Monday, September 30, 2013

Company culture of health brings value and success, study shows

Study suggests companies with a ‘culture of health’ may outperform others in the marketplace

Those with strong health, wellness, and safety programs bested S&P 500 average rate of return in investment simulations

Companies that build a culture of health by focusing on the well-being and safety of their workforce may yield greater value for their investors, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM), official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Healthy and safe employees are good
for business, researchers say.
The stock market performance of companies that had received ACOEM’s Corporate Health Achievement Award (CHAA), which annually recognizes the healthiest and safest companies in North America, was conducted at HealthNEXT LLC and analyzed by lead authors Raymond Fabius, MD, and R. Dixon Thayer, and colleagues. Companies that receive the award must be engaged in demonstrable and robust efforts to reduce health and safety risks among their employees.

Tracking an initial theoretical investment of $10,000 in publicly traded CHAA-recipients from the mid 1990s to 2012, researchers found that these award-winning CHAA companies outperformed the S&P 500.

Four investment scenarios were created, using a combination of simulations and past market-performance to create investor portfolios for comparison. While the margin of return varied, CHAA recipients outperformed the market in each of the four scenarios.

In the highest-performing scenario, CHAA companies had an annualized return of 5.23% vs. −0.06% for the S&P 500. In the lowest-performing scenario, CHAA companies had an annualized return of 6.03% vs. 2.92% for the S&P 500.

“Our results strongly support the view that focusing on health and safety of a workforce is good business,” said the study authors. “Engaging in a comprehensive effort to promote wellness, reduce the health risks of a workforce, and mitigate the complications of chronic illness within these populations can produce remarkable impacts on health care costs, productivity and performance.”

The authors acknowledge that the study focuses on the performance of a small collection of companies on the stock market for a limited number of years, and that more research is needed before a strong causal relationship can be established between health and safety programs and market results.

But they conclude that the study adds new evidence-based data to a growing body of literature indicating that “healthy workforces provide a competitive financial advantage in the marketplace.”

Source: American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Lab Manager

Create healthier indoor environments with air purifiers

Breathing in contaminated air for prolonged periods of time can affect the respiratory tract, cardiovascular and other parts of the human body. Unfortunately, the air in many offices and workplaces contains toxic chemicals, particles, biological contaminants and irritating odors.

Electrocorp has designed highly functional and portable air filtration systems for commercial and industrial applications, which can provide cleaner and healthier air at the workplace.

Examples of Electrocorp's areas of expertise:

The air cleaners feature many pounds of activated carbon (activated charcoal) for airborne chemicals and gases, HEPA filters for particulate matter and optional UV germicidal filtration.

For more information or a consultation with an IAQ expert, contact Electrocorp.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Wal-Mart phases out 10 toxic chemicals

America's largest retailer says it will try to get its suppliers to disclose and eventually phase out 10 potentially toxic chemicals.

Many cleaning products and fragrances
contain hazardous chemicals.
Prodded by health and environmental advocates, Wal-Mart Stores announced that it will require suppliers to disclose and eventually phase out nearly 10 hazardous chemicals from the fragrances, cosmetics, household cleaners and personal care products at its stores.

The nation's largest retailer said that, beginning in January 2014, it would begin to monitor progress on reducing these chemicals and apply to its own brand of cleaning products the Environmental Protection Agency's Design for the Environment label, which identifies eco-friendly goods. It declined to name the targeted chemicals, saying it will take time to familiarize suppliers with the new policy.

Wal-Mart joins an industry shift away from potentially toxic chemicals in consumer products.

Procter & Gamble also announced plans to eliminate hormone-like phthalates and the antibacterial triclosan. In 2012, Johnson & Johnson pledged to remove those two chemicals, along with formaldehyde and parabens, from its personal care products worldwide.

Wal-Mart said it would share best practices with other members of the Sustainability Consortium, a group of companies including Procter & Gamble that aim to reduce the environmental toll of global consumption.

Consumer advocates call the move a significant step, since large retailers like Wal-Mart can impact the whole industry.

Retailers have shown more willingness to act than the federal government. The U.S. Toxic Control Substances Act hasn't had a major update since its passage in 1976, and many chemicals used in consumer products aren't federally tested or required to submit safety data.

In fact, many stores pre-empted a 2012 federal ban on bisphenol-A (BPA) by no longer selling baby products containing the hormone-disrupting chemical.

Wal-Mart said that, beginning in January 2015, it would require suppliers to disclose ingredients online for items sold at its stores, and In January 2016, it would begin to report publicly on what progress is being made.

Source: USA Today

Working with or handling a lot of products that contain hazardous chemicals? Electrocorp air filtration systems are designed to remove harmful chemicals, fumes, vapors, odors and particulate matter from the air. Contact Electrocorp for more information, or call 1-866-667-0297.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Better air reduces death and disability rates: Study

Death and disability from air pollution down 35 percent in the U.S.

Air pollution affects hospital admissions,
mortality rates and cardiovascular disease,
research has shown.
A study by BYU professor Arden Pope concludes that improvements in U.S. air quality since 1990 have sparked a 35 percent reduction in deaths and disability specifically attributable to air pollution. Pope was a member of a large research team who co-authored the study for the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Some of the best news relative to the air pollution research over the last few years is the evidence that our reducing air pollution in the United States has resulted in measurable improvements in life expectancy and public health," said Pope in a press release.

It's no coincidence that 1990 is a point of reference in air quality research. In the late '80s, a steel mill in Utah Valley shut down for one year due to a labor strike. Pope spotted a research opportunity that found big problems caused by small particles floating in the air. Known as "particulate matter," this kind of pollution is produced by combustion of car engines, power plants and steel mills.

