Saturday, July 30, 2011

EPA proposes air pollution standards for 'fracking'

Toxins released in oil and gas production
can affect human health, authorities warn.
Cost-effective, flexible standards rely on operators' ability to capture and sell natural gas that currently escapes, threatens air quality

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday proposed standards to reduce harmful air pollution from oil and gas drilling operations. 
These proposed updated standards - which are being issued in response to a court order - would rely on cost-effective existing technologies to reduce emissions that contribute to smog pollution and can cause cancer while supporting the administration’s priority of continuing to expand safe and responsible domestic oil and gas production. 
 The standards would leverage operators' ability to capture and sell natural gas that currently escapes into the air, resulting in more efficient operations while reducing harmful emissions that can impact air quality in surrounding areas and nearby states.

"This administration has been clear that natural gas is a key component of our clean energy future, and the steps announced today will help ensure responsible production of this domestic energy source," said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. 
"Reducing these emissions will help cut toxic pollution that can increase cancer risks and smog that can cause asthma attacks and premature death - all while giving these operators additional product to bring to market.”
The proposal would cut smog-forming volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from several types of processes and equipment used in the oil and gas industry, including a 95 percent reduction in VOCs emitted during the completion of new and modified hydraulically fractured wells. 
This dramatic reduction would largely be accomplished by capturing natural gas that currently escapes to the air and making that gas available for sale through technologies and processes already in use by several companies and required in some states.

Natural gas production in the U.S. is growing, with more than 25,000 new and existing wells fractured or re-fractured each year. The VOC reductions in the proposal are expected to help reduce ozone nonattainment problems in many areas where oil and gas production occurs. 
In addition, the VOC reductions would yield a significant environmental benefit by reducing methane emissions from new and modified wells. Methane, the primary constituent of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas - more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. 
The proposed changes also would reduce cancer risks from emissions of several air toxics, including benzene.

EPA’s analysis of the proposed changes, which also include requirements for storage tanks and other equipment, show they are highly cost-effective, with a net savings to the industry of tens of millions of dollars annually from the value of natural gas that would no longer escape to the air. 
The proposal includes reviews of four air regulations for the oil and natural gas industry as required by the Clean Air Act: a new source performance standard for VOCs from equipment leaks at gas processing plants; a new source performance standard for sulfur dioxide emissions from gas processing plants; an air toxics standard for oil and natural gas production; and an air toxics standard for natural gas transmission and storage.

More information:
For improved indoor air quality and reduced exposure to VOCs, consider using an industrial-strength air cleaner with activated carbon and HEPA. Contact Electrocorp for more information.  

Friday, July 29, 2011

Housing development gone wrong: Residents fear exposure to toxic solvents

Residents say they
experience health problems
due to chemical exposure.
A Scottish housing estate built on the site of a former munitions factory might harbor more than what residents have bargained for.

The residents claim that there are toxins 27 times beyond the international safety levels that have been found in tests in their homes.

Many of the residents have started suffering from health problems such as stomach problems, nausea and muscular pain, which only started after they moved there, they said.

The factory that used to operate on the site handled toxic metals, hazardous chemicals and radioactive materials in the 1940s.

Residents exposed to TCE and PCE, other chemicals

The residents claim that indoor testing of 25 homes had confirmed the presence of exceptionally high levels of the toxic solvents, including trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE), among others.

Monridge Environmental LLC, the company brought in to carry out the tests, was said to believe the levels of these pollutants could not be attributed to the use of household products, a concern that was voiced by other authorities.

Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors, said: "TCE is a well-known and accepted carcinogen. The levels in four houses are hugely excessive and the findings of this latest report have potentially far-reaching and damaging consequences. Further, the evidence of other solvents being detected, very often at dangerous levels, gives real cause for concern.”

The council has been accused of ignoring 1995 recommendations for a remediation program to clean contaminated waste from the site before giving the green light to build more than 100 houses on it.


Portable carbon filters can remove harmful chemicals

Fast and effective air cleaning:
RAP Series

Let's recap: A factory that handled dangerous chemicals, no remediation program, a housing estate built on the site and budding health problems in residents – sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

It would take a very long time and a large budget to initiate a remediation program at this point, but residents can find some relief in the meantime with industrial-strength air cleaners that are equipped with highly adsorbent activated carbon and HEPA filtration.

Air cleaners for the home and office
Activated carbon can adsorb chemicals like trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and a portable and versatile air filtration system provides a reliable and cost-effective solution for providing some relief.

Contact one of Electrocorp’s air quality experts for more information and customizable solutions as well as air cleaners for environmental consulting projects: 1-866-667-0297.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Health and safety issues: Mold in the workplace

Water is a beautiful thing - unless it leaks
into buildings and causes IAQ problems.
Water damage in the workplace can be a result of a variety of reasons, among them a leaking roof, broken pipes, heavy rains or similar problems.

But excessive moisture can turn into a serious problem in a matter of 48 hours, when mold starts to grow, which can affect the health and well-being of building occupants.

When heavy rains caused water damage at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office recently, management did the right thing and evacuated many employees.

According to an article in the Alexandria Echo Press, the water damage along with hot and humid weather prompted concerns about mold growth. Water was running down walls and saturated the building, and it was not clear where the leak occurred.

According to renovation experts, it’s often difficult to pinpoint the source of the leak, since water can travel behind walls and along supporting structures before it can be seen.

The precautionary measure to evacuate the officers is a smart move – exposure to mold spores and mold mycotoxins can cause or aggravate existing health conditions in many individuals and cause symptoms such as
  • Headache
  • Sneezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Coughing
  • Irritation of eyes, skin, nose and throat
Mold often grows on marijuana stored
in evidence rooms.

Mold can also become a major problem in property and evidence protection rooms where marijuana and other hazardous materials are stored. Aspergillus mold is a common occurrence on improperly dried or improperly stored marijuana.

