Monday, April 30, 2012

Healthier workplaces becoming the norm

Healthier workplaces are better for worker
comfort, well-being and productivity.
Watch out, Sick Building Syndrome – you may be on your way out if this trend of healthier offices continues.

The term Sick Building Syndrome was coined in the 1970s, when increasingly airtight construction and potentially harmful indoor air pollution caused many employees to experience fatigue, headaches, eye, nose and throat irritation, sensitivity to odors and more.

The indoor air pollution often came from contaminants emitted by carpeting, furniture, printers, building materials and other products, personal care products, cleaning agents, and outdoor sources such as allergens, vehicle or industrial exhaust, bacteria, viruses and molds.

The problems were made worse by a lack of ventilation or malfunctioning heating systems, over-staffing and little control over the physical environment (locked windows etc.).

Widespread air quality problems in buildings

At some point in the time World Health Organization reported that up to 30 percent of new or remodeled buildings around the world had sick-building complaints.

Now a growing public awareness, initiatives like the EPA’s “Healthy Buildings Healthy People” and the green movement including LEED buildings certification, buildings are finally becoming healthier again.

LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification incorporates standards for energy and water conservation, indoor environmental quality and more.

Building ventilation standards are being revised and facility managers and administrators are looking for ways to improve the indoor air quality - but of course, there is still a long way to go for many buildings.

Source: Mercury Daily News

Remove indoor air pollutants with air cleaners

Whether office buildings are healthy or not, indoor air quality can become a problem in any environment that accommodates a lot of people over an extended amount of time.

That’s why Electrocorp has designed portable air cleaners for offices that feature the most effective air filters and help provide cleaner and healthier air.

The air cleaners’ activated carbon filters remove irritating odors, chemicals, VOCs, gases and fumes, the HEPA filter takes care of particles and dust and the optional UV germicidal lamp neutralizes biological contaminants such as mold, bacteria and viruses.

Electrocorp’s air cleaners for office printers are made specifically for larger photocopy machines and printers that are common in offices. They feature the same types of air filters and a custom intake hood, intercepting harmful chemicals and particles at the printer exhaust before they can spread and affect workers.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and recommendations.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sawmills ordered to control dust after deadly explosions

Sawmills have to do more to
protect workers from sawdust,
regulators say.
After two recent mill explosions in Canada’s British Columbia, sawmills must remove all accumulated sawdust from their premises

High levels of sawdust in sawmills have proven to be unpredictable occupational health risks.

This week, a devastating blast destroyed a sawmill in Prince George, killing two workers and wounding many others. In January, a sawmill exploded in Burns Lake, also claiming two victims.

The dust has been cited in reports before as a major concern, and now authorities are making it official that mills have to control the dust in their operations and clear it away on equipment and the ambient air.

The air in sawmills should be well ventilated and the sawdust removed from all species and types of wood, officials said.

Potentially dangerous conditions could put workers at other mills at risk.

Source: Globe and Mail

Sawdust also a respiratory risk

It’s not only explosions sawmill workers have to worry about – they could also risk their health by breathing in high levels of dust over a long time.

Extensive dust exposure can lead to cancer of the lungs, throat and nose as well as other lung conditions like COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder) that involves chronic bronchitis and emphysema, studies have shown.

Doctors say that woodworkers face 70 to 80 times the risk of a particular for of nasal cancer, which may develop decades after exposure to wood dust. Many other woodworkers report developing asthma as a result of their exposure to wood dust.

Clean the air with high-efficiency air cleaners

Electrocorp's Dirty Dog air cleaner
can be mounted onto the ceiling
or used on the ground.
In sawmills, woodshops and other high-dust environments, an industrial-strength air filtration system designed to handle a lot of fine dust can help reduce risks and provide cleaner air.

With a special bag filter option designed for large particle filtration, Electrocorp products such as the Dirty Dog or the I-6500 with Cyclone attachment are well equipped to work in environments with heavy sawdust or drywall dust.

The bag filters are easy to clean and reusable. This is an excellent option for situations where a HEPA filter would become blocked too quickly to be effective.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chemical exposure lawsuits: Difficult to prove link between chemicals and cancer

Certain chemicals have been linked to cancer.
While for many people there seems to be a clear connection between chemical exposure at work and the development of cancer, proving a link between a specific type of cancer and chemicals in court may be difficult, recent lawsuits show.

In the case of Joseph Snizavich,a long-time pipe-fitter who died of brain cancer, a judge wouldn’t allow a primary witness report to be part of the trial.

The witness was an expert in occupational medicine who could have given some credibility to the family’s claim that Snizavich’s chemical exposure at a research facility had something to do with the cancer.

It would have been the first trial in connection with an alleged cluster of brain cancer among employees at the site, a Philadelphia Inquirer news report said.

