Monthly Archives: November 2012

Crime Scene Cleanup Crew Called Again!

crime scene tape

A crime scene is always a sad situation. Even if the victims and perpetrators are strangers, our heartstrings respond to unnecessary suffering and death, as they should.

Our Environmental Services Division, Alliance Environmental Group, can help in a situation like this and we got another chance this weekend at a double homicide scene in San Jacinto, California.

Two bodies were found in a home and authorities believe they had been there for several weeks. The process of decomposition was quite advanced and the victims were going to have to be identified by fingerprints or dental records.

But a crime scene that has taken several weeks to discover is not a fun cleanup job for the typical property owner, and even a very recent crime scene is better handled by professionals.

This project involved elements from 2 of the 3 most common types of crime scenes: Violent Death and Decomposition:

Violent Death
Whether at the hands of a violent criminal or by suicide, violent deaths are quite horrific in terms of cleanup after the coroner has left the scene. Organic matter like blood, brain tissue and feces, can be found just about anywhere:

* Walls
* Floors
* Carpets
* Baseboards
* Counters
* Ceilings
* Light fixtures
* Family photos
* Decorative trinkets
* Artwork
* Appliances

Dangerous biological pathogens can literally be found on anything at the scene and, if they are not fully cleaned and sanitized, can lead to mold, bacteria and fungal growth.

Every molecule of organic matter must be cleaned from the scene, even from places you can’t see easily, like under carpets and between floorboards.

Decomposition

A decomposing body does not wreak so much havoc over a large area as a violent death, but it can be more revolting to an ordinary person. The smell alone seems to set off an alarm in people to get out quick. Depending on how long the person has been deceased, crime and trauma scene cleanup crews can have to deal with liquified skin and organs and insects, including maggots that try to run away and hide when the cleaners come. Those maggots carry blood from the victim, possibly infected with viruses or bacteria, and have to be found and burned.

Read more about Crime Scene Cleanup.

Our Crime Scene Cleanup Crew was up to the job and the bodies were identified over the weekend. Our condolences go out to the families and friends of the victims of this horrific crime. You can see some pictures of our crew on the scene on the Alliance Environmental Group Facebook Page (nothing gross).

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!

Heat for Termites: A Case Study

2012 truck wrap

If you are a regular follower of our blog, you know that our parent company, Alliance Environmental Group, offers pest control services as well as help with many other environmental challenges.

Alliance was called in on a big project recently that utilized heat treatment instead of dangerous chemicals to kill termites, ensuring that the indoor air not only in the treated structure but also the structure attached to it would not be affected by the process of getting rid of a huge termite problem.

Terminix called in Alliance Environmental Group to this project in the Bay area which involved an extensive infestation of termites affecting the entire home, including the garage. Terminix would typically use their own fumigation process for an infestation like this but they had a special problem: the building was attached to another structure that was not being treated.

The owner of the infested building did not want to treat his neighbor’s building with pesticides, nor did he want to expose his own family to these killer chemicals and so he decided to choose heat treatment.

Eight heaters were used to treat the entire structure, an unusual project that most companies are not comfortable doing. Not so Alliance Environmental! We used our heaters to raise both the inside and outside temperature of the bullding high enough to kill all termites at every stage of development, ensuring no reinfestation will occur, especially from the attached building if it had not been treated at the same time.

For Alliance, this was a very simple project, with as little impact on the indoor environment of these homes as possible. There was no need for the families impacted to move out, to bag their food, to remove chemical residue or to launder linens after the treatment, all of which adds cost and inconvenience to fumigation projects.

We are happy to have been able to help this homeowner eliminate his termite problem while causing the least environmental impact.

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!

First Look at This Year’s Ronald McDonald House Dinner With Friends

Ronald McDonald House of San Diego

Plans for the 2nd Annual Ronald McDonald House Dinner with Friends are well under way and it’s time for us to start getting ready for it here on the blog, too.

Our own Carlos Sanguinetti and Matt Teeter are once again spearheading this event, which was so successful last year. Carlos has been active volunteering and coordinating events for the Ronald McDonald House of San Diego since 2009, when he was diagnosed with cancer. He and his wife, along with Matt Teeter, have a vision of how they can contribute to their community which culminates this spring in the Dinner With Friends.

We don’t know the menu just yet, but attendees will experience: a tour of the San Diego Ronald McDonald House, elegant dining, entertainment, live and silent auction opportunities and a wine grab!

My Urban Eats will once again be providing dinner and beverages will come from Stone Brewing Col and Shadow Mountain Vineyards. Dessert will be provided by The Cupcakery. I’m getting hungry already!

All proceeds from the Dinner with Friends go directly to Ronald McDonald House of San Diego to support their mission of providing a home away from home to the families of children suffering from serious illness or injury at Rady Children’s Hospital.

Won’t you join us? The dinner will be held on March 2, 2013 so you still have time to buy tickets or even become an event sponsor! We hope to see you there!

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. Her parents are still without power in New Jersey as of publication of this article. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for more updates on indoor air challenges!

Is Your Building Making You Sick?

You’ve already voted right? So now you have time to read blogs! Today we are revisiting 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 subside after only a short time away from the location.

Health problems can include:

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

In Sick Building Syndrome, the cause of the health problems cannot be clearly identified. And some of these same symptoms could be blamed on 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 drastically lowered during the energy crisis of the 1970’s 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. Unfortunately, many buildings constructed in the late 20th century retain 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–Underground 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. Legionnaires’ Disease can be deadly and comes from bacteria which grow in ventilation systems where moisture is allowed to collect.

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!

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!

Hurricane Cleanup and Air Quality UPDATED

Air Quality Blog Award

UPDATE: This blog post was given an Air Quality Evangelist Award! Thanks, Sylvane!

Our thoughts are with the literally millions of Americans faced with horrendous damage to their homes and the huge cleanup job they have ahead of them in the coming weeks.

We went over to the Environmental Protection Agency site to get some information about flood cleanup as it affects air quality and found a lot of great information. Here are some highlights:

  • Standing water and wet building materials are a breeding ground for mold, microorganisms, bacteria and viruses.
  • Children are more vulnerable to both the substances in flood water and the cleaning products used to decontaminate structures and materials.
  • Where sewage is a component of flood waters, infectious disease is a real threat.
  • Allergic and sensitive people are more at risk from flood damage.
  • A structure can take weeks to dry, especially in high humidity conditions.
  • Microorganisms can penetrate deeply into porous building materials. Be prepared to do some demolition and have these materials removed and properly disposed of.
  • High humidity encourages the growth of dust mites.
  • Mold only takes 24-48 hours to develop.

 

If you have been a victim of a flood or other natural disaster, you have already lost a lot, but you may have to lose some items of sentimental value that may have been damaged but survived. Items which have absorbed flood water are not safe to keep if they cannot be thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated. Sentiment is not more important than health.

And remember, natural disasters can expose dangerous materials that would otherwise have remained safe, like asbestos or lead paint. Don’t take any chances with these substances during your cleanup process. Contact a professional cleaning or demolition company to remove these materials safely. Your situation is precarious enough without adding the danger of asbestos related disease or lead poisoning!

Read all of the EPA’s recommendations about cleaning up after a flood HERE.

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. Her parents are still without power in New Jersey as of publication of this article. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for more updates on indoor air challenges!