Tag Archive | "Environment"

Healthier Indoor Air Quality Improves Efficiency

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is very important for many reasons. If the building you work in or your home isn’t ventilated correctly, this may lead to many illnesses. Everyday exposure to indoor pollutants will cause you to lose life expectancy and you may die years earlier then you should.

If your home or work place building is energy efficient, this will help improve the IAQ and your health. Having a healthier indoor environment will lead to less illnesses and sick days, thus creating more productivity and profits for the company. Having an energy efficient home and building will help you save money on utility bills.

When you are looking to buy appliances, electronics and furniture, try to buy energy efficient products. Try to buy products which don’t give off harmful gasses. Don’t allow smoking inside the building or your home. Smoking should always be outside and away from windows and doors.

Don’t run gas motors of any kind inside your garage whether it’s attached or detached from your home. Make sure there is always lots of ventilation as these harmful gasses can kill you. If you have gas or wood burning appliances, make sure proper ventilation is in place and an IAQ monitor is installed.

There are many different options available to achieve a good healthy IAQ and an energy efficient home / building at the same time. For suggestions on gas detection systems or indoor air quality monitors, please visit www.critical-environment.com.



Maas, Willem. “Improving Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality: From Basic to Bigger and Better Steps”. US Gren Building Council’s Green Home Guide. 4 Sep 2009. Web. 15 May 2012. <http://greenhomeguide.com/know-how/article/improving-your-homes-indoor-air-quality-from-basic-to-bigger-and-better-steps>.

Seppanen, Olli. “Energy Efficiency and Healthy Indoor Environment”. REHVA Journal. January 2012: 4. Print. <www.rehva.eu/?download=_/j2012-01/rj1201_web.pdf>.

Wendt, R. et al. “Indoor Air Quality of an Energy-Efficient, Healthy House with Mechanically Induced Fresh Air”. ASHRAE Transactions. Vol. 110, Part 2. 2004.

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Gas Detection Best Practices at Work

Most work place accidents could be prevented with proper working gas detection equipment. Gas detection is a critical component for safety programs for any environment; it should be given the highest priority and attention to detail to avoid any accidents and unnecessary work place injuries or deaths.

Here are some suggestions on how to keep your work environment safe:

1.   Read the gas level before entry. Conditions can change rapidly. A controller reading the gas level should be placed outside the room. Workers can view the reading prior to deciding if it’s safe to enter.

2.   Make sure the gas detector is detecting the right types of harmful gases for the environment.

3.   Regular maintenance is mandatory for the equipment to be working at its best. Equipment that has been stored for a long time can be improperly serviced or outdated this can cause the equipment to fail or give false readings.

4.   Have the work place tested for odors. This can be caused by the following: dead animals, gas leaks, hidden mould growth, cracked sewer lines, rotting or decaying vegetation.

5.   Have the work place tested after a fire. Fires have the potential to generate lots of contaminants which linger for a long time. These contaminants are airborne as well as surface. For your safety, do not come back in until it has been inspected and tested.

6.   Keep your environment clean and dust free. Keep it cleaned regularly and have proper storage for chemicals.

Indoor air quality is extremely important to everyone’s health and should be taken seriously! Everyone should do whatever it takes to make their work environment safe.

Written by: Ambur Vilac & Teresa Kouch



ABM Environmental Inc. 2010. Web. 11 May 2012. <http://www.abmenvironmental.ca/>.

EnviroMed Detection Services.Web. 11 May 2012. <http://www.enviromed.ca/>.

Savetech Environmental Ltd. 2010. Web. 11 May 2012. <http://www.safetechenv.com/>.

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Indoor Air Quality Myths Debunked

Today’s buildings, whether it is a home, office, manufacturing plant, hospital, etc., are more energy efficient; however, they also foster a potentially harmful environment. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has become a rising concern in the HVAC industry.

Poor IAQ can cause a number of health issues such as, allergies, dryness and irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. It can also cause headaches, shortness of breath, hypersensitivity, sinus congestion, coughing, sneezing, nausea, and dizziness. Depending on the type of building, the main factors of poor IAQ are different. For residential homes, carbon monoxide, pet dander, dust mites and mold spores are the common factors. For parking garages, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and propane are the common factors. By educating ourselves about poor IAQ, we can be proactive to install systems, such as gas detectors, air purifiers, etc., in the building for a healthier living environment.