Electrocorp offers efficient, versatile and cost-effective stand-alone air filtration systems for Law Enforcement and other industrial or commercial applications.

The air cleaners remove a wide range of contaminants such as chemicals, particles, odors, bacteria, viruses and mold by leveraging a multi-stage filtration system:

RAP Series: Ultimate protection
for Law Enforcement agencies.
  1. Carbonized pre-filters
  2. 15 lb. to 120 lb. activated carbon filter (most efficient medium for the removal of airborne chemicals and odors)
  3. Medical-grade or micro-HEPA (most efficient filter for the removal of small particles)
  4. UV germicidal filtration (the UV lamp neutralizes live contaminants such as bacteria, viruses and mold mycotoxins

Electrocorp services law enforcement agencies, environmental consultants and a myriad of industries across North America. Contact Electrocorp for more information, testimonials and customizable solutions.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Experts suggest better air pollution policies for health improvements, less inequality

Industrialized areas could
benefit from better air pollution
policies to avoid inequalities.
An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study of an air quality management strategy for Detroit found that a localized approach would result in significantly improved health benefits for those most at risk.

The case study addresses EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s initiative on environmental justice, which focuses on ensuring that low income and minority groups are not disproportionately affected by pollution.

The study demonstrated that the approach approximately doubled the human health benefits achieved by the traditional approach, according to EPA lead author Neal Fann, an environmental protection specialist at the Agency.

A new approach would be particularly useful in urban areas, where vulnerable and susceptible populations are clustered geographically and where air quality varies substantially because of the effects of local traffic and other pollution sources.

The analysis, entitled “Maximizing Health Benefits and Minimizing Inequality: Incorporating Local Scale Data in the Design and Evaluation of Air Quality Policies,” appeared in the June issue of the journal Risk Analysis, published by the Society for Risk Analysis.

New approach targets multiple exposures at once

Conventional approaches to air pollution management focus on compliance of single pollutants at designated monitoring stations, while the new approach would focus on reducing multiple exposures in highly populated areas as well.

The authors construct population profiles to identify vulnerable and susceptible groups, identified by current health status (mortality and asthma rates) and exposure to air pollution (particulate matter), as well as by poverty and educational attainment.

They found that this more targeted approach reduces inequalities. The study “succeeded in generating substantial human health benefits – particularly among vulnerable and susceptible populations – while also lowering the overall level of air pollution risk inequality,” according to the authors.

The article suggests that flexible, localized air quality management strategies hold significant potential for improving the health of residents and resulting in fewer hospitalizations and deaths.

Source: Society for Risk Analysis (SRA)

Indoor air quality and health & safety
RAP Series: Portable air cleaners
with industrial strength.

Electrocorp has designed a wide range of versatile and powerful air purification systems for industrial and commercial applications.

The stand-alone or HVAC-compatible air cleaners use a highly effective activated carbon and HEPA filtration combo to remove chemicals, gases, fumes and particles from the air.

Find out more about our products for

Contact Electrocorp for more information and customizable units.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Havertown Superfund site ‘not an unacceptable risk’ for residents: EPA

Vapor intrusion can harm people's health.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published a completed assessment of the health risks from vapor intrusion for residents living near the Havertown Superfund site and found that trichloroethylene (TCE) and its byproducts “do not pose an unacceptable risk to residents via a vapor intrusion pathway.

“These contaminants have not been detected in indoor air living space and therefore, a removal action is not required to mitigate potential risks from TCE.”

The Superfund site has been subject of governmental interjection after a wood treatment plant spilled hazardous chemicals into the river and affected the surrounding areas.

Trichloroethylene is a non-flammable, colorless liquid used as a solvent for cleaning or degreasing metal parts. It can enter groundwater when chemicals are spilled on the ground, poured down drains or otherwise disposed of improperly.

Depending on concentrations and exposure, TCE can cause nerve, kidney or liver damage as well as cancer of these organs.

The EPA announced in February that it would launch a vapor intrusion study due to concerns that TCE detected in groundwater on the Superfund site could be entering nearby homes through vapor intrusion, a process whereby volatile contaminants in soil and groundwater evaporate and gas off into buildings through cracks in basements and foundations, sump pumps, drainage pits or utility conduits.

In March, the EPA collected indoor and sub-slab/crawl space air samples from 10 residences in the vicinity.

The EPA suspects TCE concentrations are not related to historical operations at the Superfund site but derive from other, unidentified sources.

Source: Daily Times

Minimize vapor intrusion risks with portable air cleaners

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

The numerical series to treat vapor
intrusion in single-family dwellings.
Our powerful, portable air filters come equipped with the deepest beds of granular activated carbon on the market and provide a cost-effective indoor air quality solution with proven technologies to help reduce human exposure to contaminants.

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

Recommended air filtration systems include:
Contact Electrocorp today for more information; toll-free: 1-866-667-0297.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Researchers focus on IAQ for better quality of life

Poor indoor air quality in buildings
can be harmful to human health.
UT researchers are studying the many aspects of indoor air quality (IAQ) to find solutions for a healthier life.

We spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors and are exposed to a variety of indoor air pollutants that can cause respiratory issues and other health effects.

According to a recent article in the Daily Texan, engineering professor Richard Corsi and his team of five professors and more than twenty graduate students in the Indoor Environmental Science and Engineering Program at UT are studying IAQ in general, and indoor ozone levels in particular.

“When ozone levels go up in cities, death rates and hospital visits go up, and most exposure to ozone comes from buildings,” Corsi was quoted. “Ozone is a really chemically reactive compound that forms new chemicals when it comes into contact with different substances. Some are harmless but some are very toxic.”

Indoor exposure to ozone can affect health: Researchers

The researchers say that ozone indoors ozone reacts negatively with carpet and most paper products, creating byproducts that can be detrimental to the respiratory system.

