Fires spur Bay Area smoke warnings again

conifers, environment, fir trees

 

On the heels of the Snell Fire in Napa County, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District [BAAQMD] warns that, once again, smoke from the state’s many still-burning wildfires could pose a threat to the Bay Area, putting a Spare the Air warning in place over the weekend that will last through Tuesday.

According to the BAAQMD, “Upper level smoke from wildfires may impact visibility in northern and eastern parts of the Bay Area,” through September 11. The agency goes on to say that “if it looks smoky outside, avoid physical outside activities” and “keep indoor air as clean as possible” by keeping the windows closed.

Looking at the EPA’s AirNow air quality site, it appears that conditions in the Bay Area over the weekend were consistently clear during what turned out to be a resplendent couple of days in most areas.

On Sunday, for example, patches of “moderate” quality bad air did spread across parts of the North Bay and East Bay, as predicted.

But conditions never worsened beyond the “moderate” level on the EPA’s air quality scale (the second least worrisome measurement of air pollutants). In San Francisco and the rest of the region, skies remained clear.

Today’s AirNow forecast calls for more extensive haze in the North Bay; however, the outlook remains sound for SF and other more southern regions.

Even so, the warning remains in effect.

Article Source: https://sf.curbed.com/2018/9/10/17842368/air-quality-smoke-snell-fire-bay-area

Ashley parents meet with district, elected officials for information on air quality

20180225w_nws_ashley

As students, parents and the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools prepare for summer break, discussions continue about the indoor air quality of an East Winston elementary school.

District administrators and a handful of Board of Education members sat down Monday with parents at Ashley Academy for Cultural and Global Studies to discuss air-quality concerns and what school officials plan to do about them.

Steps have been taken by the board to help improve the school building’s air quality before the new school year, but some in the community have publicly called for further action in the form of a new school building they feel is overdue.

The purpose of Monday’s meetings was to sit down with parents and answer any questions or address concerns they had about the subject.

“They have a plan in place I think that will bring the school up to where it needs to be come August,” said Renee Hairston, who has a grandson at Ashley.

Earlier this semester, concerns about the indoor air quality at the school were expressed to administration and the board.

Two air-quality reports prior to that showed low levels of indoor mold spores.

But a new report released in April showed evidence of mold growth in some HVAC units, and recommended replacing or cleaning the units.

According to the Center for Disease Control’s website, mold can cause allergy and respiratory infections, and worsen conditions such as asthma, for those sensitive to it.

The board voted in early May to go ahead with replacing units during the summer months at a total cost of $1.585 million.

School board member Elisabeth Motsinger said the meeting Monday was positive. “I think it was good to hear directly from parents what their concerns were and to be able to answer their questions with reliable, good and accurate information,” she said.

Hairston said that if she didn’t think the school and the district were taking the right steps, she would not have her grandson return to Ashley next fall.

“But I think they’re taking the right steps,” she said. “They’re doing as much as they can until they get the funds on the referendum to replace the school. So I think they’re doing OK.”

At the May 22 board meeting, a group of concerned citizens under the name #Action4Ashley had a large presence and spoke during public comment, saying they felt not enough attention has been given to Ashley and the air quality. Many asked that funds be moved around in the 2016 bond to speed up the process of designing and building a new Ashley school building.

Article Source: https://www.journalnow.com/news/local/ashley-parents-meet-with-district-elected-officials-for-information-on/article_56f1b024-0ab0-52d7-8863-3401e79a10b7.html

Asbestos exposure at West Los Angeles apartment complex leaves 15 people displaced

 

The Hidden Post Hurricane Health Dangers Lurking Beyond Structural Damage

Hurricane Irma ripped across the Florida peninsula causing widespread damage and power outages. The Department of Homeland Security estimated that immediately after the storm over 15 million Floridian were without electricity. That is 3 out of 4 state residents were dark! Businesses, hospitals and schools have been closed due to a lack of power. In fact, over 35 hospitals across Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina were either forced evacuate or shut down. But the final statistics are far from tallied as it could be weeks until electricity is restored and the areas affected are properly assessed for post hurricane health dangers.

One thing is certain, post hurricane health dangers from building damage with water intrusion, flooding, and lack of operational HVAC, including temperature/humidity control poses health risks to building occupants when they return.

As interior dampness and humidity rise there are several environmental factors that can affect building heath. Even after a building structure has been physically recovered from water damage, occupant health issues can still linger. Though everything may appear visually restored, the interstitial side of a building’s structure might yet be teeming with chemical residue and/or microbial growth. Musty odors or discoloration of interior walls and other places are a primary indicator that microbial remediation is needed. If the discoloration is in multiple places, it is of even more concern as the interstitial sides could be 100 times greater than what is visibly seen.

