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Dry cleaners often use hazardous chemicals. Photo: Simon Law.

Dry cleaners often use hazardous chemicals. Photo: Simon Law.

Environmental groups are pushing the Federal Trade Commission to do away with dry clean only labels.

Dry cleaners, the groups say, often use cleaning chemicals that are harmful to the environment and can pose health risks to workers and consumers.

They say labeling rules should be changed so that consumers are told their garments can also be cleaned by more green-friendly “wet cleaning.”

Professional wet cleaners, the green groups say, can safely wash most garments that would ordinarily be sent to a dry cleaners — such as cottons, wools, silks, leathers and suedes — without emitting the same levels of air pollution or contaminating the water.

The FTC is considering changes to the Care Labeling Rule that would allow clothing manufacturers to recommend professional wet cleaning as an alternative to dry cleaning. Environmental groups want to require labels to say clothing can be wet cleaned.

The FTC, which first proposed the rule in July 2011, will hold a public roundtable on March 28 to discuss the potential new standards with stakeholders.

But the FTC wants to make sure that consumers have access to professional wet cleaning shops before it recommends such a rule. The service is relatively new and still growing in certain parts of the country.

Professional wet cleaners and even many dry cleaners are on board with the rule, because they say it will give them more options to wash clothes.

More and more dry cleaners offer both traditional dry cleaning and professional wet cleaning services, but they say consumers tend to prefer dry cleaning, because that is the method that is recommended on the labels of their clothes.

Clothing manufacturers also favor the rule, because it would facilitate international trade.

The public roundtable will discuss the cost of requiring wet cleaning instruction labels, what content should be provided on those labels, the availability of wet cleaning services and consumer awareness of wet cleaning.

 Source: The Hill

Dry cleaners work with many chemicals that have been linked to health risks, including TCE. Electrocorp offers versatile air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA air filters to remove toxic chemicals, odors and particles from the ambient air.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and a free consultation.

Nail polish fumes have been linked to serious health problems.

Nail polish fumes have been linked to serious health problems.

Nail salons are where women turn for pampering and polish. But under the luxurious veneer, salons aren’t always healthy places to be.

Authorities are beginning to notice the serious health risks associated with nail products and they are starting to act.

Last year, Alameda County’s Department of Environmental Health began a Healthy Nail Salon Recognition Program to push its roughly 350 salons, which employ 1,000 manicurists, to adopt healthier practices. San Francisco was the first city in the nation to launch such a program in 2012, and Santa Monica followed in July.

Alameda County publicly honored Leann’s Nails and six other salons last month for becoming certified in its program. Requirements include installing proper ventilation and ensuring employees wear gloves. Salons also must significantly limit their use of products with chemicals that are health hazards.

“These people are working with these materials constantly,” said Pamela Evans, the coordinator of Alameda County’s nail salon program. “They’re being used right in very close proximity to people’s breathing zones.”


Losing the ‘toxic trio’

The polishes in Leann’s Nails come in every hue, from turquoise to fuchsia, but a sign makes it clear that they do not contain what health officials refer to as the “toxic trio”: dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde.

Exposure to these compounds can result in headaches, dizziness and irritations in the eyes, skin, nose and throat. It can also lead to more severe, long-term problems.

Dibutyl phthalate, which gives polishes flexibility and a moisturizing sheen, is linked to developmental problems in animals. Toluene, which is used to create a smooth look in polishes, can cause damage to the liver and kidneys and harm unborn children during pregnancy. And formaldehyde, which hardens polish, is a carcinogen.

Those are just the polishes. Businesses that join the county’s Healthy Nail Salon Recognition Program also must stay away from polish removers with butyl acetate, methyl acetate and ethyl acetate, which collectively can cause drowsiness and irritate the eyes, skin and other parts of the body.

Finally, salons must not use thinners – which remove thick clumps from polish – that contain toluene or methyl ethyl ketone, which is associated with upset stomachs, headaches and loss of appetite.

