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Formaldehyde is often used in wood products and has been linked to cancer.

Formaldehyde is often used in wood products and has been linked to cancer.

For years, the chemical industry has been winning a political battle to keep formaldehyde from being declared a known carcinogen.

The industry’s chief lobby group, the American Chemistry Council, has persuaded members of Congress that the findings of both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services were wrong and should be reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences.

In 2011, the academy did indeed criticize the EPA’s report on formaldehyde for being unclear. The chemical industry then used that critique to delay dozens of other ongoing evaluations of potentially toxic chemicals.

But recently, the academy issued a second report, which found in effect that government scientists were right all along when they concluded that formaldehyde can cause three rare forms of cancer.

“We are perplexed as to why today’s report differs so greatly from the 2011” report, Cal Dooley, president and chief executive officer of the American Chemistry Council, said in a statement titled “The Safety of Formaldehyde is Well-Studied and Supported by Robust Science.”

Part of the disparity is that in the 2011 report, Congress asked the academy only to critique the EPA’s draft assessment rather than evaluate the dangers of formaldehyde itself. The panel concluded that the EPA’s report was too long, repetitive and lacked explanation.

But after reviewing the scientific evidence itself, the academy concluded that formaldehyde is indeed a known carcinogen.

Formaldehyde is widely used in wood products and clothing.

In a blog posting, Jennifer Sass, a scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, called the American Chemistry Council’s efforts “a vicious attack on government scientific assessments [meant] to distort and discredit any evidence linking toxic chemicals to diseases, disabilities or death.”

Using the academy to review any negative findings from the EPA has become common tactic of the chemical industry.

The Center for Public Integrity reported in June that Rep. Mike Simpson, a Republican from Idaho, got the EPA to turn its negative assessment of arsenic over to the academy. At the same time, Congress also insisted that the EPA redo all ongoing assessments to address the criticisms of the 2011 formaldehyde review. Forty-seven assessments are affected.

The American Chemistry Council said in its statement that the academy “misses an opportunity to advance the science.”

Richard Denison, a scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, countered: “One can only hope that this sorry episode and waste of public resources will help to expose the narrow self-interest of the industry, which for years it has deceptively sought to wrap in the mantle of sound science.”

Source: Center for Public Integrity

Concerned about chemical exposure at work or at home? Electrocorp has designed industrial-strength air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA filters that can remove a wide range of indoor air contaminants, including chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene and toluene as well as fine particles, mold, bacteria and viruses. Contact Electrocorp for more information and a free consultation.

Welding can expose workers to toxic fumes and particulate matter.

Welding can expose workers to toxic fumes and particulate matter.

IARC listing prioritizes substances for evaluating carcinogenic risks

An advisory group to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has published a report recommending and prioritizing chemicals, complex mixtures, occupational exposures, physical agents, biological agents, and lifestyle factors for IARC Monographs during 2015-2019.

IARC is the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, and government agencies across the globe use its monographs as scientific support for their actions to prevent exposure to potential carcinogens.

These monographs identify and evaluate environmental factors that can increase carcinogenic risks to humans.

The report lists more than 50 recommended agents and exposures, and among those listed as high priority for the upcoming years are bisphenol A, 1-bromopropane, shiftwork, multi-walled carbon nanotubes, welding and welding fumes, and occupational exposure to pesticides.

Source: OH&S online

Concerned about toxic fumes and vapors at work? Electrocorp has designed industrial-strength air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA for applications such as welding fume extraction, chemical processing, laser cutting and engraving and many more. Contact Electrocorp for more information and a free consultation.

Study shows chemical is absorbed through skin

Study examines BPA exposure in cashiers.

Study examines BPA exposure in cashiers.

Store and ATM receipts may be adding to the exposure of people to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), a new study from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center has found.

The study, published Tuesday in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests the chemical, used as a coating on thermal receipt paper, can be absorbed through the skin.

The finding is important because scientists previously believed BPA’s primary path into the human body was by eating or drinking food packaged in cans lined with or plastic bottles manufactured with BPA.

The federal Food and Drug Administration says hundreds of studies have concluded that BPA is safe at the low levels that occur in some foods, although the agency is continuing its review of and research into the chemical.

BPA is used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. In humans, BPA can interfere with the production, secretion, function and elimination of hormones.

It’s linked to a number of potential health problems in animals and humans, including obesity, impaired neurological development in children and lowered reproductive function. A 2009 University of Cincinnati study concluded that BPA could be harmful to the heart, especially for women.

