Tag Archive | "allergies"

Chlorine Gas

Chlorine is the most used for industrial products around the world. This element is abundant in the earth’s crust and oceans. It is used to manufacture plastics, synthesize other chemicals, purify water supplies, treat sewage, and make refrigerants, varnishes, pesticides, drugs, disinfectants, and bleaches.

Chlorine is compressed gas that is very toxic, corrosive and a strong oxidizer. Extreme caution and safety equipment should be used when around any form of chlorine. When a person breathes chlorine, the corrosive substance splits hydrogen from water in most human tissue, releasing oxygen and hydrogen chloride, which can cause severe burns. Scientists say there are palliative remedies but no antidote.

Chlorine gas cylinders were first used by the Germans in 1915 as a chemical weapon. Chlorine gas destroyed the respiratory organs of its victims and this led to a slow death by asphyxiation. Chlorine is a severe eye, skin, nose, throat and upper repertory tract irritant. Small exposure causes coughing; choking, wheezing and burning of the eyes, throat and skin which can cause frostbite. Large exposure causes the airways to constrict, at the same time fluid builds up in the lungs causing the victim to drown. High doses can kill within a couple of breaths.



“Capital is Coming to Kill You with Chlorine This Time”. Infoshop News. 20 Oct 2011. Web. 20 Jan 2012. <http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=20111020162216998&query=capital+is+coming+to+kill+you>.

“OSH Answers: Chlorine”. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. 19 Feb 1999. Web. 20 Jan 2012. <http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/chem_profiles/chlorine/basic_chlorine.html>.

“Chlorine”. Wikipedia. 7 Nov 2012. Web. 20 Jan 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlorine>.

“Chlorine Gas”. Spartacus Educational. Web. 7 Nov 2012. <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWchlorine.htm>.

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What is Formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a flammable, colorless gas with a very pungent odor. It has many other names, such as; methanol, methyl aldehyde, methylene oxide, formalin, and formol.

It is widely produced around the world as a preservative and a disinfectant. Used in textile finishing and production of resins which acts as adhesives and binders for wood products, pulp, paper, glass wool, and rock wool as well as some plastics, coatings, paints, varnishes, and industrial chemicals.

Exposure to formaldehyde which is a known carcinogen; can cause asthma, allergies, lung and liver problems, damage to your immune system and chronic poisoning in severe cases. It also causes cancer of the nasal cavity due to long term exposure to high levels of formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is also commonly used in hospitals; in water based solutions called formalin or in a powder form know as paraformaldehyde. It’s used in these areas histopathology and anatomical pathology labs or in forensic mortuaries. These solutions are used for fixing human organs and tissues after autopsy or biopsy or for a preservative and disinfectant in embalming fluids, gels and surface packs.

Health Canada and the Canadian Government (as well as other countries) have been taking steps and implementing new protocols for people who work or are exposed to and those who use Formaldehyde (any form). Changes have been made to guidelines to ensure exposure levels are low and to make sure all safety equipment is available and proper safety training is conducted. Health Canada has also made changes to the guidelines and controls for labeling requirements.

Formaldehyde is also found in homes and workplaces. Many household items produce formaldehyde; therefore, suggestions for how to reduce the levels are indicated in the chart below:

Formaldehyde Solution
Cigarettes (tobacco smoke) Always smoke outside, never inside.
Cabinets & Furniture made of particle board or medium density fiberboard Buy these products covered with plastic laminate or coated on all sides.
Humidity Levels Should be monitored; high humidity can cause products to release formaldehyde into the air.
Permanent Press Clothing & Sheets Air out before use.
Ventilation System Ensure proper ventilation is in place when using products that contains formaldehyde or any forms.
Engines Don’t run any kind in spaces attached to your house or near any open windows and doors of your home.
Fireplaces & Wood Stoves When in use, make sure proper ventilation is in place.


It is always a good idea to have an indoor air quality monitor installed in your home or workplace.

For suggestions on a fixed gas detection system, please visit www.critical-environment.com.



“Formaldehyde”. Health Canada. 25 August 2010. Web. 1 Oct 2012. <http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/air/in/poll/construction/formaldehyde-eng.php>.

“Formaldehyde”. Wikipedia. 27 October 2012. Web. 8 Oct 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formaldehyde>.

“Formaldehyde in Consumer Products”. Australian Competiion & Consumer Commission: Product Safety Australia. 2012. Web. 5 Oct 2012. <http://www.productsafety.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/973697>.

