Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Respiratory hazards could cost company almost $100,000 in fines

Worker health and safety is a
must for any business, OSHA says.
Whether you work with metals, wood or plastics, you have a right to breathe healthy air and employers have a responsibility to protect workers from dangerous exposures.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Northern Steel Castings Inc. for two safety and four health violations at its Wisconsin Rapids carbon steel foundry, including for overexposing workers to crystalline silica, a known respiratory hazard. Proposed fines total $95,480.

Crystalline silica is found in soil, sand, granite and other minerals. Workers can be exposed to it when they chip, cute, drill or grind objects that contain silica.

Health effects:
Breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, an incurable condition that reduces the ability of lungs to take in oxygen.

The company was cited for a willful safety violation as well as other health violations.

Read the entire press release.

Industrial air cleaners to help keep workers safe

Electrocorp offers specialized air cleaners with many pounds of activated carbon for odor and chemical control and/or HEPA and bag filters for superior particle and dust control.

Contact Electrocorp to find out which air cleaner is most recommended for your industry and IAQ concern.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Most companies lie about formaldehyde content in hair straightening products: Study

Straight hair may come at a price: Most straighteners contain
more formaldehyde than advertised, a new study claims.
A new study that tested the formaldehyde content in four keratin hair straighteners found that three out of the four products contained more formaldehyde than what was claimed.

The research was done by the San Francisco-based scientific consulting firm, ChemRisk, and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

The four products reviewed were:
  1. Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution
  2. Global Keratin Juvexin Optimized Functional Keratin
  3. Coppola Keratin Complex Blonde Formula
  4. La-Brasiliana Escluso Keratin Treatment

Out of these four, only La-Brasiliana Escluso Keratin Treatment tested formaldehyde-free as claimed on the product.

Brazilian Blowout was labeled as formaldehyde-free, but contained 11.5% formaldehyde and Coppola contained 3% formaldehyde, the study found. Global Keratin correctly identified its product to contain formaldehyde, but it was more than twice as much as it claimed: 8.3%.

What is formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a cancer-causing chemical that is used in many industries, including the beauty industry and the funeral business (body preserving fluid).

Formaldehyde helps bind keratin to hair and helps straightening it. It is released when hair treated with keratin products is heated with a blow dryer and then with a hot flat iron, as the labeling recommends.

Salon workers using a formaldehyde-releasing hair straightening product have complained about the following health effects:

  • Eye and throat irritation
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Burning sensations
  • Breathing problems
  • Nosebleeds
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting 
  • Rashes

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel said that formaldehyde is safe in cosmetic products when formulated with minimal effective concentrations. The panel said those concentrations should not exceed 0.2%.

Formaldehyde exposure an occupational hazard

The study examined the occupational health and safety risks for beauty salon stylists and workers by measuring the formaldehyde content over the duration of the treatment and in different parts of the salon.

For the three products that contained formaldehyde, "the highest exposures were measured for the salon worker and client receiving the treatment," said the study's lead author, Jennifer Pierce.

Brazilian Blowout ranked highest in terms of exposure, followed by Global Keratin and Coppola.

The air was tested in a salon with an effective ventilation rate of two to three air replacements per hour.

Source: Los Angeles Times
CleanBreeze 3: Filters out
chemicals, gases and fumes.

Air cleaners for hair salons and spas

Salon hair products like hair straighteners, hair dyes and hair sprays can release harmful pollutants into the ambient air.

Electrocorp has designed air cleaners for hair salons and spas that feature a large activated carbon filter to adsorb chemicals and odors as well as a HEPA filter and pre-filters for the removal of particles and dust.

The stand-alone air cleaners with source capture attachment provide a cost-effective and powerful air cleaning solution to salons and spas where floor space is limited, and Electrocorp also offers source capture solutions that can be incorporated into the design of the salon.

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

Monday, November 28, 2011

Canada’s ongoing affair with asbestos

Asbestos tarnishing Canada’s international reputation

The medical community agrees that asbestos
can scar the lungs and cause illness.
It seems to be a question of profits vs. conscience.

At this point, everyone has to admit that asbestos is a dangerous product.

According to WHO (World Health Organization), more than 100,000 people die every year from lung cancer and other respiratory diseases due to asbestos exposure.

The numbers will continue to grow because 125 million people are exposed to asbestos in their workplaces today and every day.

While Canada has banned asbestos from being used, it still happily exports it to other countries where the health standards still have to catch up.

Canada’s province of Quebec was operating two asbestos mines, but a recent CBC article says both have halted production for the first time in the industry's history (see link below).

The industry has changed a lot over the years. Once touted as a miraculous substance that could not be burned or damaged by fire, asbestos soon appeared everywhere – in homes, at workplaces, in cars, in industrial and household products. It seemed to be the perfect material - until the first illnesses became apparent.

It takes up to 40 years after exposure to asbestos fibers to affect people’s health, but the tiny fibers can scar people’s lungs and lead to asbestosis, mesothelioma and other cancers.

For an in-depth look at the history and current state of the asbestos industry in Canada, read the Globe and Mail article.
The AirRhino can go from particle-only
to odor and chemical air scrubber on site.

