Monthly Archives: January 2012

National Radon Action Month Ends Today

National Radon Action Month

Did you test your home for Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring, colorless, odorless gas that emanates from the decay of radioactive minerals in the soil under your house. Radon can be found anywhere. Here is a map of California’s radon levels by region:

Radon regions in California

So you see, wherever you live, Radon can live there, too!

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers and the first cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Lung cancer kills over 150,000 Americans every year and lung cancer is the most common form of cancer as well.

Radon gas can enter your home through cracks in your foundation and stays there because the air pressure inside is less than it is outside, keeping contaminants from escaping naturally.

The California Department of Health is offering $7 Radon Test Kits for any California residents. Click HERE to order!

What if you find Radon in your home? A contractor will put in a system to collect the Radon and pipe it up to the roof, where it can escape into the outdoor air. If you are building a new home in a Radon area, there are safe building practices to prevent Radon from being a problem for you.

At AirTek, we are concerned about your indoor environnment, your health and your indoor air. If you need any of our services, including kitchen exhaust hood cleaning, dryer vent cleaning, and duct cleaning for residential and commercial buildings, please contact AirTek! We hope that the information we have posted about Radon this month has raised your awareness and helped to make you take action against Radon!

Previous posts about Radon:

RADON: #2 Cause of Lung Cancer

VIDEO: Radon Gas

Happy February!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. She welcomes your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!

Think You’re Ready for Baby? Think Again!

Baby nursery

Photo by GuruAnt via Flickr Creative commons

We talk a lot here on the AirTek blog about indoor air pollution and the chemicals and other contaminants that enter homes and offices, only to stay there and build up in amounts dangerous enough to affect your health.

But the most vulnerable to the pollutants in our indoor air are infants and children.

Infants breathe much faster than older children and adults and so have the highest potential exposure to contaminants in their environment. They also have the most rapidly developing nervous systems and so are more at risk for lifelong damage by dangerous substances like lead dust.

If you’ve ever decorated a baby nursery for an imminent arrival, you know the pride in a bright, beautiful room full of new furniture, happy colors and perfectly clean surfaces. But some of those things can actually be more of a danger to your new baby than dirt or germs.

Good Morning America logo

Good Morning America” decided to carry out an experiment based on this premise. They put together a baby nursery with brand-new crib, changing table, rocker, and other decorations, waited seven days and then tested the air. Their results were shocking!

300 chemicals were found in the nursery air. Only two of those chemicals were found in the outside air at the house. The rocker was giving off 7 times the California recommended limit of formaldehyde. The paint on the walls off-gassed 5 times the recommended limit of volatile organic compounds.

The worst offender was the crib mattress, which exuded over 100 different chemical compounds. Now, I know many babies don’t sleep well, but is that what you want them breathing when they do?

GMA recommends some ways of reducing the level of indoor air pollution in your baby’s nursery and I concur:

Buy products certified to have low emissions. You can also look for a “Green Label Plus” on carpeting.

Unscented if possible. If a product offers an unscented version, make that your choice.

Choose solid wood. More expensive, solid wood does not give off the gases of pressed wood products.

Unbox outside. When your beautiful new furniture is delivered, unwrap it outside and leave it out there for a week or so to let the gases dissipate before you bring it into the nursery.

Paint early and with the windows open. You want to let the volatile organic compounds in paint come out and proceed to the outdoors before bringing any furniture, carpets or other textiles in. Anything porous can absorb the chemicals and keep them in your environment.

Hand-me-downs. You know that crib your sister-in-law offered? In terms of air pollution, it is a much better choice than a new crib unless it has been recently refinished.

Of course we all want our babies to come home to a beautiful room that suits our taste and lifestyle, but as lovely as it is to look at, consider the invisible but very real dangers that come with redecorating.

AirTek is committed to cleaner indoor air in the homes, offices and workplaces of California. If you need help cleaning contaminants out of your indoor air or maintaining proper ventilation in your building, please contact us!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. She welcomes your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!

Go Play Outside!

 

Can’t you hear your mother saying that? I can. And I bet my kids can, too!

But there are better reasons to get the kids outside, or adults for that matter, than to get them out of your hair. There are chemicals in our indoor air at higher levels than outside and we are exposed to them for longer periods of time because we spend so much time indoors.

This 60-second podcast from Scientific American reports on a study published in Environmental Science and Technology which tested the blood of 31 Boston office workers for a large variety of chemicals. Substances found in carpets, furniture, pressed wood construction materials and paint were found, along with chemicals more commonly used in cleaning products. One compound found in their blood hasn’t been in use for over a decade!