Expert opinions can only be part of a trial if they are delivered with a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, and the judge didn’t feel this was the case here.

Chemical exposure background

The research facility conducted two internal studies that established no cause for cancer, but some officials criticized them as flawed.

A University of Minnesota research team found in 2010 that up to 14 employees at the facility had died of brain cancer after working there.

The research facility was opened in 1963 and changed owners a few times.

However, the researchers could not pinpoint any specific chemicals as possible causes, since thousands of chemicals were used at the site.

Officials had concerns about the indoor air quality at the research facility for certain periods of time, since some chemical vapors expelled by air handling equipment were being sucked back in.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

Protect workers from airborne chemicals and vapors

In any working environment where chemicals are involved, there is a chance of exposure for employees.
Electrocorp's RAP series: One of
many series of powerful air cleaners.

While the levels may not be of a concern initially, it’s the cumulative effects of chemical exposure that has many experts worried.

Electrocorp has designed powerful air cleaners for industrial and commercial applications that can remove airborne chemicals, gases and fumes as well as other pollutants such as particles, dust, bacteria, viruses and mold.

The air cleaners feature deep-bed granular activated carbon filters for gaseous pollutants as well as HEPA filters, optional UV germicidal filtration and various pre-filters to prolong the main filters’ lifespan.

The air cleaners can be portable, attached to the HVAC system or mounted to the ceilings or walls, depending on the facility and requirements.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and options. See also Electrocorp's air cleaners for chemical processing plants.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Toxic fumes a danger in medical schools

A medical school in Marietta, Georgia, had to be evacuated last week due to fumes, serving as a reminder that many products and devices in medical settings could potentially be harmful to human health.

 More than a dozen people were overcome by fumes last Friday and had to be treated after they were exposed to a type of surgical super-glue during class.

The fumes became a problem after a vial was thrown in the trash and broke, authorities said.

See the video:

Typical hazards in medical schools and hospital settings

Indoor air quality in hospitals and medical schools can be polluted by bacteria and viruses as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mold and fungi, chemicals such as glutaraldehyde (used for equipment sterilization), diethyl ether (anesthetic gas) and formaldehyde (used to preserve tissue).

There could also be high levels of PCBs and other toxins.

Along with source control, proper handling and ventilation, powerful portable air cleaners for hospitals and medical settings will help keep the air clean and healthy.

Electrocorp’s air cleaners feature the most effective filter combination of activated carbon and HEPA plus optional UV germicidal filtration to remove the widest range of contaminants from the ambient air.

For more information and suggestions, contact Electrocorp.

Related posts:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Healthy Schools Day promotes IAQ awareness

Cleaner indoor air can help children and staff be more
productive and successful.
Many schools in the United States celebrate Healthy Schools Day on April 24, an important reminder about what a difference a healthy environment can make in a child’s life.

Children are among the most vulnerable groups when it comes to indoor air pollution and environmental toxins, and with them spending so much time in school, administrators, parents and communities need to do their part to protect the young learners.

According to the EPA, more than 53 million children and about 6 million adults attend more than 120,000 public and private school buildings.

The average child spends about 1,300 hours in a school building each year; teachers and other employees spend even longer periods.

Today, the average school building is about 42 years old.

The problem is that many schools are also in poor condition, and children may be exposed in varying degrees to common indoor air pollutants such as
  • Mold
  • Chemicals (VOCs)
  • Particles and allergens
  • Biological contaminants
  • Asbestos
  • Lead
  • Outdoor air pollutants from industrial emissions, vehicle emissions etc.
Exposure to indoor air pollution has been linked to respiratory problems, aggravated conditions, increased absenteeism, lower productivity and learning ability and more effects.

With their Healthy Schools program, the EPA is trying to help schools provide a healthier learning environment and reduce indoor air pollution as much as possible.

It starts with people getting on the same page and making a Healthy School a priority, getting informed, making a plan and implementing changes.

Some of the easy and effective changes could include:
  • Opening the windows regularly, or the transom over the door to encourage natural air flow
  • Keeping classrooms tidy and free of clutter
  • Banning pets and foods in class to avoid pests (and blocking pest entry points)
  • Using low-odor and non-toxic supplies such as water-based, unscented markers
  • Banning plug-in air fresheners and room deodorizers
  • Reducing the use of scented personal care products (perfume, cologne, scented hair sanitizers, etc.)
  • Minimizing the use of disinfectants and using certified green cleaning products – or simply hot water and soap
  • Reporting water leaks (however tiny) right away to avoid mold growth

Source: NHSD Classroom Tips

Worried about airborne chemicals, asthma and allergy triggers and more?

With the steps above, schools can significantly improve their indoor air quality, but the natural airflow is often compromised by unforgiving weather conditions, a lack of ventilation and a build-up of indoor air pollutants.

