Monthly Archives: May 2013

Tuesday Links: May 28, 2013

While we are doing some research on a topic that is totally new, we thought you might be interested to hear about some air quality issues in the news recently:

While we are reading about GMOs, gluten, additives and allergies and possible links to ADHD, early exposure to air pollution may also be a factor in hyperactivity, according to this article in Time Magazine.

And while we are looking at how air pollution affects our youngest, our oldest citizens may be suffering health effects as well, as we read in this article on TorontoNewsFIX.

While you’re driving around the LA area, you might see this odd-looking vehicle:

Roving Chemistry Lab

Photo by Richard Harris for NPR

No, it’s not a new Alliance truck, it’s a roving chemistry lab out testing for air pollution!

The combination of air pollution and noise pollution may cause increased risk of heart disease.

We hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! See you on Thursday for…

Electrosmog!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. We welcome 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!

Happy Memorial Day!

On this Memorial Day, we would like to take a moment to thank those who gave all they had to give. Thank you.

Flags against the sky

Have a very happy—and safe—Memorial Day!  See you on Wednesday with a new post!

After a Disaster

Tornado

It’s hard to get our minds off the devastation in Oklahoma today, so let’s talk about what can come in the aftermath of such a catastrophe.

If you’ve been reading our blog here or at Alliance Environmental Group, you know better than to:

Pull up your own asbestos floor tile

Disturb asbestos pipe or boiler insulation

Try to remove lead paint yourself

Use room foggers to kill bed bugs

Keep old mercury thermometers

Use power tools that create wood dust without a face mask

We are proud to be raising awareness about dangers that can arise in our homes, offices and schools.

But what if some of these materials become dangerous through no fault of your own?

Natural disasters can happen to anyone: floods, fires, earthquakes, tornadoes can all wreak havoc on your home, including the parts of it that you thought were safe if left alone.

Asbestos was used in cement, in pipe and vermiculite insulation, and in other building materials for many years. Lead paint can be disturbed and begin to peel through water or heat damage due to fire.  Lingering moisture from a flood can cause mold to grow where no mold has grown before.

This video from the Indoor Air Quality Associations offers helpful information about what can happen to your indoor environment after a fire:

If you have experienced a disaster, be safe.  Have your home or other building inspected for any dangerous materials before you start cleaning up or even a demolition project. Alliance Environmental Group and AirTek offer many services that are helpful after disasters such as: structural drying and mold remediationasbestos and lead paint removal, and even demolition and the ensuing cleanup.  Call us anywhere in California and we will help you recover from your disaster!

Our thoughts continue to be with the victims of the storms in Oklahoma and their families.

Is It The End for Beach Bonfires?

Bonfire

Image by Peter Ehrlich via stock.xchng

At this time of year, many of us are participating in rituals and rites-of-passage: proms, promotions, graduations and even just the end of homework for the year deserves a ceremony.

Different parts of the country have different traditions to go along with these special moments. In New Jersey, we spent the night at the beach and watched the sunrise over the water. In California, it’s bonfires on the beach at and after sunset.

But will this tradition be allowed to continue?

We read in the Associated Press today that air quality officials have determined in preliminary testing that the wood smoke from beach bonfires not only pollutes the air at the beach, but also in nearby neighborhoods.

There are as many as 850 beach bonfires on the coast of Los Angeles and Orange Counties every summer and they may be affecting the air quality too much, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. In just 10 miles of beach, the City of Huntington Beach is host to 400 fire pits and rakes in almost $1 million in parking fees during beach season.

Testing in March (well before peak season) have shown ten times normal particle pollution in the parking areas near the fire pits and up to three times higher than normal in the surrounding neighborhoods. There are variations on the levels depending on wind and weather, but testing will go on. A ban on bonfires was supposed to go into effect on June 7th, but has been postponed pending further research.

With soot causing an EPA-estimated 40,000 premature deaths every year and costing as much as $4-9 billion in health care costs, study and thoughfulness are definitely in order. Perhaps there should be “no-burn” days, when the wind or the weather will make the smoke blow back into residential areas. At least the people on the beach are there by choice.

We will keep an eye out for updates on the issue of beach bonfires and air quality, but we wish all of you a very happy END OF SCHOOL!!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. We welcome 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!

Allergies Worse in US-Born Kids than Immigrants

Globe with blue sky

Image by spekulator via stock.xchng

In an article recently published by the Reuters News Service, it was reported that US-born children suffer from allergies at twice the rate of children who immigrate to the United States.

Why?

According to Dr. Ruchi Gupta of Northwestern University in Chicago, higher allergy rates are probably due to one of two factors:

  • The “Hygiene Hypothesis”–Perhaps US-born kids are “too clean” and have weaker immune systems because of less exposure to allergens at an early age than kids in other countries.
  • Diet–US kids eat more processed foods and fewer fresh fruits and vegetables than kids in other countries.

