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Cleaner indoor air can help children and staff be more productive and successful.

Cleaner indoor air can help children and staff be more productive and successful.

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.

Source: American Chemical Society


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:

  •  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.
  •  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.
  •  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.


Those with strong health, wellness, and safety programs bested S&P 500 average rate of return in investment simulations

Companies that build a culture of health by focusing on the well-being and safety of their workforce may yield greater value for their investors, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM), official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM).

Chemical fumes exposure can lead to headaches, nausea and shortness of breath. Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

Poor indoor air quality can lead
to headaches, nausea and shortness of breath.
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

The stock market performance of companies that had received ACOEM’s Corporate Health Achievement Award (CHAA), which annually recognizes the healthiest and safest companies in North America, was conducted at HealthNEXT LLC and analyzed by lead authors Raymond Fabius, MD, and R. Dixon Thayer, and colleagues. Companies that receive the award must be engaged in demonstrable and robust efforts to reduce health and safety risks among their employees.

Tracking an initial theoretical investment of $10,000 in publicly traded CHAA-recipients from the mid 1990s to 2012, researchers found that these award-winning CHAA companies outperformed the S&P 500.

Four investment scenarios were created, using a combination of simulations and past market-performance to create investor portfolios for comparison. While the margin of return varied, CHAA recipients outperformed the market in each of the four scenarios.

In the highest-performing scenario, CHAA companies had an annualized return of 5.23% vs. −0.06% for the S&P 500. In the lowest-performing scenario, CHAA companies had an annualized return of 6.03% vs. 2.92% for the S&P 500.

“Our results strongly support the view that focusing on health and safety of a workforce is good business,” said the study authors. “Engaging in a comprehensive effort to promote wellness, reduce the health risks of a workforce, and mitigate the complications of chronic illness within these populations can produce remarkable impacts on health care costs, productivity and performance.”

The authors acknowledge that the study focuses on the performance of a small collection of companies on the stock market for a limited number of years, and that more research is needed before a strong causal relationship can be established between health and safety programs and market results.

But they conclude that the study adds new evidence-based data to a growing body of literature indicating that “healthy workforces provide a competitive financial advantage in the marketplace.”

Source: American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Lab Manager

Create healthier indoor environments with air purifiers

Breathing in contaminated air for prolonged periods of time can affect the respiratory tract, cardiovascular and other parts of the human body. Unfortunately, the air in many offices and workplaces contains toxic chemicals, particles, biological contaminants and irritating odors.

Electrocorp has designed highly functional and portable air filtration systems for commercial and industrial applications, which can provide cleaner and healthier air at the workplace.

The air cleaners feature many pounds of activated carbon (activated charcoal) for airborne chemicals and gases, HEPA filters for particulate matter and optional UV germicidal filtration.

For more information or a consultation with an IAQ expert, contact Electrocorp.

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October 2013
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