Asbestos and indoor air quality

Asbestos becomes an exposure hazard when asbestos fibers become airborne during demolition, renovation and construction processes.

Electrocorp has designed powerful air cleaners for asbestos and mold remediation sites that can easily be moved around and feature multistage air filtration systems with HEPA, dust filters, activated carbon and more.

Contact us for more information.

Related posts:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Workplaces may expose women to breast cancer carcinogens

Women may be exposed to carcinogens at work, group says.
There are many factors that can increase the risk of a woman developing breast cancer, including being over 50 years old, having a family history, being childless, etc – but experts are warning about the role of environmental factors as well.

The Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc. (OHCOW), an organization dedicated to prevent occupational illnesses and injury and to promote the highest degree of physical, mental and social well-being of all workers, is pointing to carcinogens at the workplace as a possible reason for concern.

Some occupational factors  are related to higher rates of breast cancer, they say, and some exposures, especially at a younger age can be a factor.

They warn against exposure to
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), potent atmospheric pollutants that occur in oil, coal, and tar deposits, and are produced as byproducts of fuel burning
  • Environmental tobacco smoke
  • Electromagnetic fields (EMF)
  • Pesticides – all workers should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling hazardous materials

The best chance against breast cancer is early detection through regular examinations, they say.

Source: Cottage Country Now

When masks are not enough

It’s a sad fact that many masks keep out only dust and particles and let chemicals and gases through.

RAP Series: Versatile air cleaners
Employers need to be vigilant about the health and safety of their workers and ensure the workplace has adequate ventilation and safety measures in place. An industrial strength air cleaner can help keep remove dangerous contaminants and circulate cleaner air.

Electrocorp’s versatile and powerful air cleaners are equipped with deep-bed activated carbon filter and HEPA plus optional UV germicidal filtration to remove many chemicals, gases, odors, fumes, particles, dust, viruses, bacteria and molds.

Electrocorp’s comprehensive product line includes air cleaners for the office and for a wide range of other workplaces.

Contact us for more information.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Air pollution proves to be a challenge for art conservators protecting masterpieces

Art restoration and conservation can be
impacted by indoor and outdoor air pollutants.
Some artists’ masterpieces have survived long decades or centuries and wars, but they are now facing a much graver threat: Damage from air pollution.

One such example is Da Vinci’s Last Supper in the refectory of Santa Maria Delle Grazie Church in Milan, one of Europe’s most polluted cities.

In order to conserve the painting and keep pollution to a minimum, officials installed a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

University of Southern California researchers were called to monitor the air quality at the site because their air samplers are quite and compact and don’t disturb visitors.

The monitoring showed that air pollution inside the church has been dramatically reduced, especially with respect to fine and coarse particulate matter. These were reduced by 88 and 94 percent respectively, from corresponding outdoor levels.

The next challenge will be indoor sources of pollution, the researchers warn, which often comes from the visitors themselves.

Even though the number of visitors and the length of visits is strictly regulated, the airborne lipids coming from visitors skin still appeared in significant quantities around the painting. They can mix with dust and soil the masterpiece, the authors warn.

The painting itself may also emit tiny particles of wax that was used in previous repair efforts.
Source: University of Southern California

Electrocorp's CleanBreeze 2
Stand-alone air cleaners for art conservation and restoration

For paintings and collection pieces at risk of soiling or damage from indoor air pollutants, Electrocorp has designed highly efficient portable air cleaners for art conservation and restoration, with a flexible arm and source capture attachment to keep the air as clean as possible.

The air cleaners remove a wide range of indoor air pollutants, including chemicals, VOCs, gases, fumes, particles, dust, bacteria, viruses and molds with an activated carbon + HEPA filter combination.

Exclusive carbon blends are available to target specific contaminants and the units feature many other customizable options that can help conserve the artifacts.

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Working when sick – why do we do it?

Montreal researchers study the phenomenon of “presenteeism”

Going to work when sick is not always
the most productive option, study shows.
It’s a familiar sight once the temperatures drop and the official “cold” season starts: Workplaces filled with employees sporting runny noses, a hacking cough or horrible congestion.

The question is, why do people go to work when they are sick? Are they insecure about their jobs or are they workplace troopers?

A new study from Concordia University in Montreal, published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, has found that presenteeism, i.e. attending work when ill, isn't always a productive option.

While some workers seem to be able to overcome their symptoms and be fully functional, others tend to be present solely in person, but not in true form.

Caregivers, educators and team workers often present when sick

Caregivers and people working in early education, for example, report higher rates of presenteeism compared to people from other fields.

"Often, a person might feel socially obligated to attend work despite illness," says study author Gary Johns, a management professor at Concordia's John Molson School of Business, "while other employees feel organizational pressure to attend work despite medical discomfort."

The study followed 444 people for 6 months, and the participants reported an average of three presenteeism days as opposed to 1.8 absenteeism days due to illness.

Presenteeism was elevated among workers engaged in interdependent projects or teamwork. Those who were insecure about their jobs also engaged in more presenteeism.
What is the true cost of working
when ill?