He his team are working to identify materials that remove ozone and other indoor air contaminants and to promote the use of those materials when new buildings are being made. One of the promising materials is clay, which removes ozone and does not create bad byproducts and which can be used on large surfaces such as walls and ceilings.

Cooling and heating systems, which are the only standard ways to filter indoor air, only operate 20 to 25 percent of the time, Brent Stephens, a civil engineering graduate student, said.

He said the only way to ensure better air quality is to use more energy and keep those systems operating more frequently and to use high grade air filters.

“At the end of the day, even in a summer in Austin, it doesn’t matter what kind of filter you have if the system doesn’t run.”

Stand-alone, portable air cleaners remove dangerous indoor pollutants
I-6500 air cleaners: Powerful
chemical and particle filtration.

Electrocorp’s air filtration systems leverage high quality materials, solid construction and the most efficient filter media combination on the market to remove dangerous toxins from the air in all types of commercial and industrial applications, homes and offices (AllerAir line).

The air cleaners remove harmful chemicals, odors, vapors and gases with a deep bed of activated carbon and irritating particles with a medical-grade HEPA or micro-HEPA wrap. Activated carbon is most efficient when the unit is run on the lowest setting on a 24/7-basis.

Many Electrocorp air filtration systems can also be equipped with UV germicidal filtration for the neutralization of live contaminants such as bacteria, viruses and mold.

Contact Electrocorp for more information:; 1-866-667-0297.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Researcher warns of lingering environmental pollutants

Pharmaceutical drugs degrade and form new,
potentially harmful chemicals, expert warns.
Environmental pollutants lurk long after they supposedly "disappear," and ridding the environment of pharmaceutical waste not as easy as it seems, warns a Tel Aviv University researcher.

A growing number of people worry about the health implications of polluting the environment, and pharmaceutical wastes continue to be a main culprit.

Now a Tel Aviv University researcher says that current testing for these dangerous contaminants isn't going far enough.

Drugs react with environment, form new chemicals

Dr. Dror Avisar, head of the Hydro-Chemistry Laboratory at TAU's Department of Geography and the Human Environment, says that, when our environment doesn't test positive for the presence of a specific drug, we assume it's not there.

But through biological or chemical processes such as sun exposure or oxidization, drugs break down, or degrade, into different forms — and could still be lurking in our water or soil.

In his lab, Dr. Avisar is doing extensive testing to determine how drugs degrade and identify the many forms they take in the environment. He has published his findings in Environmental Chemistry and the Journal of Environmental Science and Health.

Tests only focus on original drugs

Drug products have been in our environment for years, whether they derive from domestic wastewater, hospitals, industry or agriculture.

But those who are searching for these drugs in the environment are typically looking for known compounds — parent drugs — such as antibiotics, pain killers, lipid controllers, anti-psychotic medications and many more.

"If we don't find a particular compound, we don't see contamination — but that's not true," Dr. Avisar explains. "We may have several degradation products with even higher levels of bioactivity."

Resulting chemicals can be toxic

Not only do environmental scientists need to identify the degraded products, but they must also understand the biological-chemical processes that produce them in natural environments. When they degrade, compounds form new chemicals entirely, he cautions.

Dr. Avisar and his research group have been working to simulate environmental conditions identical to our natural environment, down to the last molecule, in order to identify the conditions under which compounds degrade, how they degrade, and the resulting chemical products.

Factors that need to be considered:
  • Sun exposure
  • Water composition
  • Temperatures
  • pH levels
  • Organic content
Using amoxicillin, a common antibiotic prescribed for bacterial infections such as strep throat, as a test case, Dr. Avisar has successfully identified nine degradation products with different levels of stability. Two may even be toxic, he notes.

"Chemicals do not simply disappear — we must understand what they've turned into,” Dr. Avisar warns. “We are dealing with a whole new range of contaminants.”

Read the full press release.
Update July 29: New model predicts environmental effects of pharmaceutical products.

Electrocorp and AllerAir Industries offer a wide range of air filtration systems to filter out chemicals, gases, vapors and odors from the indoor environment.

Call a representative to find out more about complete air cleaning solutions for spaces of all sizes: 1-866-667-0297.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pulp and paper news: Report says green chemical industry to soar

Green chemical industry posed to grow
in the pulp and paper field.
Pulp and Paper Canada news recently reported that the green chemistry represents a market opportunity that will grow from $2.8 billion in 2011 to $98.5 billion by 2020, based on a report from Pike Research.

The report examines the three major segments of the green chemical market: waste minimization in conventional synthetic chemical processes, green replacements for conventional chemical products, and the use of renewable feedstocks to produce chemicals and materials with smaller environmental footprints than those produced by current processes.

"Green chemistry markets are currently nascent, with many technologies still at laboratory or pilot scale," Pike Research president Clint Wheelock was quoted in the article, "and many production-scale green chemical plants are not expected to be running at capacity for several more years.

"However, most green chemical companies are targeting large, existing chemical markets, so adoption of these products is limited less by market development issues than by the ability to feed extant markets at required levels of cost and performance."

Green alternative chemicals to grow

Pike Research forecasts that green alternatives in the polymer sector will represent the highest penetration level (5.7%) within the total chemical market, as it is somewhat more developed than the other key sectors.

The report notes that there has been a great deal of activity in the development of renewable feedstocks for a wide range of chemical processes, both replacements for commonly used "merchant molecules" and new compounds with interesting and commercially valuable properties.

Most renewable feedstocks are produced through biological processes (primarily fermentation of plant sugars into the desired compounds or their intermediates) or thermal and chemical processes applied to cellulosic materials such as wood, agricultural waste, or non-food plants like switchgrass.

According to the Pike Green Chemistry report, much of the bio-based segment is nascent. However, this segment "perhaps has the greatest long-term potential to revolutionize the chemical industry."

Technologies are just a few steps beyond the laboratory and production facilities are a few years from reaching their modest full production levels. The bio-based segment of the market excluding biofuels is liable to grow slowly over the next few years.

