Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mold allergies on the rise

In a column in the News-Sentinel, Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen answer readers' health questions. Here is one connected to mold:

Q: I've never had allergies before, but this year I developed a reaction to mold and needed to get an inhaler! Why did this happen now? — Joan H., Joliet, Ill.

A: This summer, because of excess rains and flooding across North America, mold allergies became particularly severe. In the Midwest, where you live, mold-spore counts hit 125,000.

Mold allergies affect the respiratory
tract and can become a health problem.
That's crazy high; 50,000 is the level that triggers a dangerous air-quality warning! With mold levels like that, anyone can become allergic.

Researchers estimate the number of people afflicted has increased 12 percent in the past three years.

There may be as many as 300,000 types of outdoor mold, and their spores can be everywhere — in soil, plants, shady areas and rotting wood. They float through the air like tree pollen or ragweed, and are so small that they glide right through your nose's filtration system.

Your best defense against sneezing, itchy nose, watery eyes, nasal and bronchial congestion (including asthma) is to combine prompt treatment and good preventive strategies.

  • Minimize the mold in your yard and house. Remove fallen leaves often and wear a pollen mask if doing any yardwork (look for a rating of N95 from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). Disperse any sitting water or puddles in the yard, driveway, garden or basement. When the weather gets muggy and/or damp, keep windows closed and use an air conditioner or air filter to clear the indoor air.
  • On high count days (this applies to high pollen counts too), when you come indoors wash your hair and change your clothes. Use a saline solution to rinse your nasal passages.
  • Take antihistamines to prevent or tamp down your reaction. And use your rescue inhaler if you have asthma symptoms. But if you use it several times a day, every day, you need to talk to your doctor about a more effective treatment plan.

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Mike Roizen is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to

Source: News-Sentinel

Improve the indoor air quality at work and at home

Most people spend the majority of their time indoors - at work, at home and even for leisure activities (such as going to the stores, the movie theatres or sports arenas). That is why poor indoor air quality can have such an impact on health and well-being.
Electrocorp's RAP series
provides cleaner and
healthier air.

With good ventilation, source control (e.g. switching to less toxic cleaning products) and air cleaning, it is possible to breathe cleaner and healthier air at all times.

A good air cleaner needs to have the right air filters. A HEPA is a great filter for particles, dust and allergens, but you also need a substantial activated carbon filter to remove airborne chemicals, gases, fumes and odors. A UV germicidal light bulb will also help to neutralize biological contaminants such as viruses, bacteria and mold spores.

Electrocorp offers a wide range of industrial and commercial air cleaners with activated carbon, HEPA and optional UV germicidal filtration. Contact Electrocorp for more information and a personal consultation.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

OSHA provides new tools to protect workers from chemical exposures

OSHA addresses outdated exposure limits with online tools, annotated PEL tables

OSHA has developed new tools to help employers safeguard workers from exposure to hazardous levels of chemicals.
Workers need protection from
chemical exposure.

The problem is that permissible exposure limits (PELs) for many chemicals are “dangerously out of date, dating from the 1970s or even earlier and do not adequately protect workers,” according to OSHA Chief Dr. David Michaels.

In a press conference, Michaels explained that the rulemaking process is complex and makes it difficult to keep chemical regulations updated.

In response, the agency has developed two strategies for dealing with the PEL problem. Both are available online at no charge.

The first is a toolkit to identify safer chemicals that can be used in place of more hazardous ones. The content walks employers and employees through information, methods, tools, and guidance to either eliminate hazardous chemicals or make informed substitutions.

OSHA also announced a second new online resource, known as the Annotated Permissible Exposure Limits (or annotated PEL) tables. Its purpose is to enable employers to voluntarily adopt newer, more protective workplace exposure limits than those required by OSHA.

The revised tables provide a side-by-side comparison of OSHA PELs for general industry to NIOSH recommended exposure limits (RELs), California OSHA PELs, and threshold limit values (TLVs) developed by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.

For many chemicals, the alternate exposure limits listed in the annotated PEL tables are significantly lower than OSHA’s PELs. For example, while respirable quartz, a form of crystalline silica, has an OSHA PEL of 10 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3), Cal/OSHA’s PEL is 0.1 mg/m3, and NIOSH’s REL is 0.05 mg/m3.

“I advise employers who want to ensure that their workplaces are safe to utilize the occupational exposure limits on these annotated tables, since simply complying with OSHA’s antiquated PELs will not guarantee that workers will be safe,” Michaels said.

Following OSHA’s chemical standards isn’t enough

Avoiding chemical exposures is critically important. According to OSHA, workers suffer more than 190,000 illnesses and 50,000 deaths each year related to chemical exposures.

Workplace exposures have been linked to cancers and other lung, kidney, skin, heart, stomach, brain, nerve, and reproductive diseases.

Establishing a chemical management system that goes beyond compliance with OSHA standards and aims to reduce or eliminate hazards at the source is the best way to protect workers.

The agency says that using the new tools will add value in several ways, including:

  •     Cost savings by reducing expenses and future risks;
  •     Efficiency by improving performance;
  •     Industry leadership through investment in innovation to stay competitive; and
  •     Corporate stewardship by advancing socially responsible practices.
Source: BLR

Remove airborne chemicals with carbon air cleaners

Handling chemicals at work is always tied to security risks, but even with careful handling and adequate safety measures, the indoor air quality may suffer from airborne chemical substances.
Granular activated carbon is the
most trusted filter for chemicals.

Electrocorp offers industrial and commercial air cleaners for workplaces and buildings that could use healthier and more breathable air.

The air cleaners feature a large activated carbon filter for the removal of airborne chemicals, gases and odors, a HEPA filter for particles and dust as well as optional UV germicidal filtration for biological contaminants.

Check out Electrocorp's air cleaners for offices, units for chemical processing companies and many other applications or contact Electrocorp by calling 1-866-667-0297.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Vinyl flooring releases contaminants at schools and daycares

Children and staff may be exposed to
phthalates coming from vinyl floors.
Large areas of vinyl flooring in daycares and schools appear to expose children to a group of compounds called phthalates, which have been linked to reproductive and developmental problems, scientists are reporting.

They published their results on the ubiquitous plastic ingredients in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Chungsik Yoon and colleagues note that polyvinyl chloride (PVC), also known as vinyl, is the second most-produced plastic by volume and is commonly used in flooring.

Phthalates, which increase both the flexibility and durability of PVC, are key ingredients in PVC materials used in vinyl flooring and a wide range of other products, including toys, food packaging, medical devices, and even pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and soaps.