Exposures faced by store clerks, who spend their days repeatedly touching BPA-laden receipts, are likely to be higher than people who only occasionally handle receipts. The study, which was designed to simulate what clerks do, also shows that gloves would shield clerks from any additional exposure.

Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s recruited 24 volunteers in 2011 to study the effects of the receipts. “We tried to simulate what a clerk does” all day long in dealing with customers and handling receipts, said Dr. Shelley Ehrlich, a obstetrician/gynecologist trained as an environmental and perinatal epidemiologist and author of the study.

Ehrlich, who works in Cincinnati Children’s division of biostatistics and epidemiology and also is an assistant professor at UC’s department of environmental health, said the researchers measured the levels of BPA in the volunteers’ urine.

Roughly four in five of the participants had BPA in the blood before the trial; once they had handled receipts, all of the volunteers showed levels of BPA. In addition, the volunteers’ levels of BPA continued to rise for eight hours once they had stopped handling the receipts.

The study’s goal was to point out how receipts can add to the total BPA exposure of the general population from a source “that may have been overlooked,” as well as revealing that clerks face higher levels of BPA because of their jobs, Ehrlich said.

Ehrlich noted that the study, funded by a grant from the Harvard School of Public Health/National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety’s Education and Research Center, should be followed by a larger scale study to confirm the findings and evaluate the clinical implications of chronic exposure to BPA.

A representative for the American Chemistry Council criticized the study for being “far too limited to determine if the handling of cash register receipt paper results in significant BPA exposure.”

But the spokesman for the industry trade group – Steven Hentges, who is a member of the council’s polycarbonate/BPA global group – said the study “does suggest that consumer exposures to BPA, including occasional contact with thermal paper receipts, are well below safe intake levels established by government regulators around the world.

“The BPA exposure levels measured in participants of this study appear to be even lower than the levels found to cause no adverse effects in recent comprehensive research conducted in FDA’s laboratory,” Hentges said in an e-mail statement.


Worried about chemical exposures at work or at home? Electrocorp offers industrial-strength air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA air filters that can remove airborne chemicals, odors, fumes, particles, dust, allergens, mold, bacteria, viruses and more. Contact Electrocorp for more information and a free consultation.

Organic spa products are becoming more common.

While most spas and salons across North America use products that are choc-full of chemicals such as ammonium lauryl sulfate (a skin and eye irritant), and quaternium-15 (a known allergen), more and more spas in the United States are opting for the organic route.

Be Pure Organic Salon and Boutique in Pittsburgh is just one of several spas taking the high road, and owner Kelly Miller takes this business very seriously.

In an article by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Miller explains that each ingredient should be so natural that none of us would be afraid to eat it.

Miller is not the only believer in her area. Many other salons and spas in Pennsylvania, like Tula Organic, are embracing the organic route and utilizing big-name products, like Aveda, to do so.

Becky Spitler and Emily Askin own Tula Organic. They believe people are looking for a more sustainable life, both inside the home and out.

Despite the move toward more organic, plant-based products, some chemicals continue to be used. There is, therefore, still a need to mitigate the effects of those chemicals within the spas and salons.

As treatments are performed within closed spaces, both customers and employees are at risk for indoor air pollution. It is important to find an air cleaning solution that will create a healthier environment.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Finding the right air cleaner for your spa or salon

When deciding what to purchase for your establishment, factor in the different services you offer.

Do you have a manicure and pedicure service? Do you dye hair? Do you use aerosol hairsprays?

All of these different services and treatments include varying degrees of chemicals. Even a simple shampoo and blow-dry can release chemicals into the air.

Electrocorp offers several air cleaners for salons and spas.

Electrocorp’s CleanBreeze 3 was
conceived specifically for salons and spas

The CleanBreeze 3 is an easy-to-maneuver air cleaner that can be wheeled over to a manicure table, a hair dyeing station or a styling station. It has an articulating arm with a precision cap you can angle according to the type of treatment or service you are providing. The cap draws in the harmful chemicals as well as any odors and particles in the air.

Manufactured in North America and using a carbon filtration system, the energy-efficient CleanBreeze 3 is yet another way you can safely and easily contribute to the green movement.

Do you have any questions, comments or concerns about chemicals in spas or salons? Let us know by posting a message. We’ll be happy to respond.

Show your support for a green working environment by liking this blog.

For more information on Electrocorp’s air cleaners, please visit our website or contact us directly.

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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