An executive summary of the report is available for free download on the firm's website. Pike Research is a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets.

Source: Pulp and Paper Canada News

Air quality and the pulp and paper industry

Paper mills also have a considerable effect on humans in terms of occupational hazards and environmental impact.

Pulp and paper mills use a variety of chemical substances that are potentially hazardous to human health. Many of these chemicals have been linked to serious conditions such as cancer and respiratory diseases and exposure may happen at any stage during the paper-making process.

Electrocorp has designed industrial-strength air filtration systems to remove a wide range of chemicals, odors, vapors and particles from the pulp and paper mill environment.

I-6500: Serious air cleaner
Suggested units are

Contact Electrocorp for more information and customizable solutions.
Related post: 
Examining the link between pulp and paper mills and cancer

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New suggested limits for fine particle levels in the workplace

Fine particles can penetrate deep into
the lungs and cause health problems.
The finest particles are the most dangerous – they can be inhaled deeply into the lungs and cause inflammation as well as a wide range of health problems for certain individuals.

The dangers are compounded when workers are exposed to fine particulate matter at the workplace, but certain guidelines and threshold values are in place in most countries to protect the health and safety of those workers.

A subdivision of the German Research Foundation, the Senate Commission for the Investigation of Health Hazards of Chemical Compounds in the Work Area, has made important changes to the 2011 MAK and BAT Values List and recommends reducing the general threshold limit value for dust.

The recommendations contain new data on a total of 82 substances and come in response to recent studies, which have determined that dust can be carcinogenic at certain exposure limits.

The Commission determined a new MAK value of 0.3 mg/m3 for the general threshold limit value for dust (in German: Allgemeiner Staubgrenzwert), and bumped the granular biologically long-lasting dusts (GBS), which penetrate deep into the lungs upon inhalation, into Carcinogenicity Category 4.

This category identifies cancer-causing materials that do not increase cancer risk in humans if the corresponding MAK value is not exceeded.

MAK values indicate the amount of a substance – be it in the form of gas, steam or aerosol in the air at the workplace – that will not cause long-term damage.

The Commission applied a procedure for the calculation of the MAK values from animal experiments with oral intake of substances that is similar to that being used on the European level (REACH). The review of 24 values affected by this procedure resulted in a reduction for 11 of the substances. The rest remained unchanged.

Read the entire press release here.

Particle and chemical pollution in the workplace

Electrocorp has designed industrial-strength air filtration systems for heavy-dust environments and workplaces where indoor air quality poses a health and safety concern for workers.
DirtyDog Series: Cleaner air

Some recommended units:

DirtyDog Series
The DirtyDog dust collector is engineered to reduce dust levels by 70-90% to provide healthier, cleaner air in workplaces such as body shops, workshops and woodshops.
Comes with a washable pre-filter, a cleanable bag filter and optional HEPA filter. Pressure switch indicates a filter change. Can be hung from the ceiling or placed on the floor.

AirMarshal air filter
AirMarshal Series
This air cleaner is a powerful, portable unit for controlling dust particles or chemicals, gases and odors. Variable speed, replacement indicator light for the HEPA filter. Comes with a 24 to 36 lb. activated carbon filter, medical-grade HEPA, ProDense pre-filter and can be equipped with a special hose, exclusive carbon blends and electrostatic particle filter. Negative air ready.

AirRhino air cleaner
AirRhino Series
The AirRhino is one of Electrocorp’s most versatile and cost-effective units and can be switched from particle filtration to chemical, gas and odor adsorption right on site. Comes with a medical-grade HEPA filter, a ProDense pre-filter, a special dust filter an activated carbon filter and can accommodate a UV germicidal lamp, a bag filter for large particles and custom carbon blends.

Electrocorp specializes in providing customized air filtration solutions to many different industries, including woodshops and auto body shops and garages. For more units and more information, contact Electrocorp at 1-866-667-0297.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ruling stands that benzene caused laborer's leukemia

Chemical exposure in the workplace can
lead to costly litigation.
Occupational health and safety lawsuits have become a serious threat to many companies and workplaces that work with harmful chemicals and substances.

A recent lawsuit showed that in Louisiana, a worker can establish that chemical exposure caused an occupational disease by showing medical studies and internal memoranda from the employer noting a chemical exposure problem.

In the case Benoit v. Turner Industries Group, LLC, No. 10-1460 (La. Ct. App. 05/04/11), the Louisiana Court of Appeal held that a laborer was entitled to benefits for the leukemia he developed after being exposed to benzene at work.

A worker at an oil refinery was routinely exposed to chemicals, including benzene, while cleaning the sewers, ditches, and sump collection points in the processing units.

The laborer's family members said he returned home from work in a greasy, grimy, and smelly state.

Health problems from chemical exposure

He frequently experienced headaches, dizziness, and vomiting after working.

The laborer subsequently developed acute myeloid leukemia and died.

His family sought workers' compensation benefits, alleging he developed leukemia from the benzene exposure during his employment. The Louisiana Court of Appeal awarded the family indemnity benefits, penalties, and attorney's fees.

An industrial hygienist opined that the laborer's work duties exposed him to hazardous levels of benzene and that he likely inhaled the chemical and absorbed it through his skin.

The hygienist based his opinion on memoranda from the refinery regarding a benzene exposure problem at the facility. Based on medical records, internal memoranda, and scientific studies, a doctor opined that the benzene exposure was more likely than not the cause of the leukemia.

The court noted the employer used a "battle of the experts" argument. The employer's expert said to establish causation, a physician had to know the rate and length of exposure to the chemical.

However, he could not definitively state the leukemia could not be caused by overexposure to benzene. The court found a causal link between the chemical exposure and the occupational disease.

The court said the employer had evidence to support the laborer's claim and that it could have begun benefits or made an effort to reasonably controvert the claim. Instead, it did nothing. The refinery still took no action after having the hygienist's and doctor's reports, as well as internal documents.