The problem is that these additives leach out of products into the air and dust. Concern over their potential health effects, particularly in infants and children, has spurred scientists to investigate human exposure to them indoors.

However, most studies fall short of verifying what products were contributing to indoor phthalate levels. Yoon's team set out to fill that gap.

Using a portable instrument called an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, they tested the flooring materials in 50 public and private daycares and kindergartens in Seoul, South Korea, to test for PVC.

They also collected dust samples from various surfaces in the buildings and analyzed them.

The PVC-verified flooring was a major source of the most common phthalate that they detected, called di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (known as DEHP).

"This is the first study to verify the sources of phthalates with an XRF analyzer and to evaluate the relationship between phthalate concentrations and PVC-verified materials," the scientists state.

Remove indoor air contaminants with air cleaners

Children have a higher risk of chemical exposure, since their bodies are still developing and they are breathing higher volumes of air compared to their size.

Since children and their caregivers or teachers spend the majority of time indoors, providing good indoor air quality has become an important goal for schools and daycare centers.

There three ways to help improve indoor air quality:

  1. Adequate ventilation: In many schools and daycares, the existing ventilation system would need major updates to help improve IAQ. However, changing filters frequently and opening windows when possible can make a difference.
  2. Source control: Schools and daycares should take stock of cleaning products and cosmetic products that are used and switch to the least toxic ones. Craft materials and school supplies should also be non-toxic.
  3. Air cleaning: A portable air cleaner with activated carbon and HEPA will help provide cleaner air by removing airborne chemicals, gases, odors, particles, allergens, dust, mold, bacteria and viruses.
Electrocorp has designed a wide range of air cleaners for schools, universities and daycare facilities. The air purifiers come with a deep-bed activated carbon filter, a HEPA filter and optional UV germicidal filtration.

For more information, please contact Electrocorp today.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Indoor air quality tested with PTR technique

Emissions from paints and other
building materials contribute to
poor indoor air quality.
Human health is affected by the quality of indoor air and there are countless sources of airborne contaminants.

Emissions from adhesives in carpets, paint, wood fires, cooking, building materials and electronic devices like cell phones, TVs and computers are just some of the contributors. Being indoors, their effect is magnified because concentrations can build up if there is poor ventilation.

The quality of indoor atmospheres can be assessed by a technique called proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) due to the growing commercial availability of relatively small, mobile instruments that can be moved from location to location.

PTR is finding favor in a range of applications apart from air analysis, such as breath analysis for disease diagnosis and food analysis for sensory analysis and quality control.

In the simplest set up, H3O+ ions are produced by a hollow cathode discharge and are reacted with the pollutant molecules to give protonated molecules that are detected in a mass spectrometer.

The proton affinity of the target molecules must be greater than that of water for the reaction to proceed but this is the case for many common indoor pollutants. If not, other reagent ions like nitric oxide or krypton can be injected to produce the protonated reagents.

The ionisation technique is gentle, generally producing no other ions apart from the protonated molecules, but this is sufficient for monitoring purposes if the analytes are known.

Apart from detecting certain airborne pollutants, PTR-MS can also be used in a dynamic way to follow their levels over time. The viability of this approach has been demonstrated by European scientists who carried out a range of different experiments on different materials.

Applications of PTR-MS in Indoor Air:

1) Watching paint dry

2) Printing volatiles and building boards, including

  • Laser printer operation
  • Diffusion of toluene through a gypsum board (calculating diffusion coefficients)
  • Measuring the emission of toluene 

These examples used PTR quadrupole mass spectrometers but another application used a PTR-time-of-flight instrument in which the high-resolution capabilities allowed compounds to be identified as well as measured. This ability was demonstrated by studying the steady-state emission of volatile compounds from an oriented strand board, a type of building board.

The research team recommend the use of PTR-MS for analysing processes and materials in test chambers, like those they used for the current experiments.

Having said that, they point out that the technique does have its drawbacks. Target compounds with low proton affinities could be influenced by the humidity of the surrounding air. In addition, calibration to determine the analyte concentrations can be difficult.

The positive points are the good time resolution, high sensitivity and robustness of the technique. The low mass resolution of PTR-MS on quadrupole instruments can be countered by the new generation of PTR-TOF mass spectrometers to give a broadly applicable technique for studying indoor volatile compounds.

Remove airborne contaminants such as volatile organic compounds, toluene, benzene, paint fumes and more with industrial-strength air cleaners by Electrocorp, which feature a deep-bed activated carbon filter, a HEPA filter and pre-filters. Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Air pollution news: EU report finds emissions above UN standards

Air pollution can lead to respiratory
and other diseases as well as death.
Emissions of particulate pollution have fallen, but 88 percent of European urbanites receive exposure to levels above UN recommendations.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) emphasized microscopic specks of dust and soot in its annual report. Particulate matter (PM) measuring less than 10 microns, or 10 millionths of a meter, can lodge in airways. Still smaller particles, measuring under 2.5 microns across, can enter deep into the lungs and even cross over into the bloodstream.

"European citizens often breathe air that does not meet the European standards," the Copenhagen-based EEA has announced. "The current pollution levels clearly impact on large parts of the urban population."

PM emissions fell EU-wide between 2002 and 2011. However, 33 percent of urbanites live in areas where levels bust Europe's requirements for maximum exposure to PM10 - a benchmark measured on exposure averaged over 24 hours – and 22 countries exceeded the daily limit in 2011.

Pollution linked to death, illness and economic losses

The figure rises to 88 percent if measured under the far tougher, but nonbinding, guidelines for PM10 set by the UN's World Health Organization. Pollution results in deaths, ill health and economic losses linked to reduced crop yields, according to the EEA.

The EEA also reported that 98 percent of European urbanites lived in areas that were above UN guidelines for ozone, a molecule that, at ground level, is caused by a chemical reaction between sunlight and fossil-fuel emissions and is another irritant for the airways.

"Air pollution is causing damage to human health and ecosystems," EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said. "Large parts of the population do not live in a healthy environment, according to current standards."

A study published in The Lancet Respiratory Journal found that even low PM2.5 during pregnancy increases risk of low birth weight: less than 2.5 kilos (5.5 pounds) after 37 weeks of pregnancy and linked to respiratory problems in childhood and cognitive difficulties. The data come from 14 studies in 12 European countries involving 74,000 women.

High level emmissions of harmful particles owe partially to more diesel cars and a rise in wood burning as a cheap alternative to gas.