A simple air purifier with activated carbon and HEPA can remove the widest range of indoor air pollutants, including irritating chemicals and VOCs, odors, allergens, particles, dust, bacteria, viruses and mold.

HEPA filters alone only take care of particles and dust, a complete air filtration system needs a deep-bed activated carbon filter to adsorb chemicals, odors and gases.

Electrocorp has developed highly effective and long-lasting air cleaners for schools and universities that can be used in classrooms and other areas of questionable air quality (labs, arts and crafts rooms, locker rooms etc), or they may also be attached to the existing ventilation system.

For more information and recommendations, contact Electrocorp.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fracking air pollution rules to curb airborne chemicals

Chemicals released by fracking wells may be harmful
to human health to varying degrees.
The Environmental Protection Agency has finally issued air pollution rules for fracking wells last week, regulating the smog-producing compounds and gases that are released when the wells are first tapped.

In the United States, some 13,000 wells are drilled every year to collect natural gas and oil from shale formations through a process called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

The rules will go into effect in about two months and apply during the first period after a well has been drilled when natural gas is venting but production hasn’t started.

Right now, drillers can burn off the gas, but in 2015 they will be required to collect it.

This phase-in of a green completion of new fracking wells will give enough time to companies to adjust, regulators say.

Right now, fracking wells release smog-related chemicals that have been linked to asthma, respiratory ailments and cancer and the new rules aim to curb that pollution.

Water is by far the largest component of fracking fluids. The initial drilling operation itself may consume from 6,000 to 600,000 US gallons (23,000 to 2,300,000 l; 5,000 to 500,000 imp gal) of fracking fluids.

Over its lifetime an average well will require up to an additional 5 million US gallons of water.

Chemical additives used in fracturing fluids typically make up less than 2% by weight of the total fluid. Still, there could be as many as 632 chemicals used in natural gas operations.

Some may be harmless, but others vary widely in toxicity. Some are known carcinogens, some are toxic, and some are neurotoxins.

Some of the potentially harmful chemicals include
  • Benzene
  • Ethylene glycol
  • Methanol
  • Boric acid
  • And more

Source: USA Today, Wikipedia

Keep homes and business safe from airborne chemicals

Air and water monitoring may be necessary to know how fracking can impact the environment and people in the area.

But indoor spaces can benefit from a portable and highly efficient air cleaner with activated carbon and HEPA to remove airborne chemicals, VOCs, gases, odors and fumes as well as particles, biological contaminants and mold.

Electrocorp’s activated carbon + HEPA air cleaners feature large adsorbent surface areas and can remove chemicals such as benzene, ethylene compounds, and many more.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Office air quality affecting employees and profits

AQA's free webinars offer information on
air quality indoors and ways to improve it.
We recently attended a free webinar offered by Air Quality Academy about the indoor air quality issues faced in offices.

Not only can there be VOCs, chemicals, mold, particles (and dust), bacteria and viruses, but the long-term or even short-term effects of this type of exposure were something of an eye opener.

Many people spend 40 hours or more in the office each week, often close to electronic equipment, big photocopiers and printers and no say in how the air quality is handled.

They can experience eye nose and throat irritation, respiratory problems and many more health effects that not only affect them personally but also have an impact on the company’s bottom line.

The pollutants can also come from building materials, furnishings, paint, personal care products and perfume, air fresheners, harsh cleaning products and other sources.

How to improve air quality in offices

When offices are well ventilated practicing source control, exposure may not be so bad, but most ventilation systems don’t provide enough fresh air for the number of people on the floor.

That’s when air filtration becomes an invaluable tool.

The webinar delved into the most commonly used air filters and gave a brief description of how they worked.

Turns out the off-the-shelves air purifiers you can buy in the big department stores only offer half the protection because they usually feature only a HEPA filter (the best for particle filtration, but no effect on VOCs, chemicals and odors).

A good office air purifier does need a lot of activated carbon as well, a message we have been spreading, too.

Office air cleaners need activated carbon and HEPA filters

In fact, Electrocorp’s air cleaners for offices feature some of the largest adsorbent surface areas in the industry, the longest-lasting activated carbon filters and best overall protection from indoor air contaminants.

Electrocorp has even designed special air cleaners for office printers that feature a custom-built source capture attachment covering the exhaust of big photocopiers and printing machines, drawing the air through activated carbon + HEPA filters and removing the chemicals and particles before they can spread.

For more information on office air cleaners, contact Electrocorp. For more information on IAQ webinars, contact Air Quality Academy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Workers exposed to silica dust much more likely to die: Study

Silica dust exposure was linked to higher risks of
death from all causes.
Long-term exposure to silica dust puts industrial workers at a substantially higher risk of death from all causes than workers who have not been exposed, researchers say.

And the risk of death from lung and cardiovascular disease increases with increasing exposure.