The study author says that many organizations and businesses could spend more attention to the cost of presenteeism.

"Estimating the cost of absenteeism is more tangible than counting the impact of presenteeism," says Johns. "Yet a worker's absence — or presence — during illness can have both costs and benefits for constituents."

The importance of indoor air quality at the workplace

Poor IAQ can have a detrimental effect on workers’ well-being, productivity and health.

Electrocorp air cleaners offer an affordable and low maintenance solution to stagnant, inadequately ventilated office air.

The air cleaners can be easily integrated into an existing ventilation system, or used as stand-alone room air purifiers.

The air cleaners remove the widest range of indoor air pollutants such as bacteria, viruses, odors, chemicals, molds, particles and dust by drawing the air through the deepest carbon bed filters, a medical-grade HEPA or Micro-HEPA and other filters.

For enhanced protection from contaminants such as bacteria and viruses, the air cleaners can be equipped with UV germicidal filtration.

For more information and options, contact Electrocorp.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Renovation industry gets IAQ guidelines from EPA

New protocols protect indoor air quality while enhancing home energy efficiency
Home energy upgrades can lead to poor indoor air quality.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Healthy Indoor Environment Protocols for Home Energy Upgrades, an initiative designed to give the home energy industry the tools to identify, manage, and reduce health risks during projects.

The guidelines will help protect families, homeowners, occupants and workers during home energy upgrades, retrofits or remodeling projects, EPA officials said in a press release.

The new protocols involve a step-by-step process for conducting assessments to evaluate indoor air conditions and the potential for risks that may arise during residential energy upgrades.

They include recommended minimum specifications and best practices to maintain or improve indoor air quality.

The protocols serve as a companion document to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) guidelines for Home Energy Professionals.

The DOE guidelines are intended to foster the growth of a skilled work force that will increase the homeowner’s confidence in the retrofit industry and increase the demand for home energy retrofits.

The documents are available here:

Improve indoor air quality with industrial air cleaners

A good health and safety program includes personal protective equipment, on-site assessments and industrial-strength air cleaning.

Electrocorp offers versatile, portable and highly efficient air cleaners for the home energy industry and construction/renovation businesses.

The air cleaners remove the widest range of pollutants such as chemicals, gases, fumes, odors, particles, dust, bacteria, viruses and mold with a multistage filtration system of activated carbon and HEPA.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and recommendations.

See also: Avoid release of toxins during home energy renovations, experts urge

Monday, November 21, 2011

Occupational chemical exposure linked to Parkinson’s risk

TCE is widely used as a metal degreasing agent.
If your work exposes you to solvents such as trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PERC), you could be at a higher risk for developing Parkinson’s disease, a new research report found.

A NIH (National Institutes of Health)-funded study looked at twins, where one of the pair had developed the disorder and assessed their exposure to six chemicals previously linked to Parkinson’s disease.

The researchers concluded that two common chemical solvents, trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PERC), are significantly linked to development of this disease.

The study appears in the Nov. 14, 2011 issue of Annals of Neurology.

What is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson's disease is a movement disorder caused by the loss of brain cells that produce a molecule called dopamine.

Health symptoms of Parkinson's include tremor, stiffness, slowed movement and impaired balance, and as these symptoms progress, patients may also develop difficulty walking, speaking or completing other activities of daily living.

Genes play a role in Parkinson's disease, but fewer than 10 percent of cases are due to a single gene mutation, and not all people with these mutations develop Parkinson's, suggesting that environmental factors also contribute to the likelihood of developing the disease.

About the chemicals
Researchers suspect that environmental
pollution affects the risk of Parkinson's.

TCE is a widely used metal degreaser (it also used to be a general anesthetic and coffee decaffeinating agent), while PERC is more commonly known as the dry cleaning fluid and often used in garment dry cleaning operations.

The occupations with the strongest link for TCE were the industrial machinery repairer and industrial worker categories.

TCE has also been linked to Parkinson's by other research groups. Researchers at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, and the Kangwon National University in South Korea have reported an association between TCE and Parkinson's in highly-exposed industrial workers, and have also demonstrated that TCE causes neurodegeneration in animal models.

About the study

The study involved 99 pairs of twins because they are so genetically similar and help in identifying environmental influences in disease.

The study team assessed the twins' lifetime work and hobby activities, specifically inquiring about occupational tasks such as electrical work, industrial machinery repair, and dry cleaning, which would potentially expose people to chemicals previously linked to Parkinson's.

The researchers also collected information on head injuries, which are suspected to increase Parkinson's risk, and smoking history, which is reported to decrease Parkinson's risk.

Expert evaluators, unaware of which study subjects had Parkinson's, reviewed this information and calculated lifelong exposure to six chemicals: TCE, PERC, carbon tetrachloride, n-hexane, xylene and toluene. Of these, TCE and PERC posed a notable risk for developing Parkinson's.

"The potential importance is great, since both solvents persist in the environment and are commonly used," said Samuel Goldman, M.D., M.P.H. in a press release. "Parkinson's was sixfold more common in twins exposed to TCE, and ninefold more common in twins exposed to TCE or PERC."
I-6500 is a powerful air cleaner.

