Monthly Archives: October 2013

Refresh your Property’s Appearance with Power Washing

austin pressure washing service

(Photo Source: rivercitypowerwashing.com)

We have talked about in previous blogs about the pollutants that can be found inside indoor environments like in hospitals, office buildings and other commercial property buildings. Since pollutants and combustion have increased regular cleaning of buildings should also increase. Power washing will not only make buildings appear clean but it will add value to any property. Dirt, grime, mold and mildew are some components that can be found outside any building and can cause wood to rot and paint to fade. In order to maintain the appearance of a building is to power wash the exterior. Not only power wash the building but as well the ground and any sidewalk that leads employees and customers to the building. Dirt and oil can also buildup through out the years in a parking structure as well and having that clean can also help the overall appearance of any building. Although, power washing may look like a easy task to do but it can create damage if not used properly. A professional will know the correct way to use and be cautious of their surrounding environment. Below is a neat video about how power washing works.If you need an experience company to refresh your property’s appearance contact us and we can be of assistance. 

Firing Up the Fog Machine–Safely!

Foggy cauldron

Foggy cauldron

It’s almost Halloween and if you decorate your house to scare the trick-or-treaters on Thursday, you might be using a fog machine to add to the creepiness. Do you worry about how it affects your air?

There are basically two substances that can be used to produce artificial fog:

Dry Ice:

When dry ice melts, it becomes carbon dioxide gas, which is harmless to breathe. This type of fog stays close to the ground and works well for creating a fun cemetery display. There are fog machines that use dry ice–basically fans to blow the fog into the area where you want it. You can get dry ice at stores which sell bulk foods for caterers and similar items or at ice manufacturers.

The only danger of dry ice is touching it with your bare skin–it can cause burns. Use gloves to handle dry ice at all times!

Fog Juice or Fog Fluid:

A combination of water and glycol is used to create fog in most fog machines. The mixture is not dangerous, but you do need to pay attention if people with asthma or other respiratory sensitivities are going to be exposed to the fog.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions and use the fluid they recommend. Avoid “overfogging” and use the machine either outside or in a well ventilated area.

Keep in mind that breathing in any visible gas has a psychological effect–our brains sense danger! This is a good leftover from prehistoric days, but can cause people with asthma to become anxious, which in itself could cause an asthma event.

And of course try to avoid breathing in the fog for long periods of time. It’s not clean air, even if it isn’t inherently dangerous.

Fog is fun! And Halloween is one of our favorite holidays! We’d love to see your costumes! Send us a photo and we will post it on our Facebook Page!

 

6 Pollutants that can be found in a hospital environment

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The most important objective for any hospital while renovating or maintaing their indoor environment is making sure that the patients and staff are in a healthy environment. There are several products that can be found in the hospital that emit a variety of air pollutants.Since the pollutants that can are emitted can be be dangerous,The Clean Air Act, requires standards for these pollutants. The six principal pollutants are carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide.

Carbon Monoxide: A colorless odorless gas emitted from combustion processes.

Lead: A metal naturally found in the environment and in many products

Nitrogen Dioxide: Reddish-brown gas with a pungent and irritation odor

Ozone: Ground level or “bad” ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight.

Particulate matter/Particle Pollution: Particle pollution is made up of a number of components, including acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles.

Sulfur Dioxide: Used in many manufacturing processes and present in industrial emissions

The majority of these pollutants are in boilers, emergency generators and sterilizers. Using portable containment products can help keep airborne particulates in a hospital environment. It is important to keep in mind to maintain regular schedule maintenance of hospitals so that they may be in compliance with the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. An interesting article I read from triplepundit.com stated that if state clean air standards had been met, hospitals spending would have been $204 million less. If one industry can meet the standards not only will it help the people involved in the industry but the health of others. At AirTek, we help hospitals maintain certification and help them with other indoor air solutions.

Cleaner Environments in Colleges

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Throughout this week, we have been blogging about how many particles, pollutants and chemical elements like lead can affect your health and the air quality in your environment. Throughout these past months we have also been hearing in the news more and more schools are being closed temporarily because mold was found or the air quality in the schools is not healthy for students. Several universities and colleges have ban smoking to create a healthier environment for students and staff. Another great way that universities can improve the air quality inside their classrooms and other student facility buildings is to clean their air duct system. Once the holidays come to place, students will no longer be at school and it is an opportunity to make a plan to inspect the air ducts and overall maintain vent and air duct cleanliness for the entire campus. If there are students or faculty complaining about illness, irritation or bad odors it is time to inspect your air duct system. Maintaining the air duct system, can help moisture from accumulating inside classrooms and can even help reduce mold from building up. Students who are more sensitive then others can feel comfortable inside their classrooms and students who have asthma or other respiratory problems will also help them feel comfortable inside any school building.Studies also show that a cleaner environment, will increase productivity in students.

