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More than slipping hazards: Harmful cleaning chemicals may affect the air quality

Retail stores, offices, laboratories, manufacturing facilities and other types of commercial spaces often need a good scrubbing – but the type of cleaning products can have an effect on the indoor air quality as well as the health and well-being of the employees or visitors.

Standard commercial cleaning products fall in the harsh chemical category, meaning they contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can become airborne and inhaled by building occupants.

They can not only contribute to poor indoor air quality and affect the people’s health, they can also be harmful to the environment and pollute groundwater.

It may be a better, safer and more cost-effective idea to go for greener industrial cleaning products.

A non-profit organization dedicated to setting standards for eco-friendly products/services/companies, Green Seal has established requirements for cleaning service providers, including in-house and external cleaning services, to create a green cleaning program that protects human health and the environment.

There are many ways facility managers and cleaning service providers can become greener.

  • Cleaning products: Opt for environmentally friendly, green cleaning products whenever possible (general-purpose, floor, bathroom, carpet and all other types of cleaning agents).
  • Chemical safety: Products with harsh chemicals need to be diluted properly, cleaners need to be trained properly and it’s a great idea to slowly phase out cleaning chemicals that may pose a risk to human health.
  • Bulk purchasing: Liquid hand soap, paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning cloths and agents can be bought in large quantities to save on costs and packaging in the long run.
  • Sanitation and disinfection: Use EPA-registered products for special areas that need disinfecting or sanitizing.
  • Communicate: Good communication between cleaning personnel, facility managers and others involved is key to a safe and functional green cleaning program.

Source: Mother Nature Network, Green Seal guidelines
 

Reduce chemical pollutants in your facility

Electrocorp air filtration systems provide simple, cost-effective solutions to meet and exceed regulations and enhance a property’s environmental initiatives.

Our wide range of air cleaners feature advanced, proven technologies including deep-bed activated carbon, medical-grade HEPA and UV filtration to treat airborne chemicals, gases, odors and particles.

Using an industrial-strength filtration system at strategic points in the building can have a profound effect on the indoor air quality, reported health symptoms or complaints and perceived irritants.

Find out more about Electrocorp’s air cleaners for facility management or contact one of our IAQ specialists at 866-667-0297 for more information.

Newly renovated offices can expose workers to high levels of toxic chemicals.

The indoor air quality in offices can have a profound effect on the well-being, morale and output of office workers.

In fact, a recent study involving office workers in Boston, researchers found that the indoor air in offices exposes workers to potentially dangerous substances emitted by carpets, furniture, paint and other items.

The toxins studied were polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) and researchers showed that a high level of PFCs in the office air was reflected in the blood of the people working there.

PFCs are chemicals used in water-repellent coatings on carpet and furniture. They are widespread in the environment and in human beings and scientists are concerned about potential adverse health effects.

Exposure may occur through food, water, indoor air, indoor dust and direct contact with PFC-containing objects.

In the study, the researchers found that concentrations of one PFC called fluorotelomer alcohol (FTOH) were 3-5 times higher in the office air than what was previously measured in household air, meaning that office could constitute an important exposure environment.

The higher levels were reflected in the blood of the office workers.

The study also found that workers in newly renovated office buildings are exposed to higher levels of PFCs than workers in older buildings.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The results appeared in the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science & Technology.

Source: American Chemical Society

Take a breath of fresh air at the office

Maintaining good indoor air quality at the office can be challenging – especially if the existing ventilation system is unable to provide enough fresh air exchanges for a crowded space or if the building has some other IAQ issue.

Air cleaners for office printers grab toxic chemicals and particles at the source.

Apart from regular building maintenance, restricted use of harsh chemicals and ventilation, office and facility managers can help improve the indoor air quality in offices by using simple yet highly effective air cleaners.

Electrocorp’s air cleaners for offices feature a large activated carbon filter, which is the most important filter media for the removal of airborne chemicals, gases, fumes and odors, and they also trap 99.97% of particles at 0.3 microns with their HEPA and pre-filters.

Optional UV germicidal filtration can help neutralize bacteria, viruses and molds, which may otherwise make the rounds in the office environment.

One of the worst offenders of office IAQ is the technical equipment – the big printers, copiers and other machines. They can emit harmful toxins and ozone, and it is not recommended to sit too close to one.

In fact, these machines should operate in an area that is well ventilated, or they can be outfitted with an air cleaner for office printers that features a customized hood intake. The air cleaner called PrintSafe grabs toxins at the exhaust and draws them through a multistage filtration system containing activated carbon and HEPA.

These air cleaners are built for 24/7 operation, they are energy efficient and they last for a long time, depending on the indoor air quality in the office.

For more information, contact Electrocorp today.

Hospital will screen applicants for signs of smoking.

A Pennsylvania hospital is planning to implement a no-nicotine policy on Feb. 1, which involves testing job applicants for signs of nicotine and turning them away if they are smokers.

The applicants will receive some help to quit the habit and they can re-apply after six months, hospital officials said.

The hospital already has a smoke-free policy in place on the facility’s grounds, and the new guidelines are aimed at increasing the number of staff members that do not smoke.