Air pollution impacts lungs, heart and brain

Pope and other scholars found in successive studies that dirty air impacted hospital admissions, mortality rates, and cardiovascular disease – including the risk of heart attacks.

"One of the biggest surprises of this research was that air pollution contributed to cardiovascular disease and not just respiratory disease," Pope said. "In fact, we're learning that air pollution not only impacts our lungs but it impacts our heart and our brain."

The research caught the attention of scientists and regulators, which lead to automobile emissions standards and cleaner manufacturing processes.

Now a world-renowned expert on the topic, Pope was asked this year to evaluate the credibility of an intriguing study on China's air quality by scientists at MIT, Peking University, Tsinghua University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Editors of the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science invited Pope to write a commentary that accompanied a research paper on China's Huai River policy.

The Huai River runs west to east and is regarded as the geographical dividing line between northern and southern China. In winter, the Chinese government provides free coal to residents north of the river to heat their homes.

In denying coal to people who live south of the river, the Chinese government actually did them a favor. The researchers found that air pollution is 55 percent lower on the south side. They also estimated that life expectancy was five years lower on the north side because of the extra air pollution.

"While their results tend to be a bit higher than what we'd expect based on the rest of the literature, it's still roughly consistent with what we would expect based on the other studies that we've been doing," Pope said.

Source: Brigham Young University 

Reduce risks by improving indoor air at home and at work

Electrocorp air filtration systems
provide cleaner air 24/7.
We spend most of our time indoors, breathing air that may be polluted with chemicals, particulate matter, pollen, mold, bacteria, viruses, odors and fumes. At home and at work, a good ventilation system, the lack of or safe use of hazardous substances and a high-quality indoor air cleaner will help keep the air cleaner and healthier.

Electrocorp has designed a variety of air cleaners for industrial and commercial purposes, which feature one of the most comprehensive air filtration systems with many pounds of activated carbon, HEPA and optional UV germicidal filtration.

The long-lasting air cleaners can remove airborne chemicals, gases, fumes, particles, dust, odors, biological contaminants and more, with a small footprint and energy-saving design.

For more information, contact Electrocorp today. For home air purifiers using the same type of air cleaning system, contact AllerAir and read more on the AllerAir blog.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Police evidence rooms in need of good IAQ

Collecting and storing evidence is an important
part of police work and legal proceedings.
Collecting and handling evidence is often one of the weirdest parts of a police officer's work, but it is very important to properly store evidence for investigations and legal proceedings.

In most police evidence rooms, there is more than one custodian responsible for the evidence. The job is very technical, as any evidence that is lost or tempered with can't be used in a case in court.

To make sure they can tell where the evidence is, who's had access to it and when, the technicians need to put in place a rigorous process and go through regular internal audits. Digital record keeping helps with making evidence easier to track, and security is paramount.

The evidence room houses evidence such as illicit and prescription drugs, weapons as well as items connected to crimes, many of which will be returned to their owners, auctioned off or destroyed once the case has been closed.

Metal shelves and neatly labelled boxes make for an organized room, but the evidence technicians have to be careful about the indoor air quality in the evidence room.

Without proper ventilation and air exchanges, evidence room personnel may be exposed to airborne fumes, mold (especially Aspergillus mold from improperly stored marijuana), particles, dust, chemicals and other contaminants.

Measures for a healthy evidence room

Breathing contaminated air can affect a police officer's health and well being. Continuous exposure to poor indoor air quality has been associated with less productivity, respiratory disease and many other illnesses.

There are many measures that can be taken to make the evidence room (and other areas of the department) a safer and healthier place:

  • Use a diligent process for storing evidence
  • Use personal protective systems (such as masks and gloves) when moving and handling stored evidence
  • Monitor and adjust indoor heating, ventilation and air conditioning system
  • Use a portable air purifier with activated carbon, HEPA and UV germicidal filtration to remove chemicals, gases, fumes, odors, particles, dust and biological contaminants
  • Keep the evidence room clean and organized

Source: Press Publications, Electrocorp

Worried about indoor air quality in your evidence room or police department? Electrocorp has worked with law enforcement officers across North America to provide cleaner air in evidence rooms and at the workplace. For more information, contact Electrocorp or call 1-866-667-0297.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ways to go green at work

The workplace can be a greener place.
The idea of going green is not a new one - most North Americans have taken steps to reduce their foot print and save the environment. Even small steps can make a big difference in the future.

Going green at work is the next logical step. Even if employers are slow to take the lead, there are many ways employees can help greenify their workplace.

• Conserve H2O - at home and at work

The average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home, according to the EPA. We use even more at work or school. You can reduce your water usage in numerous ways. Use WaterSense-labeled toilets and sinks. Check out to find rebates for water-wise improvements.

• Look for products that use reclaimed materials

Recycling has become a valid business opportunity for many companies supplying the industry sector. Reclaimed rubber floors for businesses is one example. But there are many ways North American businesses can reuse materials at the workplace.

• Think twice before printing anything

In today's onslaught of e-mails and digital documents, not everything has to be printed anymore. Contracts, yes. Bills, yes. Every single communication with coworkers, no. Just make sure your computer is backed up regularly, so you don't lose anything.

