Bacteria in Ventilation Systems

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Cleanliness in the air duct system should be the top priority for a homeowner because you do not want to be breathing in any components that may form in the system. Dust and mold can be present and you may not realize it. Another component that can also be found in the ventilation system that you may not know or even see is bacteria. Yes bacteria can be found in the ventilation system when it is dry but primarily when bacteria is form when water is present in the air ducts or drip bans then this type of bacteria that is form can become a problem. According to an article by Indoor Environment Connections, when the bacteria is form it not only becomes a pathogen but also can be a endotoxins that can cause respiratory and ocular irritation, and can exacerbate asthma. The article also talks about how the bacteria might cause aerosolization. In addition the article also these actions are caused by three actions:

  • Drips impacting wet surfaces
  • Sharp changes in airflow direction that lead to impactions on wet surfaces (which would also cause splashing)
  • Any sharp movements of the ductwork

The bacteria colonies that can be form in your ventilation system can contaminate your air system and must be not only cleaned but disinfected. Whether the ventilation system in your home or commercial property needs maintenance we recommend a professional assist you in cleaning your air duct system. At AirTek, we have the experience to handle the complex system requirements and regulations that are unique to large facilities. Replenishing your environment with clean air is our top priority.

 

Source:ieconnections.com

Air Quality on Earth Day

earthdayEarth Day is next Tuesday, April 22nd!

US Senator Gaylord Nelson organized the first Earth Day in 1970–yes, Earth Day has been with us for over 4 decades! The very first Earth Day celebration drew 20 million participants and Earth Day is now recognized by the United Nations as International Mother Earth Day.

According to Party Earth, “today Earth Day is celebrated by over one billion people in nearly 200 countries around the globe and one of the best places to celebrate this year’s Earth Day is Los Angeles.”

We agree!

Check out their calendar of Earth Day Events in the Los Angeles area.

The Indoor Air Quality Association released a video yesterday about Earth Day and Air Quality that we thought you would be interested in:

“EPA studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times–and occasionally more than 100 times–higher than outdoor levels.”

We are used to thinking of the Great Outdoors on Earth Day–planting trees, riding our bikes, picking up litter–but the Great Indoors is important, too. After all, we spend most of our time indoors, whether it be at school, at home, or at work.

So let’s join together and celebrate our planet, indoors and out!

EPA Indoor AirPlus Program Leader Award

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We like sharing events that will be happening soon within our community. For example, yesterday we blogged about hosting the Second Annual Golf Tournament which you can read more about it here. Today we wanted to share how builders and raters who help build safer, healthier and more comfortable indoor environments can win the EPA Indoor AirPLUS Leader Award and also share what the Indoor AirPLUS Program is . Those who are eligible have already participated in the Indoor AirPlus program. While being in the Indoor AirPLUS program the builder or rater has enhanced the indoor air quality protection for homebuyers. The program helps builders meet the consumers preference of having  comfortable indoor air quality in their home. The foundation of the program also lies on the foundation of EPA’s Energy Star requirements for new homes. The program provides detailed information on indoor air quality protections in new homes. According to the EPA,there are two construction specifications that builders can follow :

  • Installation of Moisture Control Systems: Heating, Ventilation, and air-conditioning systems
  • Combustion Venting Systems: Radon resistant construction, low-emitting building materials

Having this in mind, a builder or rater who participated in the Indoor airPlus program in the previous year can apply for the award. In addition,being active in building or verifying at least one Indoor airPlus home in 2013 and completion of the application. We believe this is a great opportunity for builders and raters who help homeowners create a healthier environment. Indoor air quality problems have become a great issue since it is linked to health complications. To apply for the award you can visit the EPA’s website by clicking here and complete the application by April 30.

Second Annual Golf Tournament is Coming Up!

2013 Golf Tournament

2013 Golf Tournament

We hosted our very first charity golf tournament last year in support of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and this year’s event is coming up on Monday, April 21st!

Last year we raised $4000 for this amazing organization and we have high hopes of doing even better this year! Watch this space!