There was also a trend toward a tenfold increase in Parkinson's disease in twins exposed to PERC alone.
However, one limitation of the research is the small number of individuals studied, the researchers warn.

Reduce chemical exposure at the workplace

In some industries, you have to deal with certain solvents or chemicals, but employers need to protect workers with a comprehensive Health and Safety program.

Electrocorp offers industrial-strength air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA to remove airborne chemicals, gases and fumes as well as other pollutants from the ambient air.

Find out more about Electrocorp’s units for heavy chemical and odor control, chemical manufacturing, and more.

Contact us for more information.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Smoke-free workplaces save lives, study finds

Smoke is a poor IAQ offender.
A Mayo Clinic study confirms that keeping a workplace smoke-free reduces the risk of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths.

In fact, the research shows that the incidence for heart attack and sudden cardiac deaths was cut in half after a smoking ban went into effect for workers in Olmsted County, Minn.

The smoking ban had other effects as well. Adult smoking rates decreased by 23 percent, while other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity remained stable or increased.

The population-based study showed that during the 18 months before Olmsted County's first smoke-free law for restaurants was passed in 2002, the regional incidence of heart attack was 212.3 cases per 100,000 residents.

In the 18 months following a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance in 2007, in which restaurants and workplaces became smoke-free, that rate dropped to 102.9 per 100,000 residents -- a decrease of about 45 percent.

Additionally, during these two time periods, the incidence of sudden cardiac death fell from 152.5 to 76.6 per 100,000 residents -- a 50 percent reduction.

"We are going to use this information to help us convince corporations -- convince countries -- that this is the right thing to do to protect the health of their workers and their citizens," said Richard Hurt, M.D., director of Mayo Clinic's Nicotine Dependence Center in a news release.

Breathe cleaner, healthier air at work

Tobacco smoke is one of the worst offenders when it comes to indoor air quality, so banning smoking at the workplace is a good first step to better health and safety conditions.

RAP Series: Versatile air cleaners
However, workers may be exposed to a range of other indoor air pollutants such as VOCs, particles, mold and more.

Poor indoor air quality can affect the workers’ productivity, health and well-being.

For better IAQ, companies need to implement a good IAQ management strategy consisting of source control, improved ventilation and air cleaning.

Electrocorp specializes in industrial-strength air cleaners for virtually any industry segment. The air cleaners remove chemicals, gases, odors, particles, dust, pathogens, mold and allergens with a deep-bed activated carbon + HEPA filter combination.

Contact us to find out more.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Meth labs in decline thanks to new law

Police often have to deal with chemical
explosions in illegal meth labs.
The state of Oregon passed a law to make 15 common household cold and allergy medicines “prescription only” – and it seems to be working.

The law targets healthcare products that contain pseudoephedrine, an important component for the production of methamphetamine in illegal labs.

Since the law has come into effect, meth lab incidents have gone down by 96 percent, according to the district attorney of Lincoln County in Oregon, who says that arrests, meth treatment admissions and crime rates in general have also decreased.

Oregon used to be a hotbed for meth labs, which can pose serious health risks to the people cooking up the drugs as well as residents and children in the nearby environment.

Because of the chemicals used in meth production, police had to deal with many fires, explosions and environmental exposure concerns.

While meth labs continue to be a problem in Oregon, the decrease in incidences makes a big difference. The district attorney says they used to take down 500 meth labs a year, which has gone down to eight so far this year.

Other states may soon follow Oregon’s example.

Source: The Register-Herald

Risks associated with meth labs

The cleanup of meth labs is also a dangerous task for law enforcement officers everywhere.

Short-term exposure to high concentrations of chemical vapors that may exist in methamphetamine laboratories can cause severe health problems or even result in death.

The risks come from the flammable and corrosive chemicals used in the process, particularly the solvents used in extraction and purification.

Electrocorp has designed powerful portable air cleaners for law enforcement that can be used on the job and remove a wide range of airborne chemicals, odors, gases and other contaminants.

They are equipped with a large activated carbon filter as well as HEPA and UV germicidal filtration (optional).

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Retail and restaurant owners face environmental risks

Restaurants can be affected by
environmental risk factors.
Owning retail space or a facility that serves food takes a lot of work.

A major part of the responsibilities involve environmental due diligence and risk management, according to an article on

There are a lot of environmental concerns that retail and restaurant owners need to take into consideration.

First, retail owners need to identify certain businesses and industries that work with hazardous toxins:

Drycleaners: Drycleaning operations often use solvents and toxic chemicals that can contaminate the soil, groundwater or indoor air.

Auto Shops: Spaces that service cars use many petroleum-based and hazardous substances that can contaminate soil and indoor air and expose workers and clients to the toxins.

Gas Stations: Underground storage tanks for fuel pose risks for leaks. Even if there is a gas station adjacent to the property, experts warn of vapor intrusion in case of leaks that can affect the health and well-being of occupants.