Once universities have decided to schedule a plan to clean the air duct system, according to the American Federation of Teachers, universities and colleges should adopt the “Best Practice Policies.” The organization states, “Locals have urged colleges to adopt best practices to protect occupants from poor environmental quality including routine maintenance of buildings, renovation standards, mold mitigation and integrated pest management.” At AirTek we have provided schools and colleges indoor air solutions to provide a cleaner environment for their students and staff. Our experienced and certified technicians will ensure your school’s air ducts, coils, vents and other equipment meet national health and safety standards.

 

Lead in the Air, Lead in the News

Poison bottle

We are not the only place talking about lead paint and lead poisoning this week, that’s for sure! There used to be a lot more lead in the air when there was lead in gasoline, and that’s how it got into the soil–which is still a problem. Here are some links to stories about lead in the news this week:

Lead in Paint Compromises Health of Pregnant Mothers – Story about a new study by the United Nations Environmental Program from Business Standard. Lead affects pregnant women and infants, not just toddlers eating paint chips!

Parents, Beware of Lead in Your Children’s Toys – That made-in-China toy may have illegal levels of lead which could impair your child’s health and development.

Some good lead news, four years after lead paint was discovered there, the St. Louis Mounted Police stables have reopened. We love to see police officers on horses!

The World Health Organization calls for and end to production and use of lead paint – Lead-based paint was banned in the US in 1978, but there are many countries where it is still legal. Lead poisoning is a huge problem in the third- and transitioning-world.

Oh, dear. In The Nation it was reported that in a study of 120 paint samples from 68 brands–including some claiming to be lead-free–40 percent of samples were found to have lead levels 100x the standard. Read the story before you buy that next can of paint!

In Louisville, Kentucky homeowners can have free home inspections done for lead. If you live in Louisville, your house was built before 1978 and your family includes children under 6, you qualify for the free inspections. We applaud the City of Louisville for being proactive on the issue of preventing lead poisoning!

Was your house built before 1978? Are you sure it’s lead free? Do children live with or visit you? Take the risk of lead poisoning seriously! And if you need lead paint removal services in California, please contact Alliance Environmental Group, our sister company!

Quality Control and Fire Safety

Fire Prevention Week just passed, however it is always important to always have in mind fire safety. In a previous blog, we talked about how ventilation is an important component in the kitchen. Another important component that is also important that I read in the International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association Fall 2013 Issue, is quality control. Quality control is an important component to not only the company who is working on cleaning the kitchen exhaust and all its components but also to owner of the company and to every person who walks into any restaurant or environment that has a kitchen. The most critical part is ensuring that the work that was done meets minimum standards and also have proper verification. In order to meet the minimum standards all grease and flammable material has to be removed. Any small amount of grease or flammable material can spark a flame and cause a fire to spread through out a building.

While reading an article about quality control in this field, there are still companies that act very professional but do a very poor job. It is something that is not acceptable because any fire can be a catastrophe. In a case study discussed in this article, a hamburger venue had four years of buildup throughout the system. A company was hired to clean, and re clean the system and the company failed to clean the entire system. The system was left in a dangerous condition. There was no quality control and no communication with the vendor and the owner of the hamburger venue. So what procedures should be executed when a exhaust system is being cleaned? According to this article there are several procedures and steps that should be taken in order to meet the minimum standard:

1. Properly Trained crews

2. Properly trained inspectors/quality control staff

3. Proper Equipment to complete the entire KEC project

4. Before and after pictures of the project to verify that the exhaust system was cleaned

5. Proper Hood Certification and Proper KEC report left on the job site.

These are just a few of the minimum quality control procedures that should be executed while doing a kitchen exhaust hood cleaning. We learn that quality control is a critical component in ensuring the safety of everyone who in this case works and eats inside a restaurant. Not following the right procedures can lead to property damage and even taking the life of someone. At AirTek, one of our services is Kitchen Exhaust Hood Cleaning for commercial property buildings and we also have the service of Kitchen Hood Cleaning for the residential division.We are in compliance with national health and safety standards when operating any service.

 

Lead Poisoning Awareness Week 2013

Lead Free Kids

If you visit our Facebook Page this week, you will notice that we are posting a lot about lead poisoning and promoting Lead Poisoning Awareness Week, October 21-27, 2013.

Why are we talking about lead? Our sister company, Alliance Environmental Group, is a leading provider of lead paint removal services in California. Lead paint is a major cause of lead poisoning in children, but not just from little ones eating chipped paint. Lead dust in the air is a big issue, as well.

Many people think that lead poisoning is no longer a problem for today’s population, but that is far from the truth. Any home built before 1978 can have lead-based paint lurking under newer colors. Lead ammunition is till poisoning California Condors today, although Governor Jerry Brown just signed a lead ammunition ban that should help. We often report on the Alliance blog about imported items–including food and toys–which turn out to contain illegal amounts of lead.