Greener offices often come with improved indoor air quality as well. Even when extra help is needed, it is a good idea to go with the greener option of indoor air cleaners. Electrocorp has designed a wide range of indoor air cleaners that boast with green features:
  1. Metal casings that can be recycled. Many commercial air cleaners feature plastic casings. Metal ones are environmentally friendlier and more durable.
  2. Refillable air filters. Electrocorp's activated carbon filters can be refilled to reduce waste. The used activated carbon is recyclable or compostable.
  3. Energy-efficient usage. Electrocorp's portable air cleaners use about as much energy as a lamp. Different speed options further make them efficient and user-friendly.
Want to find out more about Electrocorp's line of commercial and industrial air cleaners? Contact an IAQ specialist today.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Home health care workers get recognition

OT, minimum wage extended to health care workers

New rules for home health care workers
may limit access for some families.
The Obama administration approved rules that extend minimum wage and overtime pay to nearly 2 million home health care workers who help the elderly and disabled with everyday tasks such as bathing, eating or taking medicine, according to an AP report.

Home care aides have been exempt from federal wage laws since 1974, when they were placed in the same category as neighborhood baby sitters. But their ranks have surged with the aging population and the field is now one of the fastest-growing professions.

Labor unions and worker advocacy groups have been seeking the change for years, arguing that nearly half of caregivers live at or below the poverty level or receive public benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid.

But some health care companies claim new overtime requirements will make it tougher for families to afford home care for their aging parents. Lobbyists for the $84 billion industry argue the new requirements could reduce the quality of care and even lower the take-home pay of caregivers if companies decide not to send workers out for shifts longer than eight hours.

The new rules will take effect in January 2015, which will give time for states and industry providers to adjust to the new requirements. New wage and hour rules typically take effect within 60 days after final approval. The rules cover home health aides, personal care aides and certified nursing assistants that provide care to the elderly and people with injuries, illnesses and disabilities.

President Barack Obama first proposed the rules nearly two years ago as part of broader effort to boost the economy and help low-income workers struggling to make ends meet. More than 90 percent of home care aides are women. About 30 percent are black, and 12 percent are Hispanic.

Experts estimated that by 2020, the country would need about 4 million home care aides to meet the needs of its graying population. The number of Americans over 65 is expected to nearly double over the next 20 years.

Fifteen states already extend state minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers, and another six states and Washington, D.C., mandate state minimum wage protections.

The current median pay for home care workers is about $9.70 per hour, higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, according to Labor Department figures. But overtime pay could help lift wages substantially for those who work more than 40 hours a week.

The new rules will continue to exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements those workers who mainly visit the elderly to provide company or engage in hobbies and are employed directly by the person or family receiving services.

Source: ABC News

Adjust IAQ in home care situations

Illness and disease can lead to bad odors and poor indoor air quality. Opening windows regularly helps but is not always feasible.

For better indoor air quality and healthier air, home health care aides can use portable and reliable indoor air cleaners with the right types of filters.

The air cleaners need activated carbon, HEPA and UV germicidal filtration to remove airborne contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, odors, chemicals, particles and mold.

Electrocorp has designed a variety of indoor air cleaners for the healthcare system. Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Workers unhappy with open offices: Study

Employees in open offices complain about increased noise
and less privacy, researchers say.
Recent trend of activity-based office spaces not popular with workers

A study by researchers at the University of Sydney has found that many employees feel activity-based working environments, which feature open-office plans designed to foster teamwork, are disruptive to their productivity.

Jungsoo Kim, one of the study's authors, said open-office layouts, which have been a growing trend in recent years, have been touted as a way to boost workplace satisfaction and team effectiveness.

"We found people in open-plan offices were less satisfied with their workplace environment than those in private offices," Kim said. "The benefits of being close to co-workers in open-plan offices were offset by factors such as increased noise and less privacy."

The research was based on surveys of more than 42,000 office workers in the United States, Finland, Canada and Australia.

In addition, researchers analyzed a University of California database that measures indoor environment quality in office buildings, factoring in things such as indoor air quality, temperature, lighting, noise, privacy and the amount of space an individual perceives they have.

Researchers said that the data further validated earlier findings that uncontrollable noise and loss of privacy are the main sources of workplace dissatisfaction in open-plan offices.

Kim said open-plan offices dominate modern workplaces, yet there is little solid evidence they improve interaction between co-workers.

The study, co-authored by professor Richard de Dear, was recently published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

Source: BusinessNewsDaily 

Ways to improve the office atmosphere

Disgruntled workers don't have high productivity ratings, but there are many things employers can do to improve the situation -- short of remodeling the entire office.

  • Enforce office rules to respect privacy and work hours. Make sure employees know that they should concentrate on their work during office hours instead of interacting with each other unnecessarily.
    Electrocorp air cleaners feature
    carbon, HEPA and optional UV.
  • Tell facilities management to monitor the indoor environment closely. Conditions such as temperatures that are too high or too low, humidity that is too high or too low and poor indoor air quality can affect employees' health, well-being and productivity. Listen to their concerns and make the necessary changes.
  • Use portable dehumidifiers, heaters and air cleaners where needed. Some offices require extra help, especially when the existing HVAC system is unable to do the job. The air cleaners should have activated carbon, HEPA and possibly UV germicidal filtration for best results. These filters can remove airborne chemicals, particles, odors, fumes, mold, bacteria and viruses.
  • Make sure the office is well lit and ventilated.
  • Make some private offices or meeting rooms available to workers. 
Want to know more about indoor air quality in offices and how it affects worker productivity and attendance records? Have a look at some previous posts or contact an Electrocorp IAQ specialist for more information. Electrocorp has designed a wide range of indoor air cleaners with carbon, HEPA and UV for offices
and printers.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mold damages books in Maryland library

Thousands of books affected by mold

Staff and patrons may be exposed
to mold spores in affected libraries.
Image courtesy of Paul/
Library staff members have closed an entire floor of the McKeldin library, one of the main libraries of the University of Maryland, until further notice after discovering an outbreak of nontoxic mold in August.

