Nail Polish Fumes: How Dangerous Are They?

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A colleague of ours was recently interviewed about beauty do’s and don’ts for job interviews, mostly about manicures–it was in a nail magazine, after all. But it made me think about another facet of the manicure debate–health.

As important as it is to be well-groomed, specially for job interviews, how dangerous is it to get your nails done frequently? For that information, we went to a recent article in the New York Times:

“[T]hree compounds — often referred to as “the toxic trio” — [were found] in leading nail polish brands. The trio consisted of a known carcinogen, formaldehyde, used as a hardening agent, and two materials linked to developmental defects: toluene, to evenly suspend color, and the plasticizer dibutyl phthalate, or DBP, to add flexibility and sheen.”

According to studies, occasional manicures do not pose any significant risk. The risk is higher however, for those who work in nail salons and are exposed to these chemicals multiple hours per day, and children. Some companies have removed these compounds from their formulas, but some have only removed them from the ingredients list. You can check on safe brands HERE.

I’ll be getting my nails done for interviews, but I’m glad I waited to let my daughter wear “real” nail polish until she was old enough not to chew on her fingers. I’m also glad she doesn’t ask to get her nails done too often!

Remember, if you can smell it, it is putting a chemical into your environment, whether it’s something pretty like air freshener, something fun like “new car smell” or something you know for a fact has toxins in it, like nail polish. Limiting your exposure to inhaled chemicals is always a good idea!

6 Myths about Radon

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We are in the middle of January and this month is also important for the Indoor Air Quality Industry(IAQ) because it is National Radon Action Month. We introduced this topic on our blog last week. You may read the blog post written by Wendy here. Exposing the affects and dangers of radon is important for the public to understand to create a bigger impact for the well being of those who may be exposed to radon. Do you know the 6 myths about radon? Radon can be preventable and we will be discussing some myths and sharing several facts provided by the Healthy Indoors Magazine.

1st Myth: Scientists are not sure radon is the problem

Fact: According to the article, some scientists debate the number of deaths caused by radon. However, thousands of individuals get lung cancer that could have been prevented.

2nd Myth:Radon testing is difficult

Fact: Radon can be detected by simply testing your home. A qualified radon test company may test your home or you may do it yourself without any effort.

3rd Myth: Homes with radon can’t be fixed.

Fact:Not true. There are several qualified mitigation contractors that can help fix your home and the costs are estimated the same as other home repairs.Your state radon office can give you further information.

4th Myth:Radon only effects certain types of homes

Fact:All homes can be affected by radon. Old homes, new homes or homes with basements and no basements can test positive on radon. How the home was built can also contribute in finding a home test positive on radon.

5th Myth:Radon is only a problem in several parts of the country.

Fact:Every state is different. High levels of radon have been tested in every state. To be 100%, test your home for any level of radon.

6th Myth:If your neighbor receives a good result then your home may also get a positive result.

Fact:Not true. Radon levels can vary from homes. Your neighbor may have a positive result, but your home may have high levels of radon.

For this month of January, we can take action by sharing with our friends and family the danger of radon and how it can be preventable. At Air-tek we are creating cleaner,healthier, and more energy-efficient environments. If you need any assistance with indoor air quality services that may include air duct cleaning, kitchen hood cleaning,fire stopping services, and indoor air quality management you may contact your local Air-tek office closest to you.

The EPA Proposed Wood Stove Standards

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The air quality in several places in California are moderate to unhealthy according to Air Quality Index today. Last year in the bay area, there were twenty three Spare the Air alerts and beginning this year, five Spare the Air alerts were announced in the Bay Area. In the Bay Area, wood smoke is the major source of air pollution during the winter. Keeping this in mind, I recently read an article by Indoor Environment Connections about new air quality standards. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed standards for new wood stoves and heaters beginning in 2015. Those standards were made by the EPA so that companies that made these heaters and wood stoves are environmentally friendly and are estimated to be 80 percent cleaner than the wood stoves and heaters that are in homes.

This standard will help improve the public’s health and air quality in places like San Francisco and other areas where wood stoves and wood heaters are used. According to the EPA, this proposal will cover several types of new wood-fired heaters. Those included in the proposal are wood stoves, fireplace inserts, indoor and outdoor wood boilers (also called hydronic heaters), forced air furnaces and masonry heaters. This proposal will help consumers save money and less wood would be use to heat homes. Next month in Boston, the EPA will have a public hearing about this proposal and the agency will hold a final issue in 2015. Below is a video with extra information on Wood Stoves and how it affects our indoor air quality.