Indoor Air Quality

Retail and restaurant spaces suffer from the same indoor air quality problems as other indoor spaces – except their concerns may be compounded because of the merchandise or patronage.

For example, fashion stores often stock tons of merchandise that has been treated with chemicals. New electronic equipment releases toxins into the ambient air. New furniture and carpets off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and flame retardants.
Many air cleaners can be hidden behind
walls or above drop-down ceilings.

The air in restaurants may be compromised by food odors, smoke and other pollutants.

After the initial assessment of the property history and current environmental risks, a proper management strategy needs to be put in place that includes various scenarios and responses as well as preventive measures.

A comprehensive IAQ management strategy will take source control, ventilation and air cleaning into account. Regular ventilation systems are often not enough to remove harmful pollutants.

An easy and cost-efficient alternative to renovations is using an industrial-strength air cleaner with activated carbon and HEPA.

Electrocorp specializes in air treatment systems for the hospitality industry and for retail spaces that can remove chemicals, gases, odors, particles, dust, bacteria, viruses and mold.

Contact us for more information and a personalized recommendation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chemical safety: Styrene lobby fights back

Styrene is derived from petroleum and listed
as a "reasonably anticipated" carcinogen.
Earlier this year, the 12th Report on Carcinogens listed the synthetic chemical styrene as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”.

This first-time listing is being opposed by the chemical industry, who say there is no proof that styrene is a health threat and that the listing should be reviewed.

A U.S. industry association, the Styrene Information & Research Center Inc. (SIRC) is spearheading the fight, with a new website that offers more information on styrene as well as exposure limits and health studies and a federal lawsuit challenging the listing.

There are a lot of studies done in Canada and the European Union as well as the United States. The U.S. Health and Human Services department, which publishes the Report on Carcinogens, did not assess all the information properly, the association alleges.

What is styrene?
Packaging materials like Styrofoam
can release styrene.

Styrene is a synthetic chemical that is used extensively in the manufacture of plastics, rubber, and resins.

It is a clear, colorless liquid derived from petroleum and natural gas byproducts and it is used in materials for food containers, packaging materials, cars, boats, computers, and more products.

According to OSHA, About 90,000 workers, including those who make boats, tubs, and showers, are potentially exposed to styrene.

Health effects from styrene exposure may involve the central nervous system and include complaints of headache, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, malaise, difficulty in concentrating, and a feeling of intoxication.

Source: Occupational Health & Safety; OSHA

Cleaner air, better work conditions

The final word on styrene may still be out, but one thing is for certain - the less people are exposed to chemicals, the better it is for their health and well-being.

Most airborne chemicals can be adsorbed by a powerful activated carbon air filter.

Electrocorp specializes in odor and chemical control and offers industrial air cleaners with activated carbon, HEPA and UV (optional).

Find an air cleaner recommended for your industry or contact us to find out more.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Funeral industry examines green options

Greener options are available in the
funeral industry.
The funeral services industry in the United States is worth $12 billion, and just like any other industry it is bound to change over time.

One green option is alkaline hydrolysis, an alternative to cremation that liquefies human remains with potassium hydroxide and 300F heat, producing lower carbon emissions.

Then there are biodegradable caskets and formaldehyde-free body preparation, urns made of recycled paper, solar-powered panels that can erect the tombstone and play the deceased person’s favorite songs, and much more.

Green burials are still a small part of the industry – but it seems to be a growing part.

While the general public is often eager to embrace greener alternatives, it’s the industry itself that needs to be convinced - after all, green option are often cheaper, always better for the environment and they may be healthier, too.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

Indoor air in funeral homes
The I-6500 is a powerful
air cleaner for odors, chemicals,
dust, particles and pathogens.

Until green alternatives become mainstream choices, the preservation of bodies is often done with chemicals that can become airborne. The embalming fluid used to preserve bodies is composed of toxic substances such as formaldehyde, methanol, ethanol and isopropanol.

These substances can lead to a variety of health symptoms, including eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches and even cancer.

In order to protect workers and clients from poor indoor air quality, funeral homes and morgues need to have a good ventilation system that is properly maintained, personal protective equipment as needed and a powerful air cleaner with activated carbon to remove irritating odors and chemicals.

Electrocorp has designed industrial air cleaners for funeral homes and embalming services. They feature a deep-bed activated carbon filter and HEPA as well as an optional UV lamp to neutralize bacteria, viruses and molds.

The air scrubbers can be used as portable, stand-alone units, or they can be attached to the ventilation system and hidden.

Contact us for more information and recommendations based on your space’s size and requirements.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dust problem costs companies $1 M in fines

HEPA filters can remove particles
and dust as well as pathogens.
After an OSHA inspection showed willful, serious, repeat and other violations, a trailer manufacturing company and subsidiary have been cited with proposed penalties of almost $1 million.

The inspectors found that workers were exposed to unguarded machinery, fall hazards and large amounts of potentially hazardous dust.

This was not the first time the companies had been cited for hazards like these. Previous abatement fixes were abandoned to accommodate production, according to OSHA.

OSHA took the opportunity to remind employers that they have a responsibility to keep their workers safe and healthy.

