Monday, August 27, 2012

Finland: Schools suffer from indoor air pollution


Classrooms may be making your kids sick
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos
Over the past several years, countless studies have been made on dampness and moisture in buildings throughout Finland. In 2007, researchers chose 630 random houses and apartments that were built between 1950 and 1989 for their study. Of those homes, 51 percent had moisture problems; 33 percent of those had moderate to severe issues, particularly in houses. 

Many respiratory diseases, eye irritations and allergies have been directly linked to the moisture problem across the country.

The National Public Health Institute revealed in 2007 that there was a strong correlation between damp homes and the prevalence of asthma among children. Up to one in five asthma cases could be linked to water damage in the home.

A new study, made by the Trade Union of Education in Finland (OAJ,) has now discovered that moisture issues extend beyond the home. Up to two thirds of the schools and day-cares across the country have indoor air quality issues. Approximately 80 percent of the buildings in Finland, schools and day-cares included, are not sufficiently ventilated.

Water damage in some of the damp schools is so bad that recommendations have been made to tear them down, rather than try to repair them. Though poor indoor air quality in schools have been an issue for over fifteen years now, some people believe the issue is still not being handled properly. Remediation has been slow moving, leading to parents, in one town, taking matters into their own hands.

Tervajoki School in Vähäkyrö, Finland was shut down for a week while parents pulled their kids out of the school and promised to continue striking until changes were made. The school has since been relocated pending repairs or the building of a new school.

What do you think about the parents' strike? Would you do the same if  you thought your kids were at risk? Let us know!


Improving indoor air quality in schools

Apart from the home, kids spend most of their time at school. Considering the astronomical number of children with asthma today (7 million in US), it is extremely important that the quality of the air in schools is up to par.

Removing mold is the most important first step to solving indoor air pollution in schools. Many schools in North America have been shut down recently for precisely that reason. If a school is dealing with elevated moisture, however, ventilation is the first plan of action.

Electrocorp offers air cleaners that can complement remediation and ventilation efforts within schools and universities. Our units use two different types of filters to help remove harmful chemicals, gases and particles from the air: the HEPA filter (for particles) and the activated carbon filter (for chemicals and gases). An optional UV germicidal lamp will also help remove mold, bacteria and viruses, thereby resulting in better air quality for both students and staff.

For more information on our air cleaners, contact Electrocorp.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Avoiding chemical and mold exposures in drug evidence rooms - Part II

Tips for officers in evidence rooms
to minimize exposures to toxins.
Storing drugs in evidence rooms and drug vaults at law enforcement agencies poses a significant health risks for the employees in charge of retrieval, maintenance and disposal.

They could be exposed to drug particles, chemical fumes, volatile organic compounds, mold spores, mold mycotoxins (terpenes) and many other contaminants.

While exposure levels may be low, inhaling these types of indoor air pollutants over an extended period of time may become a health risk.

There have been complaints from police officers ranging from respiratory problems to fatigue and anxiety, among many others (see Part I).

Based on case studies and health hazard evaluations, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has put together some general recommendations for drug evidence rooms:

  1. Keep drug quantities under control. Frequent disposal of drugs can reduce the chances of exposure and off-gassing materials.
  2. Make sure marijuana and other plant-based drugs are dried properly and set up a drying chamber inside the evidence room, if needed.
  3. Use chemical and particle filters (activated carbon and HEPA) in the evidence room and ensure that filters are replaced regularly.
  4. Have the HVAC (especially the ventilation) system inspected by a ventilation engineer and make improvements, if necessary.
  5. Store dried marijuana in sealed plastic bags. If they need to be stored in ventilated cardboard boxes, they should be in an enclosed area in the evidence room with exhaust ventilation to contain odors.
  6. Seal synthetic drugs in plastic.
  7. Keep a relative humidity level of 30-50% to minimize mold growth.
  8. Keep the evidence room clean and well maintained, using environmentally friendly and non-toxic cleaners, gloves and vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters.
  9. Improve organization and avoid clutter.
  10. Use a cart to transport evidence.
  11. Avoid skin contact with marijuana as well as other drugs and evidence materials to reduce the potential for irritation and allergic reactions.
  12. Alert employees of possible risks and open channels of communication to address problems quickly and efficiently.
  13. Develop written policies and standard operating procedures and train employees accordingly.