Source: LRP Publications

Remove airborne chemicals with industrial-strength air cleaners

Electrocorp offers powerful, versatile and cost-efficient air filtration systems for a wide range of industries, companies and indoor air quality concerns. Packed with up to 576 pounds of activated carbon, special carbon blends and the best in particle filtration (HEPA), Electrocorp's air purification systems remove the widest range of pollutants from the air.

No one understands chemical and odor abatement like Electrocorp. That’s why Electrocorp consistently provides the most filtration media, the largest adsorbent area and the most options at the best price. Simply put, more filtration media means a more efficient solution.

Contact one of Electrocorp's IAQ experts for more information.

Related posts


Monday, July 18, 2011

China bans 10 toxic pesticides after multiple food scares

Toxic pesticides can affect human health.
Exposure to chemicals and pesticides in particular has been linked to a variety of health problems.

Some, such as the organophosphates and carbamates, affect the nervous system. Others may irritate the skin or eyes. Some pesticides may be carcinogens. Others may affect the hormone or endocrine system in the body. EPA's human health risk assessments for many pesticides are available on the web. 

In essence, the level of risk is dependent on the level of toxicity and exposure.

Many countries have banned some of the most toxic pesticides, as their risks outweigh any positive associations they may have. Now China adds 10 more pesticides to its list.

Food safety concerns linked to pesticides

A recent China Daily article says that China is banning 10 types of highly toxic pesticide in response to growing concern about the safety of agricultural products because of the misuse of such chemicals, quoting the country's top crop production officials.

The withdrawal of registration certificates and production licenses connected to the 10 pesticides - including fenamiphos and fonofos - will take effect on Oct 31 and the sale and use of the chemicals will be outlawed from Oct 31, 2013, according to an announcement from the Ministry of Agriculture.

The announcement was based on a plan for the elimination of highly toxic pesticides jointly drafted by the ministry and four other departments.

It is a significant step for China, since China is the world's largest pesticide producer and consumer. Production hit 2.26 million tons in 2009, according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The move to the bans came after incidents involving pesticide misuse have created concern among the public about the safety of food.

In February 2010, many provinces banned the sale of cowpeas that had been grown in South China's Hainan province because high levels of the toxic pesticide isocarbophos were detected.

In April 2010, nine residents in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, were poisoned after eating toxic garlic that had been polluted with organic phosphorus.

More training, information needed, officials say

The country launched a campaign to manage the use of highly toxic pesticides in the 1980s. So far, 23 types of highly toxic pesticide have been banned and 19 others must not be used on fruit and vegetables, statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture show.

China currently has 22 types of highly toxic pesticide registered, of which 50,000 tons are produced each year, accounting for 2.5 percent of the country's annual total pesticide production, official figures showed.

Lu Bu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, urged local governments to provide more training to farmers about pesticide use.

"Many farmers believe highly toxic pesticides are useful and do not realize that there are also possible dangers associated with their misuse," he said.

Source: China Daily 

Worried about chemical exposure indoors?

Electrocorp's RAP series:
Serious air cleaners
Electrocorp offers a variety of indoor air filtration systems for the home and office as well as for a wide range of industries, including chemical processing plants, food and produce operations, laboratories, and plants or companies having to deal with heavy odor control.

Electrocorp's air cleaners use the most efficient and most trusted air filtration technologies, such as activated carbon (for chemicals, odors, gases and fumes), HEPA (for particles and dust) and UV germicidal filtration (for bacteria, viruses and mold).

Contact Electrocorp for more information and customizable solutions.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Don’t gamble with your health at casinos

Not everyone smokes in casinos, but most
establishments fail indoor air quality tests.
Casinos are notorious for taking gamblers’ money, but frequent gamblers and casino workers may have another thing to worry about – indoor air pollution.

A recent article in the Kansas City Star quoted health advocates from two area health organizations warning against unhealthy levels of indoor air pollution in five area casinos, especially on the floors where smoking is allowed.

In their study, the health organizations found that there’s enough smoke in the air to expose full-time casino employees to more particulate pollution than the Environmental Protection Agency’s limit for eight-hour work shifts.

Even though many cities have instituted a smoking ban in public places, bars and restaurants, casinos often receive exemptions to clean indoor air laws. That special treatment has put gaming establishments on the front lines in recent battles over whether to curb or extend legal restrictions on smoking.

Public battle, litigation over smoking laws

According to the article, casinos insist that their business relies disproportionately on smokers, while health advocates point to profitable casinos in states where smoking isn’t allowed.

Meanwhile, casino workers have sued employers over health problems, from asthma to cancer, allegedly caused by constant exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.

As the study showed, it doesn’t take a lot of cigarettes to cause a lot of pollution. Indoor air quality was deemed as unhealthy, even though just under 17 percent of the people in the casinos’ smoking areas were actively smoking.

Health effects of smoke and particulate

Fine particulate pollution can come from cigarettes, auto tailpipes and even burgers on a grill.

The tiny particles work their way into the lungs, where they cause inflammation and aggravate asthma, emphysema and other respiratory diseases.

Particulates also are suspected of contributing to heart attacks.

Cigarette smoke also contains various carcinogenic chemicals, which can affect smokers and those breathing in secondhand smoke.

Source:  Kansas City Star

Indoor air filtration systems for casinos, bars and restaurants

Electrocorp offers a wide range of indoor air cleaners for bars and restaurants, casinos and the hospitality industry.

The industrial-strength air purification systems filter out dangerous chemicals, gases, odors and particles with the deepest beds of activated carbon and most efficient HEPA filters.

Electrocorp can custom-build units for rooms, floors or spaces of any size. Contact Electrocorp directly for more information and ask about air cleaners designed to combat smoke pollution.
Related posts:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Styrene warning: Who is at risk?