Below are IAQ myths about gas detection systems that have been debunked:

MYTH: Permanent gas detectors are effective.
FACT: True. Gas detectors are effective in detecting the gas that’s in the air. Regular maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer is important in keeping these gas detectors up to date. Whether it is a simple calibration process, replacement sensor or parts, or even a firmware upgrade, it is highly recommended.
MYTH: Sensors do not need to be replaced once they’re in the field.
FACT: False. Every sensor has a different life expectancy depending on the gas type and manufacturer. The life expectancy of sensors range from a year to ten years; therefore, it is advisable to contact the manufacturer for details.
MYTH: Ozone is safe for our health.
FACT: False. It is effective in fighting a number of pollutants including odors, chemicals, bacteria, etc. However, ozone generators are known to emit harmful substances into the air. When ozone is used for treating asthma, it is done in clinics that are under strict medical surveillance.
MYTH: Air pollution is only an outdoor problem.
FACT: False. Indoor air can be 12 times more polluted than the air outside.
MYTH: There is no real need to worry about IAQ.
FACT: False. People can spend up to 90% of their time indoors so maintaining the highest quality of indoor air is critical. Some pollutants can be easily identified as it can cause bad odors, such as smoke, dust, paint, and animal dander. However, some are more difficult to identify with our senses, such as bacteria, fungi, mold spores, pollen, influenza viruses, or even off gassing from the walls, furniture and appliances.
MYTH: It is too difficult to improve IAQ.
FACT: False. To improve air quality, it is not difficult but can be expensive especially when more than one system needs to be in place. However, spending more on the system can be cheaper in the long run in terms of operating cost.
MYTH: All gas detectors are the same.
FACT: False. There are many different types of gas detectors in the market and not all operate the same way. Research is necessary!
MYTH: You should choose gas detector according to the square footage of the room.
FACT: False. Gas detectors should not be chosen based on the square footage of the room. Coverage is dependant upon the type of gas as every gas behaves differently.
MYTH: Gas detectors help reduce energy consumption in commercial and industrial buildings.
FACT: True. Gas detectors can trigger the ventilation system to turn on or off according to the level of gas it detects. For example, in a parkade, if the level of carbon monoxide increases, the gas detector will switch the ventilation fans on automatically to circulate the air and diffuse it from one central location and push it outside. Once the level of carbon monoxide drops, the ventilation fan is turned off.
MYTH: Gas detectors should be placed near the source of the gas.
FACT: True. If a gas leak were to occur, the sensor(s) will detect it right away and alert the personnel in charge and / or start the ventilation fans automatically before the gas leak gets circulated throughout the premise.Gas detectors should not be placed near ventilation fans or openings to the outside. They should be placed in areas where there is good air circulation, but not in the path of rapidly moving air. Pay particular attention to dead air spots where there is little or no air movement.Depending on the properties of the gas, mounting height matters. For a list of mounting heights for common gases, visit http://www.critical-environment.com/technicallibrary/sensor-mounting.html.
MYTH: Green buildings do not improve health.
FACT: False. Green buildings improve health through safer materials and products and by circulating cleaner air.

Written by: Ambur Vilac & Teresa Kouch



Angela. “5-Myths Debunked About the Home’s Heating and Cooling System.” Hoffmann Brothers: St. Louis Geothermal Heating & Cooling Company. 31 August 2010. Web. 10 May 2012. <http://www.stlouisgeothermal.com/blog.html>.

Hudson, Adam. “Indoor Air Quality: Myth or Money Generator.” www.co2meter.com. 01 December 2008. Web. 10 May 2012. <http://contractingbusiness.com/columnists/hudson/indoor_air_quality_myth/>.

“Top 8 Air Cleaner Myths You Are Not Supposed to Know About.” Air Cleaners, Air Purifiers – Air Cleaner Systems. 2010. Web. 26 September 2011. <http://air-cleaner-systems.com/air-cleaner-myths>.

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Importance of Air & Water Testing in Indoor Pools

Have you ever wondered why your eyes hurt or why you have a cough after swimming at an indoor pool? We all assume that it’s from too much chlorine in the pool but that is false!

If the pool staff doesn’t regularly test and monitor both the air and water indoors, the environment becomes very toxic and unsafe to everyone in the building. Water is an essential ingredient for all life as we know it, and unfortunately that means that many different organisms thrive in untreated pool water.