Thousands of books were affected by the mold, a library spokesman said. Staff workers had noticed small amounts of mold for three years.

Library staff and a specialized contractor will clean all the shelves, and every book on the floor will be wiped down and vacuumed, a process that could take months.

Authorities listed various reasons for the mold damage, including

  • high summer temperatures
  • inefficient heating, ventilation and ventilation system
  • high humidity

Libraries generally maintain about 50 percent relative humidity. At the McKeldin library at the time of the outbreak, that number had risen to 75 percent.

Facilities Management workers brought in dehumidifiers to reduce the humidity, adjusting the air conditioning controls and checking that all the monitors work correctly.

The mold exposure has been contained to that one floor, the spokesman said, and it is unlikely that staff will have to dispose of any affected books.

The bulk of the cleaning is scheduled to begin in October.

There are no immediate plans to change or update the heating and air conditioning system on a large scale.

Source: The Diamondback

Remove mold and contaminated air in libraries and archives

Libraries are housing thousands of books and they often suffer from poor indoor air quality due to outdated HVAC systems and humidity problems.

Updating or fixing HVAC systems can be expensive, but library staff and facility management can help improve indoor air quality by using portable air cleaners with the right types of air filters.

Electrocorp has designed a range of indoor air cleaning systems for libraries and archives that feature UV germicidal filtration for mold spores and biological contaminants, HEPA filters for particles and dust and activated carbon walls for chemicals and odors.

Contact an Electrocorp IAQ specialist for more information and a personalized recommendation.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

P&G halts use of 2 chemicals in personal care products

When it comes to beauty and personal care products, the promises may not be worth the possible health effects. In recent years, consumers have become more concerned about what kind of chemicals they are exposed to on a regular basis.
Companies are slowly phasing out
toxic chemicals from beauty products.

It seems to be working.

Procter & Gamble has announced it is phasing out the use of two chemicals by 2014 from its beauty and personal care products.

The chemicals are phthalates and triclosan, which advocates say have been linked to birth defects and infertility.

“We made a strategic choice to exit the use of these two ingredients for a couple of reasons, including feedback from some of the people who use our products,” company spokesman Dr. Scott Heid was quoted in a Cincinnati News article.

The company recently updated its timetable for discontinuing the chemicals’ use on its web site.

The company says the chemicals are safe and approved by regulators.

P&G says it will stop use of diethyl phthalate (DEP), the only phthalate it still uses. The chemical evaporates slowly and helps scents and colors last longer in products such as soap and shampoo.

Other types of phthalates called DBP and DEHP have been banned by the European Union and dropped by consumer product companies.

The consumer products giant also says it will stop using triclosan, an ingredient that slows or stops the growth of germs such as bacteria and mildew. P&G uses the antibacterial chemical in some of its dish soap, professional hand soap and other personal care products.

Source: Cincinnati News

Remove hazardous chemicals at the source

Even though some dangerous and toxic chemicals are being phased out, others may still linger after using certain beauty and personal care products.
CleanBreeze 2
by Electrocorp

Workers in spas, health clubs, hair salons and nail studios need to be aware of the risks to take steps toward healthier products and improved occupational health and safety procedures.

One way to minimize exposure to airborne chemicals and fumes from beauty and personal care products is by using a high-efficiency air cleaner with activated carbon and HEPA.

Electrocorp has designed commercial air cleaners for beauty salons and spas, including the CleanBreeze 2 and CleanBreeze 3, which both feature a source capture attachment to remove airborne contaminants right at the source.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and more options.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chemical info available through EPA Web Tool

Tool expands access to scientific, regulatory information on chemicals

The web tool allows for a comparison
of multiple chemicals.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a web-based tool, called ChemView, to significantly improve access to chemical specific regulatory information developed by EPA and data submitted under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The ChemView web tool displays key health and safety data in an online format that allows comparison of chemicals by use and by health or environmental effects.

The search tool combines available TSCA information and provides streamlined access to EPA assessments, hazard characterizations, and information on safer chemical ingredients.

In addition, the new web tool allows searches by chemical name or Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) number, use, hazard effect, or regulatory action. It has the flexibility to create tailored views of the information on individual chemicals or compare multiple chemicals sorted by use, hazard effect or other criteria.

The new portal will also link to information on manufacturing, processing, use, and release data reported under the Chemical Data Reporting Rule, and the Toxics Release Inventory.

In the months ahead, EPA will be continuously adding additional chemicals, functionality and links. When fully updated, the web tool will contain data for thousands of chemicals. EPA has incorporated stakeholder input into the design, and welcomes feedback on the current site.

To view and search ChemView, click here.

Working with chemicals or worried about fumes and vapor exposure? Electrocorp is one of North America's leading manufacturers of industrial and commercial air purification systems. The air cleaners feature a multistage filter system with a granular activated carbon wall, HEPA and pre-filters. Special carbon blends and industry-specific options are available. Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Communities get EPA grants to address IAQ concerns

EPA awards 2013 Environmental Justice Small Grants 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a total of $1.1 million in competitive grants to 39 non-profit and tribal organizations working to address environmental justice issues nationwide.
The grants support activities such as
improved IAQ in child care facilities.

The grants will enable the organizations to develop solutions to local health and environmental issues in low-income, minority and tribal communities overburdened by harmful pollution.

“EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grants are making a visible difference in communities across the country,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in the press release.

“These grants help build capacity, raise awareness, and equip communities with the tools to address environmental challenges – from climate change impacts to brownfields and water pollution. I’m proud to continue to promote these important grants and advance EPA’s long-term commitment to our community stakeholders.”

