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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.

The judge's decision affects current and future asbestos victims.

The judge’s decision affects current and future asbestos victims.

A federal judge in Charlotte has delivered a startling victory for industries that are part of the country’s long-running asbestos-liability fight, cutting more than $1 billion from what a company owes to current and future victims.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George Hodges accepted the $125 million figure proposed by Garlock Sealing Technologies, a Palmyra, N.Y., subsidiary of EnPro Industries of Charlotte.

The amount covers claims for mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer of the lining of the lungs and one of a host of diseases linked to asbestos. Attorneys representing current and future mesothelioma victims had asked the court to set liability at $1.3 billion.

But in his 65-page order Friday, Hodges said the attorneys’ dollar figure did not fairly reflect Garlock’s liability. He accused asbestos lawyers and clients of withholding or manipulating evidence, as well as relying on “pseudoscience” to pump up the size of asbestos settlements and jury awards.

In regards to Garlock, Hodges said plaintiff attorneys withheld evidence about their clients’ exposure to company products, “unfairly inflating the recoveries against Garlock” for the decade leading up to the company’s bankruptcy filing.

According to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, an industry advocacy group, Hodges’ ruling marked the first time in more than 80 asbestos bankruptcies stretching back for more than 30 years that a judge refused to accept the plaintiffs’ estimate for future claims.

In his ruling, Hodges said previous settlements were not an appropriate measurement because they had been inflated by what he called “the impropriety of some law firms.”

Garlock, which makes seals and gaskets for a host of industries, has been a target of asbestos related lawsuits for some 40 years. It filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2010, one of dozens of otherwise solvent businesses that turned to the courts for help in settling thousands of claims of asbestos poisoning.

Asbestos is at the center of the country’s longest running liability case. And Garlock was among the last industrial targets to seek bankruptcy protection. This summer, attorneys from across the country gathered in Hodges’ courtroom for a 17-day trial to argue Garlock’s liability.

Up until the mid-1980s, asbestos was widely used in insulation and as a fire retardant. But its tiny, jagged particles can lodge in the linings of the lungs and other organs, causing cells to mutate.

Companies have been accused of knowing the risks of asbestos for decades but concealing them from their employees. One well-known Texas anti-asbestos attorney told the Wall Street Journal last year that his clients are victims of the “worst corporate mass genocide in history.”

But in his ruling, Hodges accepted company arguments that Garlock’s liability is highly limited, concluding that the concentrations of asbestos in company products are small and mostly made up of a less dangerous form of the fibers.

Source: Charlotte Observer

Are you concerned about asbestos exposure at work or at home? Professional remediation and appropriate protection is always paramount, but a high-quality air purifier with carbon and HEPA also helps to provide cleaner and healthier air. Electrocorp’s air cleaners for commercial and industrial applications feature many pounds of activated carbon for the removal of airborne chemicals, odors and gases as well as the best HEPA filters to remove particles, fibers, dust and more. Contact Electrocorp for more information and a free consultation. 

Laboratory workers and those in nearby buildings may be affected by poor indoor air quality.

Indoor air quality in chemical laboratory facilities can be a major concern. Older laboratories in schools or universities may expose workers to a range of contaminants.

In extreme cases, the air exhausted from labs can also affect the air quality inside nearby buildings.

Many different variables interact to change the air quality in labs, including:

  • Research protocols
  • Work practices and individual behaviors
  • Laboratory housekeeping
  • Design and operation of the HVAC system

Experts agree that concern is warranted, since even low level chemical exposures can cause discomfort in laboratory workers.

In chemical labs, workers may be exposed to a wide range of chemicals, including chlorinated solvents, ketones, benzene and derivatives (toluene and xylene) as well as other contaminants.

Complex facilities with complex indoor air concerns

Laboratories are complex facilities that require substantial planning and development to provide good indoor air quality at all times.

Most labs have negative pressure relative to non-lab spaces such as corridors and offices, meaning that there is less air supplied into the room than is leaving through the hood exhaust.

Some laboratories, like clean rooms, require positive pressure, however.

Indoor air quality can become a concern if chemical exhausts are cluttered or used inappropriately, if chemicals are inadequately stored or disposed of and if workers are unaware of risks or are mishandling chemicals.

Experts recommend facility staff and user training, routine air sampling, a variable air volume system and other safety precautions.