A government report classified styrene
as a possible human carcinogen.
A recent US government report has warned that exposure to styrene heightens the risk of cancer, but questions remain about who might be at risk.

Styrene, a chemical compound derived from crude oil, was subject of a health warning from the Department of Health and Human Services' National Toxicology Program (NTP), which said that styrene is "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen".

NTP scientists said last month that they believe styrene metabolizes when it comes in contact with the human body, bonding with oxygen to form styrene oxide, a chemical that has the ability to alter DNA and cause cancer.

What is styrene?

The chemical is also known as vinyl benzene and is a derivative of benzene. It is a colorless oily liquid that evaporates easily.

With approximately 15 billion pounds of the chemical produced annually, styrene can be found in many commonly used products, including

  • Plastic, e.g. plastic utensils, food containers
  • Toys
  • Packaging
  • Rubber
  • Insulation
  • Fiberglass
  • Pipes
  • Automobile and boat parts
  • Carpet backing
  • Cigarette filters

Workers in certain professions might be more at risk because of their occupational exposure to styrene. These include auto mechanics and workers in boat repair shops who cut a lot of fiberglass, slather epoxy resin and handle rubber hoses, but it all depends on the length and amount of exposure.

Styrene producers are blasting the report as premature and lacking proof, pointing to a decision last month by European Union health regulators, who said they did not believe styrene poses a cancer risk in humans.

Source: Reuters

Worried about airborne chemicals?

Electrocorp has designed a range of air filtration systems for homes and offices as well as auto body shops and garages (and boat repair shops), chemical processing plants and many others industrial applications.

Electrocorp's high-performance industrial air purifiers provide versatile and effective solutions for even the most complex Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) problems. Contact one of our IAQ experts for more information and customizable solutions.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Respiratory disease widespread in Middle East, study shows

Desert climate, chemical warfare, water-pipe smoking contribute to lung diseases

Lung diseases in the Middle East range from the centuries-old pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) to modern manifestations caused by chemical warfare, according to a recent press release.

A new paper in Respirology, a journal of the Asian Pacific Society of Respirology, provides pulmonologists and patients with the first comprehensive review of respiratory illnesses specific to the Persian Gulf region, and the challenges in treating them.

Lung diseases affect many individuals
in Middle Eastern countries
A wide spectrum of pulmonary disorders affect individuals living in the Middle East, including bronchial and pleural diseases, respiratory tract infections and neoplasms (tumors), as well as chest traumas caused by traffic accidents.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Burden of Disease Report there were 114,000 deaths caused by TB; 407,000 from respiratory infection; 25,000 attributed to lung, trachea and bronchus cancers; and 160,000 associated with respiratory disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and asthma in the Eastern Mediterranean Region1 in 2008.

"The wealth of pulmonary pathologies encountered in the Middle East probably surpasses all other regions of the world," explains lead author Dr. Atul Mehta, Chief Medical Officer at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

"Our paper highlights the diverse conditions specific to this region that contribute to the variety of respiratory illnesses found among individuals living in Middle Eastern countries."

Study cites various causes of lung diseases

Major categories covered in the review include environmental factors, infections, genetic-idiopathic diseases, sleep disorders, lung malignancies, pleural diseases, and miscellaneous respiratory conditions.

For example, the vast desert area of the Middle East experience extreme temperature changes which can exacerbate chronic lung diseases such as asthma.

The frequent wars in the Middle East have included chemical ammunitions that can cause immediate lung damage and have potential long-term effects, ranging from bronchiolitis to "desert-storm pneumonitis."

Additionally, water-pipe smoking, which is unique to the Gulf region and on the rise, particularly in women and children, has been linked to pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease, and pregnancy-related complication in preliminary studies.

Cultural and environmental factors to blame

The authors suggest the broad array of lung disorders can be attributed to the large immigrant population and unique cultural and environmental conditions in the region.

"An integrated approach that involves public health, primary care, and pulmonary specialists is required to ensure effective management of the various lung diseases in the Persian Gulf," concluded Dr. Mehta.

"Consideration of the unique cultural and environmental factors will aid clinicians and public health officials in combating these health issues and ensuring compliance to medical care to improve patient outcomes."

Please note: WHO's Eastern Mediterranean Region includes health statistics from countries that include Afghanistan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, The Occupied Territories, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, U.A.E., and Yemen Arab Republic. 

Worried about the indoor air quality in your home or workplace?

Electrocorp offers a wide range of portable, high-efficiency air cleaners for

Home and office air cleaners for
particle and chemical filtration.

Contact one of Electrocorp's IAQ experts at 1-866-667-0297.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Shop towels another health risk for auto body shop and garage workers

Working in an auto body shop or garage
is associated with many inhalation risks.
Mechanics and other auto body shop and garage workers are exposed to a variety of harmful substances such as the ones contained in brake fluids, detergents, lubricants, degreasers, paints, metal cleaners, diesel fumes, fuel, solvents and many other fluids.

Exposure to the heavy metals and airborne chemicals in auto body shops and garages can lead to long-term and short-term health effects.

Now a study described in a recent Huffington Post article names yet another occupational health and safety risk for mechanics and auto body workers:  Cleaned and laundered shop towels.

Study found lead, other toxins on shop towels 

A new study sponsored by Kimberly-Clark Professional, one of the largest makers of disposable towels in the US, suggests that workers using laundered towels are in fact exposing themselves to high levels of lead, cadmium and other heavy metals.

However, providers of laundered towels -- and even some independent toxicology experts -- viewed those claims with skepticism, the article adds.

According to the authors of the report, exposure to the metals, oil and grease that don't get removed in the wash can occur both directly and indirectly: a worker may graze their lips with a towel while wiping off sweat, or touch their fingers to their mouth after using a towel to remove grime from a hand or tool. (The average person subconsciously touches his or her face an estimated 16 times an hour.)