Maintain the Indoor Air Quality in Commercial Buildings

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Indoor Air Quality can affect homes but the air quality in commercial buildings can also affect small and medium commercial buildings. Maintaining good indoor air quality (IAQ) is one of the most important aspects of facility maintenance because it directly affects the health, productivity and comfort of building occupants. Even modern, well-ventilated buildings can have poor indoor air quality. In fact, both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization recognize “Sick Building Syndrome” and “Building-Related Illness” as serious conditions. When it comes to IAQ, prevention is a key factor. Leaky roofs, HVAC system malfunctions, improper cleaning and other facility maintenance issues can all affect the quality of indoor air. As an employee there are several steps to implement and help the air quality where you work according to OSHA:

  • Maintain a good working relationship with building management on indoor environmental issues.
  • Place office furniture equipment in locations based on the adequate air circulation, temperature control, and pollutant removal functions of the HVAC system.
  • Coordinate with building management when responsibility for design, operation, and maintenance of the ventilation system is shared.
  • Avoid procedures and products that can cause IAQ problems.
  • Integrate IAQ concerns into purchasing decisions.
  • Use non chemical methods when possible.
  • Work with building management and the contractor before starting to remodel or renovate to identify ways of minimizing building-occupant exposure, and to ensure that the air-distribution system is not disrupted.
  • Encourage building management to develop a preventative IAQ management program.

If you need assistance in indoor air quality issues you may contact a professional company like AirTek. AirTek has over 25 years of experience, and our technicians are certified by the National Air Duct Cleaning Association to ensure your air ducts, coils, vents and other equipment meet national health and safety standards.

Clean Air Ducts and Indoor Air Quality

Spring is the traditional time to clean and repair your home after a winter season. Spring is also the best time to perform an air duct cleaning and HVAC maintenance inspection in your summer. Before it begins to get very hot you want to make sure that your cooling system will be working properly when the weather begins to change in the summer. Maintaining your HVAC system will allow your system to perform well and save you money. If you do not maintain your HVAC system and clean the air ducts, there are several components that can be found in the ducts and take a toll in the indoor air quality in your home.

You want to make sure to clean your filters, especially if there is a member of your family who allergic to dust. If dirt and dust continue to build up in the duct work without a proper cleaning, components of your air conditioning system may suffer and cause the unit itself to not operate at full capacity. In the long run not having your air ducts cleaned can cost you more in service and repair calls for your air conditioning unit. The info-graphic provided by a heating and cooling system illustrates on the components that hide in your air ducts and cleaning the air ducts and HVAC system can improve the air quality in your environment. Hiring a professional do assist you in maintaining your HVAC system who follows strict procedures to clean your system understands the importance of a healthy environment. AirTek technicians are certified by the National Air Duct Cleaning Association and have over 25 years of experience in making homes safer, cleaner and better for your breathing.

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Clean Air is Priceless

Photo by Kevin Dooley via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Kevin Dooley via Flickr Creative Commons

The air pollution in China is all over the news and artists are becoming activists in a campaign for clean air.

When Beijing artist Liang Kegang came home from a recent trip to Provence in France, he didn’t bring a t-shirt or even French wine–he brought a jar of clean air. He auctioned the jar off to a group of artists and collectors and the high bidder paid about $860.

That may sound like a lot, but as you can see from the image above, clean air is a rare commodity in China.

Jiang is not the only artist taking a stand against Chinese air pollution. The Washington Post reports:

“In February, 20 artists wearing dust masks lay on the ground and played dead in front of an altar at the Temple of Heaven park in a performance art protest in Beijing. In March, independent artists in the southern city of Changsha held a mock funeral for what they imagined would be the death of the city’s last citizen because of smog.”

The air in the US is, thankfully, not as bad as that in China. We don’t feel the need to wear face masks or stay indoors unless there is a brushfire nearby. But we can all help to reduce air pollution in our environment and with the World Health Organization reporting 7 million annual deaths due to air pollution, we had better.

What can we do?

Don’t idle your car.

Take public transportation whenever possible.

Ride your bike.

Carpool.

Unplug devices and chargers when they are not in use–they are using energy even when you are not using them.

If you are upset about the levels of air pollution in our environment, say so. Change happens when we all participate in the process.

And don’t forget about your indoor air quality. When that pollution from outdoors enters your home, it has a hard time escaping. Make sure your ventilation system and ducts are clean and working well. If you need help getting clean air into your home or other building, contact AirTek!

Without clean air, we simply cannot live. Clean air is worth a great deal more than $860 a jar–it is priceless!

 

Flood Cleanup: Avoid Indoor Air Quality Problems

Any water accumulating and any increase in moisture and humidity can lead to not only property damage and health problems but also indoor air quality problems. Standing water can lead to bacteria, mold and microorganisms to form and become airborne. If there is a flood and the water contains sewage it can lead to allergic reactions and other conditions that are sensitive to individuals. According to the National Safety Council excess moisture in a home or in an indoor environment is an indoor air quality in three ways:

  • Microorganisms in floodwaters may present a health hazard. These organisms can penetrate deep into soaked, porous materials and later be released into air or water. Coming in contact with air or water that contains these organisms can cause illness.
  •  High humidity and moist materials provide ideal environments for the excessive growth of microorganisms that are always present in the home. These situations may result in additional health concerns such as allergic reactions.
  •  Long-term increases in humidity in the home can also foster the growth of dust mites. Dust mites are a major cause of allergic reactions and asthma.

