Tag Archive | "pollution"

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.

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References

“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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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

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References:

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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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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Exposing Indoor Air Quality with YESDUST Particulate Sensor


Delta, B.C. – Critical Environment Technologies Canada Inc. (CETCI) recently introduced YESDUST. This particulate sensor is designed to be used in conjunction with the multi-sensor indoor air quality (IAQ) monitors developed by CETCI, such as the YESAIR.

YESDUST is a low-cost, hand-held, battery powered device. It contains a self-aspired, optical sensor that utilizes convection (heated air) to move the air through the sensing region of the sensor. The measured readings are shown on the LCD display and data logged to the internal flash card of the IAQ monitors. The device operates from its own internal rechargeable nickel hydride batteries, providing approximately five hours of run time, or a supplied wall adapter, providing continuous operation.

The YESDUST is ideal for IAQ applications containing dust, particulates, cigarette smoke, pollen, fibers, etc. Every YES product is designed to deliver years of reliable operation and is easy to operate.

For more information on the entire range of IAQ instruments and gas detection systems, please visit www.critical-environment.com.

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Indoor Air Pollutants vs. Asthma & Allergies


Compiled by Mirza E. Baig (Critical Environment Technologies Canada Inc)

Indoor Air Pollutants Vs Asthma & Allergies
Compiled by Mirza E. Baig (Critical Environment Technologies Canada Inc)
Asthma & Allergies
Asthma is a disease of the respiratory system, the lungs and the system of air tubes that lead to them. It is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes the tiny air passageways in your lungs (bronchioles) to become narrowed when they react to something in the environment.
Asthma Causes
Asthma episodes are caused by the airways’ sensitivity to various triggers in the environment. Each person reacts differently to these environmental factors that may trigger asthma, including:
respiratory infections, colds
cigarette smoke
allergic reactions to pollens, mold, animal dander, feathers, dust mites, scents, food and
cockroaches
exercise
exposure to cold air or sudden temperature change
excitement/stress
Asthma can develop quickly and it can range from being a mild discomfort to a life-threatening attack if breathing stops completely. Asthma problems are often separated by symptom-free periods.
The American Lung Association has been committed to improving the lives of people with asthma for decades. As a leader in the asthma education, public policy and research, we take a comprehensive approach to improving asthma care by working with families, communities, and a diversity of health care professionals nationwide
Allergies
An allergy is a specific reaction of the body’s immune system to a normally harmless substance, one that does not bother most people. Health experts estimate that 35 million Americans suffer from upper respiratory tract symptoms that are allergic reactions to airborne allergens.
People who have allergies often are sensitive to more than one substance. Common types of airborne allergens that cause allergic reactions include:
pollens
dust mites
mold spores
animal dander
food
cockroaches
Pollen allergy, commonly called hay fever, is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. Worldwide, airborne allergens cause the most problems for people with allergies. The respiratory symptoms of asthma, which affect approximately 11 million Americans, are often provoked by airborne allergens.
What is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women. An estimated 173,700 new cases of lung cancer and an estimated 160,440 deaths from lung cancer will occur in the United States during 2004.
The rate of lung cancer cases appears to be dropping among white and African-American men in the United States, while it continues to rise among both white and African-American women.
There are two major types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is much more common. It usually spreads to different parts of the body more slowly than small cell lung cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma are three types of non-small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer also called oat cell cancer, accounts for about 20% of all lung cancer.
Indoor Air Pollution
Asthma can be triggered by many factors, some of which include smoke, pet dander, pollen and other tiny particles found inside the home. In fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that levels of air pollution inside the home can be two to five times higher — and occasionally up to 100 times higher — than outdoor levels. So it’s not surprising that the EPA has declared indoor air quality as one of the top five most urgent environmental risks to public health.
Invisible and odorless, radon gas is a health hazard when it accumulates to high levels inside homes or other structures. Indoor radon exposure is estimated to be the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths each year in the United States. Radon problems have been identified in every state. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. has indoor radon levels at or above the EPA’s recommended action guideline level.
Outdoor Air Pollution
Ground-level ozone, a major component of smog, is formed in the atmosphere when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds react in the presence of sunlight. Produced by vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents, ozone is one component of photochemical smog.
Health effects include chest pain, coughing, nausea, throat irritation, and congestion, irritation of the respiratory system, reduced lung function, aggravated asthma, inflamed and damaged cells that line the lungs, aggravated chronic lung diseases, and permanent lung damage.
Fine particulate matter is a complex mixture of very small liquid droplets of solid particles in the air. It may come from factory and utility smokestacks, vehicle exhaust, wood burning, mining, construction activity, and agriculture. These fine particles are easily inhaled deeply into the lungs where they can be absorbed into the bloodstream or remain embedded for long periods of time.
Health effects include wheezing, coughing, and respiratory irritation and exposure may trigger asthma attacks. It is especially harmful to those with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Air Quality Improvement
The American Lung Association is one of the strongest voices for cleaner outdoor air. Each year, the American Lung Association assesses the quality of the air in counties in its annual “State of the Air Report,” solely to help these millions of people understand what the air is like in their home county and in terms familiar to most of us. We are also leaders in the “green home” movement with our  HYPERLINK “http://www.healthhouse.org/” \t “_blank” Health House program that shows builders how to build healthier homes, and educates homeowners on how to make any home a healthier environment.
Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools
“IAQ Tools for Schools” was developed in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is a comprehensive program guide designed to help local schools improve indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality may trigger symptoms of asthma and other problems that decrease performance while at school. “IAQ Tools for Schools” offers sound guidance that gives school officials the ability to improve indoor air quality and create a healthy environment for children and staff.
(Source American Lung Association of N. Dakota)

