Monthly Archives: October 2012

E-cigarettes and Air Quality

No one would argue the dangers of secondhand smoke, least of all us!

And we encourage anyone still smoking to quit as soon as possible, for yourself and for your family. One new development in smoking cessation is E-cigarettes and we wanted to take a look at how healthy they are for both smokers who are trying to quit and the people around them. I have a neighbor and a friend who are both using E-cigarettes to help them quit smoking right now!

From our blog about Secondhand Smoke and Kids:

Environmental tobacco smoke contains over 4000 different compounds and 40 known carcinogens. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that ETS causes between 150,000 and 300,000 respiratory tract infections every year in children under the age of 18 months and older children can have lower lung function.

If you’ve seen anyone using E-cigarettes, though, you know that they give off vapor. What’s in that stuff?

According to the Electronic Cigarette page at Wikipedia:

“Liquid for producing vapor in electronic cigarettes, known as e-juice or e-liquid, is a solution of propylene glycol(PG) and/or vegetable glycerin(VG) and/or polyethylene glycol 400(PEG400) mixed with flavors and mostly nicotine.”

The ingredients in E-cigarette liquid, therefore, are chemicals which are approved for personal care use, like toothpaste and asthma inhalers, as well as food additives. So far so good.

Now we have results of a study done at Boston University’s School of Public Health which shows that “the risks of secondhand vapor from electronic cigarette use are very small in comparison to those associated with secondhand tobacco smoke…the current data provide no justification for eliminating electronic cigarette use in [public] places.” Dr. Michael Siegel

If you are considering quitting smoking, do it! If you think E-cigarettes might be a good strategy for you, know that you will not hurt yourself or your family doing so. Go for it!

Our thoughts are with all of those affected by Hurricane Sandy today.

Wendy Stackhouse has been the Online Community Manager for AirTek and our parent company, Alliance Environmental Group, which offers residential and commercial cleaning, pest control, demolition, structural pasteurization and many other environmental services, since October of 2011. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for more updates on indoor air challenges!

AirTek Called to HazMat Scene in Modesto

Alliance van at Chase

A cleaning crew spent most of the day at Chase Bank at Tully Road and Standiford Avenue Saturday from The Modesto Bee

A Chase Bank branch in Modesto fell victim to a strange hazmat situation the other day, sending 6 employees to the hospital, and AirTek was called to the scene!

It seems that a 30-something man brought a large amount of cash wrapped in a paper towel to the bank branch on Friday, intending to make a deposit. But he deposited more than money!

Minutes later, it was reported, the teller who received the cash and others with whom she had had contact developed a range of symptoms from hives and blisters to difficulty breathing and fever.

And what began as a medical response soon turned into an even more traumatizing situation when hazmat teams made those who had been exposed to th toxin shower behind tarps outdoors, first in their clothes and then out of them! They were then provided with white “clean suits.”

The cash was tested for contamination but there is no word yet on what the substance was nor who the perpetrator was, although it was reported on the news that the home of the suspect was under surveillance, so I guess those security cameras are not just there for show.

AirTek was called in to decontaminate the entire bank branch and our team did a quick and thorough job, allowing the branch to re-open.

We hope no one finds themselves in this kind of situation, but if you do, AirTek is ready to help!

Wendy Stackhouse is happy to be publishing her 100th blog post at AirTek this week! She has been the Online Community Manager for AirTek and our parent company, Alliance Environmental Group, which offers residential and commercial cleaning, pest control, demolition, structural pasteurization and many other environmental services, since October of 2011. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for more updates on indoor air challenges!

Bacteria in Chicago Causing Legionnaires’

 

Legionnaires’ Disease is in the news again, this time in Illinois.

We came across two stories in recent days about Legionnaires’ disease, both in the Chicago area, one in schools and one a seemingly lone case which has led to terrible consequences because of complications from this deadly bacteria.