Researchers in China examined 74,040 workers at different metal mines and pottery factories between 1960 and 1974, and followed up until the end of 2003.

Their results showed that death from all causes was much higher among workers who have been exposed to silica dust compared to workers who were not.

The more exposure they had, the bigger the risk of death from all causes, including respiratory diseases, respiratory tuberculosis and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers estimated that in 2008, 4.2% of deaths among industrial workers in China could be linked to silica dust exposure.

The findings add persuasive power to calls for improved occupational safety standards for workers exposed to silica dust, not only in China, but in all parts around the world.

The findings were published in PLoS Medicine.

Source: Public Library of Science

Protect workers by controlling dust

Even at or just below acceptable levels of silica dust, exposure may affect workers’ health and well-being.

Personal protective equipment, training and air cleaning can help protect workers from excessive dust exposure.

Electrocorp offers portable, ceiling-mountable and highly versatile air cleaners for industrial and commercial applications that can remove dust and particles from the air.

These include units recommended for wood shops and similar dust-heavy working environments that feature the best HEPA filters, easily cleanable bag filters and the most effective particle filters for any situation.

Many Electrocorp air cleaners can also easily be turned from particle to chemical filtration if the need arises.

For more information, please contact Electrocorp.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Green the way to go for more businesses

An eco-friendly approach to business pays off for
many companies, numbers show.
Earth Day has come and gone, but the environmental movement is a year-round affair – and many businesses are turning green changes into profits.

It helps that many environmentalists demand greener products and feel that it makes financial sense.

From greener and more fuel efficient cars and a variety of organic products to eco-friendly dry-cleaning and lawn care – the choice has been growing for people all across North America.

Green businesses in the United States make up a $175 billion industry, which employs nearly 2 million workers.

Consumers are becoming more aware of a product’s makeup and ingredients, and they are demanding products with fewer added chemicals and synthetic materials.

And even businesses that involved a lot of harmful chemicals and solvents now find ways to become greener:

Car repairs and auto body shops
  • Recycle materials such as metals, oil, tires and antifreeze
  • Use organic glass cleaners, wheel degreasers, car-wash detergents and other products
  • Use bulk products rather than individualized bottles to cut down on waste and packaging

Dry cleaners
  • Use eco-friendly laundering agents such as liquefied carbon dioxide, silicone and biodegradable detergents instead of the commonly used solvent perchloroethylene (perc)
  • Put clothes in plastic bags that are made from recyclable materials and biodegradable

Cleaning services
  • Use nontoxic, biodegradable agents that won’t affect indoor air quality
  • Clean with reusable microfiber cloths
  • Vacuum with a low-energy, HEPA filtration vacuum

Source: Miami Herald

Improve air quality with carbon + HEPA air cleaners

Greener and less toxic products are the first step towards a healthier and safer work environment, but many people are still exposed to chemicals and other toxins on the job, which can come from building materials, products that are used or manufactured and other sources.

Electrocorp offers portable and powerful air cleaners for the widest range of indoor air contaminants, including chemicals, gases, odors, particles, dust, allergens, bacteria, viruses and mold.

The air cleaners feature a complete air filtration system with deep-bed granular activated carbon, HEPA as well as optional UV germicidal filtration for biological contaminants.

The air cleaners are effective, energy-efficient as well as long-lasting, with reusable carbon canisters and other green features – and they can make a huge difference in the air quality in any space.

See also Electrocorp's air purifiers for auto body shops and garages.

For more information, contact Electrocorp.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chemical regulations: Triclosan in the news

Canada and U.S. have different approaches

The chemical ends up in the environment where it can
enter the food chain and lead to even higher exposure.
Triclosan is a chemical with antibacterial qualities, which is why it can be found in thousands of household products, including toothpaste, soap, kids’ toys, face creams, computer keyboards, yoga mats and more.

While the United States Food and Drug Administration is still conducting a lengthy review of the chemical, Canada is moving to regulate it more aggressively.

The Canadian government just declared triclosan an environmental toxin and plans to curtail its use in Canada with more stringent regulations.

In the U.S. a similar movement exists to have the chemical regulated more, or even banned, but officials are still investigating the chemical’s safety and effectiveness after 40 years on the market.

Opponents of the chemical argue that the antibacterial agent ends up being washed down the drain. In the environment it turns into a pollutant known as 240CP.

People may be exposed to the chemical in the household products as well as when they consume plants and animals that have taken up the pollutant.

What are possible health effects of triclosan?

While research remains controversial or inconclusive, many people worry about the chemical’s possible impact on hormone levels, antibiotic resistance and more.

There are also controversial concerns about the chemical reacting with other chemicals.

When triclosan (often found in toothpaste) is mixed with chlorine (often found in tap water), it may form chloroform, a sweet-smelling chemical that can be used to render someone unconscious.

Officials maintain that there is not enough scientific evidence to recommend changing regulations regarding triclosan at this time.