The Indoor Air Quality Network has a video about Flood Cleanup and Indoor Air Quality with additional information on this subject. Keep in mind that any material that can’t be dried up completely needs to discarded because any remaining water or moisture is just an opportunity for bacteria and microorganisms to build up.

National Healthy Schools Day: What About Air Quality?

Today is National Healthy Schools Day and good indoor air quality is a basic ingredient in a healthy school for both students and teachers!

Many of the same substances that plague our indoor air at home can affect the air quality at school, including:

  • Volatile organic compounds from paint, adhesives and cleaning products
  • Mold
  • Dust
  • Car exhaust from buses and cars dropping off and picking up students
  • Pollen from plants on campus
  • Air fresheners
  • Personal fragrances
  • Hand Sanitizer

Teachers can help improve the indoor air quality for themselves and for their students:

1. Open the windows–Let some air in to move some of the contaminants collecting in your classroom out.

2. Don’t block the ducts–Classrooms today are crowded with people and backpacks. Make sure you don’t put anything in front of the vents or ducts that help keep the air circulating throughout the building.

3. Keep the classroom clean–Especially in elementary school, pillows and carpets used for “storytime” and similar activities can get dirty, dusty and even harbor dust mites.

4. Report leaks immediately–If your classroom has a leak or any water damage, be sure to get it fixed before a mold problem can take root. Mold spores are everywhere, just waiting for a damp spot to make their home.

5. Classroom Pets can trigger allergies or asthma–If you have a class pet, be sure to keep its enclosure scrupulously clean. Dander can affect any child who is allergic and make it more difficult for them to learn.

6. Minimize air fresheners and other odor concealing products–Teenagers can all use better personal hygiene, but air fresheners are adding pollution to your indoor air and just masking the less pleasant odors. Encourage the children to wear (unscented) deodorant and try to resist the impulse to spray!

What about parents?

1.   Be observant–When you are visiting your child’s school campus, take a walk. If you see any water damage, cluttered areas, odors or dirty carpeting, make sure that you let someone know it needs to be taken care of.

2.   Keep track of small complaints–Ask your child how they are feeling when you pick them up, as well as what they have for homework. If they feel sick or dizzy at school but better at home, they might forget to tell you.

3.   Be informed–Find out what cleaning products are used at your school and recommend greener options that are less likely to trigger allergies or asthma attacks if necessary.

4.  Be communicative–If your child has sensitivities or if you have any concerns about the environment at your school, don’t keep them to yourself. Your efforts to improve the indoor environment could make a difference to every single child and teacher.

Poor indoor air quality can affect student performance and everyone’s health, young or old. It’s easy to forget about how essential healthy breathing is for all of us, but it is an important factor in a Healthy School today and every day!

 

Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds and Indoor Air Quality

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There are several ways to know when your indoor air quality is not great. You may have symptoms that are unpleasant but when you leave the area the symptoms go away. Your environment might also feel hot and stuffy. There might not be enough ventilation in your indoor environment. The next way you can tell if there is an indoor air quality problem in your environment is if you smell musty odors. Those odors can be a sign that there might be mold or bacterial growth even if you do not see it. The smell is different and unpleasant and might be mVOC’s.

Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (mVOC’s) are the musty and unpleasant odors that you smell. There are more than two hundred different types of mVOC’s. mVOC’s are relevant in the indoor setting because it may imply whether a building is contaminated or if there are other aspects that need to be evaluated to pin point what is affecting the indoor air quality. Measures should be taken if you do smell these unpleasant odors because they might be associated with mold or bacterial growth and should be eliminated. Some examples that you may consider to eliminate the odors or bacterial growth is:

  • Professional HVAC system and air duct cleaning
  • Disengage any built in humidification devices within the HVAC system
  • Control humidity below 45% year round
  • Replace carpeting with a more synthetic floor system
  • Remove water damaged building materials
  • Improve airflow in the home or building by encouraging fresh air with windows open or with an air recovery system (HRV/ERV)

The video below by The Indoor Air Quality Association  gives more information about mVOC’s and where you can find additional information on this subject.

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