Asthma & Allergies
Asthma is a disease of the respiratory system, the lungs and the system of air tubes that lead to them. It is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes the tiny air passageways in your lungs (bronchioles) to become narrowed when they react to something in the environment.

Asthma Causes
Asthma episodes are caused by the airways’ sensitivity to various triggers in the environment. Each person reacts differently to these environmental factors that may trigger asthma, including:

  • respiratory infections, colds
  • cigarette smoke
  • allergic reactions to pollens, mold, animal dander, feathers, dust mites, scents, food and
  • cockroaches
  • exercise
  • exposure to cold air or sudden temperature change
  • excitement/stress

Asthma can develop quickly and it can range from being a mild discomfort to a life-threatening attack if breathing stops completely. Asthma problems are often separated by symptom-free periods.

The American Lung Association has been committed to improving the lives of people with asthma for decades. As a leader in the asthma education, public policy and research, we take a comprehensive approach to improving asthma care by working with families, communities, and a diversity of health care professionals nationwide

Allergies
An allergy is a specific reaction of the body’s immune system to a normally harmless substance, one that does not bother most people. Health experts estimate that 35 million Americans suffer from upper respiratory tract symptoms that are allergic reactions to airborne allergens.

People who have allergies often are sensitive to more than one substance. Common types of airborne allergens that cause allergic reactions include:

  • pollens
  • dust mites
  • mold spores
  • animal dander
  • food
  • cockroaches

Pollen allergy, commonly called hay fever, is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. Worldwide, airborne allergens cause the most problems for people with allergies. The respiratory symptoms of asthma, which affect approximately 11 million Americans, are often provoked by airborne allergens.

What is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women. An estimated 173,700 new cases of lung cancer and an estimated 160,440 deaths from lung cancer will occur in the United States during 2004.

The rate of lung cancer cases appears to be dropping among white and African-American men in the United States, while it continues to rise among both white and African-American women.

There are two major types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is much more common. It usually spreads to different parts of the body more slowly than small cell lung cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma are three types of non-small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer also called oat cell cancer, accounts for about 20% of all lung cancer.

Indoor Air Pollution
Asthma can be triggered by many factors, some of which include smoke, pet dander, pollen and other tiny particles found inside the home. In fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that levels of air pollution inside the home can be two to five times higher — and occasionally up to 100 times higher — than outdoor levels. So it’s not surprising that the EPA has declared indoor air quality as one of the top five most urgent environmental risks to public health.