Even if the building sustained no damage but was without power for an extended period, post hurricane health dangers can still be ongoing. If the building’s HVAC system is down for time then temperature and humidity levels sharply rise creating an ideal ecosystem for mold growth. Once electricity is restored and the HVAC system is brought back online that mold, other hazardous microbes, and volatile organic compounds, as well as degraded fiberglass insulation can be distributed throughout the ductwork to the entire building. There is medical and scientific consensus that this situation poses a health risk to occupants.

Post hurricane health dangers hidden from visual detection can include:
• Fungal/Mold Growth
• Bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, Legionella, etc.
• Volatile Organic Compounds

Professional evaluation, testing, and laboratory analysis is often needed to better identify the extent of water related damage, ongoing environmental conditions, HVAC cleanliness and other post hurricane health dangers that might be hiding in an affected building. Environmental air, bulk, liquid, and surface samples should be collected from the affected areas for bacterial, chemical, and mold laboratory analysis. The environmental test results are critical to determine the microbial/chemical propagation, as well as to facilitate remedial action or justify decision making for any remedial measures.

Hiring an Indoor Environmental Testing Firm to evaluate the ambient conditions of the structure, the HVAC system, interstitial wall cavities, the building’s envelope and more data points can determine the cause(s) of specific health concerns and provide the groundwork for remedial action.

Another option to get started finding post hurricane health dangers in a building is economical DIY test kits. There are different types of kits available, such as the evalu-aire kit, that can be used to collect environmental samples for laboratory analysis. Microbial samples can be tested by using culture or non-culture based methods. If elevated levels microbes or VOCs are reported, then it is best to consult with an indoor environmental professional for a more comprehensive evaluation, analysis and remedial recommendations.

The Department of Homeland 0Security and FEMA issued a Major Disaster Declarationon September 10, 2017 for the state of Florida. DHS acting director Elaine Duke stated nearly 22,000 federal personnel are in Florida to assist in the recovery.

“A storm of this magnitude needs a team effort” Ms. Duke said, “to handle the long and challenging road ahead”.

Pure Air Control Services can provide disaster recovery assistance through its federal General Services Administration (GSA) contract (#GS10-F-0488R) to assist city, county, state and federal governments (including schools) by identifying baseline mold/IAQ conditions and providing specific, definitive remedial recommendations.

Alan Wozniak, President and CEO of Pure Air Control Services said “Normally, our federal contracts are limited to federal agencies. However, since President Trump has declared Texas a disaster area, Pure Air’s federal contract can now be used by city, county and state agencies since under this declaration, federal aid is available to such entities.”

Pure Air Control Services, Inc., can also be easily utilized for emergency IEQ testing and response services with TIPS Interlocal Purchasing System sourcing and Panhandle Area Education Consortium, Florida Buy program for governmental agencies. Building Health Check, LLC, products, such as the evalu-aire DIY test kit, can also be procured using the TIPS vehicle.

You can contact the Building Scientists at Pure Air Control Services for a professional evaluation of your building or home at 1-800-422-7873 ext. 802 or for the DIY evalu-aire contact 1-800-422-7873 ext. 404 or visit IndoorAirTest.com.

About Pure Air Control Services
Pure Air Control Services, Inc. was established in 1984 as a small, mechanical, contracting firm and has since set the industry standard for indoor environmental quality diagnosis, environmental laboratory and remediation. Pure Air Control Services has serviced more than 600 million square feet of indoor environments in over 10,000 facilities. Pure Air’s nationally performed services include: Building Sciences Evaluation; Building Health Check; a CDC ELITE Environmental Microbiology Laboratory; Environmental Project Management; HVAC New Life Restoration and PURE-Steam Coil Cleaning/Mold Remediation Services, among other indoor environmental services. Article Source: http://pureaircontrols.com/post-hurricane-health-dangers-lurking/

What’s in your building’s air?

whats in your buildings air

Human beings are creatures of habit. We all have certain likes and dislikes. One thing most folks can agree on is the preference to be comfortable while at work or leisure when indoors. Temperature and ventilation certainly play big roles in making the indoor environment comfortable. It’s common to notice changes in temperature and adjust the thermostat to maintain comfort. But detecting humidity, oxygen levels, and indoor air quality issues isn’t always as easy. Headaches, stuffy sinuses and feeling tired might very well be related to the air you breathe. What’s in your building’s air?

Studies conducted by the EPA and Harvard among others have found that humans spend 90% of their time indoors within shared spaces. Some studies have even shown that indoor environments can have higher levels of pollutants than what can be found outside. Many of the indoor pollutants either originate in or can be picked up and redistributed by the building HVAC system.

Under normal operating and maintenance conditions the HVAC system can monitor and correct for a multitude of IAQ conditions in your building’s air. But as maintenance is deferred, the air handing unit can become fouled, foster microbial growth, and begin to under perform, eventually breaking down. It is estimated that a little as 3/16 of an inch of dirt lodged in between the fins across an evaporator coil can decrease the efficiency of the unit by 21%!