In Batavia, Illinois, 3 schools–2 elementary and 1 high school–were found to be contaminated with Legionella bacteria. The schools were not closed, but the contaminated areas were blocked off, a girls’ locker room and restrooms.  The contamination was found because of a new testing program which attempts to find bacterial contamination before anyone becomes sick. So far no one has become ill with Legionnaires’ at these facilities, so it looks like they are indeed ahead of the game in Batavia.  Students were allowed back into the contaminated areas on Tuesday.

The other story is a sadder one. A banker in Chicago has lost both legs and one arm from complications arising from a case of Legionnaires’, the source of which is still unknown.

Kent Carson was diagnosed early with Legionnaires in August of this year, but his case went very badly, first causing him to suffer a stroke and then the necessity for medications which affected the circulation in his limbs.

Mr. Carson and his family are advocating for a more proactive approach to Legionella including requirements that buildings at high risk–like hotels, hospitals and casinos–be tested on a routine basis. Right now, testing only occurs when multiple victims have been reported and Mr. Carson’s single case has not triggered any testing of any building he visited. Isolated cases like Mr. Carson’s often remain a mystery.

The Legionella bacterium is found everywhere and can reproduce and spread easily in ventilation and water systems. The disease caused by this bacterium is spread by water vapor–like that found in showers, pools, hot tubs and air conditioners–and can affect large groups of people who use public facilities. The danger of Legionella is always present, but Legionnaires’ Disease is preventable by doing scheduled maintenance on HVAC and water systems.

AirTek is committed to preventing the spread of Legionnaires’ Disease and offers the services large commercial facilities need to keep them free of bacterial contamination. If your facility is not on a regular maintenance schedule to prevent Legionnaires’ Disease in California, contact AirTek for a consultation.

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek and our parent company, Alliance Environmental Group, which offers residential and commercial cleaning, pest control, demolition, structural pasteurization and many other environmental services. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for more updates on indoor air challenges!

Prevent Fire: Clean Your Dryer Vent!

 

It’s National Fire Prevention Week and a good time to think about the things we can all do to prevent house fires from destroying our biggest asset and our irreplaceable personal property.

Statistically, most house fires start in the kitchen. But you would never leave the house with the stove on on purpose, would you?

How many times have you started the dryer and then gone out to do errands? I know I’ve done it plenty of times but no more!

There are almost 3000 dryer fires every year in the US and most of those fires are caused by lint built up in the dryer vent and duct causing the dryer to overheat and ignite this highly combustible material.

We are all used to cleaning out the lint filter in the dryer.  I don’t know about you, but my dryer won’t heat up if the lint filter is full and that can put a real crimp in my schedule, especially if the kids need a particular outfit dry for school or a party.

When was the last time you cleaned out your dryer vent and duct?

Here is a video about dryer vent fires from The Today Show. Note that they recommend having your dryer vent and duct professionally cleaned once a year. We agree!

If it’s been more than a year since you had your dryer vent and duct cleaned out, the time has come. Contact AirTek and one of our team of professionals will put your mind at ease! Click here for a live chat with one of our knowledgeable representatives.

And don’t be a dryer vent fire statistic! Get the lint out!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek and our parent company, Alliance Environmental Group, which offers residential and commercial cleaning, pest control, demolition, structural pasteurization and many other environmental services. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for more updates on indoor air challenges!

Nearly 400 Substances Trigger Asthma

It’s easy to remember that pet dander and dust in indoor air can trigger asthma attacks in sensitive people and that those asthma attacks are a serious problem. Keeping your indoor air as clean as possible is important for prevention of asthma. But did you know that there are nearly 400 other substances that can trigger asthma if they contaminate your indoor air?

Asthma causes approximately 1 in every 250 deaths worldwide and in the US 1000 people are admitted to the hospital every day because of asthma symptoms. The 7.1 million US children who suffer from asthma miss 14.7 million schooldays every year.

A new report from the National Institutes for Health, “Healthy Environments: A Compilation of Substances Linked to Asthma,” lists 374 potential asthma triggers that are often found in residential and commercial buildings as well as the occupations that put people most at risk for being exposed to them.