There are currently no limits with regards to the concentration of triclosan in consumer products such as antibacterial soap.

The FDA review of triclosan is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Source: Public Radio International

A question of corporate responsibility?

Whenever companies are using or adding chemicals to products, they need to be mindful of the possible health effects to workers and customers.

More and more companies are moving away from controversial or possibly toxic chemicals, but other toxins may still be under review.
Activated carbon is the safest and most effective
filter media to remove chemicals and gases.

To prevent any health concerns in the facilities, manufacturers of common household products can use industrial-strength air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA to help reduce exposure.

Electrocorp offers some of the most effective air cleaners for commercial and industrial purposes, with the largest adsorbent surface areas (where chemicals, gases and odors can be removed) and versatile airflow configuration and design.

Electrocorp also offers portable air cleaners for smaller businesses and household use.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and a consultation.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Toxic cleanup: When no one feels responsible

Vapor intrusion is a serious health
hazard, experts warn.
The U.S. Army, activists and regulators seem unable to agree on who should clean up a TCE plume underneath Orion Park just outside Moffett Field.

The site contains a former housing complex where contaminants have been found in the groundwater as well as in the indoor air of the homes.

The Army says it’s not responsible for the cleanup based on their own site investigation, which found no on-site source of the toxins. They say it must be someone else’s responsibility.

However, the EPA and other experts are not convinced by the report and demand a cleanup by the Army. Even the Department of Defense has ordered the Army to take action on Orion Park’s environmental condition.

What is TCE and how does it affect people’s health?

TCE stands for Trichloroethylene, a carcinogenic solvent that was used by the nearby defense department and computer industry operations, which leaked into the ground.

In underground plumes, TCE becomes an enormous health hazard when fumes enter buildings or homes through a process called vapor intrusion, taking advantage of tiny cracks and fissures in the foundation.

Inside homes, it can build up to dangerous levels.

According to the EPA, TCE is carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure and it can cause a wide range of health effects, including neurological, immunological, reproductive and developmental effects.

Off-site and on-site sources of pollution possible

There is acknowledgment that part of Orion Park’s toxics came from nearby plumes that were being cleaned up by the Navy and tech companies, but the EPA says the Army’s claim of no on-site sources was not substantiated.

Meanwhile, the area in question now houses a new Army reserve and command post with buildings that have vapor barriers and ventilation systems installed to help prevent soldiers’ exposure to TCE vapors.

In the long run, it is cheaper to clean up the toxic rather than to maintain vapor intrusion barriers and special ventilation systems in buildings.

The negotiations between parties are ongoing.

Source: Mountain View Voice

Provide healthy indoor air with air cleaners

Activated carbon is one of the most effective and affordable filtration media when it comes to TCE, or trichloroethylene.
Activated carbon can remove gaseous
contaminants such as TCE vapors.

With a carbon efficiency rating of 4 for TCE (the highest rating meaning a high capacity for adsorption of the vapors), an air cleaner with many pounds of activated carbon can help remove TVE vapors in indoor environments.

Electrocorp works with environmental consultants and experts to supply portable and powerful air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA technologies for commercial and industrial applications.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and options.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Report exposes toxic chemicals in supposedly toxin-free nail polishes

Mislabeled nail products put customers and
workers at risk, California investigators say.
A California report raises concerns about some nail polishes in California salons that are advertised as being free of toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) as being mislabeled.

According to the Department of Toxic Substances Control report, these products could put customers and workers at risk, since these chemicals have been linked to birth defects, asthma and other health problems.

The mislabeled nail products can be found in more than 48,000 nail salons in California.

Use of the three chemicals is legal if the product is properly labeled. The companies may face fines and legal requirements to change product labels.

Investigators found significant levels of chemicals

Out of the 12 products that claimed to be free of toluene, 10 actually contained the chemical, and four products contained dangerously high levels.

The investigators also found that five out of seven products claiming to be “free of the toxic three” had one or more of the chemicals in significant levels.

The mislabeled products include:

  • Sation 99 basecoat.
  • Sation 53 red-pink nail color.
  • Dare to Wear nail lacquer.
  • Chelsea 650 Baby's Breath Nail Lacquer.
  • New York Summer Nail Color.
  • Paris Spicy 298 nail lacquer.
  • Sunshine nail lacquer.
  • Cacie Light Free Gel Basecoat.
  • Cacie Sun Protection Topcoat.
  • Golden Girl Topcoat.
  • Nail Art Top-N-Seal.
  • High Gloss Topcoat.

These nail polishes are only available in salons, not in stores.

Inhaling the chemicals can be a significant occupational health and safety risk for the more than 121,000 licensed nail care technicians working in salons, especially when they are of childbearing age.

Poor ventilation is a common concern in nail salons, which adds to the potential exposure.

