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Classrooms may be making your kids sick
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

Over the past several years, countless studies have been made on dampness and moisture in buildings throughout Finland. In 2007, researchers chose 630 random houses and apartments that were built between 1950 and 1989 for their study. Of those homes, 51 percent had moisture problems; 33 percent of those had moderate to severe issues, particularly in houses.

Many respiratory diseases, eye irritations and allergies have been directly linked to the moisture problem across the country.

The National Public Health Institute revealed in 2007 that there was a strong correlation between damp homes and the prevalence of asthma among children. Up to one in five asthma cases could be linked to water damage in the home.

A new study, made by the Trade Union of Education in Finland (OAJ,) has now discovered that moisture issues extend beyond the home. Up to two thirds of the schools and day-cares across the country have indoor air quality issues. Approximately 80 percent of the buildings in Finland, schools and day-cares included, are not sufficiently ventilated.

Water damage in some of the damp schools is so bad that recommendations have been made to tear them down, rather than try to repair them. Though poor indoor air quality in schools have been an issue for over fifteen years now, some people believe the issue is still not being handled properly. Remediation has been slow moving, leading to parents, in one town, taking matters into their own hands.

Tervajoki School in Vähäkyrö, Finland was shut down for a week while parents pulled their kids out of the school and promised to continue striking until changes were made. The school has since been relocated pending repairs or the building of a new school.

What do you think about the parents’ strike? Would you do the same if  you thought your kids were at risk? Let us know!

Source: Helsingin Sanomat, Helsingin Sanomat, University of Turku, Air & Waste Management Association

Improving indoor air quality in schools

Apart from the home, kids spend most of their time at school. Considering the astronomical number of children with asthma today (7 million in US), it is extremely important that the quality of the air in schools is up to par.

Removing mold is the most important first step to solving indoor air pollution in schools. Many schools in North America have been shut down recently for precisely that reason. If a school is dealing with elevated moisture, however, ventilation is the first plan of action.

Electrocorp offers air cleaners that can complement remediation and ventilation efforts within schools and universities. Our units use two different types of filters to help remove harmful chemicals, gases and particles from the air: the HEPA filter (for particles) and the activated carbon filter (for chemicals and gases). An optional UV germicidal lamp will also help remove mold, bacteria and viruses, thereby resulting in better air quality for both students and staff.

For more information on our air cleaners, contact Electrocorp.

Tips for officers in evidence rooms
to minimize exposures to toxins.

Storing drugs in evidence rooms and drug vaults at law enforcement agencies poses a significant health risks for the employees in charge of retrieval, maintenance and disposal.

They could be exposed to drug particles, chemical fumes, volatile organic compounds, mold spores, mold mycotoxins (terpenes) and many other contaminants.

While exposure levels may be low, inhaling these types of indoor air pollutants over an extended period of time may become a health risk.

There have been complaints from police officers ranging from respiratory problems to fatigue and anxiety, among many others (see Part I).

Based on case studies and health hazard evaluations, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has put together some general recommendations for drug evidence rooms:

  1. Keep drug quantities under control. Frequent disposal of drugs can reduce the chances of exposure and off-gassing materials.
  2. Make sure marijuana and other plant-based drugs are dried properly and set up a drying chamber inside the evidence room, if needed.
  3. Use chemical and particle filters (activated carbon and HEPA) in the evidence room and ensure that filters are replaced regularly.
  4. Have the HVAC (especially the ventilation) system inspected by a ventilation engineer and make improvements, if necessary.
  5. Store dried marijuana in sealed plastic bags. If they need to be stored in ventilated cardboard boxes, they should be in an enclosed area in the evidence room with exhaust ventilation to contain odors.
  6. Seal synthetic drugs in plastic.
  7. Keep a relative humidity level of 30-50% to minimize mold growth.
  8. Keep the evidence room clean and well maintained, using environmentally friendly and non-toxic cleaners, gloves and vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters.
  9. Improve organization and avoid clutter.
  10. Use a cart to transport evidence.
  11. Avoid skin contact with marijuana as well as other drugs and evidence materials to reduce the potential for irritation and allergic reactions.
  12. Alert employees of possible risks and open channels of communication to address problems quickly and efficiently.
  13. Develop written policies and standard operating procedures and train employees accordingly.