Metal exposure exceeds recommended guidelines

The study found that the average worker who uses 12 towels a day may be exposed to seven metals -- antimony, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, copper, lead, and molybdenum -- at levels that exceed health-based exposure guidelines.

Lead exposure, which has been linked to nervous system damage, may be of particular concern. Gradient's analysis found that the typical 12-towel-a-day worker may ingest up to 3,600 times more lead than is recommended by the EPA.

Industrial workers that don't use toxic materials themselves may be particularly unaware of the potential risk of contamination.

Shop towels from a food or beverage manufacturer, for example, could have been laundered in the same facility as those soiled by automotive and heavy equipment companies.

According to the article, most auto shops now use reusable towels and that trend is unlikely to change until there is a more evidence and independent research.

Experts suggest the following to minimize the risks:
  • Choose a launderer that doesn't recycle rags across multiple industries
  • Change the practice in order to minimize contacts with towels, such as adopting hand washing and decontamination protocols before going on break or before going home
  • Make sure the laundering method is the right one for the industry
  • Choose towels towels made of materials that would be less likely to trap particles, such as ones with flat surfaces rather than loops like a bath towel

Source: Huffington Post 

Portable air cleaning solutions for garages and auto body shops

Find out more about the hazards of working in a garage.

Electrocorp offers air cleaners for auto body shops and garages to provide enhanced protection against harmful chemicals, particles and odors in the auto body shop environment. Find out more about Electrocorp's AirRhino air filtration system.

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

Monday, July 11, 2011

Metal fume fever a persisting problem, toxicologists say

Welding fume extractors help remove
dangerous fumes.
“Monday morning fever” – metal fume fever – is a persisting problem, despite changes in modern-day work practices, researchers say. Workers in the home and also students doing metal work are at great risk.

First described in 1822, it is a disease which may have been forgotten by GPs and ED doctors but is well known to toxicologists.

Dr Anselm Wong and colleagues from the Emergency Department at Melbourne’s Austin Hospital and Victorian Poisons Information Center analyzed all metal fume fever-related calls to the Victorian Poisons Information Centre between June 2005 and December 2010.

Among the study's findings:
  • They found 85 reported exposures, mostly in males (82 – 96% of cases).
  • Almost all (84 – 99%) of these calls were about adults.
  • Most (81 – 95%) of the callers reported symptoms occurring within 24 hours, and 53% of the exposures occurred in the workplace.
  • The most frequent days of exposure with symptoms were Monday (20 – 24%) and Tuesday (18 – 21%).
  • The most common symptoms were fever, headache, and chills.
  • All of the calls were people involved in welding metal, zinc being the most common (38%).

The researchers concluded that metal fume fever may still be a public health issue and potentially an indicator of poor work place practices.

Chronic respiratory disease is the fourth leading cause of death of Australasians and this study is an indicator that further efforts are required to ensure safe workplace practice and minimise potentially harmful exposures.

“In the workplace, prevention is the key to this disease – such as avoidance of direct contact with toxic metal fumes, improved engineering controls including exhaust ventilation systems, personal protective equipment such as respirators, and education of workers on the features of the disease.

“However, people in the workshop at home or students doing metal work may not have access to all of these.”

Source: Australasian College for Emergency Medicine

Remove dangerous fumes at the source with a portable air cleaner

Electrocorp has designed air filtration systems with source capture attachments that are specifically designed for metal fumes, welding fumes and soldering fumes.

Contact Electrocorp to speak to an air quality experts and find out more the welding fume extractors and customizable options.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Working in an office? You could be exposed to banned toxins

Many office workers are exposed to a
banned flame retardant.
A US study evaluating 31 offices in Boston, Massachussetts has found that most office workers have concentrations of a banned flame retardant on their hands, which was directly linked to the amount of the toxin found in their blood.

The flame retardant called polybrominated dipheny ether (PBDE) was found in the dust in these offices. It was once widely used in computers and other electronics as well as the polyurethane foam padding in office chairs, furniture, and carpeting.

Even though PBDEs were banned under the Stockholm Convention, a treaty to control and phase out major pollutants, they are still widespread in many offices.

In previous studies, PBDEs have been linked to thyroid hormone imbalance, fatigue, depression, anxiety, unexplained weight gain, hair loss, low libido and infertility.

What to do to reduce exposure to toxins

While you likely can't avoid PBDEs altogether, researchers said the best way to cut your exposure is to wash your hands often with soap and water.

In the study, workers who reported washing their hands four or more times per day tended to have lower levels of PBDEs on their hands than those who washed their hands less often.

They also had, on average, three times lower concentrations of PBDEs in their blood.

When it comes to upgrading office furniture and electronics, opt for products that don’t contain brominated fire retardants and choose PBDE-free furniture.

Keep your office space as clean as possible and dust regularly with a damp cloth.

During lunch time, you can also try to reduce your exposure: According to Health Canada, PBDEs are also found in some fatty meats, fish, and dairy products., a project of the Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition, says avoid farmed fish, especially farmed salmon from the UK or US, and reduce animal fats from your diet.

Source: The Independent

Protect yourself from poor IAQ at the office
PrintSafe air cleaner for
large office printers.

Electrocorp’s air filtration systems can help improve the air quality at the office, reduce dust and particle exposure and remove harmful chemicals from the air.

Electrocorp odor controllers and industrial air purifiers feature smart design solutions that provide the most efficient balance of performance, safety, quality and price to maximize your investment.

Electrocorp units are equipped with a simple yet effective cleaning system and the most relevant filtration media and largest adsorbent surface areas on the market.

For additional protection against the chemicals emitted by large office printers, Electrocorp has designed the PrintSafe air purifier with source capture attachment.

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

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Students need better air quality in schools

Poor indoor air quality affects most
school children.
Learning institutions are supposed to help children get the knowledge and tools they need to succeed as an adult – but what if the indoor air quality in schools provides a serious obstacle?