Source: CBC News

Source capture air cleaners for nail salons and spas
Spa and salon air cleaners with
source capture attachments.

The air in nail salons and spas can be full of toxic chemicals, odors and other types of pollutants, and general ventilation systems are often unable to provide a healthy indoor environment.

Electrocorp has developed air cleaners for nail salons, hair salons and spas that can remove toxins from the ambient air.

Their multistage filtration system with activated carbon and HEPA protect from the widest range of pollutants and special source capture attachments can remove toxins at the source before they have a chance to spread.

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

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Agency clamps down on lead work violators

Lead rules need to be enforced to protect workers and
homeowners as well as children, the EPA says.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced three enforcement actions for violators of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP) as well as other important rules.

The rule has been put in place to protect workers from lead exposure during renovation activities like sanding, cutting and demolition. Inhaling lead dust has been linked to human health problems.

Lead exposure can cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures and even death and young children are particularly at risk because their bodies and nervous systems are still developing.

The rule took effect on April 22, 2010, and now administrators are looking for ways to enforce it to protect workers and children from hazardous lead dust.

Lead was a common ingredient in paints used before the 1950s and could therefore still be present in older homes and buildings.

Workers could be exposed to lead when removing old paint from a building’s exterior, for example, and by not properly containing the dust, it could also get into neighboring homes and contaminate the ground.

Home repair companies and contractors are required to train workers under the rule and make sure people understand the dangers of lead and ways to protect themselves.

The EPA will evaluate a company or individual’s ability to pay a penalty and adjust it accordingly.

Source: EPA

Indoor air quality during renovations: A serious concern
Portable air cleaners can be moved
easily from one site to the next.

Renovations can expose workers and residents to a host of pollutants, not only lead dust, but also asbestos fibers, mold spores, chemicals, construction dust and more.

It is very important to deal up the portions of a home undergoing renovations and to make sure that the pollutants are contained.

Many companies and contractors will work with personal protective equipment, strong vacuums and air cleaners to help reduce exposure.

Electrocorp’s air cleaners for industrial and commercial applications contain a multistage filtration system with activated carbon and HEPA that can remove the widest range of indoor air pollutants.

The units can be used for positive or negative pressure environments to contain potentially harmful contaminants.

For more information and a recommendation of units, contact Electrocorp.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Asbestos workers have higher risk of heart disease, strokes

Asbestos can cause more than lung diseases;
it can also cause cardiovascular disease and strokes.
When employees are exposed to asbestos at their workplace, they have a much higher risk of heart disease and stroke than the general population, according to a new study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The research also showed that women are at greater risk than men.

For decades, it has been known that exposure to asbestos can cause serious lung disease like mesothelioma and asbestosis, but the asbestos fibers also act as an inflammatory agent that can lead to heart disease and stroke (inflammation has been linked to cardiovascular disease before).

The researchers examined the cause of death for almost 100,000 asbestos workers who participated in the Asbestos Workers Survey, and compared them to the numbers expected for the average population.

Many of the men in the survey worked in asbestos removal, while many women were employed in manufacturing.

The researchers found the risk was strongest when the participants also smoked, which is an additional risk for heart attack and stroke.

But even after taking into account of smoking, asbestos workers were still much more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than the general population.

Male asbestos workers were 63% more likely to die of a stroke and 39% more likely to die of heart disease.

Female asbestos workers were 100% more likely to die of a stroke and 89% more likely to die of heart disease.

The risk grew along with the duration of exposure, the researchers found.

Source:  British Medical Journal

Protect asbestos workers indoors
Electrocorp's AirRhino
air cleaner

Asbestos workers need extra protection from breathing in asbestos fibers, and this extra protection can come from personal protective equipment, proper handling procedures and air cleaning.

Electrocorp offers industrial-strength air cleaners for asbestos and mold remediation as well as for industrial and commercial settings.

The air cleaners feature the most effective particle and dust filters and can also accommodate large activated carbon filters for odor and chemical removal.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Denim dyes in need of “green” makeover

The denim dying process involves
many chemical reactions.
Photo: Worakit Sirijinda
Indigo may be called the “king of dyes”, but the denim dying process is wasteful and may expose workers to potentially harmful fumes and chemicals.

While currently 50,000 tons of indigo are used to color cotton blue jeans and other products, scientists are looking for more environmentally friendly ways to dye denim.

Indigo has been used for centuries and used to be harvested from a bush native to India. Indigo can dye products in a range of hues, from deep navy blue to pale pastels.

Chemists discovered a method to manufacture the dye, which is used all over the world.

However, the dying process produces large amounts of waste and requires chemical reactions before and after the dye impregnates the cotton fibers get a lasting dye job on the fabric.

Now, two companies are working together to try and come up with a greener process to dye denim. They are trying to eliminate the use of sodium hydrosulfite in the process, which also causes water pollution.