The 2013 grants support activities that address a range of community concerns such as reducing exposure to indoor environmental asthma triggers, restoring and protecting waterways, educating child care professionals on ways to prevent lead poisoning, and reducing pesticide use in child care facilities.

Environmental justice is defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race or income, in the environmental decision-making process.

Since 1994, EPA’s environmental justice small grants program has supported projects to address environmental justice issues in more than 1,400 communities.

The grant awards represent EPA’s commitment to promoting community-based actions to address environmental justice issues.

In the fall of 2013, EPA will issue a Request for Proposals for the FY 2014 Collaborative Problem Solving Grants. A schedule of pre-application community stakeholder teleconference calls will be announced at that time.

More information:

2013 EJ Small Grant recipients and project descriptions

About EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grants program

Concerned about indoor air quality in your community? Electrocorp has designed long-lasting and efficient air cleaners for commercial and residential use. Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Medical centers not safe from mold

Mold prompts relocation of patients at VA medical center

Mold has been linked to
respiratory ailments.
More than 175 patients at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg, W.Va., have been displaced after tests showed the presence of mold in many of the rooms where they were housed.

The mold was discovered in the fan coils of air-conditioning units in the center’s domiciliary unit, and patients were moved out Friday. Many are being housed in Martinsburg area hotels during clean-up efforts, which the VA said will take two months.

In a statement, the VA described the health risk from the mold as “very low.”

Many of the patients residing at the domiciliary unit are enrolled in programs treating substance abuse, homelessness and mental health disorders, according to veterans at the facility.

Several of the patients have been treated for respiratory ailments that may be related to the mold, according to the VA employee and residents. A female patient complained several times about mold in her room before it was inspected, they said. “That’s what finally got the ball rolling,” the employee said.

The Martinsburg facility provides care to veterans in West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and southeastern Pennsylvania.

Source: The Washington Post

Remove mold spores and other contaminants from the air

Buildings suffering from mold can be detrimental to health. Most cases require professional mold remediation services to treat the problem effectively.

Before during and after treatment, indoor air quality may suffer due to airborne mold spores, harsh chemicals and other IAQ contaminants.

With adequate ventilation and efficient indoor air cleaners, patients and staff may be able to breathe cleaner and healthier air.
The RAP cleaner can
accommodate all 3 filters.

Electrocorp has designed portable as well as ductable indoor air cleaners that feature a high-efficiency air filter system, containing

  • Large activated carbon wall for gases, odors, fumes and chemicals
  • HEPA filter to remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 microns in diameter
  • UV germicidal filtration to neutralize airborne mold spores, bacteria and viruses

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Study seeks ways to reduce sick leaves

When an employee goes on sick leave, the absence of collaboration may cause permanent problems, studies have shown.

In order to help employees return to work successfully, the British government has instituted a "fit note" from the employee's doctor to replace the old sickness certificate.

A doctor's fit note can help those
on sick leave return to work.
In the fit note, GPs are encouraged to suggest adjustments in the workplace that will help employees return successfully.

The success rate of the new system is in question, however, and a new study aims to discover the best way to use the doctors' fit notes from the perspectives of employers, GPs and patients.

The research, led by The University of Nottingham and commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) aims to produce recommendations for the appropriate implementation of fit notes as well as informing training for employers and GPs in their usage.

Employers previously said the government's fit note was failing in returning employees to work successfully, in contrast to 71% of workers who agreed that the tool had been helpful in getting them back into the workplace.

The GP fit note was introduced three years ago. However, research into long-term work incapacity demonstrated that the longer people were on sick leave, the less likely they were to return to work.

The study is underway and a final report on both phases will be submitted at the end of September 2014.

Source: Workplace Savings and Benefits

Better air for a healthier workplace

Many reasons for absenteeism of employees can be traced back to poor indoor air quality at the office.

High levels of dust, bacteria, viruses, fumes, mold spores and other contaminants can affect employees' health and well-being.

Air cleaners with HEPA, activated
carbon and UV help provide cleaner air.
Employers can remedy the situation by

  • Making sure the office is well ventilated
  • Separating office printers and work spaces
  • Switching to non-toxic cleaning products
  • Placing portable air purifiers at strategic places in the office (these air cleaners should have a HEPA filter, a large activated carbon filter as well as UV germicidal filtration for maximum efficiency)
  • Educating employees about the ways they can help keep indoor air clean

Electrocorp has designed a variety of high-efficiency air cleaners for the office and other work spaces.

Custom-built air purifiers are available. The PrintSafe, for example, comes with a direct intake hood for large printers, which helps remove airborne chemicals, fumes and particles before they can spread in the workplace.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

IAQ and low-energy buildings: Finding the right balance

Vancouver ASHRAE conference to explore indoor air quality and low-energy buildings

Poor IAQ deserves more attention,
industry professionals say.
Finding the balance between environmental health and energy efficiency in the pursuit of low-energy buildings is examined in a paper at the upcoming ASHRAE IAQ (indoor air quality) 2013 conference,setting the tone for discussion for the entire event.

“Neglecting indoor air quality while pursuing other goals can result in building environments that negatively impact the health, comfort and productivity of occupants and therefore defeat the overall goal of building design, including reduced costs,” said Kevin Teichman, a senior science advisor at the U.S. Environment Protection Agency.

“While building design is key to achieving a high-performing building, it is critically important to follow these good intentions through construction, commissioning, operation and maintenance. Only in this way will high-performing buildings actually perform as designed.”

Teichman’s paper is among 80 papers and extended abstracts being presented at IAQ 2013, Environmental Health in Low-Energy Buildings, which takes place Oct. 15-18 in Vancouver, B.C. This conference is the 17th in the ASHRAE IAQ conference series and is co-organized by the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate.