Listen to the Scientific American: Indoor Air Pollution Podcast

We are used to worrying about the pollutants in our outside air: car and truck exhaust, carbon monoxide, gases from manufacturing, wastes from power plants. But how often do we think about the chemicals in our homes or offices?

There are some pretty easy ways to make your indoor air more healthy:

      • Houseplants: Many common houseplants are great at removing chemical contaminants like formaldehyde from your indoor air.
      • Open the windows: This sounds like a no-brainer, right? But how often do you open the windows in the winter? Air out the house for ten minutes every few days to let built up pollutants escape.
      • Get a new vacuum: The newest bagless vacuums are much better at not spewing as much dust and particles as they pick up. Older models make your floors cleaner, but do a lot of damage to the air.
      • Replace your air filters: Fall and spring, replace the air filters in your HVAC system. Your air will be cleaner and your system will use less energy to run and save you some money.
      • Clean your ventilation system: It’s a great idea to have your ventilation system cleaned every year. Kitchen ducts and dryer vents and ducts can build up blockages which can stop them from providing the ventilation you need.

If you need any help cleaning or maintaining the ventilation system in your home or office in California, please contact AirTek! Our experienced, professional teams will have your indoor air healthy and pollutant free in short order!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. She welcomes your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!

Breathe Easy At Night: Indoor Air Quality and Sleep

 

Guest Post By Jim Gates, CAFS

The relationship between indoor air quality and sleep is a complex one. While we are sleeping at night, our body is recharging and restoring itself, providing us with energy to face the next day. Good, solid sleep is necessary to this process and poor air quality in an indoor sleeping area can disrupt sleep in a number of different ways.

Overcoming Three Indoor Air Quality Problems that Impact Sleep

 

1. Sleep Interruptions

Poor indoor air quality can cause interruptions in your sleeping patterns. Breathing in contaminants, animal dander, dust, and other air pollutants in large quantities while you are sleeping can result in restlessness and lack of sufficient oxygen in the blood, causing you to wake up feeling tired, cranky, and listless.

You can eliminate many of these air pollutants from the sleeping area by frequently changing bedding and pillows, not allowing pets to sleep in your bed, and installing a high quality air filter in your home’s heating and cooling system.

dogs in bed

2. Symptom Aggravation

Individuals with breathing difficulties, asthma, or allergies can find it very difficult to get a good night’s sleep in an area with poor air quality. Poor air quality can aggravate the symptoms of these conditions and make sleeping in the area an unpleasant experience.

The deep breathing that occurs during sleep causes the body to inhale many irritating particles that agitate the respiratory system and cause coughing, sneezing, inflammation of the sinuses, and other sleep disturbing effects. Using a high quality air conditioner filter that is capable of removing small particulate, pollen, animal dander, and dust from the indoor air will help reduce the effects of these pollutants on the body.

3. Health Problems

Breathing poor quality air while sleeping can result in a number of unpleasant reactions upon waking in the morning. Some individuals awake with a stuffy feeling in their nose or sinus cavities, a headache, or a scratchy throat due to the contaminants breathed in during the night. Restlessness while sleeping can cause lethargy, confusion, and a feeling of tiredness when the person awakes the next morning.

Making sure that your bedroom has adequate ventilation and air circulation can reduce the number of contaminants and air pollutants concentrated in the sleeping area.

What You Can Expect as a Result of Improving Air Quality

Improving the air quality in the sleeping area of your home can have numerous positive effects on your health, comfort, and overall well-being. Examples include:

  • Getting a good night’s sleep will help you awake feeling rested, strong, and alert and give you more energy to get through your day.
  • Your body will be able to eliminate more of the everyday toxins you encounter from your body.
  • Many chronic symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, or morning sinus discomfort, can be reduced or eliminated.

By making a commitment to improving the air quality in the bedrooms of your home, you are making a decision that will have a positive impact on the health of you and your family.

About the Author
Jim Gates, CAFS, is the brand manager for Quality Filters, Inc. (http://qualityfilters.com), a leading manufacturer and distributor of high quality home and commercial air filters. The company’s products are available online at BuyFilters.com (http://buyfilters.com).

Great thanks to Jim Gates for our guest post today! Look for Jim’s next post in February!

(Okay, it was a good excuse to take a picture of my dogs.)

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. She welcomes your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!