On the other hand, one of the researchers on the study reported in the article, Dr. Jonathan Silverberg of Beth Israel Medical Center and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York added “climate, obesity and various infections” to the list of possible reasons. “The results of the study suggest that there are environmental factors in the U.S. that trigger allergic disease.” If children are not exposed to these environmental factors in early childhood, they may never develop reactions to them.

So either it is good to be exposed to allergens as a baby and toddler–to build up our immunity to them–or it is bad to be exposed to them–so that we never develop sensitivities.

As a mom, I find this kind of article rather frustrating. I don’t know whether I should have disinfected more or less, sealed up the house or opened the windows. I guess I’m just glad my children do not fall into the 34-35 percent of US kids who suffer from allergic diseases and that their early childhood years are now behind them.

If your child suffers from allergies or asthma, make sure the air they are breathing at home and at school is as free from contaminants as possible! One way to ensure cleaner indoor air is by keeping your ventilation system well-maintained. Check out AirTek’s services and let us help you improve your family’s health!

Now who can stop them from growing up so fast? That’s the study I want to see!

Hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day Weekend!

VIDEO: How Does Your Indoor Air Quality Look

Colored dust

We came across this video showing what may be in your indoor air, causing asthma or allergy attacks. Would you think there was this much stuff in the air that you can’t even see?

How can you improve your indoor air quality?

  • Bring in some houseplants–many plants actually scrub harmful chemical compounds out of the air in your home.
  • Open the windows–today’s homes are well-sealed to save energy, but they have trouble letting chemicals from cleaning, furniture, carpeting and particles that get in from outside out again without some help.
  • Clean your ventilation system–clean ducts and well-functioning fans are essential to keeping your indoor air healthy.
  • Find greener options–low and no-VOC paint and cleaning products are available. Don’t be complacent. Try new, healthier products for cleaning and renovating your home.

At AirTek we are always concerned about your indoor air quality. If any of our services would help your indoor environment be more healthy, contact us!

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. We welcome 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!

Where Does the Grease Go, Anyway?

Kitchen fire

One of the many services offered by AirTek is Kitchen Exhaust Hood Cleaning. If you don’t own a restaurant, you may not know what kind of a project this is. A residential kitchen vent system needs cleaning, too, but not like that in a restaurant.

Kitchen exhaust hoods get coated in grease and, if left long to collect, can start a fire. In fact, many restaurant fires are caused by grease that has collected in the area above the cooking surface. Keeping this area clean is an important part of restaurant safety.

But where does all that grease go when you clean it out?

Typically, it goes into storm drains–not ideal, needless to say.

AirTek is proud to announce that we are becoming a distributor of Superior Restaurant Solutions’ EFI exhaust fan waste management system.

This system uses rain water to capture the grease from kitchen exhaust systems and directs the exhaust fan wash water away from storm drains by achieving higher waste recovery rates.

Keeping kitchen exhaust systems clean is essential to preventing fire and maintaining clean food preparation environments, but keeping our outdoor environment clean is important as well. We are happy to add the EFI exhaust fan waste management system to the many offerings of AirTek. Contact us for help keeping your system–and our environment–clean and safe!

SLIDESHOW: Our First Golf Tournament

We are very proud to present…

A slideshow of our first Golf Tournament at South Hills Country Club!

We had a wonderful time hosting lovely contributors and raised $4000 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure!

Enjoy!

We hope you can join us next year!

Air Quality and Appendicitis

Have you ever had appendicitis? I did a few times when I was a kid–no fun! But I never had my appendix out. I guess it never got so bad that it was about to burst.

A recent study from Canada, however, has linked levels of ozone in the air with higher risk of having a burst appendix. Dr. Gilaad Kaplan of the University of Calgary found that the “risk of a burst appendix rose by 22 percent with every 16 part-per-billion increase in ozone levels over the previous seven days” as reported in this article from LiveScience. The study examined over 35,000 appendicitis patients in a four-year span.

On a typical day, ozone levels can range from 0 to 300 parts-per-billion, which would be thought of as a very unhealthy AQI (Air Quality Index).

Approximately 15% of people will get appendicitis in their lifetime. Most of those will have successful appendectomies before their appendicitis gets very dangerous, but a burst appendix is a very dangerous situation which can lead to peritonitis and even death. Minimizing the risk of these complications is yet another reason to improve our air quality.

Ozone is a problem in our outdoor air, but indoor air can be polluted, too, sometimes even at higher levels. That indoor air pollution can cause health problems like allergy and asthma attacks and can contribute to heart disease and other serious illnesses. If you need help keeping your indoor air clean, contact AirTek for a consultation!