His paper, “Indoor Air Quality in High-Performing Building Case Studies: A Wealth of Intent, A Dearth of Data,” examines the role of indoor air quality in high-performing buildings, focusing on case studies in ASHRAE’s High Performing Buildings magazine. The paper was co-authored by Andrew Persily and conference co-chair Steve Emmerich, mechanical engineers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

A panel discussion on the topic also is planned.

“While progress has been made in achieving sustainable, high-performance buildings, it is noteworthy that many discussions of green, high-performing and certainly net-zero energy buildings tend to focus on energy consumption,” Teichman said. “Energy is critically important, but is only one aspect of performance and should not be pursued to the neglect of the others.”

The conference seeks to describe the current state-of-understanding of the relationship of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in high-performance buildings.

The conference features papers and presentations in nine tracks, which include:

— Environmental Health in Low-Energy Buildings
— Moisture and Health
— Sources and Chemistry
— Indoor Environmental Quality Factor Interactions
— Residential Buildings
— Commercial and Institutional Buildings
— Air Cleaning and Filtration
— Microorganisms and Infection
— Tools (models, measurements and more)

ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is a building technology society with more than 50,000 members worldwide. The society and its members focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability.

Source: Daily Commercial News

Providing better IAQ in buildings and offices

Electrocorp's mission is to provide cleaner and more breathable air in industrial, commercial and residential properties across North America.

Electrocorp's air cleaners feature a deep-bed activated carbon filter for chemical fumes and gases, a HEPA filter for particles and dust and optional UV germicidal filtration for contaminants such as bacteria, viruses and mold.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

US chemical safety data almost always wrong: Study

Chemical accidents can lead to
chemical exposure  and adverse
health effects.
Chemical exposure can be serious, but currently there is no way to keep track of accidents and spills, a study shows.

Even the best national data on chemical accidents is wrong nine times out of 10.

A Dallas Morning News analysis of more than 750,000 federal records found pervasive inaccuracies and holes in data on chemical accidents, such as the one in West that killed 15 people and injured more than 300.

In fact, no one at any level of government knows how often serious chemical accidents occur each year in the United States. And there is no plan in place for federal agencies to gather more accurate information.

As a result, the kind of data sharing ordered by President Barack Obama in response to West is unlikely to improve the government’s ability to answer even the most basic questions about chemical safety.

After the West explosion in April, The News asked a simple question: How often do serious or potentially serious industrial chemical accidents occur in Texas and nationwide? After scouring the four federal databases with the most comprehensive information available on chemical safety, The News concluded that there was no way to know.

For a recent four-year period, the paper managed to confirm at least 24 industrial chemical accidents in Texas that resulted in deaths, injuries or evacuations. But the poor data quality guarantees that number does not account for all accidents. Nor was it possible to make a meaningful comparison with other states that would lend important context to the safety picture in Texas.

Large data systems have inherent problems with accuracy — an issue that experts caution will only worsen in an era when huge amounts of electronic data are being collected. Even so, government investigators and researchers have been warning for at least 25 years about the problems with chemical accident data. The News found report after report that said chemical accident data were insufficient to spot even basic accident patterns and suggest solutions.

What’s needed, experts say, is an overhaul of the data-collection process or the expansion of an existing pilot program that has labored under years of inadequate funding.

One agency focused on chemical accidents

Only one agency collects nationally comprehensive information specifically on chemical accidents. The U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center receives reports of chemical spills and other accidents from companies, emergency responders and the general public.

But the NRC data is no more than a call log, like a 911 hotline for environmental emergencies, and first reports often turn out to be wrong. Following up those initial reports to update the data and record what actually happened is not part of the center’s mission.

Government reports citing serious problems with chemical safety data go back to at least the 1980s. That’s when an accidental release of methyl isocyanate from a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, killed more than 5,000 people.

The 1984 disaster spurred the Environmental Protection Agency to attempt to create a chemical accident database. The effort began in 1985. But researchers quickly found that many serious chemical accidents never came to the attention of any federal agency. By 1989, funding for the project had ended.

The chemical industry had started self-reporting on incidents, but many chemical companies strongly oppose publicly releasing their accident data.

This article has been edited for length. Source: The Dallas Morning News

A chemical spill is a serious threat to people's health and well-being. Electrocorp works with environmental agencies, consultants and industry professionals to help bring cleaner air to industrial, commercial and residential spaces. Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Captain sues marine company for exposure to toxic fumes

Chemical exposure ruined health and future, seaman alleges

Health and safety lawsuits can be
expensive for employers.
Comal County resident Paul Whetstone seeks more than $1 million in damages from a marine company he claims exposed him to toxic chemicals.

He was ordered to repair his ship after the Ashton T ran aground on the Galveston north jetty in March 2012. Whetstone was first captain of the vessel.

Whetstone claims that he had to work “in a closed environment with little or no ventilation and ingested fumes and vapors from paint, polyurethane, welding gasses and other toxic and harmful substances in the air.”

Whetstone filed a Jones Act lawsuit against T&T Offshore Inc. and T&T Marine Inc. in Galveston County District Court.

In his suit, Whetstone claims he now wears a pacemaker following the incident last year in which “his heart and entire central nervous system shut down and he died.” Whetstone was revived and stabilized shortly afterwards, but rendered unable to work again, the suit says.

Seaman now requires pacemaker because of ship’s toxic fumes, court papers say

He also claims that he was made to eat and sleep “in this environment” and not allowed to leave the Ashton T.