Concerned about the air quality where you work or live? If the outdoor air is polluted, chances are indoor air isn't faring much better. Electrocorp has designed efficient and long-lasting air cleaners for commercial and industrial purposes. Ask about residential air purifiers as well. Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A changing climate blamed for bigger wildfires

Changing climate leads to bigger, smokier wildfires

Bigger wildfires may become a bigger
threat to public health, experts warn.
Photo by Danilo Rizzuto/
This year more than 4,000 wildfires burned almost a million acres across the Northwest. That falls below the 10-year average, as only one year in the last decade has had fewer fires than this year.

Scientists are quick to point out that no single fire season can be attributed to changes in the global climate, but as summers in the western half of the United States become drier and warmer, the chances of bigger, longer smokier fire seasons is expected to increase.

A recent Harvard University study has found that by 2050 the wildfire season for the western United States will be about three weeks longer and be up to twice as smoky because of changes connected to global warming. 

In the Pacific Northwest, the area burned during the month of August could increase by 65 percent.

Wildfires come with smoke and health effects

With larger, longer-lasting wildfires, air quality is projected to suffer. Based on the amount of on-the-ground biomass available to be burned, researchers expect to see wildfire smoke increase in the Northwest between 40-100 percent in the coming decades.

Wildfire smoke is made up of tiny organic and black carbon particles that are a fraction of the diameter of a human hair. These microscopic particles can travel deep into the lungs and even cross over into the bloodstream. 

Inhaling those fine particles isn’t good for anyone, not even healthy people. Smoke can irritate the eyes and airways, leading to coughing, headaches, scratchy throats and runny noses. 

And for some people, wildfire smoke can be life threatening. It can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and even strokes.

Wildfire smoke is already one of the biggest drivers of degrading air quality throughout the Northwest. Over the past few months, wildfires have created hazardous and smoky conditions, and clouds of smoke as big as thunderheads billowed over communities in Southern Oregon and Central Idaho.

Looking back on U.S. fires

Since the 1980s, the overall number of wildfires and the amount of acres burned in the United States has increased steadily. As the climate has warmed, snow melts earlier and dry periods have lengthened both of which favor fire conditions.

Other factors contribute to increasing the size and severity of wildfires, including a history of fire suppression over the last century. Fire suppression can lead to an abundance of biomass on the ground in forested areas. That biomass serves as kindling that turns what might have been a small manageable fire into an unstoppable megafire.

But even after you account for fire suppression, climate change is still a factor. Places like Yellowstone National Park, which have experienced larger wildfires in recent decades, never had active fire suppression.

Extreme fire behavior has become more common.

Editor's note: This story has been edited for length.

Breathe better air indoors

During wildfire season and beyond, a movable indoor air purifier with an activated carbon and HEPA air filter system can help remove potentially dangerous airborne contaminants.

Smoke particles and chemicals as well as other volatile organic compounds, allergens and mold spores can effectively be trapped with activated carbon and HEPA. Activated charcoal adsorbs chemicals, gases, odors and fumes, while HEPA traps 99.97% of particles at 0.3 microns.

Electrocorp offers large and small-footprint air cleaners for commercial, industrial and residential use. For more information, contact Electrocorp today.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Video: Organization warns of indoor air pollution's global impact

Indoor air pollution is a serious threat to people's health and well-being, since they spend most of their time indoors. It's no wonder that up to 50% of illnesses are connected to poor indoor air quality.

And the effects of indoor air pollution are not only felt by homes and businesses in the United States and Canada - people everywhere suffer from the effects of poor IAQ.

Watch this video, a slide show presentation by GIHN to learn more about the global burden of indoor air pollution.

Concerned about indoor air quality in your business or home? Contact Electrocorp for a free consultation and ask how activated carbon + HEPA air filters can provide cleaner and healthier air.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Health facility under investigation for rodent infestation

Healthcare facilities are not immune to
rodent infestations and poor IAQ.
A long-term healthcare facility in Lethbridge, Alberta is under investigation following allegations that mice bit a dementia patient on the face.

Friends of Medicare (FoM), a nonprofit organization that works to raise awareness of healthcare concerns in Alberta, charged in a Sept. 9 press release that an employee of St. Therese Villa, a 200-bed designated assisted living facility run by Covenant Health, found the disabled, immobile resident with mice nibbling at her face on Sept. 1.

According to Sandra Azocar, FoM’s executive director, staff at St. Therese had already been reporting instances of mouse and bedbug infestation for at least a year.

“This is not just in this facility,” she added. “We’ve had many e-mails from patients and staff in other facilities, saying it’s an ongoing issue in this province.”

The Alberta government is investigating and a final report is expected to be delivered to the Minister’s office before the end of September.

A Sept. 11 press statement from Covenant Health claimed that there was no physical or medical evidence indicating that the resident had suffered from any wounds caused by animal bites. While the organization admitted that a mouse had been spotted in the room where the resident had been, it maintained that the resident’s symptoms were more consistent with those of a viral condition.

Covenant Health also stated that St. Therese Villa was cooperating with investigators in every way, increasing its pest-control measures and cleaning the facility according to established standards.

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) has already sent several formal complaints to Covenant Health regarding rodent and bedbug infestation before FoM’s recent charge.

Azocar said that better regulations are needed to protect people in the province. “This is a huge… health and safety issue for both the staff and the patients,” she said.

Battle poor IAQ with carbon air cleaners

Rodent and bedbug infestations may be the exception (one hopes), but poor indoor air quality and strong odors are more common than not in healthcare facilities.
Activated carbon can remove
airborne chemicals, gases and odors.

With good ventilation and air cleaning measures, the indoor air quality may be greatly improved. However, the air cleaners need a large activated carbon filter as well as a HEPA filter and UV germicidal filtration for the best all-around air cleaning:

  1. Activated carbon (also sometimes referred to as activated charcoal): A very porous substance with large surface area where chemicals, gases and odors are adsorbed. For best results, the activated carbon needs to come in granular or pellet form.
  2. HEPA: The gold standard for fine particle filtration. Electrocorp also offers micro-HEPA and Super-HEPA filters.
  3. UV germicidal filtration: A UV lamp helps neutralize biological contaminants such as viruses, bacteria and mold spores.
Electrocorp offers a variety of air cleaners for the healthcare industry. For more information and a consultation, contact Electrocorp.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Industry group slams EPA’s formaldehyde regulations

Plywood and particleboard often emit
formaldehyde, which was linked to cancer.
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has filed formal comments, bashing proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations as arbitrary and reaching well beyond the intent of Congress.