Other factors, besides the HVAC system, like new office equipment, furniture, renovations and even additional employees can have a negative impact on IAQ as well.

Luckily, the EPA provides a guide to better understand indoor air quality and what can be done to maintain and improve it. “An Office Building Occupant’s Guide to Indoor Air Quality can be viewed here.

A closer look at indoor pollutants.

When examining the pollutants that can affect indoor air quality there are three main categories to consider: biological contaminants, chemicals/gases and particles.

Biological Contaminants
Biological contaminants such as bacteria, fungi (including molds), dust mites, animal dander and pollen can all affect building health. A properly maintained and cleaned HVAC is key to minimizing the growth and distribution of biological contaminants throughout the building. Bacteria and mold can flourish inside of a cool and damp air handling unit. Typically, a musty odor is associated with microbial growth. If excessive concentrations are left unchecked an entire host of health related issues including asthma and allergies can occur.

Chemicals and Gases
Emissions from products used in the building can also contribute to indoor air quality issues. Everything from cleaning products to office equipment like copy machines can put harmful compounds into air, this includes gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Monitoring ventilation rates and controls is important. It is crucial to have a healthy mix of fresh outdoor air exchanged with the indoor air to maintain optimal quality.

Particles
Particulates like dust, dirt, paper fibers or other substances can be brought into a building from outside or produced by activities, like printing, that happen inside of the facility. Good housekeeping and proper filtration can alleviate most particulate issues. Remember, filtration should be designed to fit the specific environment and building use.

OSHA goes into detail about these categories and IAQ management in their guide located here.

Be Proactive and Vigilant

Always stay on top of HVAC maintenance and cleaning. Regular hygienic cleaning, like Pure Air Control Service’s PURE-Steam, can prevent IAQ issues emanating from the HVAC system. PURE-Steam is a high temperature, low pressure, cleaning service that kills microbial growth and flushes dirt from deep within the evaporator coils. It can improve overall system performance and cleanliness. Beyond the HVAC system, Pure Air Control Services also provides PURE-Decon room disinfection, that utilizes a hydrogen peroxide and silver mist to get rid of bacteria, fungi and viruses.

If you have never cleaned your HVAC system then IAQ testing would be a good first step to determining any potential issues. Even a simple HVAC Hygienic Assessment can be helpful in looking at the cleanliness and performance of the system regarding building health and energy efficiency.

Finally, be in-tune with your building’s occupants. Pay attention to common health complaints and where they are concentrated. These complaints are often the frontline in the IAQ battle, and provide early detection to get out in front of any issues before they get worse.

Understanding how IAQ is connected to your HVAC system is a critical step in developing a maintenance plan for the optimal health, comfort and energy efficiency of your building. Article Source: http://pureaircontrols.com/whats-in-your-buildings-air/

Air conditioning use emerges as one of the key drivers of global electricity-demand growth

 

The growing use of air conditioners in homes and offices around the world will be one of the top drivers of global electricity demand over the next three decades, according to new analysis by the International Energy Agency that stresses the urgent need for policy action to improve cooling efficiency.

A new IEA report – “The Future of Cooling” – shows that without new efficiency standards the world will be facing a “cold crunch” from the growth in cooling demand in coming decades.

Global energy demand from air conditioners is expected to triple by 2050, requiring new electricity capacity the equivalent to the combined electricity capacity of the United States, the EU and Japan today. The global stock of air conditioners in buildings will grow to 5.6 billion by 2050, up from 1.6 billion today – which amounts to 10 new ACs sold every second for the next 30 years, according to the report.

Using air conditioners and electric fans to stay cool already accounts for about a fifth of the total electricity used in buildings around the world – or 10% of all global electricity consumption today. But as incomes and living standards improve in many developing countries, the growth in AC demand in hotter regions is set to soar. AC use is expected to be the second-largest source of global electricity demand growth after the industry sector, and the strongest driver for buildings by 2050.

Supplying power to these ACs comes with large costs and environmental implications. One crucial factor is that the efficiency of these new ACs can vary widely. For example, ACs sold in Japan and the European Union are typically 25% more efficient than those sold in the United States and China. Efficiency improvements could cut the energy growth from AC demand in half through mandatory energy performance standards.

“Growing electricity demand for air conditioning is one of the most critical blind spots in today’s energy debate,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the IEA. “With rising incomes, air conditioner ownership will skyrocket, especially in the emerging world. While this will bring extra comfort and improve daily lives, it is essential that efficiency performance for ACs be prioritized. Standards for the bulk of these new ACs are much lower than where they should be.”