Environment regulators and consumer advocates have long been trying to limit these exposures.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to evaluate workers’ exposure to dust and chemical vapors, and, if the levels are a health risk, provide workers with respiratory gear for protection.

Most work in a nail salon will not require respiratory protection if proper ventilation and safe work practices are in place, according to the agency.


Misleading claims

But it can be difficult to properly evaluate chemical exposures, especially because some nail products that claim to be free of the “toxic trio” in fact contain one or more of the hazardous chemicals, according to a 2012 analysis of 25 randomly selected products by the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Symptoms can also worsen when they go unreported, as is often the case among the thousands of Vietnamese women employed in salons, said Julia Liou, co-founder of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, a health advocacy group.

Of California’s estimated 300,000 licensed nail technicians, about 80 percent are of Vietnamese descent, Liou said. Many do not speak English well, feel uncomfortable complaining to management and are of child-bearing age, when reproductive poisons can be particularly harmful.

“Workers often feel very powerless to invoke their rights to have a healthy workplace,” said Liou, who is also director of program planning and development at Asian Health Services, an Oakland community health center.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle


Remove dangerous chemicals in hair and nail salons

An well designed, industrial-strength air purifier can help remove the toxic fumes and odors that may affect the workers and clients at salons and spas.

Electrocorp offers air cleaners that were specifically designed for hair and nail salons, with a deep-bed activated carbon and HEPA filter as well as source capture attachments for the best protection.

Contact Electrocorp to ask about customizable air purifiers for nail salons and spas, such as the CleanBreeze 2 or the CleanBreeze 3.

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.

Libraries and archives can expose
people to poor indoor air quality.
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

When you think about libraries and archives, do the words “bright”, “fresh” and “green” come to mind?

Probably not.

Many libraries and archives are large, dust-filled rooms stacked with books, papers and other materials.

They can be cluttered, dark and dingy – and many of them also have a problem with their indoor air quality.

In fact, IAQ is such a concern that some libraries and archives have implemented an indoor air quality policy.

In the case of the University of Florida library, the policy was introduced after people complained about health concerns, including eye and lung irritation, headaches, skin irritation, exposure to diseases and more.

Since there can be many different reasons for indoor air pollution (the most common are faulty HVAC systems, construction and renovation projects, forbidden smoking, the use of chemicals and mold), the policy addresses various issues and the best ways to handle them.

How to handle IAQ problems in libraries

The IAQ policy stresses the importance of communication, which will allow all sides to take action towards better air.

First, the people who are affected by poor indoor air quality or who notice it should be reporting it promptly.

Most universities have an environmental health and safety department, and there should also be a contact in the library itself.

Second, all staff members have to be informed in a timely manner of planned renovation or construction projects and the possible risks associated with them. Everyone should work together to minimize those risks and find safer alternatives.

Third, the library and archive facilities should be inspected regularly, and any types of problems need to be addressed.

What do you think of the indoor air quality at your library? Let us know what your area is doing right and how it can improve.

Source: George A. Smathers Libraries

Remove indoor air pollutants in libraries

I-6500 series combines
particle and chemical filtration.

The right types of air cleaners can help remove indoor air pollutants such as chemicals, particles, odors, dust, mold spores, bacteria, viruses and fumes.

Electrocorp’s air cleaners for libraries and archives feature the most comprehensive filtration system to deal with the pollutants listed above.

The units feature a deep-bed activated carbon system for gases, chemicals, odors, fumes, even tobacco smoke and mold mycotoxins, a HEPA filter for fine particles, dust, allergens and pollen and optional UV germicidal filtration to neutralize biological contaminants such as bacteria, viruses and mold.

As an industry leading supplier of industrial and commercial air cleaners, Electrocorp works with university administrations, government buyers, environmental consultants and many other contacts to make sure that IAQ problems are addressed correctly.

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

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