Source: Steve M. Hays, “Indoor Air Quality in Chemistry Laboratories”, 1999 (PDF)

Cleaner air in chemical laboratories

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

The right equipment in laboratories is important. Labs that handle many different chemicals often need some extra help in the air cleaning department.

Electrocorp has developed powerful air cleaners for laboratories that come in different sizes and filter combinations to provide the cleanest air possible.

The air cleaners can be configured for negative and positive pressure, if needed, and they can also be attached to fume hoods to draw the air through a deep-bed activated carbon filter and other filters to remove airborne fumes and gases, including chemicals such as benzene, xylene, toluene and more.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Laser engraving and cutting can produce harmful fumes and dust.

People may not need engraved mementos all the time – but when they want to mark special occasions, a laser engraving and cutting machine can help create the right product.

Laser engraving and cutting machines are often the heart of small businesses that rely on creativity and the ability to engrave memories into keepsake items.

Most of these customized engravings are done in the store, and many engravers use computers connected to engraving machines and 3D designs to stand out among others.

Many businesses also combine laser engraving and cutting services with other services such as design, business branding and marketing as well as product design.

In industrial settings, laser engraving is also often used to mark certain products and materials.

What are the health risks of laser engraving and cutting?

Laser engravers and cutters work with wood, glass or other hard surfaces to engrave logos, messages of personal interest and for special occasions such as wedding or anniversary presents. They also make glass and acrylic awards for companies and sporting organizations.

The laser cutting machines should ideally produce smooth edges that don’t require polishing, they should work quietly and produce no dust, and they should have a fast processing speed, high precision, less waste and high efficiency.

Unfortunately, even large laser cutting machine manufacturers acknowledge that the dust and fumes produced in the engraving process can pose a health hazard.

That is why many machines come with a blower, vacuum, fan or other device to pull dust and fumes from the work area of the laser machine. Not only can the dust damage the equipment itself and destroy the optics, the fumes can be irritating and unhealthy.

How do air cleaners help?

By connecting a portable air cleaner with activated carbon and HEPAto the laser cutting machine, operators can remove chemical vapors, laser cutting fumes and fine particles while preventing the constant clogging that plagues other air cleaning systems.

RSU Series: Electrocorp’s carbon + HEPA filters can remove dust, gases and other contaminants.

Electrocorp has developed highly effective source capture air cleaners for laser engraving and cutting, to remove airborne pollutants before they become airborne and circulate.

This capture method offers superior protection for laser cutters and engravers, prevents product contamination and safeguards sensitive laser optics on the machine.

For more information, contact Electrocorp: 866-667-0297.

Popular green options were not always the least toxic or “healthy” materials, a couple’s research showed.

When a Minneapolis couple decided to replace their mold-riddled, 1950s-era home, they wanted to use the least toxic materials available.

Since the wife had just undergone treatment for ovarian cancer, the couple wanted to reduce their exposure to chemicals and toxins linked to cancer to help prevent occurrences.

Their quest was not an easy one, since there exists no official standard for building a “healthy” home, and the couple had to do their own research into materials, studies and marketing claims to get what they wanted.

The inside of their luxuriously large house now features curved stone and wood walls, high ceilings, glass-and-steel floating stairs and copper accents.

The couple’s non-toxic options include:

  • Cast-iron pipes instead of PVC piping
  • Water purification system
  • Air purification system
  • American Clay plaster on inside walls that resists mold
  • Wood floors with toxin-free, water-based finishes
  • A green roof for insulation and better indoor air quality
  • Recycled-glass counter tops

It is still a fact that non-toxic and green homes often cost a bit more, but a growing public awareness about chemical exposures and potentially harmful materials may help make them become more available to the general public.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Air cleaners for better indoor air quality

Whether it’s during construction or after completion, the indoor air in most buildings tends to be polluted in some way, exposing people to airborne chemicals, odors, dust, particles, biological contaminants and mold.

Electrocorp has developed portable and extremely powerful air cleaners for a wide range of commercial and industrial applications as well as for residential use.

The air cleaners purify the air with a multistage filtration system containing deep beds of activated carbon for chemicals, odors and gases, HEPA for particles and dust, pre-filters for larger pollutants and optional UV germicidal filtration for the neutralization of molds, bacteria and viruses.

Contact Electrocorp for more information or recommendations.

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