Source: Evidence Technology Magazine

Carbon and HEPA air filters for mold, chemicals and odors

Electrocorp offers a variety of stand-alone, industrial-strength air filtration systems that address mold, chemicals, VOCs, odors, particles and other contaminants.

With a high-efficiency air filter system combining activated carbon and HEPA as well as optional UV, Electrocorp’s air cleaners for law enforcement have a proven track record to provide better, cleaner and more breathable air in evidence storage rooms as well as general office areas.

Find out more about the RSU Series, the RAP series, the numerical series and the I-6500 series by speaking to one of Electrocorp’s IAQ experts today. Call 1-866-667-0297.

Show your support for greener and healthier working environments by following this blog.

Related blog post:

Cannabis drug

Improperly dried or stored marijuana can expose police officers to mold spores and chemicals.

Working in an evidence room at any law enforcement agency can be an occupational health risk, industrial hygienists warn.

For crimes that involve drugs, police officers need to store evidence in a drug vault, and in most cases, indoor air quality suffers.

Synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine can emit dangerous chemical fumes, while plant-based drugs such as marijuana are susceptible to mold growth and often expose officers to Aspergillus mold spores. Marijuana also produces volatile organic compounds called terpenes that contribute to the drug’s taste and smell.

Employees may have to spend several hours each day in the evidence room, receiving, storing and retrieving evidence, transporting drugs and other materials, maintaining inventory, and getting evidence ready for disposal. These activities can expose them to drug particles, mold spores, volatile chemicals from drugs as well as from “air freshening” products.

Occupational Safety and Health intervention may become necessary if the evidence room employees start exhibiting health symptoms related to exposure, which may include:

  • Nose bleeds
  • Respiratory problems
  • Skin rashes
  • Memory fog
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Vision problems
  • Burning eyes
  • Facial twitches

Some employees show higher sensitivities to chemicals and molds than other employees, and while some people may experience symptoms right away, it may take years for others to develop any health effects.

The risks of exposures to certain drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine at high levels is well known, but low level exposures over extended periods of time have not been researched, occupational hygienists say.

However, there is limited evidence linking low levels of indirect drug exposures to acute or chronic health effects, there are reports in the scientific literature of people experiencing skin rash from occupational exposure and handling of marijuana plants and materials, with symptoms increasing over time with ongoing exposure (Majmudar et al., 2006; Williams et al., 2008).

Source: Evidence Technology Magazine

Air cleaners for evidence rooms and drug vaults

The RSU air cleaners belong to
Electrocorp’s most efficient units.

Electrocorp has developed portable and powerful air cleaners for law enforcement agencies, which can remove harmful chemicals, odors, volatile organic compounds, fumes, gases, fine particles, dust, mold spores, mold mycotoxins, bacteria and viruses from the ambient air.

The air cleaners boast a multistage air filtration system with a a deep-bed activated carbon filter, a HEPA filter, pre-filters and UV germicidal filtration (optional) to provide cleaner and healthier air throughout.

Electrocorp air scrubbers provide cleaner air in thousands of law enforcement agencies across North America.

“The … RSU 48 CC Air Scrubber has been one of the best investments for the evidence technicians in the evidence vault. With the odors of drugs, especially marijuana, this system removes the odors and smell of different types of evidence for all personnel handling the evidence in and around the vault. Being able to replace the filters and carbon is an easy process for the evidence technicians. I would recommend these air scrubbers to evidence room technicians.”

Tim Karp, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, CSI, Castle Hayne, NC

Read more testimonials

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Green-rated homes are becoming more popular
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

Builders tried for years to entice prospective homeowners to purchase green materials for their new homes. Not as many people as hoped took the bait. Perhaps it was cost or merely a lack of interest, but now builders have a different approach.

More and more companies are deciding to build greener homes at no extra cost…and it’s working. Houses are outfitted with solar power and other green features which ensure buyers will save on their utility bills and other household expenses.

Markets in Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix and Tucson have seen a rise in interested buyers, particularly because the costs are more reasonable and the promise of cheaper electricity is a significant selling point. KB Homes has noticed a 30 percent increase in interest for green homes now that the costs have remained ‘reasonable.’