Source: BLR

The health effects of dust

Dust describes small particles in the air that can be inhaled through the nose and mouth.

If the dust is small enough it can penetrate deep into the lungs. Exposure to dust has been linked to cancers of the lungs, throat and nose, lung conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), emphysema, asthma, allergies and even heart disease, among others.

If the dust is allowed to build up, it can also be an explosive hazard.

Air filters remove airborne dust

An industrial air cleaner with HEPA filtration, pre-filters, bag filters and/or micro-HEPA can remove up to 99.97% of airborne particle at 0.3 microns and keep the air clean.

Some of the filters are also cleanable or washable.

Find out more about Electrocorp’s air cleaners for woodshops, art restoration and many other commercial applications, or contact us directly.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Association asks for ban on toxic chemicals in schools, daycares and hospitals

Children have higher exposure levels to
PVC and phthalates, studies show.
The American Public Health Association (APHA) wants action to protect the most vulnerable groups in our communities – children, the elderly and the sick.

At a recent meeting in Washington, DC, more than 13,000 public health professionals came together at the annual public meeting and passed a major policy resolution: Reducing PVC in Facilities with Vulnerable Populations.

The policy resolution urges government officials to consider phasing out flexible PVC in building materials, consumer products and office suppliers to
  • Schools
  • Daycare facilities
  • Medical care facilities
  • Nursing homes
  • Public housing
  • Special needs facilities
  • And other facilities with vulnerable populations

By passing this resolution, the Association officially recognized the hazards that PVC and phthalates pose to children health in schools and daycare centers, a spokesperson said.

What is PVC?

The plastic PVC is commonly found in building materials (flooring, carpeting, roofing), computers, cell phones, backpacks, lunchboxes, binders, medical devices, and many other products.
PVC is used in many
commonly used products.

A 2011 study found PVC is the most widely used hazardous plastic in the world. 

It becomes soft and flexible when chemicals such as phthalates are added, but these are released from PVC products such as vinyl over time and have become substances of concern.

While everyone is exposed to phthalates, the levels tend to be higher in children. Some studies have shown that high concentrations of phthalates may affect hormone levels and cause birth defects.

Many large companies have taken steps to phase out PVC from their product lines and packaging and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently developed a “chemical action plan” for phthalates, over 90% of which are found in PVC products.

Source: Lund Report

Remove dangerous chemicals and pollutants from the air
Room air purifiers with activated
carbon and HEPA.

Electrocorp’s industrial-strength air cleaners remove the widest range of airborne pollutants, including chemicals, gases, odors, VOCs, particles, dust, bacteria, viruses and molds.

By offering a wide range of air cleaner models and sizes as well as customizable options, Electrocorp ensures that it can solve virtually any IAQ problem.

Electrocorp offers a number of air cleaners for schools, universities and daycare. They are user-friendly and stand-alone air cleaners that can be moved around easily and will clean the air 24/7.

Contact us for more information and options.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Measuring environmental pollution breath by breath

Environmental pollution is becoming a
growing health concern.
We reported a while back that researchers were developing a tool to measure toxins from breath to see what kinds of pollutants they were exposed to.

Now there is more information and more details available about the microelectromechanical systems that a group of researchers of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering is using to assess a person’s environmental exposure.

They published their findings in the research paper "The Possibilities Will Take Your Breath Away: Breath Analysis for Assessing Environmental Exposure," in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

"Breathing reflects both what we inhale and what we metabolize," said professor Andrea Dietrich in a news release. "Toxins and non-toxins diffuse into the blood and then out of the body through breath."

The smell of fear and illness

Doctors have been smelling patients’ breath for centuries to determine an illness, and the body also produces chemicals and odor s when excited or fearful.

But many toxins can’t be detected by the ordinary nose, and that is where the new technologies shine.

The microelectromechanical systems mentioned above include hair-thin sorption devices that can detect even trace amounts of possible toxins in a person’s breath on the parts per billion or the micro-particle scale.

Subjects are asked to breathe into sterile plastic and then the scientists process the captured exhaled air through small sorption devices about the size of a penny.

Using these technologies can improve test results or make it easier to identify biomarkers, reduce time needed for analysis, sample volume and consumables such as solvents and reagents, the researchers say.

Environmental pollution a growing problem
Paint is a common source
of indoor air pollution.

Technologies like these are needed because people are exposed to larger amounts of environmental pollutants at home and at the workplace, including gaseous toxins coming from paints, carpeting, plastic-based flooring and other building materials and adhesives.

“The sources of some chemicals are well-known and extensively studied in the literature, while others simply appear in the complex chemical soup that surrounds us with no identified, or several potential, sources. Because they are present in a gaseous form, exposure is obligatory, as no one can refuse to breathe," the researchers wrote.

Analyzing breath seems like a great idea, but it does require further research.

For example, no one knows what “normal” breath is. Analysis can be hampered by water vapor in the breath, which can block sensors.

Source: Virginia Tech

Industrial-strength air cleaners to reduce environmental exposure

Since indoor air environments are typically contaminated with pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, gases, chemicals, odors, mold, bacteria, viruses, particles and allergens, a good air cleaner can help reduce exposure.