An article in the American Chemical Society’s weekly news magazine Chemical & Engineering News describes the efforts.

Source: American Chemical Society

Protect workers from chemical fumes and gases

Whenever chemical reactions are required in a manufacturing process, there is a chance of chemicals and fumes in the ambient air.

Even traces of those chemicals may have an effect on the workers' health and well-being and should be filtered out.

In addition to source control and proper ventilation, an industrial-strength air cleaner with activated carbon and HEPA filters can help remove pollutants from the air.

Electrocorp offers portable and customizable air cleaners for industrial and commercial applications that can help remove airborne chemicals, gases, fumes, odors, particles, dust, bacteria, viruses and mold, among others.

Electrocorp has designed air cleaners for chemical processing plants as well as for effective chemical and odor control.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and options.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Housing industry braces for mold claims

Mold exposure can cause a
variety of health symptoms.
Landlords, co-op and condo boards in New York are preparing for an onslaught of mold lawsuits after a court decision determined that scientific literature showed that exposure to mold can cause illness.

Before this decision, mold lawsuits were blocked by a court decision that said scientific evidence was in dispute.

Now, residents of mold-infested apartments and condos have a way to fight for some changes or justice if they can prove that the exposure to mold made them sick.

The case that caused the court to overturn the previous decision involved a woman who lived in a ground-floor apartment above a moldy basement, who claimed she got severe health problems from mold dust and spores entering her living space.

Industrial hygienists also expect more mold lawsuits to be filed in the future. Some New York lawyers are specializing on mold cases and mold-related insurance claims have been soaring.

Mold can become a problem in buildings with high humidity and lack of ventilation, or after there has been a water infiltration problem such as a roof leak or flooding. Mold can grow on drywall, wallpaper glue, wood, carpets and many other substances.

According to doctors 20-30 percent of the population are sensitive to mold and could experience health effects such as breathing problems, coughing and wheezing and some people can develop allergic reactions.

Building owners are supposed to act quickly when there are water leaks, structural problems or mold, but New York City officials have been giving out a growing number of violations over the past few years.

It is often difficult to identify mold as the cause of health issues, but after ruling out other possible causes for people’s conditions, doctors are more likely to now make that diagnosis.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Air cleaners for mold remediation and better indoor air quality

When it comes to mold, less exposure is always more. The best way to treat mold is to prevent it, but if mold is present in a building it needs to be removed properly.

An air cleaner with the right air filters can help keep the air clean and reduce exposure to mold.

Electrocorp works with environmental consultants and industrial hygienists, mold remediation experts and others to help treat mold problems.

Electrocorp’s portable air cleaners feature a deep-bed activated carbon filter, a HEPA filter and a UV lamp (optional) to remove the widest range of indoor air contaminants, including mold spores, odors, mycotoxins, chemicals, particles, dust, and more.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and personalized recommendations.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Shipyard workers face multiple risks: Lobby group

Workplace health and safety report names asbestos as biggest risk, but group worries about multi-chemical exposure

An initial report on cancers among shipyard workers is falling short, the Marystown Shipyard Families Alliance says.
Report tackles occupational risks
for shipyard workers.

A report ordered by the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC) highlights asbestos exposure as long as four decades ago as the biggest risk.

The lobby group for sick former employees and surviving family members has commissioned a medical consultant to do an analysis of the report, but they criticize that the report is too generalized and does not take multi-chemical exposure into account, which is a big concern at Marystown Shipyard.

Many of the shipyard workers are forced to do their job indoors if the weather conditions and workload demand it and may be exposed to a wide range of chemicals in the process.

According to the WHSCC, the report provides a comprehensive view of the dangers and risks in shipyard workers and will help in the process of adjudicating claims from workers.

The report does take the negative health effects of lead, solvents and pigments into account, which become an occupational health hazard for workers who are painting ships.

However, the biggest risk seemed to be exposure to asbestos fibers, which led to higher rates of mesothelioma and cancer of lung and larynx for shipyard workers. The highest levels of exposure to asbestos occurred before the mid-1970s, the report says.

The risk may be compounded by personal choices like smoking, the experts warn.

Source: The Southern Gazette

Improving indoor air quality inside shipyards

When work has to be done indoors for a variety of reasons, workers may be exposed to chemical fumes and gases as well as other toxins that may affect their health and well-being.

Electrocorp offers industrial-strength air cleaners for indoor working environments that can effectively remove airborne chemicals and gases, odors, VOCs, particles, dust and pathogens.

The air cleaners are equipped with many pounds of activated carbon to adsorb gaseous pollutants, HEPA filters to trap particles and optional UV germicidal filtration to neutralize biological contaminants.

Electrocorp also offers portable source capture air cleaners (e.g. welding fume extractors) that can remove pollutants right at the source before they can spread and become a hazard.