Untreated pool water rapidly deteriorates and cause many irritants to all users and employees; such as stinging eyes, nasal irritation, coughing, wheezing, e-coli, guardia, and asthma. These toxins (by products) are created when chlorine binds with sweat, urine and other wastes from swimmers. As the concentration increases in the water, these toxins then move into the surrounding air. Without enough fresh air flow over the water, the pool & air will become saturated with these toxins.

If you or your child plans on using an indoor pool, it’s a very good idea to shower with soap before you enter the water and after. With children you should check often if they need to use the bathroom and never change your child’s diaper on the pool side.

The most common disinfectant used in pools is Chlorine and is available as a pure gas, mixed in a granular powder or liquid form. Chlorine is an odorless gas but the chloramines’ compounds resulting from its interaction with ammonia or organic contaminants have the strong odor typically associated with chlorinated pools.

This is why it’s so important to test the air & water at indoor pools. Some indoor pools will use special UV ultra violet light or ozone for treatments in addition to chlorine disinfection to improve air & water quality. Most pools will monitor all levels for any chemical used to treat & maintain toxins to ensure the health and safety for all users and employees. Most indoor pools will have a ventilation system in place; the key is to make sure there is lots of fresh air flow into the pool areas. In order to monitor the ventilation, pools will install fixed gas detectors to monitor ammonia, chlorine and / or ozone depending what is used as a treatment.

For suggestions on fixed gas detectors, please visit www.critical-environment.com.

Written by: Ambur Vilac & Teresa Kouch



Barlowe, Barrett. “What Are the Dangers of Indoor Swimming Pools?” Livestrong.com. 14 June 2011. Web. 06 March 2012. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/258007-what-are-the-dangers-of-indoor-swimming-pools/#ixzz1ekIDtD2Z>.

Barlowe, Barrett. “Swimming Pool Chemical Treatment.” Livestrong.com. 14 June 2011. Web. 06 March 2012. <http://www.livestrong.com/article/231589-swimming-pool-chemical-treatment/#ixzz1ekJgTyY6>.

“Irritants (Chloramines) & Indoor Pool Air Quality.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 12 April 2010. Web. 06 March 2012. <http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/pools/irritants-indoor-pool-air-quality.html>.

“Leak Detection on Indoor Swimming Pool in Essex.” Professional Swimming Pools. 20 January 2012. Web. 06 March 2012. <http://www.professionalswimmingpools.com/2012/01/leak-detection-on-indoor-swimming-pool-in-essex>.

“The Hazards of Swimming Pool Chemicals.” Professional Swimming Pools. 2010. Web. 06 March 2012. <http://www.professionalswimmingpools.com/psp-services/members-area/pool-chemicals/the-hazards-of-swimming-pool-chemicals>.

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Bedbug Problem? Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Solution.

Bedbug infestation is an extremely common problem worldwide.

Bedbugs are small, nocturnal parasites that feed off of warm blooded animals and humans. They can survive in a wide range of temperature, low humidity and live for a year without eating. Adults can measure up to 5 mm in length and up to 3 mm wide. They are attracted to carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in human respiration and body warmth. Bedbugs can cause health issues such as skin rashes, allergies, and psychological effects.

Bedbugs can be detected with CO2 gas or a bucket of dry ice to lure the bedbugs to come out of hiding. Usually they are hard to find but infestation can be determined after being bitten or by finding fecal matter, molts and blood smears on the linens. Usually, bedbug bites do not appear right away but takes a week before red welts show up. The most common style of bedbug bites come in a line of three, also known as “breakfast, lunch and dinner” (Bed Bug Bites Symptoms).

Earlier we stated that bedbugs are attracted to CO2; however, high concentrations of CO2 will kill them. If bedbugs are discovered, get an exterminator that uses cryonite to spray down the surface and cracks. Cryonite is a compressed CO2 snow that is non-toxic but kills many pests by freezing them. When CO2 snow hits the surface at normal temperature, it evaporates and turns into CO2 gas. CO2 is poisonous to humans at high concentrations; therefore, if a fixed CO2 detector is not installed, using a handheld CO2 monitor while using cryonite is a good idea.