Electrocorp has designed a wide range of portable or ductable air filtration systems with activated carbon, HEPA and UV germicidal filtration to help keep the air clean.

You can find recommendations for certain industries and commercial applications our website, or go directly to

Contact us: 866-667-0297 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Construction companies exposed workers to asbestos

Work on construction and demolition
sites can release harmful asbestos fibers.
The US Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited two Chicago construction companies for exposing workers to asbestos hazards on the job.

They have proposed more than $280,000 total in fines for willful and serious violations.

The two companies worked on a 90-year-old 80,000 square-foot building, which had asbestos-containing floor tiles and pipe insulation.

The companies allegedly failed to conduct an asbestos assessment and did not advise workers doing the demolition work that they were handling asbestos-containing materials and did not make sure they were adequately protected.

"Failing to conduct an asbestos assessment and require workers to wear personal protective equipment when working with material potentially contaminated by asbestos shows a blatant disregard for their health and safety," said OSHA Regional Administrator Michael Connors in Chicago in a public news release.

"Safe and healthful working conditions should be paramount on every job site, and OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so."

Usually, when companies know that a demolition site is contaminated with asbestos, they need to:
  • First have an assessment done and comply with asbestos standards
  • Conduct air and exposure monitoring
  • Follow specific engineering controls and practices
  • Remove asbestos-containing tile intact
  • Allow dry sweeping of dust and residue
  • Provide hygiene facilities for workers handling the asbestos-containing materials
  • Make sure workers wear adequate personal protective clothing

Many older buildings feature materials with asbestos that can become a health hazard if workers are exposed to airborne fibers during demolition or renovations.

Be extra cautious when dealing with asbestos
Electrocorp's AirRhino

Electrocorp has designed portable yet powerful air cleaners for asbestos and mold remediation, which provide extra air cleaning strength at those sites.

The air filtration systems feature the most efficient HEPA and particle filters to trap airborne particles, fibers and pathogens.

The air cleaners can also be equipped with an activated carbon filter to remove a wide range of odors, gases and chemicals that may affect the workers’ health and well-being.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and more options.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Spa alert: Aromatherapy may cause poor indoor air quality

Aromatherapy oils release
VOCs into the air: Experts
A new study conducted by Taiwanese researchers found high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ultra-fine particles in spas offering aromatherapy.

Exposure to VOCs and fine particles has been linked to various short-term and long-term health effects, including eye, nose and throat irritation, respiratory conditions and more.

Despite the popular belief that the fragrant aromatherapy oils, which are derived from plants, are healthier than synthetic fragrances (which may still be the case), these oils nevertheless release VOCs that can affect the health and well-being of workers and clients.

When these VOCs react with ozone that is present in the air, they can produce small, ultra-fine particle byproducts called secondary organic aerosols (SOAs), which have been linked to eye and airway irritation, the researchers found..

Aromatherapy oils are often used for massage therapy in spa centers.

The researchers tested the air in spa centers as well as a controlled-environment study chamber, concluding that the spa layout and ventilation played a big role in terms of the detected levels of indoor air pollutants.

The study was published in Environmental Engineering Science.

Source: TruthDive

Remove pollutants with portable air cleaners

Electrocorp has designed versatile, powerful air cleaners for beauty salons and spas that remove the widest range of indoor air contaminants from the ambient air.

The air cleaners just need to be plugged in and are designed to clean the air 24/7, by drawing it through a multistage air filtration system containing activated carbon, HEPA and UV.

This ultra efficient filter combination actually removes airborne chemicals, gases, odors, particles, allergens, bacteria, viruses and mold – for a cost of less than $1 per day.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and recommendations based on your spa’s size and requirements.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sick buildings star in architecture exhibition

Many contemporary buildings suffer
from poor indoor air quality.
A new exhibition at the Canadian Centre of Architecture (CCA) in Montreal steps inside the contemporary urban environment to examine what is wrong with modern buildings.

Entitled Imperfect Health: The Medicalization of Architecture, the exhibition looks at how architecture is addressing common public concerns such as pollution, food safety, allergies, smog, asthma, cancer, obesity, epidemics and aging.

Indoor air quality has become a major factor for architects designing buildings and landscapes, who are taking steps to reduce allergens and provide cleaner air.

Exhibition looks at past mistakes

Part of the exhibition looks back at previous attempts of architects trying to improve living conditions with building design.

One such example is asbestos, the once widely used flame retardant material that has been identified as a major health threat and carcinogen.

Previous visions of having airtight buildings protecting inhabitants from outside air pollution has the opposite effect, resulting in accumulations of indoor air contaminants like allergens, chemicals, mold and bacteria and coining the term “sick building.”

New designs, new ideas

High-rise buildings rely on elevators and escalators, but new designs like the one at Cooper Union in New York promote activity and energy savings by offering wide staircases and not letting elevators stop before the fifth floor.

Other new ideas are the use of hypoallergenic plants in neighborhood parks, “breathing” buildings.
For more information, visit

Source: Montreal Gazette

Improve indoor air quality with versatile air cleaners

Electrocorp's I-6500:
An air cleaner that delivers.