“Formaldehyde Toxic Chemical”. Organic Natural Health. Web. 8 Oct 2012. <http://www.health-report.co.uk/formaldehyde.html>.

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The Wonders of Ammonia & Chlorine

They Are All Around You: Ammonia & Chlorine. Be Aware of Them and Stay Safe.

The two most common chemicals found in your home, office and commercial facilities in one form or another are Ammonia (NH3) and Chlorine (Cl2). They are also two of the oldest and most widely produced chemicals in commercial use around the world.

Ammonia, a refrigerant by “nature”
Refrigeration by mechanical means goes back to the 1800s and ammonia was among the earliest chemicals to be compressed for this purpose. Commercial use of ammonia, as a refrigerant, was fairly common by the late 1800s. Ammonia was first synthesized in 1823 and the first commercial production of synthetic ammonia began in 1913.

Ammonia refrigeration was being used in ice rinks as early as the 1920s. Commercial use of ammonia as a refrigerant is virtually all around us. It can be found in ice systems for ice arenas, commercial coolers and freezers, refrigeration systems, college campuses, office parks, air conditioning for the International Space Station and Biosphere II, commercial fertilizers, etc.

Ammonia is low cost, non-ozone depleting and does not add to global warming. It is abundant and the most energy efficient gas used as a refrigerant and is manufactured using natural elements of nitrogen and hydrogen. It is unlikely it will be phased out because of this but it is none the less a very dangerous gas if not handled properly. It is a colorless gas with a pungent, choking odor and is lighter than air; thus it typically rises to the highest area in a room when it escapes. It is water soluble; therefore, makes it useful as an additive to many cleaning products. It is a safe gas when handled correctly but can be detected by the human nose at very low concentrations of ≤ 50 ppm and will not ignite in air. It has a very irritating affect on the airways to the lungs and eyes and should not be inhaled.

Chlorine, a sanitizer by “man”
Chlorine is a sanitizing gas. When mixed with water, it produces two chemicals that kill microorganisms by oxidizing them. Chlorine was discovered in 1774 by a Swedish chemist. For the most part, Chlorine is manufactured by passing electricity through salt water. When proper concentration is mixed with water, it acts as a common sanitizer for commercial and home pools and spas killing microorganisms. Pool water with properly mixed and monitored (daily), chlorine is quite safe and has about the same chlorine levels as tap water. Regardless, use extreme caution when handling chlorine in any form. Avoid breathing chlorine fumes directly as they can have a burning (oxidizing) affect on the lungs.

Never mix chlorine with any other chemicals as this could be extremely hazardous. In other words, it can become toxic and even explosive. Some people have skin allergies and red eye to chlorine and chloramines found in pool water that is not balanced properly. Chloramines are produced when chlorine in pool water mixes with perspiration, oils and urine from swimmers’ bodies. Hypochlorous acid, one of the two chemicals formed from mixing chlorine and water, reacts with ammonia which is a component of sweat and urine producing chloramines. Improperly balanced chlorine levels in pool water could result in very high levels of chlorine, releasing gas from the surface of the water potentially causing breathing difficulties for some people. Anyone handling the chlorine concentrations used in commercial pools should be properly trained and always wear protective gear for hands and eyes.

Gas detectors, a commercial requirement
In commercial areas, gas detectors are required and used to detect leaking ammonia or chlorine. Every commercial arena has ammonia sensors and every commercial pool has chlorine sensors for worker and patron safety. These sensors will detect the smallest leaks and send a signal to controllers that alarm when levels climb above preset values established by Occupational Safety and Health Organization in all provinces and states for workplace exposure to toxic gases. The gas detectors typically activate or halt ventilation equipment(s), depending on the application, and alarm to warn workers of a small leak. The activated warning alarms let workers know to evacuate all patrons and call the local fire department if the leak increases to higher concentrations. Because they are both very hazardous gases at very low levels, these sensors should be gas calibrated for accuracy every six months and bump tested every month for safety purposes.

Enjoy these wonderful public facilities but be aware of your surroundings for your health and safety.

Written by: Frank Britton, CETCI’s General Manager

REFERENCES: www.eHow.com, www.amonia21.com, www.mama’shealth.com

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CETCI Simultaneously Identifies the Air You’re Breathing with YESAIR & YES Plus LGA

Critical Environment Technologies Canada Inc. (CETCI) is a known industry leader and innovator for the indoor air quality (IAQ) market. Their two best selling portable IAQ instruments are the YESAIR and YES Plus LGA.