Your child may be too old to eat paint chips, but they could still be exposed to lead in your home through lead dust released by opening windows and doors or in their outdoor environment. And the CDC has determined that a very low level of lead in a child’s blood can cause health and developmental problems. How can you minimize your child’s exposure to lead?

Wash your child’s hands before meals and after playing outside.
Provide your child with foods that are high in iron, calcium and Vitamin C.
Frequently wash toys, pacifiers and other items your child uses regularly.
Dust and wet mop weekly.
Have your family members leave their shoes outside the door.
Test your home for lead to determine the source of exposure.
Ensure that any renovation and maintenance work is done in a lead-safe manner.
Follow-up with your child’s doctor.

ArkansasMatters,com

At AirTek, we are committed to helping Californians reduce and remove the risks of all kinds of contaminants in both indoor and outdoor air. Lead poisoning is one of those risks. If your home needs lead paint removed, contact Alliance Environmental Group for help with lead paint removal. Come on over and Like them on Facebook. And wash your hands! And bookmark the AirTek blog for articles, news, and links about indoor and outdoor air quality and your health!

Lead is a Common Pollutant

As part of Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, we would like to educate our readers on how lead can be a pollutant. As a strong advocate for clean air we want our readers and future clients to learn how different pollutants can affect the air quality inside your environment. In this case we will talk about lead. Lead is one of the top six common pollutants that can be found in the environment.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency, different states, and local agencies, track and monitor the levels of lead. Under the Clean Air Duct, the EPA is able to set a  standard where these type of agencies can monitor and analyze the levels of lead. According to the EPA, “Nationally, average lead concentrations decreased dramatically after EPA’s regulations reduced the lead content in on-road motor vehicle gasoline.” This is great news, because the more people become aware of the dangers of lead the more the levels of lead will decrease. Below is an example of how much lead has increased throughout a time period of twenty two years. This link will also provide you with a great tool that shows you the local trends of in lead levels throughout the country.

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Even though lead has decreased through out the years, lead can still be found in many products and in several materials. High exposure of lead can cause many major health threats and can be a health hazard. At AirTek we are strong advocates of caring for the environment and caring about the air quality in different environments. We focus on achieving a cleaner, healthier, and more energy efficient indoor environment. Visit our main website to learn about the different air solution we can provide for you.

Property Management and Indoor Air Quality

It can be rewarding being a property manager however it can also be challenging. The subject of indoor air quality has become a great concern because more and more people are learning the negative effects that bad indoor air quality can have to someone’s health. When you are a property manager of a multi unit complex the same indoor air problems found inside a single family home can be found in your building.

If you residents are coming to you that they have symptoms such as eye irritation, headache, and respiratory problems, it is wise to promptly schedule maintenance because it could be an indoor air quality issue. Another concern that residents can have is finding mold in their environment. If there are humidifiers that are higher than fifty the humidity levels are too high and that can be the cause of mold to grow. You may also have to contact a mold removal company to inspect the area and in conjunction create a plan to better understand how to control the humidity levels in your multi unit complex. The most important tip to property managers is to designate a indoor air quality manager who will be in charge of coordinating the appropriate times to schedule maintenance that can improve the indoor air quality in your apartment buildings. Having a designated indoor air quality manager and managing that everything is in compliance with state regulations can reduce having complaints from residents.Most importantly, as a property manager it is vital to have an open communication with the residents living in your property. At AirTek, we understand the responsibility that comes with providing clean and safe living areas for your residents and we work to go above and beyond to ensure that your properties are up to code. Contact Us us to gain more information on the indoor air solutions that we can provide for you.

*To learn more about air quality check out the infographic below.

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New Carpeting? How are you feeling?

Image by w. dinkel

Image by w. dinkel

Our friends at the Indoor Air Quality Association have hit it out of the park again! Carpeting & Indoor Air Quality is a short but very informative video about what gets released into your indoor air when you get new carpeting:

According to the Ecology Center:

Carpets can emit VOCs for five years or possibly more, although the off-gassing decreases significantly several months after installation.

The Environmental Protection Agency advises:

Ventilating well for a minimum of 72 hours after installation–leave windows open and use fans to blow the chemicals outside.

Use fans during installation to get rid of the fumes from adhesives.

Vacuum with a HEPA filter vac right after installation.

Steam clean the carpet right away to remove much of the VOCs.

Take a vacation!

The chemicals off-gassing from new carpeting can cause irritation, allergic reactions and even asthma attacks in sensitive people. If you know someone in your family is likely to react to these volatile organic compounds, send them to stay with a friend for a few days and be sure to take the above precautions to minimize the effects of VOCs on your indoor environment. We have more tips for reducing the impact of VOCs on your indoor air HERE.

Like new-car-smell, new-carpeting-smell is a reminder that we have improved our living space, but it is also a sign that our indoor air quality is at risk. Plan to replace your carpeting during a season when you will be comfortable leaving the windows open and the fans running!

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