For more information and a consultation, please call Electrocorp at 1-866-667-0297.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Top 5 tips to green up your office

A green office environment can save money and resources.
A leaner, cleaner and greener office can help the environment and a company’s bottom line.

Especially small businesses can make certain choices to “reduce, reuse and recycle” and thereby save money and resources.

Here are the top 5 easy-to-implement tips for a greener office:

  1. Make recycling easy and effective
    Separate bins or containers for paper, waste and cans/bottles will make it easy for everyone at the office to recycle.
    Ink and toner cartridges should be recycled and some companies offer a pickup program,
  2. Use less virgin paper and reuse old paper
    Most people realize that printing every e-mail or document they get is a waste of paper – with backup systems, e-mails are bound to remain in your inbox unless you delete them intentionally.
    Using recycled paper is much more environmentally friendly, and finding other uses for misprints and old papers can go a long way to green up your office. For example, some people staple old misprints and use them for notes. Others turn old papers into small stacks of papers for notes, telephone messages and other quick messages.
  3. Use refillable, recycled or biodegradable pens
    A refillable pen means less plastic and metal waste. Buying in bulk can also make buying recycled pens possible – some companies offer pens made from 89% post-consumer waste like beverage bottles. Some companies offer pens that can land on the compost after a simple disassemble (since not all parts may be biodegradable).
  4. Avoid paper handouts
    In meetings and for presentations, a lot more people are relying on electronic methods like a projector and PowerPoint, rather than bulky handouts. Company memos and other information can be sent out by e-mail as well.
  5. Use less toxic cleaners in the office
    Conventional cleaning products often contain harmful chemicals and fumes that can add to poor indoor air quality and lead to headaches and other possible health effects. Eco-friendly and non-toxic cleaning supplies are available that are not as strongly scented and won’t add more indoor air pollutants.

Source: The Toronto Star

A greener office can be a healthier office

Using less toxic products and materials can help improve the overall air quality in an office, which is often the reason for poor productivity, absenteeism and other problems like Sick Building Syndrome, for example.

Electrocorp also offers portable and very effective air cleaners for the office environment, which help keep the air clean and free of irritating pollutants.
Electrocorp's air cleaner for office printers.

The air cleaners feature a deep-bed activated carbon filter for the removal of volatile organic compounds (VOCs, for example from printing and toner cartridges, electronic equipment, treated textiles on office furniture, carpets, cleaning products), chemicals and odors, a HEPA filter to control dust, particles and pollen and optional UV germicidal filtration for the neutralization of bacteria, viruses and molds.

For offices with large printers and copying machines, Electrocorp has also designed air cleaners for office printers that feature customized intake hood for the removal of chemicals and particles right at the machine’s exhaust.

For more information, contact Electrocorp today!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Landmark ruling on asbestos compensation

Insurance companies will have to pay compensation
to families that are affected by asbestos exposure.
The Supreme Court in Britain decided that insurers who had offered coverage at the time asbestos victims inhaled fibers will have to honor that and pay compensation.

Four insurance companies have been fighting in court to pay the least amounts possible to 6,000 families, who have a family member that either died or suffers from mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos.

The Supreme Court’s decision could bring the compensation bill to more than 600 million pounds and even up to 5 billion pounds if up to 25,000 families enter their claims in the future.

The lawsuit went from High Court to the Court of Appeal and has been running since the year 2006.

Many cancer patients that initially started the claims have died, and their family members have kept pursuing the case.

Asbestos exposure has turned out to be one of the biggest killers in the British workplace even though it has been banned for a while.

The fibers can be in a person’s lungs for half a century before causing cancer, so that experts predict a peak of deaths only in 2016. Currently, about 4,000 people die of asbestos-related diseases in the UK each year.

It has been common knowledge since 1955 that inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause fatal lung cancer.

Employers or their insurers are liable to compensate those who are affected, even if it takes decades to develop.

Observers of the controversial drawn-out case say that a lot of money was wasted in the courts, which could have been given to victims’ families. The average compensation payments for mesothelioma are 200,000 pounds.

Before the lawsuit went to court, insurance companies were paying claims from 1967 until 2006.

Source: The Independent

Watch out for asbestos fibers exposure
The AirRhino is a portable air cleaner
that can go from particle to chemical
control on the site.

Asbestos exposure still remains a problem today because asbestos-containing materials were used extensively before the ban and a lot of older homes and buildings are affected.

Renovations, demolition and other work on those buildings can expose workers and occupants to the deadly fibers.

It is important to let professional asbestos remediation companies handle these projects to minimize exposure and risks.

Electrocorp also offers high-quality air cleaners for mold and asbestos remediation that can help keep the air clean and healthy (along with other measures).

The air cleaners feature the most efficient HEPA and dust/particle filters and they can be used for positive and negative air configurations.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and options.