Both IAQ instruments are portable, multi-channel monitors featuring thirty different internal plug and play sensors to select from and a remote particulate sensor that simultaneously monitors within a single, easy to carry instrument. CETCI’s plug & play sensor options are the widest selection on the market and include electrochemical (carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, ammonia, chlorine dioxide, formaldehyde, arsine, fluorine, hydrazine, phosphine, silane, and many more), catalytic (combustible gases), infrared (CO2 or combustible gases), and PID (TVOC). Users can set one alarm level for each gas to activate the internal audible alarm. Both instruments have a built-in SD flash card for data logging and an internal sample pump for “active sampling”. The LCD display, on both, indicates each sensor type installed, measured values for each gas, battery status, and more.

YESAIR has been on the market since 2006. Even today, it still offers more features, flexibility and functionality than any other instrument on the market. YESAIR is CE certified and has a seven-sensor capacity with up to five internal plug & play sensors, a fixed temperature sensor, and a fixed relative humidity (RH) sensor. The LCD displays all the installed sensors simultaneously and can operate 12-14 hours with a NiMH battery pack or continuously with a wall adapter. The instrument is enclosed in a rugged ABS/polycarbonate enclosure and can either be a handheld, stand on a flat surface, or fastened to a wall for permanent or semi-permanent use. With only three tactile push buttons makes the YESAIR simple to use. Optional features include internet and network accessible.

YES Plus LGA was recently introduced to the market earlier this year as an upgrade from the original YES Plus. This single solution, multi-sensor IAQ and landfill surface gas emissions monitor is pending CE certifications. It features four tactile push buttons for easy use and a fifteen sensor capacity with up to twelve internal plug & play sensors, a fixed temperature sensor, a RH sensor, and a remote sensor. The LCD displays up to six installed sensors at one time and scrolls to display more. It can operate 18-24 hours with a NiMH battery pack or continuously with a wall adapter. YES Plus LGA is housed in a rugged ABS enclosure and has an aluminum swivel handle that acts as a handheld or stand support.

The Landfill Gas Analyzer (LGA) version has an optional plug-in GPS and Bluetooth module and a firmware version that’s suitable for landfill surveys to communicate to pocket PDAs. The internal sample pump has an automatic flow control that ensures 1-LPM flow rate even with resistance. This version will be available later this fall.

CETCI will continue to develop and expand their portable IAQ product line to meet the needs of the market. For more information on the entire range of IAQ instruments and gas detection systems, please visit www.critical-environment.com.

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Know the Air You’re Breathing: How can you improve the IAQ around you? (4 of 4)

How can you improve the IAQ around you?

Now that you have an understanding about the air that you’re breathing, you can take can control and improve your IAQ.

Here are some preventatives that you can do to minimize your health risk:

If using products that have high fume make sure there is proper ventilation. Outdoor air can dilute the chemical level.
No smoking indoors or near windows or doors. Tobacco smoke gets absorbed by furniture, carpets, curtains, etc. and takes a long time to be desorbed.
Chimney needs to be cleaned and clear of obstructions.
Don’t idle vehicles or gas powered equipment indoor (eg. garage) or near windows or doors.
For building & household products, use “green” or “environmentally friendly” options.
If possible, wash and air out products (eg. drapes, clothing, sheets) containing any VOC before bringing indoor.
Buy limited quantities to avoid having leftovers for storage.
Safely dispose partially full containers of old or unneeded chemicals.
Prevent moisture build-up inside and make sure water leaks are cleaned up rapidly.
Keep humidity levels below 60% (Aerias) by purchasing a dehumidifier. High humidity encourages off gassing.
Read labels and use as directed.

Written by: Teresa Kouch, Marketing



Aerias. “VOCs: A Major Contributor to Indoor Pollution”. Retrieved June 8, 2010 from http://www.aerias.org/DesktopModules/ArticleDetail.aspx?articleId=131.

Berglund, et al. (1997). “Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC) in Indoor Air quality Investigations”. Retrieved June 8, 2010 from http://www.inive.org/medias/ECA/ECA_Report19.pdf.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). “NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards”. Retrieved June 8, 2010 from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/default.html.

Environment Canada. (2010). “Clean Air Online”. Retrieved June 7, 2010 from http://www.ec.gc.ca/cas-aqhi/default.asp?Lang=En.