 

75 of the substances are present in most indoor environments, but some occupations run into even more every day at work:

  • Carpenters
  • Dentists
  • Healthcare Workers
  • Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industry Workers
  • Agriculture Workers
We cannot list all 374 substances here, but here are the major categories:
  • Aldehydes
  • Amides
  • Amines
  • Anhydrides
  • Chromium
  • Isocynates
  • Phthalates
  • Hard Metals
  • Acrylates
  • Plastics
  • Solvents and Aromatic Compounds
  • Natural Products

Read the full list here.

With people spending as much as 80 of their time indoors, especially in climates with cold winters or hot summers, indoor air quality is a big concern and a challenge. The more information we have, the more likely we will be able to avoid the health problems that come with biological, chemical and particle contaminants at home and at work.

AirTek is a leading provider of commercial-industrial HVAC system decontamination and cleaning services. We have helped thousands of commercial customers achieve a cleaner, safer and healthier indoor environment. Our experienced and qualified personnel work in accordance with standards set by the National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA) and CAL/OSHA. Contact us if your commercial facility needs to improve its indoor air quality!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek and our parent company, Alliance Environmental Group, which offers residential and commercial cleaning, pest control, demolition, structural pasteurization and many other environmental services.

Exhaust-Induced Asthma

We’ve been talking lately about the dangers of Diesel Exhaust to the environment and how to deal with it. Should we retrofit trucks? Should it be classified as a carcinogen?

A study this week, however, clearly linked childhood asthma with freeway traffic and the car, truck and bus exhaust it brings into a community.

The study was done on 27,000 children with asthma right here in Los Angeles County. It found that 8% of childhood asthma cases occur because of living within 250 feet of a major road.

But AirTek deals with indoor air challenges! Why would we be concerned about outdoor air pollution?

Today’s homes are very well sealed for climate control and energy savings. They are designed to keep the cool air inside the house.  Unfortunately, that means that when outdoor air pollution enters the home, it cannot escape.  That outdoor air pollution includes the carbon monoxide and particles that are part of the air near a major roadway.

We would like to think that not playing outside within 250 feet of a highway would protect our children from the risk of traffic-induced asthma, but the risk is indoors as well as out. It is too late to plan our communities farther away from freeway traffic, but it is not too late to reduce the amount of exhaust and particles polluting our neighborhoods. Regulating trucks, encouraging low- and no-emission vehicle purchases and giving incentives for carpooling are only a few.

We would love to hear your suggestions for reducing traffic-induced childhood asthma rates in the comments!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek and our parent company, Alliance Environmental Group, which offers residential and commercial cleaning, pest control, demolition, structural pasteurization and many other enviromental challenges. She is very happy to blog, post and Tweet for Alliance and AirTek! She can hear the freeway from her house, but does not live within 250 feet, thank goodness!

AirTek on the News!

AirTek truck on the news

You were probably as shocked and horrified as we were last week when you heard about actor Johnny Lewis and his rampage that ended in his 81-year-old landlady’s death as well as his own. We won’t know why it happened for a few weeks, yet, but it was important to clean up the scene as soon as evidence had been collected and AirTek was called in to complete this project. You can see our truck behind the reporter in the photo above.

To see our clean-up crew at work, watch this clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUGyMP-6XSQ

Crime scenes are not always as gruesome as this one, but you certainly want them cleaned up as quickly as possible–preferably by professionals who can deal unemotionally with biological contaminants. Read more about Crime and Trauma Scene Cleanup on the Alliance Environmental Group Blog.

AirTek offers the power washing services that can be an essential part of cleaning up a crime or trauma scene. Alliance Environmental Group offers complete Crime and Trauma Scene Cleanup, including: disinfection, odor neutralization and total removal of biological and infectious waste, blood, and bodily fluids in residential, commercial and industrial settings as well as vehicles.

Our crews are well-trained, experienced and empathetic. They will take care of your most upsetting messes with professionalism and tact.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of Johnny Lewis and everyone touched by this tragic situation.

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek and our parent company, Alliance Environmental Group, which offers residential and commercial cleaning, pest control, demolition, structural pasteurization and many other enviromental challenges. She is very happy to blog, post and Tweet for Alliance and AirTek and celebrated her one year anniversary on September 29th!