The draft rule in question would create new standards for formaldehyde emissions released during the manufacture of certain wood products, such as plywood and particleboard.

Plants, animals and humans naturally produce small amounts of formaldehyde, though exposure to large amounts could lead to cancer, according to the EPA. The resins used when making composite wood products often contain formaldehyde.

In 2010, President Obama signed into law the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act, which requires the agency to draft regulations to address the health threat.

The ACC supports a national standard, but favors an approach in line with regulations adopted in California. The EPA’s rule, which sat under review at the White House before it was proposed in May, is more restrictive than the standard applied by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Jackson Morrill, director of ACC’s Formaldehyde Panel.

“EPA’s proposed rule…is not based on the best available science, greatly overstates any tangible health benefits, and will send confusing messages in the marketplace,” Morrill said. “EPA discounts the scientific evidence of a threshold for health effects, disagrees with findings from international authoritative bodies and presents valuations that are not based on biological evidence.”

The ACC argues that major strides have been made to bring formaldehyde emissions in line with the California standards, including the development of ultra-low emitting formaldehyde (ULEF) resins.

Congress, the group charges, envisioned a system equivalent to the California Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM).

“EPA has exceeded Congressional intent by proposing a regulation that is not technology-based and that differs significantly from the CARB ATCM,” Morrill said.

The groups formal comment period for the draft rule closed this week. The EPA will consider all submissions before finalizing the regulations.

Formaldehyde fumes, airborne chemicals, volatile organic compounds, gases and other toxic compounds can be removed with a deep-bed activated carbon air purifier from Electrocorp. Different sizes and filter options available. Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Schools teaching kids about air pollution

Some schools adopting air quality flag program

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With more and more children suffering from conditions like asthma, parents and teachers are paying close attention to air quality.

Now, some students are keeping an eye on the levels as well.

Outdoor and indoor air pollution
can affect children's health.
There are two flags outside of the Environmental Charter School in Regent Square – the American flag and a smaller, colorful flag.

Depending on the day, you may see purple, red, orange, or green. Each color is an indication of the air quality.

The students monitor the air quality and raise the flags according to what the air quality is like in the city for the day. Green means good air quality, yellow is moderate and orange means be cautious.

The program is sponsored by the Southwest Pennsylvania Air Quality Partnership and the Group Against Smog and Pollution.

The school flag program is currently in 10 schools around the region, but the goal is to expand that number over the school year.

The risks of poor indoor air quality

Outdoor air quality can impact children's health - but so is sitting in classrooms with poor indoor air quality.

Many schools expose children, teachers and staff to a mix of airborne chemicals, mold, particles (allergens), bacteria and viruses that can affect their health and well-being, especially over the long term.

Besides better ventilation and less toxic cleaning and teaching materials, a mobile yet heavy duty air purifier can help remove dangerous toxins and odors  from the air in classrooms, cafeterias, gyms and locker rooms.

Electrocorp has designed a variety of air cleaners for schools and universities that provide cleaner and healthier air around the clock.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Facility management: Humidity reduces airborne flu

Better facility management can reduce
sickness and absenteeism rates.
A recent study carried out by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) has shown that the airborne transmission of the influenza virus is significantly reduced by maintaining an atmosphere of 40% relative humidity (RH) and above.

To test the effects of humidity on airborne influenza, aerosols of flu virus were “coughed” into a room’s atmosphere by a mechanical manikin at humidity ranging from 7-73%RH, while the air intake from a breathing manikin in the room was monitored.

The air inhaled by the breathing manikin showed that at ≤23%RH the airborne flu virus retained 71-77% infectivity, while at ≥43%RH infectivity dropped to just 15-22%. The study showed that inactivation of the virus at the higher humidity occurred rapidly after coughing with most of the decline occurring in the first 15 minutes.

The study concluded that maintaining relative indoor humidity at 40%RH and above will significantly reduce the infectivity of an aerosolized influenza virus.

It is estimated that over 7.6million working days are lost in the UK each year as a result of flu-related sickness, costing the UK economy over £1.35 billion per annum. Most experts think that flu is spread by tiny droplets created when people with flu cough or sneeze, which can remain in the air for hours.

“This study shows how important it is to maintain an optimum humidity in the workplace to reduce absenteeism and especially in areas of high risk to airborne viruses, such as hospitals and doctors’ surgeries,” said Tim Scott, a humidification specialist.

“Although many professional bodies, including BSRIA, CIBSE and HSE, all recommend maintaining indoor humidity at above 40%RH it is not uncommon to see humidification systems being turned off to reduce operating costs. A low humidity is not as noticeable by employees as a low temperature, so it can go unnoticed. However, the true cost of not maintaining indoor humidity can be poor staff health and an increase in absenteeism, which can far outweigh the cost of operating the building’s humidification system.” Scott said.

Provide cleaner and healthier air at the workplace

Apart from the flu virus, there are many other airborne contaminants that can affect employees' health, well-being and productivity.
Air cleaners for offices and other
work spaces provide cleaner and
healthier air.

Many workplaces expose employers and employees to airborne chemicals, particles, dust, allergens, mold, viruses, bacteria, odors and gases. 

Most of these contaminants can be controlled with adequate ventilation, best facility management practices and air cleaning.

Electrocorp offers versatile and efficient air cleaners for industrial and commercial use, which provide cleaner and healthier air at the workplace.

The air purifiers strip the air of chemicals, particles and biological contaminants by forcing the air through a deep-bed activated carbon air filter, a HEPA filter and various pre-filters as well as an optional UV germicidal filter.

The air cleaners come in many different sizes and with a variety of options. They are custom-built to provide the protection that is needed.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and a consultation with an IAQ specialist.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Study to examine firefighter exposure to chemicals

Firefighters are exposed to airborne chemicals and particles,
which can linger on their suits and equipment.
Courtesy of nokhoog_buchachon/
A dirty turnout suit after a fire used to be a point of pride for firefighters.

The times have changed, and research now shows firefighters are at a greater risk of developing cancer because of exposure to toxic chemicals while fighting fires.

A recently published study of firefighters in California from Dr. Susan Shaw, an environmental scientist based in Blue Hill, found higher levels of chemicals from commercial flame retardants and other household materials than expected, increasing firefighters’ risk of developing cancer later in life.