Source: Evidence Technology Magazine

Carbon and HEPA air filters for mold, chemicals and odors

Electrocorp offers a variety of stand-alone, industrial-strength air filtration systems that address mold, chemicals, VOCs, odors, particles and other contaminants.

With a high-efficiency air filter system combining activated carbon and HEPA as well as optional UV, Electrocorp’s air cleaners for law enforcement have a proven track record to provide better, cleaner and more breathable air in evidence storage rooms as well as general office areas.

Find out more about the RSU Series, the RAP series, the numerical series and the I-6500 series by speaking to one of Electrocorp’s IAQ experts today. Call 1-866-667-0297.

Show your support for greener and healthier working environments by following this blog.

Related blog post:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chemical and mold exposure an occupational risk in law enforcement – Part I

Improperly dried or stored marijuana can expose police
officers to mold spores and chemicals.
Working in an evidence room at any law enforcement agency can be an occupational health risk, industrial hygienists warn.

For crimes that involve drugs, police officers need to store evidence in a drug vault, and in most cases, indoor air quality suffers.

Synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine can emit dangerous chemical fumes, while plant-based drugs such as marijuana are susceptible to mold growth and often expose officers to Aspergillus mold spores. Marijuana also produces volatile organic compounds called terpenes that contribute to the drug’s taste and smell.

Employees may have to spend several hours each day in the evidence room, receiving, storing and retrieving evidence, transporting drugs and other materials, maintaining inventory, and getting evidence ready for disposal. These activities can expose them to drug particles, mold spores, volatile chemicals from drugs as well as from “air freshening” products.

Occupational Safety and Health intervention may become necessary if the evidence room employees start exhibiting health symptoms related to exposure, which may include:
  • Nose bleeds
  • Respiratory problems
  • Skin rashes
  • Memory fog
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Vision problems
  • Burning eyes
  • Facial twitches

Some employees show higher sensitivities to chemicals and molds than other employees, and while some people may experience symptoms right away, it may take years for others to develop any health effects.

The risks of exposures to certain drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine at high levels is well known, but low level exposures over extended periods of time have not been researched, occupational hygienists say.

However, there is limited evidence linking low levels of indirect drug exposures to acute or chronic health effects, there are reports in the scientific literature of people experiencing skin rash from occupational exposure and handling of marijuana plants and materials, with symptoms increasing over time with ongoing exposure (Majmudar et al., 2006; Williams et al., 2008).

Source: Evidence Technology Magazine

Air cleaners for evidence rooms and drug vaults
Electrocorp's RSU series combines
the most efficient air filters.

Electrocorp has developed portable and powerful air cleaners for law enforcement agencies, which can remove harmful chemicals, odors, volatile organic compounds, fumes, gases, fine particles, dust, mold spores, mold mycotoxins, bacteria and viruses from the ambient air.

The air cleaners boast a multistage air filtration system with a a deep-bed activated carbon filter, a HEPA filter, pre-filters and UV germicidal filtration (optional) to provide cleaner and healthier air throughout.

Electrocorp air scrubbers provide cleaner air in thousands of law enforcement agencies across North America.

“The … RSU 48 CC Air Scrubber has been one of the best investments for the evidence technicians in the evidence vault. With the odors of drugs, especially marijuana, this system removes the odors and smell of different types of evidence for all personnel handling the evidence in and around the vault. Being able to replace the filters and carbon is an easy process for the evidence technicians. I would recommend these air scrubbers to evidence room technicians.”
Tim Karp, New Hanover County Sheriff's Office, CSI, Castle Hayne, NC
Read more testimonials
Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Show your support for greener and healthier working environments by following this blog.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Are people really buying ‘green’ homes?


Green-rated homes are becoming more popular
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos
Builders tried for years to entice prospective homeowners to purchase green materials for their new homes. Not as many people as hoped took the bait. Perhaps it was cost or merely a lack of interest, but now builders have a different approach.

