Tag Archive | "Indoor Air Quality"

Multiple Gas Detectors – Should They all be Calibrated at the Same Time?

Depending on the number and placement of gas detectors in your facility, you might be looking at the task of calibrating them as never-ending. It is true, calibration can be time consuming, especially if it is a large area populated with multiple fixed location sensors with different gas types – some near the ceiling, others near the floor and still others somewhere in between. However, it is a task the needs to be done and dedicating the time to calibrating them all at once is the optimal and responsible course of action. Having some sensors calibrated and others not on a job site leaves room for inaccuracies and poses a potential danger to workers and the public.

How long it takes to calibrate all the sensors will depend on the experience and training level of the person doing the calibration, what type of equipment is used and the number of sensors in the facility. Trained technicians can calibrate up to two different types of gas sensors at one time, which saves labour time. Taking on that challenge is not recommended unless the technician has the equipment, training and experience. Calibrating one sensor at a time may take a little longer, but can be easier for the inexperienced service technician and the end result is still a correctly functioning gas detection system.

Monthly bump testing of sensors is recommended in particular for sensors that are monitoring for gases that pose a serious health and safety risk when they leak, such as Ammonia, Chlorine, and Ozone. A log book must be kept to detail date, time and confirm bump testing results. It benefits the user to bump test all gas sensors in their facility. When bump testing Ammonia, in particular, use only a concentration of span gas just higher than the low alarm set point. Ammonia sensors are consumable and their life span is often measured in “ppm hours”. Using a high concentration of NH3 span gas to bump test will shorten the life of an Ammonia sensor.

How do you know if you are getting a correct reading from the unit?

The only way to guarantee that an instrument will detect gas accurately and reliably is to test it with a known concentration of gas. Exposing the instrument to a known concentration of test gas will show whether the sensors respond accurately and whether the instrument alarms function correctly. Keeping a log and verifying the accuracy of readings on a daily basis for a trial period will reinforce your confidence that the unit is performing correctly.


For suggestions on gas detection systems, indoor air quality monitors and calibration, please visit


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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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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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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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What is a Breathing or Respiratory Zone?

In the past, vehicle exhaust gas detectors have been installed on or near the ceiling. In contrary, Critical Environment Technologies Canada Inc. (CETCI) has always recommended that they be installed in the breathing zone. Recently, Quebec’s regulation has reinforced CETCI’s recommendations. It states that “dusts, gases, fumes, vapours and mists found in the workplace environment shall be measured in the respiratory zone of workers or, if this proves to be impossible owing to the lack of equipment for taking sampling in this zone, then outside the breathing zone but in a place located as close as possible to such zone” (Division V: Air Quality: 44 Methods).

The breathing or respiratory zone is defined as “the area from which the employee draws air and has been defined as being as close as possible to the nose and mouth and a hemisphere forward of the shoulders with a radius of 6 to 9 inches” (Review of ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2004…). This is “[up to] 72” [6 ft] above the floor” (ASHRAE Standard…). The focus, of course, is on what this area contains in terms of toxins and gases and how this area can be accurately tested for safety reasons.

Gases that are heavier than air should be installed 6” from the floor. Such gases include (but not limited to) carbon dioxide, chlorine, ozone, propane, and refrigerants. Gases that are lighter than air should be installed on or near the ceiling, include (but not limited to) ammonia, methane, and hydrogen. Gases that have density close to that of air should be installed in the breathing zone, aka respiratory zone, which is 4-6 ft from the floor. Such gases include (but not limited to) carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and hydrogen sulphide.

The health and safety of individuals working near or around equipment, such as propane powered forklifts, are at risk. The exhaust is venting toxic gases, such as carbon monoxide, propane, and nitrogen dioxide, from the rear of the machine. Being in an indoor environment, the ventilation system does not know that these gases are present; therefore, cannot being diluted and / or vented outside the building. High concentrations of these fumes are extremely dangerous. At high exposure levels, they can result in death. These fumes have been linked to a number of health related issues and are a concern for the provincial health and safety boards. Having a gas detection system in place ensures that the ventilation system operates when the gas concentration level is at a dangerous level. The gas detector triggers the ventilation system to kick in and dilute the indoor air and pushes it outside the building.

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

Written by: Ambur Vilac, Pat Allinson & Teresa Kouch



“ASHRAE Standard: Ventilation for Accepting Indoor Air Quality”. ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2010. 2010. Web. 20 Feb 2012. .

“Division V: Air Quality: 44 Methods.” Regulation respecting occupational health and safety. 1 May 2012. Web. 15 May 2012. .

“Guidelines Part 5 Ventilation: G5.62 Ventilation.” Occupational Health and Safety Regulation: Section 5.62. 29 October 2003. Web. 14 May 2012. .

“Review of ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2004: Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality – Part 2.” Workplace Hygiene. 2009. Web. 20 Feb 2012. .

“Sensor Mounting Heights & Location”. Critical Environment Technologies Canada Inc. 2012. Web. 01 June 2012. < http://www.critical-environment.com/technicallibrary/sensor-mounting.html>.

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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.