Whetstone claims he requested adequate protection from “such harmful and deadly fumes, vapors and metals in the air” to no avail.

He was released from duty on April 28, 2012, and Whetstone states he was taken to San Antonio’s Baptist Hospital where surgeons installed the pacemaker.

According to the suit, the pacemaker “has permanently prevented the plaintiff from performing any form of work activity in the maritime and aviation fields because he is no longer qualified to maintain his ship captain and aviation license(s).”

A jury trial is requested.

Source: Southeast Texas Record

Combat chemical fumes with carbon air cleaners

Working with hazardous materials in closed environments or indoor spaces requires adequate health and safety measures.
Electrocorp air cleaners for chemicals and
particles work in enclosed spaces.
Shown: Welding fume extraction

Aside from personal protective equipment and improved ventilation, the right type of air cleaner can also significantly improve the air quality in these spaces.

Electrocorp offers a wide range of air purifiers for the workplace, which can remove airborne chemicals, vapors, fumes and odors, as well as particles and biological contaminants.

The air cleaners can tackle welding fumes, paint vapors, gasoline fumes and other airborne chemicals with a superior activated carbon filter featuring many pounds of carbon.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and ask about specialized carbon blends as well as other options.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Parents check classroom air quality on mobile device

Poor indoor air quality in schools can
become a problem for students and staff.
Many schools are being renovated over the summer, causing parents to worry about potential toxic fumes to affect their children.

Some schools are moving to appease worried parents and provide information about the work being done, the materials used and the indoor air quality in the classroom.

According to a report by ChinaNews, a middle school in Yangpu district has posted QR codes in its recently renovated classrooms so parents can check the quality of the school's renovations with a simple scan of their mobile phones. This was announced by the Shanghai Environmental Protection Industry Association.

The school put up the square bar codes as part of a pilot program that aims to assure parents that their children won't be breathing toxic fumes from the renovations.

Parents worry that the two-month summer vacation isn't long enough for the noxious fumes from some construction materials, which can contain carcinogens such as methylbenzene, to dissipate.

In 2011, 73 students at the newly built Wunan Kindergarten in Shanghai missed the first day of classes because their parents were worried about the "pungent fumes" in the building stemming from construction over the summer.

The QR codes, which can be scanned with most mobile devices, offer parents a simple way to check the air quality and other details about the renovations, said Li Wei, the vice secretary-general of the Shanghai Environmental Protection Industry Association.

The scan results for the school's 72-square-meter conference hall showed that the air quality in the room has been tested on three different days since August 19. The tests were all clear. The scan results also showed that the composite wood floors and coatings on the walls, desks and chairs all met standards.

In the past, schools have not released the complete results of such safety inspections to parents. The QR code scans, however, give parents access to the full inspection results for seven classrooms, Li said.

The pilot program is expected to eventually be implemented citywide, and could be expanded to places like hospitals, shopping malls and movie theaters.

Edited for length. Source: Chinanews

Air cleaners for schools

Back-to-school time often leads to a surge of asthma attacks, allergy symptoms or other health effects caused by poor indoor air quality in classrooms.
Air cleaners for schools

Chemical fumes from construction and renovation work, dust and particles, mold spores, odors and chemicals from strong cleaning products can all cause IAQ problems in schools.

Electrocorp has designed a variety of versatile and mobile air cleaners for schools that can tackle the above-mentioned airborne contaminants and more (including airborne bacteria and viruses).

The air purifiers feature a multi-filter system for best results. That includes a large activated carbon filter to remove chemicals, fumes and odors, a superior medical-grade HEPA filter for particles and dust as well as optional UV germicidal filtration for biological contaminants such as germs and mold spores.

The air cleaners are long-lasting and sturdy, providing cleaner and more breathable air during the school day or on a 24/7 basis.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and a consultation.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

US moves to improve safety of chemical storage

EPA, OSHA and ATF provide information and lessons learned about the safe storage, handling and management of Ammonium Nitrate 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued a chemical advisory that provides information on the hazards of ammonium nitrate (AN) storage, handling and management.

This action supports the goals of President Obama’s August 2013 executive order on “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security.”

Storing chemicals may be a health hazard
for workers and communities.
The advisory provides lessons learned for facility owners and operators, emergency planners and first responders from recent incidents, including the explosion in West, Texas, involving AN in order to prevent similar incidents.

“Understanding and minimizing the hazards posed by solid ammonium nitrate used in fertilizers is a key component of this advisory,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “In addition, the community emergency planning and response information in this document provides a valuable tool that will help protect workers, first responders and communities throughout the country.”

“Ammonium nitrate can be very dangerous, and it’s imperative that employers, workers and first responders all understand the hazards,” said Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. “With this understanding, together they can control these hazards and save lives and limbs.”

The advisory takes steps to reduce the risks associated with AN to workers, first responders and communities.

It is part of an ongoing coordinated federal government effort to improve chemical safety with regards to AN and includes information on ensuring proper building design, storage containers and fire protection at their locations; learning from other accidents; and knowing and understanding the hazards that exist when developing their emergency response plans.

Click here to view the advisory and more information on EPA’s risk management program.

Concerned about chemical storage and indoor air quality? Electrocorp offers versatile air cleaners for industrial and commercial workplaces. Contact an IAQ expert for more information.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wood dust can explode in dry or wet state: Report

B.C. sawmill study makes surprise finding on using moisture to prevent deadly explosions

Wet wood dust is just as explosive as
dry wood dust, a report shows. 
The smallest-sized wet wood dust is just as explosive as dry wood dust from B.C. Interior sawmills, according to a report prepared by FPInnovations for the provincial sawmill sector.