Showing the actual health outcomes of the chemical exposure, however, is the goal of a new 15-year study Shaw presented Thursday morning to Ober, other municipal officials and firefighters and fire chiefs from across the state at the annual meeting of the Maine Fire Chiefs’ Association at the Augusta Civic Center.

The meeting was part of the annual Maine Municipal Association Convention held Wednesday and Thursday.

Shaw, founder and president of the Blue Hill-based Marine Environmental Research Institute, said the study will follow 50 Maine firefighters over a 15-year period, analyzing their blood after fires to determine the levels of chemicals and cancer indicators.

The California study found two to three times higher levels of chemicals from flame retardants — polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs — than most of the population.

The high levels of toxic chemicals place firefighters at a higher risk, but the longer-term study will try to identify the chemicals that factor in the development of cancer. Shaw said the study is the first of its kind.

“Exposure has not been adequately assessed in firefighters, and the relationship between firefighter and cancer risk is not well understood,” she said, “so the research we’re going to do here in Maine will be a model for future studies.”

Toxic chemicals found in most homes

She said some chemicals have been phased out of production, and several states, including Maine, have banned some types of flame retardants. Yet the chemicals still are commonly found in homes in plastics, foam, furniture, carpets, mattresses, TVs and computers.

Shaw said the flame retardants have been shown to save only a few seconds of ignition time; but when burned, they produce twice as much smoke, 13 times as much toxic carbon monoxide and thousands times more soot.

The Maine study is in the planning phase, Shaw said, but it’s set to begin next year. The firefighters haven’t been chosen yet, and the study probably will select them from larger departments, she said.

Firefighters participating in the study will learn of their blood results but will have the option of whether they want them shared, Shaw said. As in the California study, the firefighters’ names will remain confidential.

Shaw told the audience that in order to reduce the risk of exposure, fire departments should decontaminate gear after each fire; enforce the wearing of air-packs, even after the fire has been put out; not allow firefighters to take dirty gear home; regularly clean the interior of trucks; and have spare turnout suits to use when the others are being cleaned.

Augusta Fire Department Chief Roger Audette, who attended the presentation, said his department took steps in the last two years to reduce the risk for its firefighters by purchasing gas meters and ensuring the air is safe before allowing firefighters to take off their air-packs.

The department also has washing machines on site for the firefighters’ gear. Audette said now it’s common for newly built fire stations to have separate rooms to store suits and equipment between calls, a contrast to the prior practice, and current practice in other fire departments, of air-drying turnout suits in the station.
“It’s a big change,” he said.

Remove airborne chemicals and particles in fire departments

The chemicals and particles released during a fire can linger long after the flames have been extinguished. Firefighters may be exposed to airborne chemicals, particles and fumes that can affect their health and well-being.
RSU Series by Electrocorp
with carbon and HEPA air filters

However, a well-placed air cleaner (i.e. in the storage room for suits) with the right types of filters can help remove those airborne contaminants and provide cleaner air.

Electrocorp has developed air cleaners for commercial and industrial applications that boast one of the most well-rounded air filter systems in the industry. The air cleaners feature a carbon wall with many pounds of granular activated carbon - a must for the removal of chemicals, gases and fumes - a HEPA or micro-HEPA filter for particles and pre-filters as well as optional UV germicidal filtration.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

California presses ahead on regulation of toxic chemicals

In new battleground over toxic reform, American Chemistry Council targets the states

Companies will have to assess whether safer
chemicals are available and remove toxic
chemicals from their products.
Aiming to identify and remove dangerous chemicals from consumer products, California formally adopted new rules that go well beyond a flimsy federal protection net weakened by delays.

California’s Safer Consumer Products Regulations, described as the first of its kind in the country, allows the state to publish a list of potentially threatening chemicals — and then, by next April, target up to five priority products containing them.

Companies manufacturing those goods in California will have to launch detailed assessments to see whether safer chemicals are available and, if so, alter their products. The goal: To remove toxic chemicals from commerce and prompt industry to provide safe alternatives.

The initial target of five products, state officials say, represents the launch of an effort they envision bringing long-term change.

California is moving ahead against the backdrop of long-running delays in revamping federal statutes meant to protect consumers from toxic substances.

The federal Toxic Substances Control Act, passed in 1976, grants the Environmental Protection Agency power to require testing of dangerous compounds. Yet some four decades later, the EPA has rarely used that power as Congress has been tied up in a protracted effort to reform TSCA.

Under TSCA, the EPA said, it has “only been able to require testing on a little more than 200 existing chemicals,” and banned five. “Restoring confidence in EPA’s existing chemicals chemical management program is a priority for EPA and the Administration,” the agency said in a statement.

State officials across the U.S. support strengthening TSCA — but don’t want changes to handcuff their ability to protect consumers in their own states. Just last month, the Environmental Council of the States, a non-profit, non-partisan association of state environmental leaders, passed a resolution urging reform of the federal statutes. Among the group’s goals:

  • Preserving “state authority to protect citizens and the environment from toxic exposures and to manage chemicals of concern … ”
  • Ensuring that “the burden is effectively placed on manufacturers to prove that existing and new chemicals are safe.”

The American Chemistry Council, an industry advocacy group, has opposed hundreds of state bills in recent years, the organization’s tax forms show. The ACC says true toxic reform should come through TSCA, not the states, and backs a pending proposal pushed by the late New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

In California, the ACC pushed back against the new regulations. “At best the proposed regulation will produce a marginal improvement in human health and environmental safety, but at great expense and lost opportunities for businesses nationwide,” the council wrote in October.

Now, the state department will develop a list of “priority products” that contain one of approximately 150 toxic chemicals.

Editor's note: This article has been edited for length. 

Worried about chemical exposure or poor indoor air quality at your workplace? Contact Electrocorp for versatile air cleaning solutions that work. Call 1-866-667-0297.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Workers exposed to airborne contaminants at manufacturing plant

Fiberdome Inc. cited by OSHA for exposing workers to airborne hazards at Wisconsin manufacturing plant

LAKE MILLS, Wis. – Fiberdome Inc. has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 10 health violations and $49,500 in penalties following a March investigation of the Lake Mills fiberglass manufacturing plant.
Employers need to protect
workers from toxic chemicals
and other health hazards.

Workers were exposed to styrene - a chemical used extensively in the manufacture of plastics, rubber and resins-in excess of permissible limits.

OSHA initiated the inspection after receiving a referral alleging workers were experiencing respiratory irritation due to chemical exposure.