In 2010, sales for green homes were at nine percent. Last year, that number rose to 17 percent. The National Association of Home Builders predicts the numbers will reach between 22 and 25 percent by next year.

 

The Green-certification debate

Green-rated homes, such as the Energy Star rating, have been a hot topic within the real estate market for several years now. While studies have shown consumer interest in green-rated homes, signs have also pointed toward those homes selling for a premium.

A study done in California between 2007 and 2012 showed green-rated homes were worth 9% more than non-rated homes. Researchers were also able to make a link between environmentally conscious people who owned hybrid cars, like the Prius, and the likelihood of paying a premium for a green home.

The designation of a green home can be done through different organizations. Energy Star is a certification started by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy. LEED certification was created by the U.S. Green Building Council and GreenPoint was created by Build It Green, a non-profit organization.

Though the National Association of Home Builders is keen to continue on this green trend, particularly now that it’s gaining traction, the National Association of Realtors has tried to limit green labeling as it feels this will adversely affect resale values for non-certified houses.

 What do you think about this debate? Are you in favor of green labeling? Would you pay more for  a green-rated home, even if it’ll help the resale value?

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times

 

Making green homes greener

Electrocorp’s AirRhino AH
can easily be integrated into
an HVAC system

Environmental consultants and experts are often involved in the construction of green homes. Though some people are not willing to pay extra money for ‘smog-eating’ tile, as they can’t always see the benefits of such an investment, an air cleaner is often a more welcome addition.

Electrocorp provides several types of air cleaners for the home. As HVAC systems are common in new homes, an air cleaner such as the AirRhino AH can be attached to the central air system, thereby cleaning the air throughout the house. This unit has a medical-grade HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter which help remove particles, chemicals and gases from the air.

For more information on Electrocorp’s air cleaners, contact us.

 

Making denim results in significant water and air pollution.
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

Every year approximately 2 billion jeans are made worldwide.

The manufacturing of just one pair of jeans entails the use of 2,500 gallons of water, one pound of various chemicals and a whole lot of energy. It is therefore no surprise that the denim industry contributes a great deal to both water and air pollution.

At a recent Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference, however, a more eco-friendly manufacturing process was introduced.

The Advanced Denim process offers several alternative options during production. Jeans can now be made with 92 percent less water and 30 percent less energy. The amount of cotton waste can be reduced by 87 percent and instead of using 15 dyeing vats full of harmful chemicals, this new process uses only one vat and replaces harmful chemicals with more eco-conscious liquid sulfur dyes.

The history of denim-making

Denim is made from a rough kind of cotton called rugged cotton twill. Up to 10 percent of the world’s pesticides are used for treating cotton. Literally tons of water is used to grow the raw material. And in order to make denim what we know it to be, indigo dye is used to color the jeans blue.

Today, indigo dye is, for the most part, produced synthetically. Chemicals, such as aniline, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and sodamide are used to make the dye, all of which can have negative health effects. Some are skin and respiratory irritants, while others are carcinogenic.

Studies have lead scientists to believe that if the Advanced Denim process was used to produce only 25 percent of the jeans made worldwide, 1.7 million people would have their water needs met every year. In addition, 220 million kilowatt hours of electricity would be saved, reducing corresponding carbon dioxide emissions.

Is it surprising to know how many jeans are made every year?  What do you think about this new Advanced Denim process?

Source: ACS

Improving air quality within manufacturing facilities

The RAP series is just one of
Electrocorp’s air cleaners
for chemical plants

for chemical plants

Though there are many benefits to using this new Advanced Denim process, it will take time for companies to apply this system to their factories. In the meantime, a lot of harmful chemicals are used to make the blue dye we so love in jeans.

It is the companies’ responsibility to ensure their employees are working in safe environments and good indoor air quality is part of that health and safety. As long as chemicals are used, chemical exposure and fumes are a risk. It is in the best interest of the companies to provide an air cleaning solution which will keep employees breathing easy.

Electrocorp manufactures air cleaning units for the industrial sector. Our units can range from small air cleaners which can be placed close to the source of the harmful chemicals or fumes, to large units that can be attached to an HVAC system, cleaning the entire central air system.

To find out more about our air cleaners, contact us or speak to one of our IAQ experts at 1-888-667-0297.

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