Invisible and odorless, radon gas is a health hazard when it accumulates to high levels inside homes or other structures. Indoor radon exposure is estimated to be the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths each year in the United States. Radon problems have been identified in every state. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that nearly 1 out of every 15 homes in the U.S. has indoor radon levels at or above the EPA’s recommended action guideline level.

Outdoor Air Pollution
Ground-level ozone, a major component of smog, is formed in the atmosphere when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds react in the presence of sunlight. Produced by vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents, ozone is one component of photochemical smog.

Health effects include chest pain, coughing, nausea, throat irritation, and congestion, irritation of the respiratory system, reduced lung function, aggravated asthma, inflamed and damaged cells that line the lungs, aggravated chronic lung diseases, and permanent lung damage.

Fine particulate matter is a complex mixture of very small liquid droplets of solid particles in the air. It may come from factory and utility smokestacks, vehicle exhaust, wood burning, mining, construction activity, and agriculture. These fine particles are easily inhaled deeply into the lungs where they can be absorbed into the bloodstream or remain embedded for long periods of time.

Health effects include wheezing, coughing, and respiratory irritation and exposure may trigger asthma attacks. It is especially harmful to those with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Air Quality Improvement
The American Lung Association is one of the strongest voices for cleaner outdoor air. Each year, the American Lung Association assesses the quality of the air in counties in its annual “State of the Air Report,” solely to help these millions of people understand what the air is like in their home county and in terms familiar to most of us. We are also leaders in the “green home” movement with our  HYPERLINK “http://www.healthhouse.org/” \t “_blank” Health House program that shows builders how to build healthier homes, and educates homeowners on how to make any home a healthier environment.

Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools
“IAQ Tools for Schools” was developed in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is a comprehensive program guide designed to help local schools improve indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality may trigger symptoms of asthma and other problems that decrease performance while at school. “IAQ Tools for Schools” offers sound guidance that gives school officials the ability to improve indoor air quality and create a healthy environment for children and staff.

(Source American Lung Association of N. Dakota)

Posted in Health, Indoor Air QualityComments (2)

Formaldehyde and Indoor Air / Health Canada


CETCI IAQ Monitors and Stationary Transmitters will accommodate a Formaldehyde sensor.

From Health Canada “FORMALDEHYDE AND INDOOR AIR”
Published July 2005

Low-molecular weight aldehydes, such as formaldehyde, are reactive, highly flammable compounds. At room temperature, formaldehyde is a reactive gas.

Extensive reviews of formaldehyde emissions sources have been published by the World Health Organization (WHO 1989), and Environment Canada and Health Canada (2001). Sources that influence indoor levels of formaldehyde can be divided into two broad categories: combustion and off-gassing. Combustion sources include cigarettes and other tobacco products, and open fireplaces. Off-gassing sources include wood products such as particle board and other building materials made with adhesives containing formaldehyde as well as some varnishes, paints, carpeting, drapes and curtains.

Results from studies carried out in Canada since the early 1990s consistently indicate that formaldehyde concentrations in Canadian homes range between 2.5 and 88 µg/m3with an average between 30 and 40 µg/m3(Health Canada 2005).

Assessment Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act
Formaldehyde was declared “toxic” under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 as it is “entering the Canadian environment in a quantity or concentration that constitutes or may constitute a danger for the environment on which life depends and a danger in Canada to human life or health” (Environment Canada, Health Canada 2001).

Residential Indoor Air Quality Guidelines for Formaldehydes
A one-hour exposure limit is established at 123µg/m3(100 ppb), which represents one fifth of the no observable adverse effects level and one tenth of the lowest observable adverse effects level found for eye irritation in the Kulle (1993) study. A eight-hour exposure limit is established at 50µg/m3(40 ppb), i.e., a the lower end of the exposure category associated with no significant increase of asthma hospitalization in the Rumchev, et al., (2002) study.

To read the full article click here to be redirected to the Health Canada website.

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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.