More and more companies are deciding to build greener homes at no extra cost…and it’s working. Houses are outfitted with solar power and other green features which ensure buyers will save on their utility bills and other household expenses.

Markets in Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix and Tucson have seen a rise in interested buyers, particularly because the costs are more reasonable and the promise of cheaper electricity is a significant selling point. KB Homes has noticed a 30 percent increase in interest for green homes now that the costs have remained ‘reasonable.’

In 2010, sales for green homes were at nine percent. Last year, that number rose to 17 percent. The National Association of Home Builders predicts the numbers will reach between 22 and 25 percent by next year.

The Green-certification debate

Green-rated homes, such as the Energy Star rating, have been a hot topic within the real estate market for several years now. While studies have shown consumer interest in green-rated homes, signs have also pointed toward those homes selling for a premium.

A study done in California between 2007 and 2012 showed green-rated homes were worth 9% more than non-rated homes. Researchers were also able to make a link between environmentally conscious people who owned hybrid cars, like the Prius, and the likelihood of paying a premium for a green home.

The designation of a green home can be done through different organizations. Energy Star is a certification started by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy. LEED certification was created by the U.S. Green Building Council and GreenPoint was created by Build It Green, a non-profit organization.

Though the National Association of Home Builders is keen to continue on this green trend, particularly now that it's gaining traction, the National Association of Realtors has tried to limit green labeling as it feels this will adversely affect resale values for non-certified houses.

What do you think about this debate? Are you in favor of green labeling? Would you pay more for  a green-rated home, even if it'll help the resale value?


Making green homes greener

Electrocorp's AirRhino AH
can easily be integrated into
an HVAC system
Environmental consultants and experts are often involved in the construction of green homes. Though some people are not willing to pay extra money for 'smog-eating' tile, as they can't always see the benefits of such an investment, an air cleaner is often a more welcome addition.

Electrocorp provides several types of air cleaners for the home. As HVAC systems are common in new homes, an air cleaner such as the AirRhino AH can be attached to the central air system, thereby cleaning the air throughout the house. This unit has a medical-grade HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter which help remove particles, chemicals and gases from the air. 

For more information on Electrocorp's air cleaners, contact us.

Show your support for a greener and healthier environment. Become a member of this blog.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Manufacturers can now make ‘green’ jeans


Making denim results in significant water and air pollution.
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos
Every year approximately 2 billion jeans are made worldwide. 

The manufacturing of just one pair of jeans entails the use of 2,500 gallons of water, one pound of various chemicals and a whole lot of energy. It is therefore no surprise that the denim industry contributes a great deal to both water and air pollution.
 
At a recent Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference, however, a more eco-friendly manufacturing process was introduced. 

The Advanced Denim process offers several alternative options during production. Jeans can now be made with 92 percent less water and 30 percent less energy. The amount of cotton waste can be reduced by 87 percent and instead of using 15 dyeing vats full of harmful chemicals, this new process uses only one vat and replaces harmful chemicals with more eco-conscious liquid sulfur dyes.

The history of denim-making

Denim is made from a rough kind of cotton called rugged cotton twill. Up to 10 percent of the world's pesticides are used for treating cotton. Literally tons of water is used to grow the raw material. And in order to make denim what we know it to be, indigo dye is used to color the jeans blue. 

Today, indigo dye is, for the most part, produced synthetically. Chemicals, such as aniline, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and sodamide are used to make the dye, all of which can have negative health effects. Some are skin and respiratory irritants, while others are carcinogenic.

Studies have lead scientists to believe that if the Advanced Denim process was used to produce only 25 percent of the jeans made worldwide, 1.7 million people would have their water needs met every year. In addition, 220 million kilowatt hours of electricity would be saved, reducing corresponding carbon dioxide emissions.

Is it surprising to know how many jeans are made every year?  What do you think about this new Advanced Denim process?