Sick Building Syndrome

 

Have you ever been to a building and felt like it gave you a headache? It might have!

Sick Building Syndrome is a real condition. Difficult to diagnose and sometimes believed to be psychological, biological and chemical contaminants and even gases in a building can cause severe health problems that go away after a short time away from the location.

 

These possible health problems include:

  • Headache
  • Irritation of the eyes, nose or throat
  • Itchy skin
  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Tiredness
  • Acute odor sensitivity

The problem is that in Sick Building Syndrome, the cause of the health problems cannot be clearly identified. And some of these same symptoms could be put down to stress, allergies or job dissatisfaction. However, if enough people who spend time in one building complain of the same kind of symptoms, the indoor air in the building may be at fault.

What are the causes of Sick Building Syndrome?
Inadequate Ventilation–Ventilation requirements were lowered during the energy crisis of the 1970’s to very low rates to save energy by keeping heated and air conditioned air recirculating. These levels were found to be inadequate, however, and today’s recommendation is 3 times higher and higher still for buildings which have a lot of air pollution due to their use. Unfortunately, many buildings constructed in the late 20th century still have the lower ventilation rates.
Indoor Contaminants–Indoor air pollution can come from many materials and products used in building interiors: carpets, upholstery, adhesives, pressed wood, copiers, cleaning products, paints and pesticides are only a partial list. The chemicals given off in particles or VOC’s are a pretty dangerous bunch including formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.
Outdoor Contaminants–Garages and high vehicular traffic can cause a high level of combustion exhaust to enter a building through vents and windows. High levels of outdoor contaminants get trapped indoors when there is not enough ventilation.
Biological Contaminants–These are some things we at AirTek are very familiar with! Mold, pollen, viruses and bacteria can accumulate in a ventilation system and cause allergic reactions and disease. Biological contamination can cause symptoms like: fever, coughing, muscle aches, irritation of mucous membranes, chest tightness, chills and upper respiratory congestion. Legionnaire’s Disease can be deadly and comes from bacteria which grow in ventilation systems.

What can you do about Sick Building Syndrome?
The wise would say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and that is certainly true here.

  • Building owners should make sure that their buildings are ventilated according to local building codes.
  • Ventilation systems should be cleaned regularly and tested to make sure they are functioning well.
  • Air filters should be replaced on schedule and smoking moved outdoors.
  • Any stained carpeting or ceiling tile should be replaced.
  • Any visible mold is a sign of much more that cannot be seen. Any signs of mold must be investigated and remediated right away.

If you suspect your building is “sick,” call in professionals to test your indoor air. Clean your ventilation systems including ducts and vents, and replace all air filters and start a maintenance schedule. You want your tenants or employees to be happy, healthy and productive. Don’t let your building make them sick!

AIRTEK offers services which are essential in treating Sick Building Syndrome. We can clean and sanitize all major components of your HVAC system–air handlers, blowers, coils, condenser units, drip pans, registers, returns, ventilation and duct systems, filter banks and gaskets. We also have environmentally friendly, non-toxic, biodegradable sanitizer upon request. Contact us!

And remember, your first project comes with a 10% discount!

AIRTEK hopes that all of the places where you spend your time, at home, at work, at play, are healthy and well-maintained!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. She welcomes your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!

Latest News at AirTek!

We received some fun bits of news this week and would like to pass them on!

Wheelchair

AirTek received word this week that one of our vendors contributed enough money to pay for 16 wheelchairs for the Free Wheelchair Mission Challenge in December just because of the wheelchair and information they saw in our corporate office in Azusa!  And remember, every gift was matched, so that means 32 wheelchairs!

We have amazing vendors and we thank everyone who participated in the challenge this year!

Free Wheelchair Mission received funding in 2011 to provide over 82,000 wheelchairs to disabled people in the Third World and we are very proud to have been part of that!!

Jackie Mezeul

Jackie Mezeul, Secretary, Central Coast Claims Board of Directors

 

Our own Jackie Mezeul has been elected Secretary on the Central Coast Claims Board of Directors for 2012!

Jackie is an amazing member of our staff and we are very proud of her accomplishments!

We are also sure that she will make a great member of the team at Central Coast Claims!

 

 

We have a new website!

CommercialDuctCleaning.com

Although you will still find us here at www.air-tek.net, we have another site which focuses on Commercial Duct cleaning and HVAC projects at CommercialDuctCleaning.com.

We have a blog over there which publishes on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will providing more in-depth information about our Commercial Duct Cleaning services and clients, so come on over!

