Monthly Archives: March 2014

Smog Cloud in Paris and in Other Cities

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(Image Source:greenactionsource.net)

The last few months a picture of China went viral. One traveler shared a picture of how polluted the outside was. You could not even see a mile away of how thick the smog is in a city in China. Then these past few weeks, another picture of another popular city has gone viral and received tons of attention. The city of Paris known to have beautiful scenic areas, is now very polluted. The scenic areas are still there but not as visible. Paris is trapped in a blanket of smog, and the French government proposed a strategy. The French government has issued an “alternative driving ban” to deal with emergency pollution levels. The city last week attempted to ban several vehicles and offered free public transportation to help decrease the pollution. Those were different strategies that were used.

The pollution that is seen in Paris and other cities around different countries can be caused by a combination of cold nights and warm days. However, in Paris, many environmentalists agree that most of the city’s air pollution comes from diesel powered vehicles. Hence, why the French government banned almost half of the vehicles on one day to reduce air pollution. In many cities in Southern California, we still struggle to reduce air pollution. We are at risk of air pollution and the health effects that come while being exposed. Below is an informative info-graphic provided by the American Lung Association. To learn more about air pollution and indoor air quality, follow our social media sites Facebook and Twitter where we share more information on these topics.

 

 

Sources of Clean Air and Bad Indoor Air Pollution

Yesterday’s blog was about how the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that 4.3 million deaths were due to indoor air pollution and the outdoor pollution impact was estimated at 3.7 million deaths. That means that air pollution killed 7 million individuals in 2012. It has become the worst environmental health problem globally. Sources of clean air should start in a home. Carlos Dora, the WHO’s public and environmental health coordinator states, “The air is shared resource. In order to breathe clean air, we have to have interventions in the areas that pollute the air.” Although, indoor air pollution has become a global problem there are still many individuals who may not know what sources can cause poor indoor air quality in their home. Not only the bad sources but also understand what are the good sources.

Examples of bad sources of Indoor Air Quality in a home are:

  • Asbestos
  • Pesticides and Cleaning Products
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Lead
  • Radon
  • Smoke (First and Second Hand Smoke)
  • Biological (Pollen and Pets)

Examples of good sources of Indoor Air Quality in a home are:

  • Ventilation
  • Plants
  • UV Lights
  • Electromagnetic Energy Cells
  • Filters
  • Vacuums

The Good and Bad of Indoor Air Quality

Knowing what causes indoor air pollution in your home can help you adjust the way you live to have a comfortable environment for yourself and your family. Check out yesterday’s blog written by Wendy that talks more about the alarming statistics of Indoor Air Pollution. If you need assistance in improving your indoor air quality, AirTek provides commercial and residential air duct cleaning and indoor air quality services. You may contact your local AirTek Office for additional information on the services we provide.

(Infographic Source: Visual.ly)

 

WHO: Air Pollution Killed 7 Million in 2012

Air Pollution in Sarajevo

The big air quality story of the week is a new report from the World Health Organization about deaths from air pollution around the globe.

7 million deaths. That’s one in eight. 1 in 8.

Air pollution has been proven to contribute to:

Heart Disease

Respiratory Disease

Cancer

Stroke

2.6 million of those deaths resulted from outdoor air pollution and…

3.3 million deaths resulted from indoor air pollution.

Dr Maria Neira of the WHO said: “The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes.”

According to the BBC:

“For deaths related to indoor pollution, [the WHO] found:

34% – stroke

26% – heart disease

22% – COPD

12% – acute lower respiratory infections in children

6% – lung cancer”

Many of these deaths were related to indoor cooking over wood stoves, coal stoves and open fires where smoke, soot and particulate pollution are particularly bad, affecting mostly poor women and children.

Most of us here in the US don’t use wood or coal stoves for cooking, but that does not mean that we do not suffer health effects from air pollution, indoor and outdoor. Car and truck exhaust as well as factory pollution affects our environment every day. And the chemicals in our homes from furniture, carpeting, paint, household cleaners, air fresheners and even scented candles are damaging the air we breathe at home as well.

At AirTek, we try to offer good advice about reducing indoor air pollution and cleaning up the air pollution we already live with by:

Bringing in houseplants which clean chemicals like formaldehyde out of the air

Keeping your ventilation system clean and well-maintained

Reducing volatile organic compounds in your environment by choosing greener products for cleaning and decorating

We hope you take the dangers of indoor and outdoor air pollution seriously. It is truly a life-and-death issue–for all of us.