Source: ACS

Improving air quality within manufacturing facilities

The RAP series is just one of
Electrocorp's air cleaners
for chemical plants
Though there are many benefits to using this new Advanced Denim process, it will take time for companies to apply this system to their factories. In the meantime, a lot of harmful chemicals are used to make the blue dye we so love in jeans.

It is the companies’ responsibility to ensure their employees are working in safe environments and good indoor air quality is part of that health and safety. As long as chemicals are used, chemical exposure and fumes are a risk. It is in the best interest of the companies to provide an air cleaning solution which will keep employees breathing easy.

Electrocorp manufactures air cleaning units for the industrial sector. Our units can range from small air cleaners which can be placed close to the source of the harmful chemicals or fumes, to large units that can be attached to an HVAC system, cleaning the entire central air system.

To find out more about our air cleaners, contact us or speak to one of our IAQ experts at 1-888-667-0297.

Show your support for greener and healthier working environments. Become a member of this blog!

Monday, August 20, 2012

IAQ policy a good idea in libraries and archives

Libraries and archives can expose
people to poor indoor air quality.
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When you think about libraries and archives, do the words “bright”, “fresh” and “green” come to mind?

Probably not.

Many libraries and archives are large, dust-filled rooms stacked with books, papers and other materials.

They can be cluttered, dark and dingy – and many of them also have a problem with their indoor air quality.

In fact, IAQ is such a concern that some libraries and archives have implemented an indoor air quality policy.

In the case of the University of Florida library, the policy was introduced after people complained about health concerns, including eye and lung irritation, headaches, skin irritation, exposure to diseases and more.

Since there can be many different reasons for indoor air pollution (the most common are faulty HVAC systems, construction and renovation projects, forbidden smoking, the use of chemicals and mold), the policy addresses various issues and the best ways to handle them.

How to handle IAQ problems in libraries

The IAQ policy stresses the importance of communication, which will allow all sides to take action towards better air.

First, the people who are affected by poor indoor air quality or who notice it should be reporting it promptly.

Most universities have an environmental health and safety department, and there should also be a contact in the library itself.

Second, all staff members have to be informed in a timely manner of planned renovation or construction projects and the possible risks associated with them. Everyone should work together to minimize those risks and find safer alternatives.

Third, the library and archive facilities should be inspected regularly, and any types of problems need to be addressed.

What do you think of the indoor air quality at your library? Let us know what your area is doing right and how it can improve.

Source: George A. Smathers Libraries

Remove indoor air pollutants in libraries
Electrocorp's I-6500 series combines
particle and chemical filtration.

The right types of air cleaners can help remove indoor air pollutants such as chemicals, particles, odors, dust, mold spores, bacteria, viruses and fumes.

Electrocorp’s air cleaners for libraries and archives feature the most comprehensive filtration system to deal with the pollutants listed above.

The units feature a deep-bed activated carbon system for gases, chemicals, odors, fumes, even tobacco smoke and mold mycotoxins, a HEPA filter for fine particles, dust, allergens and pollen and optional UV germicidal filtration to neutralize biological contaminants such as bacteria, viruses and mold.

As an industry leading supplier of industrial and commercial air cleaners, Electrocorp works with university administrations, government buyers, environmental consultants and many other contacts to make sure that IAQ problems are addressed correctly.

For more information, please contact Electrocorp at 1-866-667-0297.

Support a greener and healthier environment. Become a member of this blog!

Friday, August 17, 2012

When school grounds are contaminated...


Some schools have been built on contaminated land
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos
Schools are often newsworthy topics because of the importance they carry in our society. We all want our children to grow up in healthy, educational environments and yet mold infestations and other health hazards often plague these institutions.

Over the years, many studies and reports have come out about schools being built on contaminated grounds. As school boards rarely have much money, they sometimes choose to purchase land that has previously been used for industrial purposes. 

Some school boards may also form partnerships with companies to provide them with a dumping ground in return for the construction of different sports fields. Controversy around this very thing is the most recent story to develop.

Earlier this month, an extensive news article was written about a small New York town that has suffered from what seems like a break-out number of cancer cases in its high school students. Briarcliff is only 30 miles away from New York City, but its 8,000 people are close-knit. Boasting one of the best high schools in the country, Briarcliff is a prized location for parents seeking a quiet life with a good education system.