Better indoor air quality (IAQ) has been linked to more productivity, less absenteeism and improved well-being of the occupants.

Electrocorp has designed industrial-strength air cleaners for a wide range of applications, including facility management, offices and office printers, asbestos and mold remediation and environmental consulting, among many others.

The air cleaners are stand-alone or HVAC-compatible and they feature a multistage filtration system with activated carbon, HEPA and UV to remove the widest range of pollutants possible.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and the best option for your IAQ concern.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Police questioned about asbestos scandal

Police officers were not informed
about asbestos and other risks in
their homes and stations.
They are supposed to serve and protect, but police officers and their families in Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) state did not get the same courtesy.

They were kept in the dark about asbestos and other poisonous hazards in police stations and houses across NSW, an internal report revealed.

The Sydney Morning Herald published a detailed article about the internal investigation and events that led to the questionable actions by key personnel, which put officers and their families at risk.

They decided to bury hundreds of safety audits identifying threats in police houses and stations because they apparently did not have the funds to fix the 200+ properties.

The police officers should have been advised of the dangers of asbestos in their homes, sources say. Almost half the home and stations in the state are more than 40 years old and were built with asbestos-containing materials.

The officers’ requests to see the audit reports were repeatedly denied, until they were uncovered by the union a few months ago.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Effects of asbestos exposure

Asbestos fibers are too small to be seen with the naked eye, but they can be inhaled deep into the lungs, where they can damage lung tissue, cause scar tissue to form and develop into a disease called asbestosis.

People can be exposed to asbestos when they encounter airborne asbestos fibers, after asbestos-containing material is drilled, cut, abraded, sanded, chipped, or sawed during a renovation, for example.
Electrocorp's RAP series:
Portable air cleaners
Electrocorp has designed industrial air cleaners for facility management, offices, mold and asbestos abatement and many other industrial and commercial applications, including evidence protection and law enforcement.

The air cleaners contain a complete, multistage filtration system with activated carbon and HEPA to remove a wide range of indoor air pollutants.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and product recommendations.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New proposed regulation takes tough stance on toxic chemicals

The proposed regulation will provide
consumers with info about toxic chemicals
in common household products.
California has often been at the forefront of tough regulatory standards when it comes to air pollution and chemicals.

That reputation is likely to uphold, as the state agency in charge of regulating toxic substances has released a new proposal for a “green chemistry” regulation that is supposed to inform consumers about harmful chemicals in products.

This is a revised draft – the first version was criticized for being too weak.

The new version has a longer list of “chemicals of concern”, doles out more responsibility to comply with the regulation and has stricter guidelines for products that include traces of potentially harmful chemicals such as lead and bisphenol A.

The aim is for consumers to be able to identify harmful substances in the products they use and to push manufacturers to replace harmful chemicals with safer alternatives.

The businesses will otherwise be required to explain to regulators why the substances are needed and take steps to raise consumer awareness and reduce their exposure.

Some highlights of the proposal:
  • The proposal lists around 3,000 chemicals of concern (up from 800 in the previous draft)
  • Products containing a particularly dangerous toxin will be exempted only if they contain less than 0.01 percent (as opposed to 0.1 percent in the previous draft)
  • It’s not only the manufacturers who are responsible for complying with the regulation, but also importers and those in control of product design.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle 

Worried about exposure to airborne chemicals at home or at work? Electrocorp offers a wide range of versatile air cleaners with a comprehensive air filtration system to remove most chemicals, gases, odors, fumes, particulate matter, pathogens and more. Contact us for more information: 1-866-667-0297.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How businesses can prepare for an OSHA inspection

Some prep work may help businesses
to have a smooth inspection.
OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States, may inspect small businesses to see if they comply with workplace safety practices.

This may happen after a complaint or workplace accident, or at any other time, and it helps to get prepared in advance.

By prepping in advance, business owners can anticipate the inspection process and keep fines and citations to a minimum, experts said in a recent Fox Business article.

It recommended taking the following steps:
  • Assess the workplace and prepare a plan, which identifies the current hazards and personal protective precautions that are being taken
  • Find out the purpose of the inspection, if applicable
  • Inform employees about potential workplace hazards and the protective measures in place
  • Assign one person to be in charge of the inspection, who will be the company contact and accompany the inspector during the investigation
  • Take the same photos and measurements as the OSHA officer
  • Find out your own rights
  • Get a written, signed request from the officer for any information that is sought to avoid confusion later on

A healthy workplace environment includes good indoor air quality.

Depending on the business, a workplace may expose workers to myriad indoor air contaminants such as chemicals, gases, VOCs, particles, fumes, bacteria, viruses and molds.

An industrial-strength air cleaner with activated carbon and HEPA filters can remove the widest range of these pollutants, many of which have been linked to serious and long-term health conditions.

Electrocorp has developed versatile and powerful air cleaners for a variety of industrial and commercial applications, which can be used as stand-alone, HVAC-compatible or ceiling-mountable air cleaners.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and recommendations.