Everyone at AirTek hopes that your New Year is going well so far and that you will come back for more updates and if you need any of our many services!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group.  She welcomes your comments!  For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!  For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental  on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!

Fighting Hospital Acquired Infection with Better Indoor Air

 

We’ve all heard stories about friends who got an infection while they were in the hospital for something else. You might even have heard of an elderly or immune compromised person losing his or her life from a hospital acquired infection.

Infection is a constant danger in hospital and other medical treatment settings. Whether from infectious patients, germ-laden visitors and microorganisms that live everywhere but are especially dangerous to the sick and infirm, hospitals have a responsibility to reduce the risk of infection as much as possible. Up to 88,000 hospital-acquired infections occur every year and many of these are preventable.

One way to reduce this risk is by proper maintenance of their indoor air systems. The Environmental Protection Agency has three recommendations for improving indoor air quality in hospitals:

1. Source Control: Eliminate the source of the pollution by removing or replacing appliances and by enclosing or sealing up areas that are emitting contaminants.

2. Improve Ventilation: Increase the amount of outdoor air that is coming into the facility with fans and vents or by making the indoor air pressure greater than the outdoor pressure to force contaminants outside.

3. Air Cleaners: Properly maintained air cleaning systems can greatly reduce airborne contaminants, bacteria and other microorganisms if it has a high circulation rate and high quality filters.

 

AirTek has many years of experience removing the sources of indoor air contamination from healthcare facilities to reduce the risk of infection from airborne contaminants including projects for: Vet Medical Center, Sharp/Spectrum, Fredericka Care Manor, Aviara Health Care Center, Escondido VA Clinic and Imaging Health Care Specialists.

If your healthcare facility anywhere in California needs to improve its indoor air quality, please contact AirTek. Our professionals will help you reduce your risk of infection and give your patients confidence to be treated in your hospital or healthcare center.

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. She welcomes your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!

VIDEO: Kitchen Exhaust Ducts Before and After

Kitchen fire

Okay, this video uses very dramatic music, but the points it makes are very important!

Scraping ducts and not cleaning the entire exhaust system every time are dangerous practices!

AirTek’s Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning service’s goal is to clean and help protect your valuable asset from the threat of fire. We clean the hood, plenum, duct risers, filtration system and filters, grease boxes, kitchen equipment, exhaust fans, washable ceilings, floors, commercial kitchens, ductwork, and rooftop, to NEPA codes.

Our professionals are fully trained and certified, as well as reliable, and are knowledgeable about “do’s and don’ts” and health codes. We take make sure your complete system is cleaned properly using green, environmentally safe, friendly cleaners.

AirTek even offers a 10% discount on our first job at your business!

Contact us and be confident that your business, and your customers, are safe from kitchen exhaust system fires!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. She welcomes your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!

Radon: #2 Cause of Lung Cancer

 

It’s National Radon Action Month in January and we thought you might be interested in this common and dangerous gas and learn how to avoid its health risks.

Second only to smoking, Radon Gas causes thousands of deaths every year. And if you smoke, your risk of getting lung cancer is much higher.

What is Radon?

Radon is an odorless, colorless gas which is emitted by the radioactive decay of uranium minerals in the soil. You can find it anywhere in the US, in any building including homes. Radon in your home is the most dangerous because you spend most of your time there.

Radon comes up through the ground and into your home or commercial building and then gets trapped inside, where we live. Any home can have a Radon issue, whether well-sealed or drafty, new or old.

How Does Radon Enter a Building?

  • With the water supply
  • Through cracks in walls or floors
  • Via gaps in suspended floors or around pipes
  • At construction joints

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 6% of all US homes have elevated levels of Radon.

What About California?

Radon has been found in every state in the US, but there are regional differences, of course, even within states. Here is a map of California’s radon levels:

Radon regions in California

The red regions have a predicted level over 4 picocuries per liter of air.

 

The orange regions have a predicted level of between 2 and 4 picocuries per liter.

 

The yellow regions have a predicted level of less than 2 picocuries.

 

What Does That Mean for Health Risks?

Your risk of developing lung cancer, especially if you smoke or are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke, go up tremendously when you are also exposed to Radon. At levels over 4 picocuries per liter, between 62 and 260 out of every 1000 people will get lung cancer who otherwise would not. A level over 4 picocuries needs to be dealt with right away.

Come back to our blog for more information! Next up in our series: How To Test for Radon!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutionsand our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. She welcomes your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and followus on Twitter! For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!