"Workers at this manufacturing plant continue to be exposed to chemical hazards that can cause severe respiratory illness," said Kim Stille, OSHA area director in Madison. "Companies must be aware of the hazards that exist in their facilities and take all possible precautions to minimize the risk of illness."

Seven serious violations include allowing worker exposure to airborne concentrations of styrene in excess of recommended exposure limits, as well as failing to develop a written respirator protection program and provide adequate respiratory protection and training to workers.

Other violations involve failing to conduct a personal protection equipment hazards assessment and train workers on hazards associated with chemicals used in the factory; provide safety data sheets to a physician treating a worker for occupational illness; and to keep the production area free of excess fiberglass and styrene.

An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

Workers who make fiberglass products are potentially exposed to styrene. Health effects from exposure to styrene may involve the central nervous system and include complaints of headache, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, malaise, difficulty in concentrating, and a feeling of intoxication. For more information on this chemical, visit this page.

One repeat violation was cited for failing to require workers to use appropriate hand protection when exposed to hazardous chemicals. A similar violation was cited in 2011 at the same facility.

Two other-than-serious violations were cited for record-keeping deficiencies and failing to properly label containers carrying hazardous chemicals. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

Fiberdome Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To report workplace accidents, fatalities, or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Madison office at 608-441-5388.

Remove styrene and other airborne chemicals with a carbon air cleaner

Working with hazardous chemicals always requires great care and protective measures. One way to reduce risks of inhaling potentially harmful fumes and chemicals is by running a highly efficient air cleaner close to the source.
Electrocorp's Air Rhino
(also available upright)

Electrocorp specializes in air cleaners for commercial and industrial uses that require chemical and particle control. The air cleaners feature a carbon wall for chemicals, odors and gases, a HEPA filter for particles and dust and optional UV germicidal filtration for biological contaminants.

Recommended air cleaners:

  • Air Rhino - a versatile air cleaner with many pounds of carbon and high-efficiency particle filter for industrial and commercial applications
  • RSU series - No-nonsense air cleaners with a small footprint that remove airborne chemicals, gases, fumes and particles.
For more information and a consultation with one of Electrocorp's IAQ specialists, contact Electrocorp today.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hotel rooms can make you sick

A hotel room may look clean, but the reality is the stuff of nightmares.

The Healthy Hotels Program, which provides hotels in Australia and New Zealand with certification of their health and hygiene standards, has compiled some facts to find out just how much hotels can affect health.

In the guest room, door handles, swipe keys, carpet, glasses, light switches, remotes, key board, furniture, bedding, curtains, taps and fittings, the toilet, shower, ice bucket, refrigerator, chair, bed and pillows each present a potential for transmission.
Poor indoor air quality in hotel rooms
can impact visitors' health.

The desk in a hotel room will be home to 400 times more bacteria than the toilet, the reason being that most toilets are disinfected, while furniture typically is not.

Equally one of the greatest potential threats to health in the guest room is the air we breathe.

The resting adult will inhale between 10,000 to 20,000 litres of air per day including sleeping time, where the face and mouth are pressed directly onto the pillow.

Air can be home to any number of micro-contaminants, including mold spores, fine dust, pollen and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some of the most dangerous airborne pollutants, which are also the easiest to avoid, are air fresheners, pesticides and many conventional cleaning products.

The most common VOC sources in the guest room are cleaning chemical residue and the byproduct of a process called ‘off-gassing’. Typical of newer building materials such as fresh carpets or furniture, gases from the glues, sealants and coloring agents can leech into the air for a period of time, often being mistaken for that fresh new carpet smell.

Any substance which is not considered toxic to the touch must be considered completely differently if inhaled. Only 30 per cent of contaminants inhaled are ever exhaled, the remainder are broken down by the body, usually within the liver.

There’s no avoiding the fact that any indoor environment which is home to human activity will ultimately be contaminated with the presence of human proteins, body fluids, bacteria and most likely the presence of mold and dust mites.

The average hotel bed will be home to more than 1370 people over a five-year period. We shed up to 3.6 kilograms of skin each year and an average bed can contain anywhere from 100,000 to 2,000,000 dust mites.

The Ohio State University entomology department says the weight of a two-year-old pillow can be comprised of up to 10 per cent dust mites and their excrement.

In addition, carpets and beds which are not regularly or correctly sanitized have been found to contain high concentrations of mold spores and bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli).

To add to the equation, when examined with black light most hotel room bed heads or head walls have been found to show evidence of human proteins.

A smell indicates poor indoor air quality -
but some dangers aren't easy to identify.
While it’s the ‘germ statistics’ that form the common rhetoric and always have, guests and hoteliers alike deserve to know the difference between the ‘gross factor’ and the elements which are more likely to cause potentially serious health concerns.

It’s unrealistic for any guest room not to show evidence of human habitation, however the presence of VOCs such as certain mold spores and chemical compounds within the air and furnishings should be taken far more seriously due to the demonstrated health implications they can represent from both short and long term exposure.

Certain species of mold represent arguably the greatest and most common threat to respiratory health in any guest room. Although the number is improving, comparatively few accommodation operators sanitize their beds and carpets correctly if at all, making these areas a haven for basic allergens and bacteria, through to potentially dangerous VOCs.

How to minimize risks in hotel rooms

If you’re a guest, there are several things you can do to have confidence before your stay:

  • Ask about sanitizing practice before booking. Are the beds, pillows and carpets sanitized and if so, is it with a low moisture process or with steam which is counter-productive?
  • Ask if housekeeping typically use bleach-based products or are there other safer alternatives in place such as vinegar or cloth cleaning?
  • Ask if the property has their air quality measured regularly.
  • Take your own pillow, have it either professionally sanitized or at the very least, vacuum it and leave it in direct sunlight for an hour.
  • Ask if there’s an independent health certification in place.

During your stay:
  • Open the windows if possible — fresh air is best.
  • Wash hands regularly and avoid touching the nose, eyes or mouth unnecessarily.
  • Wipe down items and switches with a disinfecting wipe.
  • Take your own drinking water or boil the water and let it stand for a while.
  • Turn off and unplug unnecessary devices, particularly before bed.
  • Stay hydrated and be mindful to consume foods (preferably raw) with antioxidants such as most berries, prunes, apples and green tea.
  • Avoid bright lights and device screens an hour before bed
Editor's note: This article has been edited for length. 