Unbeknownst to them, however, parents were sending their kids to a school where sports were played on contaminated grounds. Up to eight students fell ill with cancer and at least one died. 

Today, parents want some answers. Though there is no direct proof their children's illnesses were connected to the grounds, speculation abounds.

A short history

In 1998, the fields in Briarcliff were used as a dumping ground for a construction company. Though what was dumped was considered safe, many now doubt that claim. 

One year after the dumping took place, testing was done on the fields and high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were found. Some PAHs are known carcinogens and exposure can occur through inhalation, ingestion or touch.The levels were deemed safe at the time, however, so nothing was done.

The fields your children are playing on
may be contaminated.
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos
In 2007, parents started to complain that their children were finding broken glass and nails on the fields. Students were also exposed to a lot of dust and were having trouble breathing. One student spoke of the dust tasting like chemicals. 

The fields were finally closed in 2010, and remain that way today. The school is waiting for soil remediation to be done before re-opening it.

Some parents are considering a lawsuit against Briarcliff, but everyone knows it will be difficult to make a direct correlation between the cancer cases and the land that, though containing several different chemicals, was considered safe for use.

As a parent in this situation, would you bring forth a lawsuit? Let us know your thoughts.


Controlling vapor intrusion in the school system

Though there is not much else to do besides soil remediation when the bulk of contaminated land is out on playing fields, many more schools have been built on or near toxic waste sites. Ideally, the schools should be moved, but that is not always possible.

When dealing with vapor intrusion and chemical exposure, the best option for indoor air quality is air cleaners. Not only will they adsorb chemicals and gases with activated carbon filters, but units fitted with our UV technology can also help keep mold from forming. Our medical-grade HEPA filters will add another level of cleaning by removing airborne particles, such as dust and pollen.

For more information on Electrocorp’s air cleaning units, visit us on our website or call 1-866-667-0297 to speak to one of our IAQ experts.

Show your support for greener and cleaner school environments. Become a member of this blog! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Airborne workplace hazards may be deadly: Experts

Trades workers, technicians and machine operators
can be exposed to toxic chemicals, dusts and more.
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Many workplace hazards are hard to miss – there are those that may cause injury or death and others that can affect a person’s mindset – but those that are not easily recognizable, including invisible fumes, dust and inhalable toxins, may be the most dangerous workplace hazards, experts warn.

These types of toxins have been linked to a wide range of health effects, including
  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Asbestosis
  • Cancers, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer

The problem with these inhalable hazards is that health effects may take a long time to appear, up to a few decades in some cases, while other exposures may cause immediate health problems.

In Australia, experts say that approximately 39% of workers are regularly exposed to airborne hazards in the workplace. Exposure to fumes, gases and particulates was especially likely for technicians, trades workers and machine operators.

Many of the workers surveyed said they did not receive any safety measures or equipment, while another large portion said they received inadequate controls.

Employers responsible for supplying a safe working environment

Experts recommend the following:
  1. Regular monitoring of the workplace air quality and identifying hazards
  2. Putting controls into place
  3. Capturing dust at the source rather than letting it escape
  4. Make sure there are fresh air exchanges and filtering air, if needed

Fume arms, dust collectors and air scrubbers can all help remove contaminants and reduce workers’ exposure to toxins.

Companies that fail to protect workers may have to face substantial fines.

What is your working environment like? Do your employers ensure good air quality? Let us know!


Source: Safe to Work

Air cleaners for chemicals, dust and other toxins
The AirRhino air cleaner can go
from particle to chemical filtration
on site.

Providing cleaner and healthier air can be as easy as using one of Electrocorp’s air cleaners for commercial and industrial applications.

Electrocorp air scrubbers combat workplace hazards such as fumes, gases, chemicals, odors, dust, particulates and more with proven activated carbon and HEPA filters.

