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Eco-cities are now becoming more the norm than the exception
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

A recent survey by the University of Westminster indicates China builds the most eco-friendly cities in the world.

Despite having a reputation for being one of the most polluted countries on earth, China has been making some significant strides in creating housing complexes that are both cost-effective and help residents consume less.

These eco-cities are popping up all over China, but people seem to move there more for the low prices and health benefits, than for environmental reasons.

Despite the fact that questions still abound with regards to the primary source of energy used (coal-fired electricity) and how easily plant life can survive in polluted cities like Dezhou, steps have been taken toward building more eco-conscious, energy-saving apartment buildings.

The second-most eco-friendly country has been slated at the United States. Unlike the Chinese, Americans tend to prize eco-friendly homes for the positive impacts they have on the environment.

Source: USA Today

Building safe and ecological homes

When environmentally-friendly apartment complexes are planned, many different building materials are needed. From sustainable lumber to formaldehyde-free insulation to multiple air filtration systems and VOC-free paints, there are a lot of elements to incorporate into the design and construction of these complexes.

For buildings that are built in polluted or industrialized areas, it is extremely important to protect the residents’ health; both on the inside and outside of the buildings. Merely using eco-friendly materials is not enough. Living in polluted surroundings will undoubtedly affect the indoor air quality. This is why installing air cleaners in the central air system is extremely important.

Air cleaners for eco-friendly homes

An integral part of the planning process is the environmental consultant. He or she will suggest which materials are most beneficial for the environment.

Working in conjunction with architects, environmental consultants can determine the best industrial-grade air cleaners to use with regards to the size of the buildings and their proximity to polluted areas.

Electrocorp’s I-6500 AH is an industrial-grade air cleaner which contains a filter of up to 160 pounds of activated carbon.This filter is used to eliminate pollutants, like ozone, exhaust fumes and other organic chemicals, from the air.

Electrocorp’s I-6500

An additional 12-inch deep medical-grade HEPA filter helps to rid the air of particles as small as 0.3 microns.

The unit is completely customizable and can be attached to the building’s central air system.

Installing units such as this one will result in an eco-friendly home, from the inside out.

Do you or someone you know live or have been to an eco-city? Share your story with us!

Electrocorp offers air cleaners for commercial, residential and industrial applications. For more information on Electrocorp and its products, contact us.

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Building materials with mineral compounds and zeolites can reduce formaldehyde exposure

A new method using minerals in particleboard could significantly reduce formaldehyde emissions indoors.

Formaldehyde, one of the many VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that have been classified as dangerous to human health by organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), can be found in the adhesives that are commonly used for gluing particleboard.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pressed wood products that use adhesives with urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins are one of the most significant sources of formaldehyde in homes.

Formaldehyde emissions reduced

According to an article published in January 2011 on the website ScienceDaily, researchers in Germany have developed a new method using mineral compounds with zeolites that were modified with amino groups to boost adsorption rates.  When they put the zeolite powder into the sample particleboard, they measured a reduction in formaldehyde emissions of 40 percent in both long-term and short-term tests.

This technology could potentially reduce indoor air pollutant levels, the researchers say.
Air purifiers with carbon filter remove VOCs from the air

The development of the mineral compound method is great news for the improvement of indoor air, but until it is commercialized and available for builders and contractors, it’s up to powerful air purifiers with highly adsorbent activated carbon filters to remove VOCs such as formaldehyde from the air.

Electrocorp offers a wide range of commercial and industrial air purifiers for a wide range of applications such as environmental consulting, facility management and mold and asbestos abatement.

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110110090432.htm

The industry of hair coloring and hair dyes has not changed much in the past 150 years. The basic technology for permanent hair color has stayed the same, even though the industry itself has grown tremendously.

With an aging population wanting to keep a young appearance and cover gray hair, the hair coloring industry is poised to expand further and make some leaps in terms of technologies and safety.

Many hair color treatments and relaxers use harmful chemicals

Hair color chemicals a threat to human health

Most permanent hair colors use p-phenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical that produces darker and browner shades when exposed to air. It can also be found in many semi-permanent hair colors.

However, many hair dye treatments contain toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde and ammonia or other alkalizing agents and hydrogen peroxide or other bleaching chemicals.