Based on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, common symptoms of CO2 exposure include dizziness, headache, poor sleep, lassitude, anxiety, ocular changes, coronary heart disease, gastritis, kidney and liver damage, eye and skin burns, and dermatitis. These symptoms will occur only if the NIOSH standard’s recommended exposure limit (REL) and / or Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) standard’s permissible exposure limit (PEL) exceed 5,000 ppm.

For suggestions on fixed or portable gas detectors, please visit www.critical-environment.com.

Written by: Ambur Vilac & Teresa Kouch



“CO2 Finds, Kills Bedbugs.” www.co2meter.com. 08 September 2010. Web. 05 March 2012. <http://www.co2meter.com/blogs/news/1958042-co2-finds-kills-bedbugs>.

“Bed bug.” Wikipedia. 24 February 2012. Web. 06 March 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bed_bug>.

“Bed Bug Bite Symptoms.” What Do Bed Bugs Look Like. 11 November 2011. Web. 05 March 2012. <http://www.whatdobedbugslooklike.net>.

“Bed bug infestation.” Wikipedia. 20 February 2012. Web. 05 March 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bed_bug_infestation>.

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The Hazards of Being in a Beauty Salon

There are many health risks associated with the beauty industry due to the chemicals found in the products. We are all affected by these chemicals every time we go to the beauty salon. Many of the products found in these salons are classified as hazardous and extreme caution should be taken into consideration when using these products. They’re made for professional use only; therefore, users must be trained and certified to be handling these products. A proper ventilation system needs to be in place at all salons for the safety of everyone entering the salon and / or exposed to the hazardous chemicals in the products.

Some common side effects of some of the products include (but not limited to) dermatitis, asthma, and eye and throat irritation. Hazardous chemicals can enter the body by swallowing, inhaling, and through the skin. The severity of reactions depends on the length and frequency of exposure to these products, the toxicity of the substance, and the route of entry into the body.

Examples of salon products containing hazardous substances:

Hair dyes, bleaches, permanent wave solutions, shampoos, hair styling agents, brow and lash tints, chemical peels, peroxides, wax solvents, disinfectants, cleaning products, keratin treatments, nail enamels and hardeners, nail polish removers and solvents, nail tips and wraps, acrylic and gel nail systems.

Examples of Hazardous Chemicals:

Formaldehyde: Also known as methanal, methyl aldehyde or methylene oxide, causes neurotoxicity and allergic reactions. Irritations to the eyes, nose, throat, skin, and respiratory tracks are common symptoms.

Based on the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) standards, the permissible exposure limit (PEL) is 0.75 parts per million (ppm).
Based on National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) standards, the recommended exposure limit (REL) is 0.016 ppm

Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) & Ethyl Methacrylate (EMA): Irritates the eyes, mucous membrane, and respiratory tract and is highly toxic.

Based on OSHA standards, the PEL for MMA is 100 ppm and not yet determined for EMA.
Based on NIOSH standards, the REL for MMA is 100 ppm and not yet determined for EMA.

Dibutyle Phthalate: Commonly found in synthetic fragrances and some plastics. It will cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and lungs and irritation to the eyes, stomach and upper respiratory system.

Based on OSHA standards, the PEL for dibutyle phthalates is 5 mg / m3.
Based on NIOSH standards, the REL for dibutyle phthalates is 5 mg / m3.

Solvents (Acetone, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, Xylene, and Toluene): Causes headaches, nausea, dizziness, and irritability.

Based on OSHA standards, the PEL for acetone is 1,000 ppm, 200 ppm for methyle ethyl ketone and toluene, and 100 ppm for xylene.
Based on NIOSH standards, the REL for acetone is 250 ppm, 200 ppm for methyle ethyl ketone, and 100 ppm for toluene and xylene.

Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethylamine (TEA): Used as foaming agents, synthetic emulsifiers. They are HIGHLY acidic and cause allergic reactions, eye irritation and dryness of hair and skin. DEA and TEA are ammonia compounds, which are potent carcinogens, can also strip away vital amino acids.

Based on OSHA standards, the PEL for DEA is not determined and TEA is 25 ppm.
Based on NIOSH standards, the REL for DEA is 3 ppm and TEA is 10 ppm.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate / Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Found in the majority of shampoos, to create lather and bubbles. These sulfates are generally derived from petroleum which causes eye and scalp irritation and tangled hair.

The PEL & REL has not yet been determined by the OSHA and NIOSH standards.