The air cleaners come in different sizes and airflow configurations, with custom carbon blends, long-lasting deep-bed filters as well as many additional features to provide the best solution to virtually any IAQ concern.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and recommendations based on your workplace contaminants.

Follow this blog to show your support for a greener and healthier working environment.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

'Popcorn lung' back in the news

Artificial butter flavoring has many health side effects
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

Since the mid 2000s there has been a lot of concern about the microwave popcorn industry and occupational health and safety regulations. A new term was coined to describe what workers were experiencing, popcorn lung.  This disease referred to workers at popcorn factories who suffered from a debilitating lung condition as a result of exposure to diacetyl, a synthetic butter-flavored chemical used in their products. 

In 2010, a worker won a lawsuit against industry giant BASF Corp.  He was awarded over 30 million dollars to compensate for the bronchiolitis obliterans he developed from exposure to diacetyl. 

In 2011, another worker won his lawsuit against Polarome International Inc. for the same reasons. He was also given compensation.

How does this chemical work?

Diacetyl is a naturally occurring chemical found in many different consumer products, such as beer and wine. It becomes hazardous, however, when it is produced synthetically, which is the case with products manufactured to have a buttery smell or taste.

New developments

Over the past few weeks, talk of diacetyl and the popcorn industry has resurfaced.  But the angle has changed. Two studies have shown very different, but equally harmful, side effects to working with the butter substitute.

Researchers now fear diacetyl
may cause Alzheimer's disease
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos
Apart from the rare lung disease known to occur with repeated exposure to this chemical, research now shows a correlation between diacetyl and Alzheimer’s disease. Though there is no irrefutable proof as of yet, researchers are pointing to how diacetyl may impact beta-amyloid proteins in the brain. 

The chemical appears to be causing the proteins to clump together, which is one of the indicators for Alzheimer’s disease. Diacetyl also crosses the blood-brain barrier, which leaves the brain vulnerable to attack, thereby resulting in both neurological toxicity and brain deterioration.

Over the past few years, the federal government has sought to limit workers’ exposure to diacetyl, but has not banned the chemical from use. Many factories still use diacetyl, but some have opted for another synthetic butter substitute called 2,3-pentanedione (PD). 

Recent investigations into this chemical, performed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), show that PD demonstrates similar health hazards to its predecessor, diacetyl.  The same kind of damage was found in the lungs, indicating a tendency toward developing the non-reversible and life-threatening bronchiolitis obliterans.There is no information yet on how PD impacts the brain.

Does knowledge about diacetyl and PD’s health hazards affect whether you will continue to buy microwave popcorn? Let us know what you think.


Clean air for workers

Though there has been a lot of talk about protecting workers from chemical exposure, many companies have yet to install proper HVAC systems and air cleaners. 

Electrocorp provides companies with a large array of air cleaners that can serve many different industries. From air cleaners that focus only on particles, to units that have both a HEPA and activated carbon filtration system, there are ways to protect your workers from inhaling fumes and chemicals that can cause irreversible harm.

To find out more about our units, contact one of our IAQ experts.

Show your support for greener and healthier working environments. Become a member of this blog!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cleaner air in chemical laboratories

Laboratory workers and those in nearby buildings may
be affected by poor indoor air quality.
Indoor air quality in chemical laboratory facilities can be a major concern. Older laboratories in schools or universities may expose workers to a range of contaminants.

In extreme cases, the air exhausted from labs can also affect the air quality inside nearby buildings.

Many different variables interact to change the air quality in labs, including:
  • Research protocols
  • Work practices and individual behaviors
  • Laboratory housekeeping
  • Design and operation of the HVAC system

Experts agree that concern is warranted, since even low level chemical exposures can cause discomfort in laboratory workers.

In chemical labs, workers may be exposed to a wide range of chemicals, including chlorinated solvents, ketones, benzene and derivatives (toluene and xylene) as well as other contaminants.

Complex facilities with complex indoor air concerns

Laboratories are complex facilities that require substantial planning and development to provide good indoor air quality at all times.

Most labs have negative pressure relative to non-lab spaces such as corridors and offices, meaning that there is less air supplied into the room than is leaving through the hood exhaust.