Save the Date: March 1 for the Dinner With Friends

Save the Date for Dinner with Friends

It’s time to start talking about this year’s Dinner With Friends in support of the Ronald McDonald House of San Diego–it’s coming up soon!

This is our third event for the San Diego House and has been a great success. Our own Carlos Sanguinetti and Matt Teeter are in charge and have everything running smoothly for the preparations. Soon we will have information about menus and silent auction items!

BUY TICKETS HERE for the Dinner with Friends on March 1, 2014

The Ronald McDonald House of San Diego provides a home-away-from-home to the families of children being treated for serious illness in the San Diego area. You can learn more about them at www.rmhcsd.org. How do they impact their community? Let’s hear it from them:

  • Hospitalized children: Children heal better when families are near.
  • Families: Parents and healthy siblings can manage challenges better when residing together.
  • Pediatric medicine: Hospitals require a parent to be present for treatments. By housing parents, we help to make long-term and advanced treatments for children possible.
  • Residents of Southern California: We can all feel assured knowing that we have a resource to fall back on if our children become seriously ill.
  • Volunteers and donors: Through their involvement with the House, volunteers and donors deepen their engagement in civic life and contribute to a stronger San Diego.

The Alliance Environmental Group of Companies, including AirTek, has had a commitment to this organization and this event for all three years it has been taking place. We hope that you will join us in making the 3rd Annual Dinner With Friends and even greater success than the last two!

Maintain your Fire Stop System

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Part of a Fire Stop System is to prevent fire from spreading through different areas of a building or property. Before reviewing a fire stop system you must ask yourself if all fire and life safety components are up to date? Has your sprinkler system in your building been maintained regularly? Are fire and smoke dampers in good condition and operating according to standards? These are a few simple questions that should be put into consideration to keep occupants safe. For instance, a fire stop system should be maintained where there are many individuals and that can include places like college dorms, hotels and hospitals.

According to the total fire protection plan the protection includes compartmentation, alarms and detections, and sprinklers. All these items need to be included in the fire stop system. Managers also need to check that the fire and smoke dampers are in good condition to maintain air flow through the building and in an emergency prevent fire from spreading elsewhere. Another fact, is that maintaining a fire stop system in your building also affects the HVAC system. Doing this, can allow managers to control costs and maintain those costs without driving up the costs of maintaining an HVAC system. If your property needs any of these services, Air-Tek offers Fire Life Safety services that include, Fire Damper Inspections and Fire Wall Penetration Repairs and overall Fire Life Safety Management. If you need any assistance in any of our Fire Life Safety Services or other indoor air quality services you may contact your local Air-Tek office. To join our social media community, you may follow us on our Facebook Community Page and send us a tweet on Twitter.

January: National Radon Action Month

National Radon Action Month

Radon Action Month is here. Have you tested your home for Radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring, colorless, odorless gas that emanates from the decay of radioactive minerals in the soil under your house. Radon can be found anywhere but some places have more than others. Here is a map of California’s radon levels by region:

Radon regions in California

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers and the first cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Lung cancer kills over 150,000 Americans every year and lung cancer is the most common form of cancer overall.

Radon enters your home through cracks in your foundation and stays there because the air pressure inside is less than it is outside, keeping contaminants from escaping naturally.

What if you find Radon in your home and how can you take Radon action? A contractor will put in a system to collect the Radon and pipe it up to the roof, where it can escape into the outdoor air. If you are building a new home in a Radon area, there are safe building practices to prevent Radon from being a problem for you.

At AirTek, we are concerned about your indoor environment, your health and your indoor air, including taking action on Radon. If you need any of our services, including kitchen exhaust hood cleaning, dryer vent cleaning, and duct cleaning for residential and commercial buildings, please contact us.