The hospital’s measures may seem a bit extreme to some, but the facility is within its rights to implement such as policy – and other employers may follow.

The United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics says 19 states allow employers to screen job applicants for signs of smoking. Pennsylvania is one of those states.

Existing employees won’t be affected by the new policy.

A clinic in Ohio implemented a similar program in 2007.

Source: CNN

Air cleaners for the healthcare industry and hospitals

Even without the dangers of tobacco smoke, the indoor air quality in hospitals may be compromised by a wide range of pollutants, including bacteria and viruses, mold, chemicals, gases, odors, particles and dust.

Source control, ventilation and air cleaning can all help in making sure the air is healthy and breathable.

Well-placed air filtration systems (stand-alone or attached to existing ventilation systems) with many pounds of activated carbon as well as high efficiency particle filters (HEPA) and optional UV germicidal filtration can remove the widest range of indoor air pollutants.

Electrocorp has designed a variety of air cleaners for hospitals and healthcare facilities that require stringent hygiene standards, infection control and comprehensive protection to meet occupational health and safety standards.

Contact one of our IAQ experts for more information and options.

Auto body shop and garage workers are exposed to chemicals, vehicle exhaust, asbestos and other pollutants.

The automotive repair and maintenance industry employs more than 1.3 million U.S. workers and it involves a number of serious health risks.

That is why the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is working with partners to promote research and improve workplace practices.

Most of the auto repair and maintenance businesses are small, with fewer than 20 people, but they all face the same kind of health and safety issues:

  • Exposure to chemicals and vehicle exhaust
  • Exposure to biological materials and asbestos
  • Injuries like sprains, cuts and bruises
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Fatalities from falling objects, transportation events, fires and explosions
  • And more

Even small businesses can take inexpensive steps toward a safer workplace.

First, business owners and managers need to recognize the risks and become aware of the most pressing concerns.

Then they can take the following actions:

  1. Identify chemical, fire, noise, safety and environmental hazards and train workers on them
  2. Switch to water-based cleaners and safer products where possible
  3. Inspect tools and equipment regularly
  4. Ask workers to report hazards and symptoms right away
  5. Keep dust wet at all time and avoid cleaning with compressed air when repairing brakes and clutches to protect against cancer and lung disease from asbestos
  6. Wear protective gloves and other protective equipment when working with solvents and other hazardous materials
  7. Clean up spills promptly

Source: Risk & Insurance  

Improve indoor air quality in auto repair shops

Auto repair and maintenance workers are routinely exposed to solvents, oil, gasoline fumes and other respiratory hazards, which can stay in the air long after the initial use.

The AirRhino: Effective odor, chemical and particle control

One way to help clean the air is to use an industrial-strength air cleaner with a large activated carbon filter and a HEPA filter to remove airborne chemicals, gases, fumes, odors as well as tiny particles, dust and fibers.

Electrocorp’s air cleaners for auto body shops and garages can tackle large amounts of indoor air pollutants and help keep the air clean and healthy.

One of the most recommended air cleaners for this industry is the AirRhino, a versatile air cleaner that can hang from the ceiling or stand on the ground and that features up to 100 lb. activated carbon filter and/or superior dust and particle filtration.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and options.

Workplace injury and illness can be costly.

Work injuries and sick days cost companies $250 billion each year, according to a study by J. Paul Leigh, professor of public health services at the University of California at Davis.

Much of the cost of being absorbed by Medicare, Medicaid and insurance provided by employers, the researcher says, but the numbers mean that workplace injury and illness are responsible for direct and indirect costs for cancer, diabetes and strokes (taking up $31 billion, $76 billion and $187 billion respectively).

Occupational health should be a more pressing concern in the workforce, Leigh says in an article on BusinessNewsDaily.com.

With most people between the ages of 22 and 65 spending 40 percent of their time at work, the potential for health risk is high and keeps on growing, he says.

The figures are based on occupational injury and illness data from 2007, which recorded the costs shouldered by workers, and Leigh also factored in underreported injuries and illnesses.

By taking the estimated number of cases and multiplying that by the average cost per case, he got the final estimation of $250 billion.

This research was published in a December issue of the Milbank Quarterly: A Multidisciplinary Journal of Population Health and Health Policy.

Source: Business News Daily 

Prevention is best when it comes to occupational health and safety

Risk awareness, appropriate safety measures and action plans are extremely important to keep workers safe and healthy and to keep costs down.

One major part of occupational health and safety is indoor air quality, which is often overlooked, but can become a huge contributor to workplace illness and injuries.

Most buildings have some IAQ problems. The solutions for better indoor air quality include source control, ventilation and air cleaning.

A good air cleaner with the right amount of filtration media and the right type of filters can help keep the air clean. For example,activated carbon is the most important filter media for gaseous pollutants and odors, while high-dust environments require an effective particle or bag filter.

Electrocorp specializes in air cleaners for commercial and industrial applications and offers an extensive product line that incorporates

Contact Electrocorp for more information and recommendations based on your IAQ concern.

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