Researchers aim to develop new hair dyes and alternative hair coloring technologies that will include nano-sized colorants, for example, which can lead to longer lasting hair color. Other substances may stimulate the genes to produce the melanin pigment that gives the hair its color, which promises more natural-looking hair dyes and less toxicity.

Scientists are also exploring technologies in gene therapy that may stop the graying of hair or prevent it completely.

Other hair treatments raise safety concerns

Recent reports about hair products such as hair relaxers showed that the chemicals affected the health and well-being of hair stylists. Reported health effects linked to the use of keratin-based smoothers used by curly-haired women included nosebleeds, breathing problems and eye irritation.

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Electrocorp Air Filtration System carries a range of air cleaners designed specifically for beauty salons and spas. Call today for a free consultation or visit our air purification website to start a live chat with an air quality expert. 1-866-667-0297

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110302121708.htm

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All this talk about improving IAQ (indoor air quality) at work makes you wonder: Can cleaner air really improve your productivity at the office?

People want quantitative facts and figures as proof, and that’s often a hard thing to come across when you’re dealing with increased (or decreased as the case may be) productivity due to cleaner, fresher air and better work environments. However, it has been done. In 2003 a study as conducted by Vivian Loftness that proved there was increased productivity in buildings with more natural light and natural ventilation (windows that could open). While the increases were lower, single-digit percentages, they were still increases and prove that the more natural our environment the more likely we are to work and be productive.

A well-known corporate sustainability strategist, Charles Lockwood, also found that when Toyota changed one of its office buildings to an LEED-certified structure that absenteeism dropped by 14%. Why would absenteeism drop? Well, cleaner air and less toxic materials off-gassing into your work environment means that you’re less likely to call in sick because of a headache, chest cold, allergies, or other illness associated with poor IAQ.

Another recent study has shown that poor IAQ leads to more employees suffering from SBS (Sick Building Syndrome) and taking sick days due to these symptoms (allergies, respiratory illness, asthma), and while this might not seem like a big deal an estimated $60 billion a year is spent in the USA alone for medical leave, sick days and absenteeism due to poor IAQ. That’s no small amount for something that can be easily solved with a proper air filtration and ventilation system.

IAQ affects your physical and mental health and can have a major influence on how you work on a day-to-day basis. Clean, fresh air free of ambient pollutants means a cleaner head and proper focus on the task at hand at work.

Business owners can increase their profits through employee productivity simply by providing cleaner, fresher air in the workplace with efficient air purification systems like ones from Electrocorp. Easily integrated into already existing HVAC systems, Electrocorp units can help boost your yearly revenue and keep your employees from getting sick and missing work.

Clean air isn’t just a necessity in everyday life, it’s a necessity of a successful business.

Public housing, Bedok - Credit: Alan-L/Flickr.com

While the idea of public housing is, at its core, an excellent idea, the execution of buildings across the globe have been less than successful for a number of reasons. Mostly, crime and poverty run rampant in public housing units, and it is often hard (if not impossible) to control because of the renters living in the public housing units. However, those aren’t the only issues faced by public housing units, and public health and safety boards are starting to wake up to the fact that air quality is a major issue.

Public housing units are often large, non-profit, government-owned buildings. Maintenance and upkeep is hard, and the quality of living spaces suffer immensely because of it. Any apartment building or complex is often difficult to maintain because of the large scale of the building space and the number of people housed in the unit.

Indoor air quality issues stem from building issues. Mold buildup, poor ventilation and poor building materials used can all contribute to a indoor air quality issues. And one of the biggest contributors to poor ambient air are the smokers living in public housing units.

Now, this has sparked some serious debates across the United States. Because public housing units are, essentially, personal residents, those who live in the units are against the ban on smoking because it is their homes. However, because the buildings are usually government or state owned, they have a right to implement smoking bans on the buildings just as they do in restaurants, bars, etc. But, how would you feel if you weren’t even allowed to smoke in your own home?

The problem of indoor air quality problems in public housing could possibly be solved without banning smoking (though that would obviously help) by implementing standard air filtration units in each building. Dealing with smoke is one thing, but mold is just as life-threatening and can be treated with proper air ventilation and filtration.

Public housing was created to help those who were less fortunate in life and needed a place to live, and yet we are providing them with dangerous, unhealthy living spaces. It’s time we stepped up and provided the standard of living we’d expect in a middle- to upper-class home. Don’t we all deserve that?

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