Previous posts about Radon:

RADON: #2 Cause of Lung Cancer

VIDEO: Radon Gas

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

Increase better Indoor Air Quality by doing a Building Check Up

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Buildings should get regular check up to maintain good indoor air quality. Just like when a person goes to a doctor for a regular check up to see whether or not one is healthy, a building needs regular maintenance. Increase better indoor air quality by doing a regular building check up. The Indoor Air Quality Association YouTube videos, the channel recently shared a video about the importance of regularly checking the building’s air quality. Any building that has an HVAC System in their perimeter should check these specific items. Whether it is restaurant, a retail store or a multi-family building using these tips provided by IAQA will give you an idea of what to fix if the indoor environment is not healthy. According to the video there are 6 specific items to check. The 6 items that need check up in a building according to the video are as followed:

  • Ventilation: Check if the building is bringing in the proper quality and quantity air into the building. Proper ventilation will create a comfortable environment and will reduce moisture to build up.
  • Chemicals/Pesticides/Personal Care Products: If these are used inside the building you are in check that these sources are not degrading the indoor air quality. In addition, VOC sources and gases can be released in the air and often released in the air from building materials, furnishings, office equipments and adhesives.
  • Dampness:Signs of water in a building are signs that lead to water stains, mold and microbial odors.
  • Combustion Appliances:Check these type of appliances to make sure that they are properly venting their combustion gases
  • Check Humidity and Temperature: Condensation on the inside of windows or glass surfaces indicate a build up of moisture. Low levels of humidity in a home can lead family members with dry chapped lips and scratchy throats and noses. Check that both humidity and temperature are at a comfortable levels.
  • Check for specific contaminants:Check for radon or allergens in a building

If you would like professional help or have any questions regarding indoor air quality, you may contact us for any questions. AirTek offers several services for many industries. AirTek is an industry leader in commercial and residential duct cleaning, kitchen exhaust hood cleaning, dryer vent cleaning and power washing. With a focus on achieving a cleaner, healthier and more energy- efficient indoor environment.You may also contact us through our social media sites that include Facebook and Twitter.

Indoor Air Quality Management Plan for Schools

The main purpose of an HVAC system are to help maintain an indoor environment comfortable and maintain good air quality through out a building or home. Students will be going back to school soon and it a great opportunity for school districts to decide to do maintenance on their HVAC systems. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has a great tool kit for schools. Part of the kits are designed for the Indoor Air Quality Coordinator at the school and district levels. Different areas from schools such as kitchens, locker rooms, laboratories rooms, art rooms and storage rooms are areas that contain pollutants that can make an environment for students and staff uncomfortable and unhealthy. The Coordinator Guide will give those in charge of an IAQ Plan to easily create an IAQ Management Plan and a memo to be distributed to all school personnel. The kit also includes tips while starting the IAQ Management plan. Below are example of start up hints:

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You may read more in detail about starting a plan by clicking here. One of the latest projects that AirTek worked on is a project that included kitchen exhaust and hood cleaning for the Compton Unified School District in Los Angeles. If you have any questions concerning indoor air solutions that include air duct cleaning, kitchen exhaust hood cleaning, HVAC Cleaning and other indoor air solutions you may contact us. You may contact us through our social media sites that include Facebook and Twitter.

25 Spare the Air Alerts So Far This Season

Today marks the 25th Spare the Air Alert in the Bay Area for this winter season. The season runs from November through February. The last season that was this bad for air quality was 2006-07, when there were 30 Alerts. We have two months to go. Think we will beat it?

Spare the Air Alerts began in 1991, but there were almost no alerts between 1992 and 2005. There were only 4 Alerts during the 2010-11 season. This is a bad year. Wood smoke is dangerous.

According to Sparetheair.org, “From November 1 through the end of February, under the Air District’s wood-burning regulation, when a Winter Spare the Air Alert has been called, burning wood, firelogs, pellets, or any other solid fuels in your fireplace, woodstove, or other wood-burning device is illegal.”

Wood burning produces one-third of the particle pollution on a given winter night.

Where else do particles come from?

Sources of Bay Area Particles

Looks like we could choose to have a big impact on our environment, doesn’t it?

If this season continues on the way it has begun, 2013-14 will be a record-setting one, but not in a good way. Please do not ignore the Alerts. How to keep track? You can:

• Call the hotline at 1-877-4NO-BURN
• Check www.sparetheair.org – The current status is in the upper left corner of their homepage
• Listen for Alerts on local media outlets
• Sign up for e-mail or phone alerts

Even on non-Alert days, you can help particulate levels in your area. Check before you burn, burn dry wood in short, hot fires, and keep your chimney clean and maintained. As tempting as it might be, don’t burn anything but wood in your fire. Wrapping paper is not appropriate fuel and is never allowed.

If each of us changed our habits and paid close attention to the state of our air quality every day, we could make those Alerts go away and be able to have a cozy fire in the fireplace more often instead of less.

We hope you had a very Happy New Year!

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