The EPA’s Program: Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS)

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(Image Source:epa.gov)

    We are fortunate to have access to vital information from the The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that educates individuals and groups of health hazards that can be in their environments and how individuals can prevent from being exposed to environmental contaminants and gain information on chemicals that can be found in their home or workplace. The EPA has an assessment program called, “Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) that evaluates information on health effects that is a result from being exposed to different types of contaminants. The data base is classified into two sections. The categories are sectioned by descriptive and quantitative information and are as followed:

  • Non-cancer effects: Oral reference doses and inhalation reference concentrations (RfDs and RfCs, respectively) for effects known or assumed to be produced through a nonlinear (possibly threshold) mode of action. In most instances, RfDs and RfCs are developed for the noncarcinogenic effects of substances.
  • Cancer effects: Descriptors that characterize the weight of evidence for human carcinogenicity, oral slope factors, and oral and inhalation unit risks for carcinogenic effects. Where a nonlinear mode of action is established, RfD and RfC values may be used.

The IRIS database contains information on more than 550 chemical substances.The assessment also includes information about health hazards as well as toxicity values that can be used in human health risk assessment. The public is able to contact the IRIS Hotline, and can provide information on chemicals that are found in the IRIS database. The Indoor Air Quality Association recently shared a video on this subject and shares valuable information on IRIS.

Spring Cleaning: Clean Coils Save Money!

spring-clean-coilsSpring break is here and spring cleaning is on our minds at AirTek! We don’t want you to miss an easily overlooked project: clean coils.

Now is a great time to perform some scheduled maintenance on your HVAC system before you start running the air conditioning, especially in the hot California summer where the air conditioner works hard for many months of the year.

What are the dangers of dirty coils?

If your ventilation system is not cleaned regularly, you can have issues with:

Mold
Bacteria
Dirt
Dust
Pollen
Energy costs
Shortened lifespan of equipment

What kinds of buildings need clean coils?

All sorts of commercial establishments and multi-unit buildings:

Restaurants
Retail Stores
Office Buildings
Manufacturing Facilities
Apartment Buildings
Condominiums

What happens if dirty coils are ignored?

Really, any contamination in your HVAC system is an issue one way or another.

Health problems–From something as simple as minor allergies to potentially fatal Legionnaire’s Disease, contaminants in your ventilation are a risk you can’t afford to take. Make sure your system is cleaned routinely.

Mold–If mold is allowed to grow and spread in a damp area of your system, for example where condensation occurs from the use of air conditioning, the damage can be catastrophic and require extensive remediation and restoration if left unchecked. Do not let mold get out of hand.

Equipment Age–Your HVAC system was expensive to put in and it would be even more expensive to replace. Proper maintenance extends the life of your system. Dirty coils, clogged vents and ducts with layers of dirt, dust and lint make your system work harder and harder, using up precious lifespan.

Energy Costs–When your system works harder, it also uses more energy. Dirty coils can use up to 37% more energy to do the same work as clean coils! With today’s energy prices going up and up, it only makes sense to keep your system working as efficiently as possible!

AirTek offers all services related to the cleaning and maintenance of HVAC systems in California from our many locations! Contact AirTek for your HVAC spring cleaning!

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!

Low Energy Filters Can Improve Air Quality In Hospitals

hospital

(Image Source: schneider-electric.com)

The healthcare industry is one of the most important industries because you not only work with staff but also need to establish a comfortable environment for patients. Giving a boost to the indoor air quality in hospitals is a great way to create a comfortable environment for patients and staff. Conducting environmental monitoring and control strategies will guide those who are responsible in management. One way to improve the indoor air quality in hospitals and reduce operating cost is by using low energy filters. Just like you would choose a energy saving for your home, hospitals also need to save energy, and low energy filters may be the solution to a company’s energy solution plan. The video below explains more in detail about low energy filters and how it can reduce energy costs and also help the indoor air quality in hospitals.

 

At AirTek we provide Indoor Air Solutions for healthcare facilities. Our healthcare division is committed to protecting the health and well being of patients and healthcare workers in hospitals, urgent care centers, and medical facilities. Contact us to learn more about the complete healthcare services that AirTek can provide for any healthcare facility.