Worried about air quality in your travel establishment? Electrocorp can help improve the indoor air quality in hotel rooms, conference rooms, reception halls, dining rooms and other areas with long-lasting air cleaners for hotels and the hospitality industry. For travelers, there are some smaller air purifiers available. Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Researchers tackle office air problems

Scientists develop intelligent door seal that prevents poor indoor air quality

Heated debates and no agreement in sight: the eight employees sitting in a small conference room have come together to get an important project moving. But after an hour, some of them have trouble focusing on the discussion, and some are even beginning to become drowsy.
Conference room meetings can lead to poor IAQ

No wonder: the air in the conference room is stuffy and stale, and increased levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) are making them tired and robbing meeting participants of their concentration.

There's only one solution: air the room out. Or else rely on the intelligent door seal system that has now been developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS in cooperation with the Athmer Company.

Users of the system not only spare themselves the effort of regular airing: the door seal is also cold air's worst enemy, insulating to provide a perfect indoor climate.

Indoor concentrations of CO2 are still a problem, particularly in newer buildings.

"Modern buildings are becoming increasingly airtight," according to Hans-J├╝rgen Schliepkorte, group manager at Fraunhofer IMS in Duisburg. On the one hand, better windows and construction materials provide effective insulation - an issue that was long a major concern. But air quality was overlooked in the process.

"In many cases, the supply of fresh air still comes through an open window," Schliepkorte points out. "This has consequences for the energy efficiency."

Sensor measures CO2 concentration in the air

The electronically controlled door seal developed by IMS engineers opens or closes based on the CO2 concentration in a room. A CO2 sensor records concentrations in the air.

If this value exceeds a certain threshold, a tiny motor moves a spring to open the door seal at the bottom of the door leaf. The seal raises to permit an exchange of air inside the room. At the same time, the system uses building based measurement and control technology to activate the ventilation system to extract stale air from the room.

"Our standard is based on the Pettenkofer value of 1000 ppm (parts per million)," Schliepkorte explains.

It was Max von Pettenkofer who investigated indoor air quality in the middle of the previous century and identified the CO2 value that, if met or exceeded, makes people begin to feel unwell indoors.

Opening a window is not always
desirable or possible in offices.
Today's rules and guidelines based on DIN for the workplace set 1500 ppm as the upper limit and recommend a CO2 concentration of 1000 ppm.

"We can achieve this with the aid of the intelligent door seal – without having to open doors or windows," Schliepkorte observes.

The door seal system is electronically coupled with building measurement and control systems. If a ventilation system or for that matter a heat recovery system has been installed, they can additionally be activated based on indoor CO2 concentrations and temperatures.

"The system always calculates the best compromise between good indoor air and optimal utilization of energy efficiency," Schliepkorte says.

Beginning in June of this year, it will be in use in the Fraunhofer inHaus-Center in Duisburg, an innovation workshop for application oriented and market based research for systems in rooms and buildings.

Indeed, Fraunhofer researchers have already set their sights on further applications: in the future, the door seal may well also help regulate humidity in residential and commercial buildings. This may soon make mold in the home and dry eyes in the office a thing of the past.

Improve office air quality for higher productivity

Poor indoor air quality at the office has been linked to higher rates of absenteeism, but also to decreased productivity and lower morale.

Short of renovating or installing a new HVAC system, office managers and employers can help provide cleaner indoor air by using one or more of Electrocorp's air cleaners with activated carbon, HEPA and UV

With the air cleaners for offices, Electrocorp controls airborne contaminants such as volatile organic compounds, dust, mold, chemicals, bacteria, viruses and other particles and odors. Specially designed air cleaners for larger office printers remove toxic chemicals and particles right at the source.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Study to shed light on people's attitude toward health and safety

IOSH funds research into public's attitude toward health and safety regulations

Health and safety measures often include
personal protective equipment and air
cleaners, as shown above.
A study led by the University of Reading in partnership with the University of Portsmouth and funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) will examine how the social standing and perceived value of health and safety regulation has changed over the last 50 years.

Researchers will interview key stakeholders from health and safety practice, including former regulators, politicians, policymakers, workers and trade union safety representatives, employers and managers, and others who have played an active role in health and safety law during the period.

Health and safety regulations affect everyone, and they have become an important area of the law, according to the project's principal investigator Prof. Paul Almond of the University of Reading.

He mentioned the recent Deepwater Horizon BP disaster in 2010 and events such as the Piper Alpha oil rig fire that brought the need of protective laws to the forefront of people's minds. The laws are designed to protect the public from harmful side effects of work.

The nature of the laws has changed from very specific and prescriptive complex laws to a broader law also covering the office-based service-sector economy.

Based on facts and figures, these laws have become a success story, with rates of death, injury  and illness falling significantly, but there seems to be a negative stigma attached to the concept of health and safety.

The researchers hope to uncover the reasons why the public is not embracing health and safety regulations, and what kind of actions may cause this situation to change.

Workplaces have changed over time, and the nature of the hazard is very different than what it was in the 1960s and 1970s, says Jane White,  IOSH Research and Information Services manager.

"Now we face a juxtaposition between the public perception of red tape and the reality of a legal framework that is fit for purpose."

The project is scheduled to last two years.

This article has been edited for length. Source: Occupational Health & Safety Online

Breathe cleaner air at work

Exposure to contaminated air can affect workers' health and well-being. Unfortunately, most building materials, textiles, finishing products and electronics can contribute to poor indoor air quality.

Of course, the risk is even higher if workers also handle hazardous substances, machinery or products that expose them to airborne chemicals, fumes and gases.
Activated carbon adsorbs airborne
chemicals, gases and fumes.

Health and safety regulations may require personal protective equipment, adequate ventilation and air cleaning measures to keep workers safe and healthy.

For the most advanced air cleaning systems at your workplace, contact Electrocorp to speak to an IAQ expert.

Electrocorp has designed air cleaners with a triple-protection air filter system for the most comprehensive air purification systems, which includes an activated carbon wall with many pounds of granular activated charcoal for chemicals and fumes, a HEPA or micro-HEPA particle filter and UV germicidal filtration for biological contaminants.

Whether it's air cleaners for office environments, the health care sector, welding and soldering, law enforcement or many other chemical and odor control applications, Electrocorp will proudly supply versatile air filtration systems that last. Ask about special carbon blends and other options.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Schools drowning in exhaust and diesel fumes

Exhaust, diesel fumes foul public schoolyards in U.S.

Many schools are located within 300 ft
of polluting highways, studies show.
Cheaper land, easy access for buses and convenient location often cause schools to be built near major roads and highways.

This has become a concern to parents, school staff and administrators, since children spend about a third of their day at school, often during the hours of heaviest traffic.