Paraben (methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl): Found in shampoos, commercial moisturizers, shaving gels, spray tanning solutioins, makeup and toothpaste to prolong their shelf life. Paraben are estrogenic which are disruptive of normal hormone function; exposure has been linked to breast cancer and cause skin and allergic reactions.

The PEL & REL has not yet been determined by the OSHA and NIOSH standards.

Naphtha: Also known as coal tar are used in synthetic colors and dyes to make products pretty. However, they heavy metal salts that deposit toxins onto the skin which causes irritation and are carcinogenic. Irritations to the eyes, skin, and nose, dizziness, drowsiness, and dermatitis are common symptoms.

Based on OSHA standards, the PEL for naphtha is 100 ppm.
Based on NIOSH standards, the REL for naphtha is 100 ppm.

Propylene Glycol: Also known as propylene glycol dinitrate is a synthetic petrochemical used as an emulsifying base in lotions and creams (to make the skin look smooth). Propylene Glycol actually ages the skin at a faster rate, also leads to poor, saggy skin through absorption. It is a MAJOR ingredient in brake and hydraulic fluids which causes an allergic reaction and damages to the kidneys and liver.

Based on OSHA standards, the PEL for propylene gylcol is not determined.
Based on NIOSH standards, the REL for propylene gylcol is 0.05 ppm.

Mineral Oil: Also known as oil mist is petroleum based oil which enlarges and clogs the skins pores, can also cause acne, poor/saggy skin. Mineral oil decreases the skin cell’s ability to exchange nutrients and waste products. Irritations to the eyes, skin and respiratory system are common symptoms.

Based on OSHA standards, the PEL for mineral oil is 5 mg / m3.
Based on NIOSH standards, the REL for mineral oil is 5 mg / m3.

It is extremely important to have a proper ventilation system in place. Some salons may have outdated systems or none at all. Natural ventilation generally does not provide sufficient air flow to be suitable for controlling airborne contaminants. Having proper ventilation system will provide a continuous supply of fresh outside air, maintain the temperature and relative humidity level, reduce explosion hazards, and reduce or  remove airborne contaminants. There are two types of ventilation systems, dilution ventilation and local exhaust, are explained below.

Dilution ventilation system effectively is effective for small dispersed contaminant sources. It dilutes contaminated air by blowing in clean air and exhausting some dirty air. It doesn’t completely remove contaminants and is not used for highly toxic chemicals.

Local exhaust ventilation system removes airborne contaminants at the source before they can be breathed in.  It captures contaminate emissions at or very near the source and exhausts them outside.

Although having proper ventilation system is very important for the health and safety of people entering or exposed to the salon, it can be extremely expensive to have the system on 24 / 7. A simple solution to this would be to install fixed gas detectors in rooms where the products are being stored and / or used. Therefore, when the level of gas emitted from the product is at a pre-set level, the ventilation system will automatically turn on to dilute or exhaust the air.

For suggestions on fixed or portable gas detectors, please visit www.critical-environment.com.

Written by: Ambur Vilac & Teresa Kouch


“Guide for the hairdressing, nail and beauty industry.” Queensland Government. 14 June 2011. Web. 27 Sep 2011. <http://www.deir.qld.gov.au/workplace/subjects/hairdressing/guide/index.htm>.

“Hairdressing, Nail and Beauty Safety.” Unionsafe. 15 Nov 2005. Web. 21 Sep 2011. <http://unionsafe.labor.net.au/hazards/106014706721942.html>.

“Harmful Chemicals in Hair Products.” Green Hair Products.com. 1997-2008. Web. 21 Sep 2011. <http://www.green-hair-products.com/harmful_chemicals_in_hair_products.htm>.

“Industrial Ventilation.” Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. 10 Jan 2008. Web. 27 Sep 2011. <http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/prevention/ventilation/introduction.html>.

“NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 10 Aug 2010. Web. 27 Sep 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/default.html>.

“Occupational Health Hazards in Nail Salons.” Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc. 30 Dec 2005. Web. 27 Sep 2001. <http://www.ohcow.on.ca/resources/handbooks/nail_salon/nail_salons.pdf>.

“Oregon OSHA Fact Sheet: Safety and Health Hazards in Nail Salons.” Oregon OSHA. 1 Feb 2008. Web. 27 Sep 2011. <http://www.orosha.org/pdf/pubs/fact_sheets/fs28.pdf>.

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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.