Make Your Home a Healthy Home

Particles and gasses that are found in a home may cause discomfort in your home. Make your home a healthy home. The indoor air quality may be maintained by your HVAC system. There are four ways that you can maintain your home, a healthy home. Air cleaners that are installed in the system are able to remove a portion of airborne pollutants. The air cleaners are able to remove some airborne pollutants when air is pulled into the return air ducts. Controlling the moisture is important to balance the humidity levels in a home.

Doing so, can prevent mold, mildew and dust mites to grow. Practicing good habits of eliminating air pollutants in your home before entering your home is also important. Lastly, you do not want stale air in your environment. Home ventilation is key in having a healthy home. These are simple ways that you can keep your home healthy. Now that you learn some simple tips learn also how your air conditioning works. The infographic below will illustrate how your air conditioner works. It gives you the basic principles of how your A/C works. Always make a healthy indoor environment a priority.

airconditioning-infographic

 

Spring is here! Open the windows!

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It’s time to open the windows! The verdict is in–your indoor air can be more polluted than the air outdoors. But during the winter months, no one wants to let the cleaner outdoor air in and the warm air out. In fact we’ve built our homes and office buildings so that as little of that heated air escapes as possible. Unfortunately, it’s not just the heat that stays in. Volatile organic compounds from building and decorating materials, cleaning products, air fresheners, and hand sanitizers, especially during cold and flu season, all contribute to indoor air pollution that has trouble escaping from our well-sealed structures.

Today is the first day of spring and where we are it is a beautiful day and a perfect day to open up the windows and let the outside air in!

But opening the windows doesn’t just help your indoor environment–it helps the outdoor environment, too!

Save energy–You don’t have to run that air conditioner with a nice crossbreeze from open windows on 2 sides of your home.

Reduce VOCs–You can use the lilacs in your yard to freshen your home’s scent instead of air fresheners or sprays.

Use Fewer Cleaners–Open windows reduce the accumulation of allergens, resulting in less need for cleaning products.

Of course the best reason to open the windows is it’s spring! Enjoy the season!

EPA Proposed 2 Rules To Protect The Public From Formaldehyde

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We have discussed several pollutant that affect the indoor air and for today, we will discuss formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a common chemical that can be found in the household and offices. The chemical can be found in carpets, upholstery, glues, markers, and paints. Since it is a colorless gas, it has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since this gas can be found in places where individuals spend 90% of their time indoors the EPA took action and came up with two standards. These standards are meant to protect individuals from being exposed to this gas. A few months ago, the EPA proposed two rules to protect the public from this colorless gas.

The first proposed rule would limit how much formaldehyde may be emitted from sources like hardwood plywood, fiberboard and finished goods that are sold, supplied, manufactured and imported in the United States. The second rule would establish a verification or a certification so that manufactures meet the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). This rule will ensure that formaldehyde emission standards are being met and manufactures that sell wood products are being certified. This process will be accredited through a third party certifier. In order to personally reduce exposure the EPA advices three steps to take.

  • Use “exterior-grade” pressed wood products (lower-emitting because they contain phenol resins, not urea resins).
  • Use air conditioning and dehumidifiers to maintain moderate temperature and reduce humidity levels.
  • Increase ventilation, particularly after bringing new sources of formaldehyde into the home.

If you need assistance in improving your indoor air quality, AirTek provides commercial and residential air duct cleaning and indoor air quality services. You may contact your local AirTek Office for additional information on the services we provide.

Spring Cleaning? What About Your Ducts?

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Spring Break is rapidly approaching and with houseguests arriving soon, it’s time to do our spring cleaning! It’s easy to remember the vacuuming (use a vacuum with a HEPA filter) and to change the bed linens (wash them in hot water to kill dust mites). But there are other parts of the house that are easier to neglect like…

Ducts!

Do you have pets?

Pet hair and dander are visible signs of the allergens and irritants these family members bring into our homes. These materials also gather in our ducts. Especially if you have pets which shed or multiple pets, you want to have clean ducts so that these allergens are not distributed throughout your home every time you turn on the heat or the air conditioning.

Do you want to save money?

When your ventilation system has to work against contaminants lurking in your ducts, it uses more energy to keep the air moving–costing you money in fuel costs. Change your air filters and clean your ducts to make your system work as efficiently as possible.

Do you want to prevent fires?

Two of the biggest causes of home fires are cooking fires that can spread into greasy kitchen ductwork and dryer vent fires due to heat and lint buildup in dryer ductwork. Both of these types of fires can be minimized or prevented by having clean ducts.

AirTek is always on the lookout for ways to make your home healthier and safer. Clean ducts are one way to do both!

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