And the closer they are, the more they can be exposed to harmful pollutants. Within 500 feet of major roads, traffic pollution — a plume of suspended soot and gases — often carries pollutants at levels considered harmful by air-pollution researchers.

A 2008 study found that more than 10 percent of surveyed U.S. schools were located within about 300 feet of highways, the distance within which road pollution is most potent.

If a school is situated along a heavy truck route, the figures can get downright alarming. The diesel fuel that powers these trucks can produce 100 to 200 times more soot than gasoline engines, and the exhaust is so toxic that the World Health Organization classifies it as a carcinogen.

Some states in the U.S., e.g. California, passed a law requiring that new schools be built at least 500 feet from major roads. At existing schools, there are ways to reduce the danger, too: better air filters can help, for example, as can restricting kids’ time outside when traffic is heavy.

Dangerous vehicle emissions

The dangers of vehicle emissions have been known for years:  researchers in Europe first made the connection between children’s poor lung function and school-day exposure to traffic in 1993.

Ten years later a California Environmental Protection Agency study made a similar leap, finding that kids in San Francisco’s East Bay attending near-road schools were 5 to 8 percent more likely to suffer from bronchitis and asthma.

Proximity doesn’t necessarily equal risk, however. Schools uphill from a road often experience less pollution than those downhill. Wind plays a role, as does topography like sound walls and trees and hedges.

Source: Investigate West

Air purifiers for better IAQ in schools

Schools and educational centers can easily provide cleaner and healthier air in classrooms - by using portable and long-lasting air cleaners.
Electrocorp's RAP series

Electrocorp's air cleaners for schools and universities feature a substantial activated carbon filter (with at least 18 pounds of carbon) to remove chemicals, gases and odors, a HEPA filter to trap particles and dust and optional UV germicidal filtration to control mold, bacteria and viruses.

Among the air cleaners recommended for schools are the 5000 Series, the 6000 Series, the RAP series and the I-6500 series, which all come in various configurations and with many options.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Import of harmful chemicals used in carpets to be restricted

WASHINGTON--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finalizing a rule that will allow the agency to restrict imports of potentially harmful perfluorinated chemicals that could be used in carpets.

The regulation will require companies to report to EPA all new uses, including in domestic and imported products, of these chemicals once used for soil and stain resistance in carpets.

Imported carpets are under scrutiny
for perfluorinated chemicals.
These chemicals have been shown to persist in the environment and bioaccumulate in humans and animals – they represent a potential threat to American’s health.

This action follows the U.S. chemical industry’s voluntary phase out of these chemicals and a range of actions by EPA to address concerns with these chemicals.

“While this category of chemicals has largely been voluntarily phased out by the U.S. chemical industry and not in use in this country, they could still be imported in carpets. Today’s action will ensure that EPA has the opportunity to take action to restrict or limit the intended use, if warranted, for any new domestic uses or imports,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, in a press release.

“This action will also provide a level playing field for those companies who stepped up to cease the use of these chemicals in this country, while at the same time protecting the American public from exposure to these chemicals in imported carpet products.”

The final rule issued today, known as a Significant New Use Rule under the Toxic Substances Control Act, requires that anyone who intends to manufacture (including import) or process any long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylic (LCPFAC) chemicals for use in carpets or carpet products submit a notification to EPA at least 90 days before beginning the activity, providing the agency with an opportunity to review and, if necessary, place limits on manufacturers or processors who intend to reintroduce or import products with these chemicals.

Today’s action is one of several EPA has taken to protect the public from perfluorinated chemicals.

Information on today’s final rule and other actions EPA has taken on perfluorinated chemicals can be found here.

Reduce chemical exposure at home and at work

Potentially harmful chemicals can leech out of carpets and other types of fabrics, wood veneer, electronics, office furniture and printers, even building materials and paint.
Granular activated carbon can remove
airborne chemicals, gases and fumes.

Good ventilation and air cleaning can help reduce exposure to these substances. Electrocorp offers versatile air cleaners for a variety of industrial and commercial applications.

The air cleaners remove airborne contaminants such as chemicals, gases, fumes, dust, particles, mold, bacteria, viruses and volatile organic compounds with a multistage air filter system that includes a heavy-duty activated carbon filter, HEPA and UV germicidal filtration.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and a free consultation.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Lungs affected by fumes during shooting practice

Fumes from military small arms can lead to a decline in
lung function, a new study shows.
Image courtesy of vudhikrai/
Exposure to fumes released during the firing of military small arms can lead to a decline in lung function, according to a new study.

The research, which was presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress in Barcelona in September 2013, suggests that members of the armed forces who are regularly firing small arms could be putting their lung health at risk.

Over the last 5 years, the armed forces in Norway have started to report ill health after live firing training. This new study aimed to characterize the health effects from the use of these weapons and investigate which components in the emissions were causing the health effects.

Researchers from Oslo University Hospital and the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment examined 55 healthy, non-smoking men from the Norwegian Armed Forces. They tested the exposure to fumes from three different types of ammunition, one leaded and two lead-free, used in an assault rifle.

Related to occupational respiratory diseases: asthma, silicosis and asbestosis

Each participant had a spirometry test, which measures lung function, before the shooting, immediately after and 24 hours after. A tent was used during the shooting to control other exposures.

The findings revealed that there were no significant differences in the types of ammunition used, but all groups experienced a decline in lung function shortly after shooting and at 24 hours after exposure, compared with the pre-test levels.

The results showed that lung function, measured by FEV1 (FEV1 is the maximal amount of air you can forcefully exhale in one second. It is then converted to a percentage of normal. This is the standard measure of lung function), declined by a mean average of 5% across all groups at 1 hour after shooting and by 7% at 24 hours after shooting.

Anne-Katrine Borander, lead author of the study from the Oslo University Hospital, said: "The findings from our small sample show that fumes from military arms are causing a decline in lung function shortly after firing practice."

"These lung function changes are comparable to the effects caused by other occupational risk factors, such as organic dusts in farming and cotton workers. Although we noticed this decline for all types of ammunition, further research can now be undertaken to look at specific exposure components to help design better ammunition, and to continue implementation of other measures for avoiding these effects."

Source: European Lung Foundation, EurekAlert!

Concerned about occupational health and safety or exposure to fumes and hazardous substances? Electrocorp offers exceptional air cleaners for industrial and commercial use, which can remove airborne chemicals, fumes, gases, particles, biological contaminants and odors to provide better indoor air quality. For more information, contact Electrocorp.