environmental officers to temporarily resign in 2010, they say.

The cuts could affect the building’s quality of mold prevention, air conditioning and ventilation.

This would be enough for any building to possibly breed unhealthy indoor air conditions, but broadcasting centers also have to deal with a lot of technical equipment, cameras, screens and consoles, which can add to the indoor air pollution.

The ABC staff reportedly looked forward to a greener and healthier building, after the broadcaster announced the move, possibly because 18 women working at the Toowong office had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The environmental officer resigned because the energy and IAQ ratings for the building were “poor”, but the officer came back a month later.

The budget for the new building was $50 million, but was cut down to $47 million. However, in 2009 the ABC reported that the estimated costs were pegged at $90 million according to the original plans.

Source: Brisbane Times

Never cut down on air quality measures and worker health

Indoor air quality has become such a hot topic because it can have profound effects on the health and well-being, productivity and morale of the workers.

Adequate ventilation, an appropriate heating and air conditioning system and other preventive measures are a must to ensure a healthy working environment.
Electrocorp's RAP Series:
Serious air cleaners

Air cleaning is an important part of that, especially in buildings where concentrations of chemicals and VOCs, tiny particles or mold spores may be elevated.

Electrocorp offers portable and powerful air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA plus optional UV that can remove the widest range of indoor air contaminants.

The multistage filtration system is key to an air cleaner's efficiency. Carbon is the most important filtration media for airborne chemicals, VOCs, gases, fumes and odors, while HEPA is the gold standard for particle filtration.

The optional UV lamp can provide extra protection against bacteria, viruses and mold by neutralizing these pollutants.

The air cleaners can be moved from one room to the next according to need, they are designed to run 24/7 without using much electricity and they are versatile as well as user friendly.

See our air cleaners for


Contact Electrocorp for more information and options.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Brazilian Blowout maker settles California lawsuit

False labeling and formaldehyde fumes at heart of hair straightening treatment lawsuit

Women love the look of straight, sleek hair - but treatments
may release high levels of formaldehyde, experts warn.
California’s attorney general announced earlier this week that the makers of Brazilian Blowout, a popular hair straightening treatment used in hair salons and spas, will change their labels to alert consumers of formaldehyde emissions.

With this agreement, they are settling a lawsuit that was filed in November against the company for misleading consumers.

The two products, the Brazilian Blowout Acai Smoothing Solution and Brazilian Blowout Professional Smoothing Solution, were labeled as being formaldehyde-free, but tests showed emissions of formaldehyde when the treatments were applied with high heat.

The products may release formaldehyde at levels above OSHA's permissible limits, and according to OSHA can pose health risks to salon workers.

“Salon owners, stylists, and other salon workers have the right know what is in the products that they are buying and using and how to protect their workers and themselves from formaldehyde exposure,” OSHA states on its website.

Formaldehyde is a known cancer-causing substance. Exposure to formaldehyde can also cause:
  •  Eye irritation and damage, including blindness.
  •  Nose irritation, including bloody noses.
  •  Skin sensitivity, rashes, and itching.
  •  Breathing difficulties, such as coughing and wheezing.
Levels of formaldehyde above 0.1 ppm in the air can irritate your nose, throat, and lungs. These symptoms will get worse as formaldehyde levels go up.

In the California lawsuit, attorneys sought full disclosure on the labels and fair notice to consumers.

As part of the settlement, the company making Brazilian Blowout will pay $600,000 in penalties and fines for failing to notify consumers about the chemicals and to have the products tested at a state-approved lab.

The company also agreed to provide beauty salons and spas with a pamphlet containing necessary safety precautions when using the products.

With the new labeling and marketing changes, the products will remain on the California market and can still be a health hazard to stylists, salon workers and clients.

Source: The Washington Post

Improve the air quality in salons and spas
A source capture air cleaner:
Clean Breeze 3

Formaldehyde is one indoor air pollutant that can be found in beauty salons and spas, but other chemicals and fumes may also expose workers and clients to health hazards.

Most existing ventilation systems are unable to remove the contaminants and to provide enough fresh air, which is why many stylists and salon owners turn to portable air cleaners to help improve the air quality.

A salon and spa air cleaner needs many pounds of activated carbon and a special carbon blend to be able to remove a wide range of chemicals and VOCs (volatile organic compounds), including formaldehyde, toluene and ethanol.

In salons where many hair straightening, hair dye and other treatments fill the air with harmful chemicals, a specially designed air cleaner with a flexible arm and source capture attachment is needed to remove harmful toxins right as they are released.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and suggestions.
  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Radon - An air quality threat in schools

Schools should test for radon and other
air quality concerns, experts say.
National Radon Action Month may be over, but the invisible radon threat is a year-round problem.

The naturally occurring radioactive gas also does not care where or when it accumulates, so it may be present in homes, government buildings or schools at higher than acceptable levels.

Since one building can have high levels of radon while the one next to it doesn’t, experts recommend testing every home and building for radon. The best time for testing is the winter.

Radon enters buildings through cracks and fissures in the foundation or other opening in the building, and it can accumulate indoors.

The gas represents a health hazard when someone is exposed to high concentrations over a relatively long time (several decades). In fact, radon contributes to 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year.

In order to protect children from radon exposure in schools, some administrations are taking action.

The English Montreal School Board last year sent out a letter to the schools informing them of a new radon detection program instigated by the Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sports (MELS).

New Health Canada guidelines lowered the acceptable levels of radon in the ambient air. In schools where radon concentration exceeds 200 Becquerel’s per cubic meter, which represents the maximum “safe” concentration under the new guidelines, remedial measures have to be taken.

In January 2012, radon detectors were installed in schools, which will be removed in the spring to be analyzed in a laboratory.

According to a Radio-Canada report from Jan. 30, the ministry of education decided to test all of Quebec’s primary and high schools for radon.

It’s a preventive measure, officials say.

School boards are required to test all their buildings for radon. The deadline for completion is July 1, 2014.

Mitigation techniques include special venting systems that vent the radon outdoors and sealing the cracks and fissures in the building's foundation and exterior, among others.

Radon is not the only polluting factor in the school environment. To learn more about indoor air pollution in schools and possible solutions, contact Electrocorp today.