Some laboratories, like clean rooms, require positive pressure, however.

Indoor air quality can become a concern if chemical exhausts are cluttered or used inappropriately, if chemicals are inadequately stored or disposed of and if workers are unaware of risks or are mishandling chemicals.

Experts recommend facility staff and user training, routine air sampling, a variable air volume system and other safety precautions.

Source: Steve M. Hays, “Indoor Air Quality in Chemistry Laboratories”, 1999 (PDF)

Cleaner air in chemical laboratories
The RSU air cleaners belong to
Electrocorp's most efficient units.

The right equipment in laboratories is important. Labs that handle many different chemicals often need some extra help in the air cleaning department.

Electrocorp has developed powerful air cleaners for laboratories that come in different sizes and filter combinations to provide the cleanest air possible.

The air cleaners can be configured for negative and positive pressure, if needed, and they can also be attached to fume hoods to draw the air through a deep-bed activated carbon filter and other filters to remove airborne fumes and gases, including chemicals such as benzene, xylene, toluene and more.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Greener options for the printing industry


Greener practices are possible within the printing industry
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos
The printing industry has had a reputation for being one of the most environmentally unfriendly industrial sectors, but at least one company in Chicago has found a way around that.

Since 1973, Consolidated Printing Company has used alternatives for chemically-laden inks and fountain solutions, as well as solvents used in parts washers.

Rather than using the once common petroleum or chlorinated solvents to degrease parts, this printing company uses recycled cooking grease from restaurants. Inks are made from 100% vegetable products and fountain solutions are VOC free.

The company went one step further by renovating the premises with non-toxic, eco-friendly materials. Conservation has always been an important part of its mandate and it does that by keeping its water waste free of hazardous materials as well as reducing energy consumption by 30 percent.

For decades now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has given suggestions on how to reduce pollution.

The EPA's first piece of advice? Start by preventing pollution.  

Reusing by-products, substituting toxic chemicals with safer ones and reducing the release of pollutants in the air are just a few ways to minimize environmental impacts. In 2010, the EPA also hosted a webinar on how the printing industry can lower its carbon imprint through the use of green power.

Unfortunately, volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are still a problem within the printing industry as many manufacturers still struggle with finding alternative products that can do the same job. Though Consolidated Printing Company went so far as to make its own inks and solvents using household products, many companies continue to use products that can be harmful; not only to the environment, but also to their employees. 

Would you do business with a company that uses vegetable-based inks? Tell us what you think!

Source: NBC Chicago

Protecting employees’ health at the workplace

I-6500
Because many chemical and paper products are used in printing, employees are exposed to unhealthy doses of chemical fumes as well as a lot of particle matter during the cutting process.  

Electrocorp has several solutions for small and medium-sized printing companies that use digital and/or offset printers. These shops can benefit from our I-6500 with source captures. This unit connects to HVAC systems, while source captures hanging from the ceilings are positioned above the printers.

The PrintSafe is another good option as it is mobile and the intake hood can be placed right at the source of the fumes, thereby protecting workers from the worst of the chemicals.
PrintSafe

During the cutting process, many fine paper particles enter the air. The Dirty Dog is ideal for dust-filled environments. It uses a bag filter that can reduce particle levels by up to 90 percent.

DirtyDog
For more information on our units, contact one of our IAQ experts or visit our printing and graphics section on the Electrocorp website.


Show your support for a greener and healthier working environment by becoming a follower of this blog.

Friday, August 10, 2012

North American airports go to new heights: Going green


Airports across North America
are embracing the green movement
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos
Airports across North America are jumping on the green bandwagon and making some drastic operational changes. Over the past year, more than five airports have moved in a more eco-conscious direction.

The two areas airports are focusing on are:
  • Incorporating solar power in their existing infrastructure  
  • Aiming for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental (LEED) Certification

LEED Certification

LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and is a resource companies can use to ensure they are complying with green practices in the areas of building design, operations, construction and maintenance.

In the past year, at least three airports have been LEED certified.  

The Winnepeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport in Manitoba is Canada’s first LEED certified airport and features natural lighting and mechanical systems that help to reduce consumption.  The airport is 25 percent more efficient than Canada’s building code requires.

The Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal in Atlanta received a LEED Silver certification and its green features include water and energy conservation, as well as good indoor air quality. The airport has also used low VOC materials for the buildings, which include paints, sealants and recycled wood products. 

The San Francisco International Airport has redone Terminal 2 and garnered a LEED Gold certification for its efforts. The terminal’s eco-conscious features include recycling some of the original infrastructure of the space, while saving on water and energy consumption and reducing overall waste.

Solar Power

Though several airports have made strides to install solar panels on their buildings, there are two airports of particular note that are creating solutions that are both cost effective and eco-friendly.

The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport recently revealed plans to refit the rooftops on the car rental center and two other garages with 5.4-MW of solar power. The expectation is that 51 percent of the energy utilized by those buildings will be solar powered, resulting in $ 4.7 million in savings over the next 20 years.

The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority in Tennessee has already implemented one element of its plans by setting up a 1-MW array close to the airport which has already reaped benefits. In just two months, that array helped save over 62 tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the air. The airport hopes to build a solar farm that will, when completed, consist of 3-MW of solar power, an ambitious project for a smaller airport.

Have you been to any of these airports? Let us know what you thought!

Source: Earth Techling

Taking green one step further

Electrocorp's I-6500 series
are designed for use with
HVAC systems
The trend toward greener airports is encouraging and environmental consultants have undoubtedly been involved in helping to realize these various plans.

As with any construction or refurbishment project, materials are not the only concern for ensuring good indoor air quality. An air cleaning system which operates continuously is a necessity when expecting good indoor air quality on a long-term basis.

Installing air cleaners within HVAC systems in airports will help clean the air of particle and chemical pollutants through the use of HEPA and activated carbon filters.  As a result, in addition to an eco-conscious ethos, airport authorities can ensure healthy air quality for both employees and travelers.

For more information on Electrocorp’s air cleaners, call one of our IAQ experts at 1-866-667-0297 or contact us through our website.

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Love manicures and pedicures? Workers face serious health effects

Working with nail polish every day could lead to
serious health effects, experts warn.
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Summertime is sandal time and one of the busiest times of year for the thousands of nail salons across North America.

The clipping, filing and polishing industry has become a popular venture.

In Canada’s Toronto alone, residents can pick from 1,152 spots to get their nails done. The state of New York has approximately 4,100 nail salons.

But while most clients see their occasional manicure and pedicure as a treat and an occasion to relax, the technicians servicing their nails are exposed to dangerous organic solvents and harsh chemicals emitted by nail polishes and nail products.

The biggest health threats come from chemicals such as formaldehyde, acetone, toluene and dibutyl phthalate.

Some of the reported health effects include
  • Asthma
  • Rashes
  • Damage to the reproductive system
  • Effects to sexual organ development in male fetuses

Experts suggest different tactics to minimize the risks to employees. For example, using spring-loaded bottles for polish remover to reduce the amount of escaping vapors, installing tilted and ventilated tables, using healthier polish brands and high-quality particle masks, updating the ventilation system to remove odors and chemicals and raising awareness among nail technicians.

One of the problems is that many workers in nail salons are recent immigrants from China or Vietnam, who may be too afraid to complain about health problems, researchers say.


Have you ever been affected by the fumes or smells in nail salons and spas? Tell us about it!

Source: The Globe and Mail

Clean the air in spas and nail salons
Air cleaners for nail salons:
5000 and 6000 Salon

When a full HVAC update or renovation project is beyond a nail salon’s budget, individual air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA can help remove dangerous particles, chemicals and odors.

Electrocorp has developed a range of air cleaners for beauty salons and spas that feature some of the largest adsorbent surface areas for gases and fumes and the longest-lasting and most efficient filters available on the market.

The 5000 and 6000 Salon air purifiers, for example, are also equipped with a source capture attachment that can be positioned right above the working area, so that harmful chemicals and fumes as well as fine particles are removed right at the source, before they become airborne.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

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