The indoor air quality in schools should be a primary concern for parents and authorities, according to a recent article by Lourdes Salvador, the founder of MCS America.

Salvador quoted researchers Cartieaux and colleagues who studied the IAQ in schools and identified children as “one of the most sensitive groups to atmospheric pollution because their bodies are actively growing and they breathe higher volumes of air relative to their body weights than adults do.”

Many factors contribute to poor IAQ in schools

As with most people who spend the majority of their time indoors, IAQ is of prime importance for children going to school every day.

Common sources of poor indoor air quality in schools:
  • Outdoor air pollution 
  • Building materials
  • Paints
  • Dust
  • Arts and crafts supplies
  • Markers, pens, etc.
  • Fragrances
  • Pesticides
  • Sanitizing products
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Bacteria and viruses
  • Molds
  • Many other sources
Often, the problem is exacerbated by improperly maintained ventilation system or simply insufficient ventilation systems for the classroom sizes and student population.

Effects of poor IAQ in schools

Respiratory symptoms and diseases such as asthma and allergies increase when air quality is poor. Some studies have shown that students’ academic performance also suffers.

Researchers have found that exposure to ambient levels of air pollution leads to an increase in emergency room (ER) visits for acute respiratory symptoms, the article says.

The best way to improve air quality is to increase ventilation and open windows. Free standing air filters or those which attached to the heating and air conditioning also help to reduce allergens and pollution.

Portable air cleaners provide a simple, cost-effective solution

Electrocorp offers a wide range of air filtration systems for schools and universities.

These air cleaners remove harmful chemicals and odors with the help of a deep bed of activated carbon as well as particles with a HEPA filter.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Related posts:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

First wildfires, then flash floods? New Mexico officials worry about more disasters

Natural disasters: Wildfires and floods can affect
rescue workers and residents in the area.
The Las Conchas wildfire has turned into the most destructive raging fire in the state’s history, and now residents may have yet another problem on their hands – the seasonal rains that are moving toward New Mexico.

In a recent article from Reuters, officials could claim that progress was being made in saving the Indian pueblo lands on the north end of New Mexico’s largest wildfire, which triggered the temporary evacuation of the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory.

However, the charred land may be unable to cope with the monsoon rainfalls that are coming, officials said.

"We've gone straight from fire danger to flood danger, so it's one thing after another," the article quoted a frustrated Jason Lott, superintendent of the Bandelier National Monument, a revered ancestral home of New Mexico's pueblo Indian natives.

The risk to flooding has been aggravated by the raging wildfire which has burned off trees, ground-hugging grasses and vegetation, raising concerns that any run-off will barrel down canyons unchecked, causing creeks to burst their banks.

Crews have worked hard this week to clear stream beds, removing logs and other debris creating a clearer path so waters cannot back up and flood historic sites and buildings.

Many buildings will be sandbagged and hopefully sealed from the waters, Lott said.

The wildfire was ignited on June 26 when strong winds tipped an aspen tree onto nearby power lines in the Santa Fe National Forest about 12 miles southwest of Los Alamos, the article says. It has scorched 14,400 acres of land.

Natural disasters and indoor air quality

Wildfires and floods not only affect buildings and land, they can also cause adverse health effects for residents once they return to their homes.

Outdoor air pollution combined with indoor air pollutants can aggravate respiratory conditions like asthma.

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

After floods, the extreme moisture often causes active mold growth and associated health problems.
Activated carbon can remove airborne
chemicals and odors.

Electrocorp offers air filtration systems with high efficiency particle filters and deep-bed activated carbon filters as well as UV germicidal filtration to help remove harmful chemicals, particles and odors associated with tobacco and wildfire smoke as well as mold.

See also:

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Health and safety concerns: Laser engraving hazards

Wood engraving
(Photo courtesy of Audin Malmin)
The use of laser engraving or laser cutting systems in many industrial settings can lead to regular exposure to a number of chemicals, gases and particulate matter.

Airborne particles from laser engraving

Particulate generated as a result of laser applications is measurable in microns, which means it is small enough to be inhaled.

Depending on the material, these particles can cause serious side effects.

While ceramics, glass and wood release microscopic particulate that may cause irritation to the respiratory tract, skin, nose and eyes, metals like steel emit chromium and Nickel fumes that are carcinogenic.

Gases and fumes released in the laser cutting process

Lasered plastics, rubbers and powder coatings produce volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Using a laser system - whether it is cutting, engraving or marking - catalyses VOC gas as it melts the material.

Moreover, because these gases are toxic and have the ability to spread quickly, it is important that these fumes are removed immediately.

Synthetic polymers include plastics like polyethylene, polycarbonate, polypropylene, as well as synthetic rubber, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, phosgene and many other materials.

Eighty million metric tons of polyethylene are produced each year, making it the most widely used plastic.  However, polyethylene produces formaldehyde, a noxious VOC and known carcinogen, which means aside from bringing on asthmatic attacks and allergies, it causes cancer. 

Rubbers that are exposed to high energy sources (such as welding, laser engravings, markings, etc.) emit benzene, a VOC and recognized carcinogen that may cause death, low white blood cell count, anaemia and cancer.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a plasticizer that is used to make a multiplicity of products including signage, figurines, flooring and many other products.

PVC emits extremely toxic and corrosive hydrogen chloride acid gas, dioxin, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride, which make a very toxic carcinogenic combination. 

PVC can cause severe health problems including cancer, neurological damage, as well as reproductive and immune system damage.

Phosgene is an ingredient in most plastics composed of hydrochloric acid.  Originally designed for military purposes as a poison in the First World War, when inhaled, phosgene destroys lung tissue causing pulmonary edema.

Air filtration systems for laser cutting and engraving

Electrocorp has designed air cleaners for laser engraving and laser cutting environments. They feature a deep bed of activated carbon for the removal of chemicals as well as a powerful HEPA filter to remove particles that are released in the laser cutting process.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.