Cashins & Associates Blog

Mike Cashins

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Household Products and Indoor Air Quality

Posted by Mike Cashins on Mon, Aug, 27, 2012 @ 14:08 PM

We are routinely asked by family and friends about household products and how they may impact indoor air quality. We came across a study pertaining to the various fragrances that are now available in household cleaners, laundry products, etc. and wanted to share that with our followers.

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Topics: indoor air quality

Torch Cutting on Painted Surfaces - Industrial Hygiene Concerns

Posted by Mike Cashins on Mon, Aug, 13, 2012 @ 16:08 PM

It is well-known that torch cutting or welding on surfaces that are coated with a lead based paint is hazardous. The heating of the paint releases lead fume and creates an exposure hazard to the employees performing this work. The release of lead fume will also contaminate surfaces throughout the work zone which will result in a secondary source of lead exposure. The lead release poses an environmental and community concern as well.

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Topics: industrial hygiene

Industrial Ventilation - Why Periodic Evaluations are Needed

Posted by Mike Cashins on Thu, Jul, 12, 2012 @ 10:07 AM

Industrial ventilation is the primary control of emissions of heat, toxic fumes, particulate substances and dust in the workplace. Its proper management and maintenance are paramount to all businesses, big or small. Periodic evaluations are, therefore, necessary to ensure worker safety within the work area.

Let's take a look at the fundamental reasons why periodic industrial ventilation evaluations are needed.

To ensure the health of workers. A healthy workforce means a healthy business. When workers are assured of optimal well-being, what follows is optimal performance that translates to optimal bottom line. While white-collar workplaces like offices, banks, hotels, restaurants, malls and hospitals are not exempt from contaminated air exposure, industrial sectors are more vulnerable to health hazards. Defective or mismanaged ventilation in industries that use chemicals for the creation of products may expose workers to major health impacts like damage to the lungs, kidneys, liver and sensory organs, among others, as well as death in extreme cases. Since the adverse health effects of overexposure are not immediately known, periodic evaluations on industrial ventilation systems should never be neglected.

To ascertain the safety of workers and business assets. Many industrial accidents are caused by uncontrolled emissions of noxious chemicals that can compromise the safety of workers in workplaces and destroy costly business assets. Clogged exhaust pipes, excessive heat emissions or too much concentration of flammable fumes, for example, can result to fires that can endanger the lives of people and property like buildings and equipment. When lives and property are at risk, it becomes imperative that thorough examination and testing on industrial ventilation systems be done at regular intervals.

To guarantee the efficiency and effectiveness of equipment and operational processes. Periodic and proper industrial ventilation evaluation makes maintenance easier. Remember that effective maintenance is vital for the continuance of an efficient system that helps prevent potential losses. Installing a ventilation system is not a guarantee that airborne contaminants are within allowable levels. Quality routine evaluation thereafter are crucial in order to ensure effective and efficient performance. Moreover, even initially efficient units, if not regularly checked and well maintained, eventually deteriorate resulting in decreased performance and inadequate protection. A poorly maintained ventilation system may be more costly because of equipment impairment and inefficient processes than a well maintained system.

To help bring about a cleaner and safer global environment. An effective ventilation system ensures that air pollutants inside and outside the work area are contained. While there are industrial ventilations that exhaust only the work area, there are more improved types that can remove the contaminants at their source so that they do not escape to the outside air. Some even have filtration systems to prevent dust-like particles made of hazardous metals, stones and other solid particulate substances from being diffused into the environment.

Since there are various types of ventilation systems, it is important that qualified people are performing these critical assessments. When the stakes are high, you cannot afford to take chances and risk peoples' lives and the future of your business. An industrial hygienist is the best choice to perform exhaust ventilation evaluations. Industrial ventilation systems should be evaluated on at least an annual basis to ensure optimal performance and safety.

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Topics: industrial hygiene, exhaust ventilation

Indoor Air Quality - VOCs, What are They?

Posted by Mike Cashins on Mon, Jun, 25, 2012 @ 11:06 AM

VOC Definition

There is currently a trend amongst building designers, builders, and even homeowners, to use products that are more environmentally friendly than some of their counterparts. One way such products have become more "green" is to say that it is "low VOC" or "zero VOC." This then begs the question: what are VOCs and why are they bad? What is their impact on indoor air quality?

To say that these compounds are organic means that they contain a carbon molecule. "Volatile" refers to the compound's potential to transform into a gaseous state at normal room temperature. We all know the smell of new paint as it is applied to walls, or that new car smell that lingers for a while and then dissipates, or the odor that comes along with the installation of new carpeting. These are all examples of organic molecules evaporating from the products and becoming airborne.

Sources

There are many potential indoor sources of VOCs. These include:

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Topics: indoor air quality, air testing

Indoor Air Quality - Office Printers are they Harmful?

Posted by Mike Cashins on Wed, Jun, 06, 2012 @ 13:06 PM

We all know that there is particulate matter in the air – we can see it floating in sunlight or over the beam of a projector. What you might not know is that there are many other particles present in indoor and outdoor air that are much too small to see. These particles, less than 0.1 micron in diameter, are known as "Ultrafine Particles or "Nanoparticles."

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Topics: industrial hygiene, indoor air quality, ventilation assessment

Indoor Air Quality - HVAC Inspections

Posted by Mike Cashins on Thu, May, 31, 2012 @ 11:05 AM

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Topics: indoor air quality, ventilation assessment

Indoor Air Quality - Why Does Mold Smell?

Posted by Mike Cashins on Fri, May, 18, 2012 @ 11:05 AM

We all know it – the smell you get when you enter a dank cellar or crawlspace.  It's a musty, stagnant smell that we immediately associate with mold and moisture.  The question is – why?  Why is this particular smell caused by fungal growth?  The answer may surprise you a bit.

One may hasten to guess that the smell is caused by spores being released by the mold organism.  This, in fact, is not the case.  The smells given off by mold at certain stages of their growth and reproduction are called Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds (MVOCs).  In other words, it is a mixture of various compounds (chemicals) that are being released by the organism as it eats, grows, and multiplies.  In fact, some people have gone as far as to say that a good name for these gases would be "mold farts." It is no wonder that MVOCs can be the cause of occupant indoor air quality complaints.

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Topics: indoor air quality

Industrial Hygiene - It is the Right Thing to Do

Posted by Mike Cashins on Thu, May, 10, 2012 @ 10:05 AM

In celebration of the North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) week the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) has released a video explaining industrial hygiene. It is well done and through clear language and images provides a description of industrial hygiene that is understandable to a wide audience. Check out the video here!

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Topics: industrial hygiene

Indoor Air Quality - What is in Household Dust?

Posted by Mike Cashins on Tue, May, 01, 2012 @ 08:05 AM

In everyday life, household dust is referred to as just that – dust.  Normal, everyday, harmless dust.  It all pretty much looks the same, and can be found pretty much all over the place.  But, have you ever stopped to think about what's really in there?

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Topics: indoor air quality

Lead Paint and Industrial Hygiene - A Tool for OSHA Compliance

Posted by Mike Cashins on Tue, Apr, 24, 2012 @ 14:04 PM

Lead is a toxic material with a low melting point (621˚F) and boiling point (3164˚F). Lead fume generation starts when lead is heated to about 900˚F. The fume generation increases as the temperature increases. It is easy to see that welding or torch cutting on surfaces that contain lead will create lead fume. Welding or torch cutting on painted surfaces is something that should never be done.

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Topics: industrial hygiene, hazardous building materials

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