The finding raises questions about the usefulness of misting at sawmills. It was part of a first-of-its-kind study in British Columbia ordered after a pair of deadly sawmill explosions in the province last year that killed four workers.

“It was assumed moisture would be a bigger factor,” said Darrell Wong, one of the report’s authors. He is a manager of FPInnovations, the non-profit forestry research centre at the University of B.C.

But Wong said more study must be done before sawmills should consider jettisoning misting systems. Misting systems have a secondary function of knocking wood dust out of the air.

Wood dust suspended in the air was confirmed as the fuel source for the two explosions by WorksafeBC, the province’s chief workplace safety agency.

As part of the new study, hundreds of dust samples from 18 sawmills were analyzed, with some samples sent to Chilworth Technologies, a lab in Princeton, N.J. that determines how explosive substances are.

The report has been made widely available through forest industry associations and the United Steelworkers, which helped fund the study. WorkSafeBC is also helping to distribute the report.

The study also found there is not much difference among the explosiveness of various types of wood dust of timber, including type of wood (spruce, pine, fir, Douglas fir or cedar) and timber killed by the mountain pine beetle. That suggests timber killed by the beetle has not had its properties changed to make it more explosive, said the report.

But the report said the milling of beetle-killed pine may create more dust or dust that is easier to raise into a cloud than other woods. Among the factors needed to create a dust explosion is fine particles suspended in the air.

FPInnovations applied two criteria to determine which areas in the sawmills were at greater risk of an explosive hazard: the accumulation of wood dust at a rate of greater than one eighth of an inch in an eight-hour shift and samples that have more than 40 per cent of particles that were 425 micrometres (just under half a millimetre) or less in size.

Just 20 wood dust samples met those criteria, with 14 of those from mills that were processing beetle-killed timber. A majority of these samples were collected from under or near conveyors and in basements.

A sawmill explosion at Babine Forest Products near Burns Lake on Jan. 20, 2012 killed two workers. An explosion at Lakeland Mills in Prince George on April 23, 2013, killed another two workers. Dozens more workers were injured in the two explosions and fires.

This article was edited for length. Source: The Vancouver Sun

Keep wood dust in check

Industrial air cleaners like Electrocorp's Dirty Dog
help remove dust and fine particles and more.
Wood dust is not only an explosive hazard, it can also affect the health and well-being of workers, especially over the long term.

Electrocorp offers highly efficient air purifiers for wood shops and sawmills, which help remove airborne wood dust particles and other contaminants.

With cleanable bag filters and washable pre-filters, these air cleaners can be mounted on the ceiling or placed on the floor.

For more information, contact Electrocorp.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Office vapor intrusion spurs lawsuit

Five female office workers say gasoline fumes harmed their unborn children

Exposure to chemical fumes may affect an unborn child.
JACKSON (AP) -- Texaco Inc. has settled a lawsuit with five women who alleged the oil company was responsible for ailments of children born after they were exposed to leaded gasoline fumes.

Both sides informed the Mississippi Supreme Court on Aug. 15 the settlement was reached. Terms were not released.

The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal last week and sent the case to Jefferson County for approval of the settlement.

A jury had returned a $17 million verdict for the women in 2010.

The women said they were pregnant when they worked in an office building in Fayette that had been a gasoline station affiliated with Texaco, and were exposed to fumes from tanks left in the ground.

As result, they claimed, their children were born with disabilities and illnesses.

Wayne Drinkwater of Jackson, an attorney for Texaco, now part of Chevron, argued before the Supreme Court the company didn't own or operate the station and leaks were not its fault.

Eduardo Flechas, representing the families, said the court record showed Texaco had control of the tanks when the leak occurred between 1974 and 1976.

Source: Sun Herald

Air cleaners help combat vapor intrusion, fumes

For chemical and gasoline fumes making their way into buildings and offices, Electrocorp has developed versatile air purifiers with a carbon wall and other filters to provide cleaner air. Many pounds of granular activated carbon help remove chemical vapors, fumes and odors.

Electrocorp has worked with environmental consultants and industry leaders to improve indoor air quality in offices, businesses and work spaces across North America.

For more information, contact Electrocorp today.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Safety awareness program for combustible dust

OHS Canada recently distributed the news that Aurora Pictures has recently released two new safety awareness programs, Combustible Dust Awareness and Ladder Safety.

Combustible dust hazards exist in a wide variety of industries: grain handling, food processing, plastics, wood and paper products, textiles, pharmaceuticals, and metal fabrication, among many others.

In fact, over 130 products or materials have been identified that can present combustible dust hazards. Many facilities that have processes that produce dust or fine particles may be at risk for a dust explosion.

The 8-minute video provides a general awareness of how combustible dust explosions are caused and what you can do to recognize and mitigate the possible hazards before it’s too late.  It includes a detailed explanation of what combustible dust is and what makes dust such a highly combustible fuel source.

The other program concerns ladders, a common fixture both at work and at home. But statistics show that falls from ladders result in 300 deaths and 165,000 injuries yearly and that falls from a short height can result in serious injuries.

A 17-minute video details all of the hazards of working on a ladder. It discusses how to select the right ladder for the job, inspecting the ladder before use, how to transport and set up a ladder, working safely on ladders and ascending and descending ladders safely. For those who work with ladders, this video will give you all the information you need to ensure you and your employees are working safely.

Both of the programs are available in DVD and streaming media formats. Additional information or free preview is available by calling Electrolab Training Systems at 1-800-267-7482 or emailing

Source: OHS Canada

Concerned about dust and airborne particles in your work space? Electrocorp manufactures industrial and commercial air cleaners for spaces of any size. Contact Electrocorp for more information.