The report identifies key policy actions. In an Efficient Cooling Scenario, which is compatible with the goals of the Paris Agreement, the IEA finds that through stringent minimum energy performance standards and other measures such as labelling, the average energy efficiency of the stock of ACs worldwide could more than double between now and 2050. This would greatly reduce the need to build new electricity infrastructure to meet rising demand.

Making cooling more efficient would also yield multiple benefits, making it more affordable, more secure, and more sustainable, and saving as much as USD 2.9 trillion in investment, fuel and operating costs.

The rise in cooling demand will be particularly important in the hotter regions of the world.

Today, less than a third of global households own an air conditioner. In countries such as the United States and Japan, more than 90% of households have air conditioning, compared to just 8% of the 2.8 billion people living in the hottest parts of the world.

The issue is particularly sensitive in the fastest-growing nations, with the biggest increase happening in hot countries like India – where the share of AC in peak electricity load could reach 45% in 2050, up from 10% today without action. This will require large investments in new power plants to meet peak power demand at night, which cannot be met with solar PV technology.

“Setting higher efficiency standards for cooling is one of the easiest steps governments can take to reduce the need for new power plants, and allow them at the same time to cut emissions and reduce costs,” said Dr Birol.

The Future of Cooling” is the second IEA report that focuses on “blind spots” of the global energy system, following the “The Future of Trucks,” which was released in July 2017. The next one in this series – “The Future of Petro-Chemicals” – will examine ways to build a more sustainable petrochemical industry. It will be released in September.

Article Source;

The growing use of air conditioners in homes and offices around the world will be one of the top drivers of global electricity demand over the next three decades, according to new analysis by the International Energy Agency that stresses the urgent need for policy action to improve cooling efficiency.

A new IEA report – “The Future of Cooling” – shows that without new efficiency standards the world will be facing a “cold crunch” from the growth in cooling demand in coming decades.

Global energy demand from air conditioners is expected to triple by 2050, requiring new electricity capacity the equivalent to the combined electricity capacity of the United States, the EU and Japan today. The global stock of air conditioners in buildings will grow to 5.6 billion by 2050, up from 1.6 billion today – which amounts to 10 new ACs sold every second for the next 30 years, according to the report.

Using air conditioners and electric fans to stay cool already accounts for about a fifth of the total electricity used in buildings around the world – or 10% of all global electricity consumption today. But as incomes and living standards improve in many developing countries, the growth in AC demand in hotter regions is set to soar. AC use is expected to be the second-largest source of global electricity demand growth after the industry sector, and the strongest driver for buildings by 2050.

Supplying power to these ACs comes with large costs and environmental implications. One crucial factor is that the efficiency of these new ACs can vary widely. For example, ACs sold in Japan and the European Union are typically 25% more efficient than those sold in the United States and China. Efficiency improvements could cut the energy growth from AC demand in half through mandatory energy performance standards.

“Growing electricity demand for air conditioning is one of the most critical blind spots in today’s energy debate,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the IEA. “With rising incomes, air conditioner ownership will skyrocket, especially in the emerging world. While this will bring extra comfort and improve daily lives, it is essential that efficiency performance for ACs be prioritized. Standards for the bulk of these new ACs are much lower than where they should be.”

The report identifies key policy actions. In an Efficient Cooling Scenario, which is compatible with the goals of the Paris Agreement, the IEA finds that through stringent minimum energy performance standards and other measures such as labelling, the average energy efficiency of the stock of ACs worldwide could more than double between now and 2050. This would greatly reduce the need to build new electricity infrastructure to meet rising demand.

Making cooling more efficient would also yield multiple benefits, making it more affordable, more secure, and more sustainable, and saving as much as USD 2.9 trillion in investment, fuel and operating costs.

The rise in cooling demand will be particularly important in the hotter regions of the world.

Today, less than a third of global households own an air conditioner. In countries such as the United States and Japan, more than 90% of households have air conditioning, compared to just 8% of the 2.8 billion people living in the hottest parts of the world.

The issue is particularly sensitive in the fastest-growing nations, with the biggest increase happening in hot countries like India – where the share of AC in peak electricity load could reach 45% in 2050, up from 10% today without action. This will require large investments in new power plants to meet peak power demand at night, which cannot be met with solar PV technology.

“Setting higher efficiency standards for cooling is one of the easiest steps governments can take to reduce the need for new power plants, and allow them at the same time to cut emissions and reduce costs,” said Dr Birol.

The Future of Cooling” is the second IEA report that focuses on “blind spots” of the global energy system, following the “The Future of Trucks,” which was released in July 2017. The next one in this series – “The Future of Petro-Chemicals” – will examine ways to build a more sustainable petrochemical industry. It will be released in September. Article Source: http://www.iea.org/newsroom/news/2018/may/air-conditioning-use-emerges-as-one-of-the-key-drivers-of-global-electricity-dema.html