Gilbert, Nicolas. (2005). “Proposed residential indoor air quality guidelines for formaldehyde”. Retrieved June 3, 2010 from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/alt_formats/hecs-sesc/pdf/pubs/air/formaldehyde/in-formaldehyde-eng.pdf.

Health Canada. (2006). “Residential Indoor Air Quality Guideline: Formaldehyde”. Retrieved June 4, 2010 from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/alt_formats/hecs-sesc/pdf/pubs/air/formaldehyde-eng.pdf.

Health Canada. (2009a). “Formaldehyde – Pollutants from Household Products and Building Materials”. Retrieved June 3, 2010 from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/air/in/poll/construction/formaldehyde-eng.php.

Health Canada. (2009b). “It’s Your Health: Formaldehyde and Indoor Air”. Retrieved June 4, 2010 from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/alt_formats/pacrb-dgapcr/pdf/iyh-vsv/environ/formaldehyde-eng.pdf.

US Environmental Protection Agency. (1991). “Indoor Air Fact Sheet No. 4 (revised) – Sick Building Syndrome”. Retrieved June 8, 2010 from http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/sbs.html.

US Environmental Protection Agency. (1994). “Indoor Air Pollution: An Introduction for Health Professionals”. Retrieved June 8, 2010 from http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/hpguide.html.

US Environmental Protection Agency. (2010). “An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)”. Retrieved June 8, 2010 from http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html.

World Health Organization. (1989). “International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS): Environmental Health Criteria 89: Formaldehyde”. Retrieved June 2, 2010 from http://www.inchem.org/documents/ehc/ehc/ehc89.htm.

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Know the Air You’re Breathing: Sick Building Syndrome/Building Related Illness & PID Sensors (3 of 4)

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) and
Building Related Illness (BRI)

Long term exposure to VOC contributes to SBS and BRI. Based on the US Environmental Protection Agency (1991), SBS and BRI are compared in Table 3 below:

Table 3: Comparison between SBS & BRI

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) Building Related Illness (BRI)
Definition An illness temporarily associated with an occupant’s presence in a building caused by indoor air pollutants. A diagnosable illness caused by an identified agent in the indoor air.
Symptoms Headaches
Eye, nose, throat irritation
Dry cough
Dry or itchy skin
Chest tightness
Muscle aches
Cause Unknown Identified
Symptom after leaving building Relief Require prolong recovery time


Photo-ionization Detector (PID)
A PID is commonly used to measure TVOC mainly because it is the most efficient on the market. It provides instant and continuous readings to the user. However, if there’s a rapid temperature change or humidity level is high, the reading maybe affected.

PID is great for indicating the presence of VOC but it doesn’t identify the exact type of VOC. If a TVOC reading is 200 µg/m3 and increased to 300 µg/m3 the next month, it’s impossible to say the increase was due to formaldehyde. It’s also impossible to identify what combination of VOC made up the TVOC reading.

Ideally, measuring the exact type of VOC and monitoring it is a better practice. Unfortunately, this is not the case due to very high cost and convenience. In the short term, having one instrument to provide a TVOC reading as well as other sensors is less expensive and easier for the technician than to have to carry multiple units for each type of chemical. However, in the long term, if a high reading was detected, it will cost more to solve the problem since the type of VOC needs to be identified before a solution gets established. The technician would need to make a lot of assumptions and do a lot of trial and error runs which could take forever or a more simple method would be to analyze the air samples. Depending on the seriousness of the situation, other costs that get lumped into the problem are evacuation of the occupants, specific VOC detector(s) needs to be purchased, delays of other projects, and the time of all the individuals involved.

Common buildings that should monitor their IAQ include:

  • Hospitals
  • Scientific facilities eg. laboratories
  • School
  • Commercial buildings
  • Warehouses
  • Industrial buildings
  • Parkades
  • Repair shops
  • Food plants
  • Salons & spas
  • Manufacturing Plants
  • Medical Offices
  • Construction sites
  • Transportation facilities
  • And many more…

Written by: Teresa Kouch, Marketing

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Gas Detectors

CETCI gas detectors are used to detect many different gases. Some of the most common are Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Nitric Oxide, Ammonia, Chlorine, Ozone, Combustible Gases like Methane and Propane, Oxygen, Refrigerants and more.

IAQ Monitors

The YES Series of IAQ Monitors are essential for those responsible for conducting Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Investigations. These instruments are specifically designed to measure and record the quality of indoor air in offices, buildings, homes, schools, parking garages, ice rinks, etc.