Exposing Indoor Air Quality: Monitoring And Energy Efficiency Are Helping

Harmful pollutants are spewing everywhere, including indoors. And while the focus is on those external emissions created by power plants, industrial facilities and automobiles, there is solid reason to turn inward: The level of volatile organic compounds — gases from solids and liquids — is 10 times greater indoors than it is outdoors.

That’s according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which adds that dirty air, generally, inside of commercial and residential buildings is two-to-five times greater than what is outside. And that is leading to health problems. In extreme cases, think of burning coal or wood for indoor cooking and heating in developing countries. The good news is that the technologies exist to monitor air quality and to improve energy efficiencies.

“As we learn to live a healthier lifestyle by eating better, we can also live a healthier lifestyle by breathing better,” Vasileios Nasis, chief executive of the Netronix Group in Philadelphia told this writer. In doing so, he adds that “You can also contribute to energy savings.”

As for Netronix, its relatively inexpensive instruments are installed within a business or home that gather data associated with air quality, all in real time. That information is then stored in the company’s cloud software, which it monitors for a monthly fee. At the appropriate times, managers or consumers are notified to shift their usage patterns. That not only cuts down on electricity bills and pollutant levels but it can also improve the performance of existing equipment.

Green schools, for instance, say that they use a third less energy than conventionally-constructed schools, which cuts down on their utility costs and improves the air that students breathe. Ditto for hospitals, which must have sterile environments. By installing devices that can measure air quality, managers are notified of problems before they happen.

The Payback

There’s a range of solutions with quick paybacks. Creating real change means controlling demand at large plants and commercial buildings. Experts can study a facility’s technologies and operating protocols and determine where the pitfalls lie. They can then provide a good range of retrofits and the potential savings that those innovations will produce.

The World Health Organization is actively addressing air pollution. Worldwide, it says that a third of cardiovascular diseases can be linked to indoor and outdoor pollution while 29% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease deaths are tied to poor indoor air quality.

William J. Fisk, with the Indoor Environment Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, writes that the annual savings and productivity gains would be greater than $200 billion. That includes everything from reduced respiratory disease to improvements in worker performance. 

“It is very difficult to control air quality outside,” says Netronix’s Nasis, “but we can control it inside. In the process, we can save tons of energy while we also save money and preserve the environment.” 

One of the most common pursuits today is for buildings to get LEED certified to ensure that commercial construction meets modern standards. Such standards look at how buildings are fueled as well as water efficiency and indoor air quality.

According to the Green Building Council, offices consume 70% of the electricity load in the United States. They also account for roughly 38% of all greenhouse gas emissions and over the next 25 years, CO2 emissions from those structures are projected to grow faster than any other sector, at 1.8% a year.

The companies that occupy those structures are going green to improve their brands. But they are also doing so because they can save money. One of the easiest ways to achieve environmental and energy savings is through lighting retrofits.

Consider Nissan Motor Co., which is allocating more capital to energy efficiency: Altogether, the company says that it has implemented $2.6 million worth of energy efficiency projects since 2012 while saving $2.1 million a year and preventing tons of carbon releases.

Hilton Hotels and Amazon’s Whole Foods, furthermore, are helping out each other. Hilton, for example, suggested to Whole Foods that it use more natural lighting whereas Whole Foods thought Hilton ought to use more advanced lighting that dims when no one is around.

When it comes to cutting emissions, most of the focus is on external sources such as power plants. But it is also imperative that commercial and residential structures become more energy efficient, which will have an equally profound impact on the environment and on workers’ health.  

Article Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2018/05/14/exposing-indoor-air-quality-monitoring-and-energy-efficiency-are-helping/#77ad216f6eb0

12 Maintenance Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Spring

Maintaining a healthy home goes beyond dusting and vacuuming. When is the last time you checked your smoke alarms? How about the last time you cleaned out your dryer vent? Follow the tips below to make sure your family and home are ready for a happy, clean spring season.

Clean Gutters

Grab a ladder, and check your gutters for debris. Remove as much as you can with your hands (Don’t forget to wear gloves!). Remove any leftover gunk with a garden hose. Take off any nozzle and have a helper turn on the water when you’re ready. Shove the hose into the downspout to power out of gooseneck bends. Make sure your downspouts channel water at least five feet from foundation walls.

Scrub Walls, Baseboards and Outlets

Scrub all the walls — in the bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms and living areas — with a sponge or brush and mild soap and water. This includes baseboards and outlets. Make sure to completely dry outlet covers before replacing.

Replace Filters

Tom DiPace/AP Images

Replace all filters including water, range hood and air vent filters. You should replace these filters every 3-6 months depending on the type of filter you have.

Clean Faucets and Showerheads

Unscrew the faucet aerators, sink sprayers and showerheads, and soak them in equal parts vinegar and water solution. Let them soak for an hour, then rinse with warm water.

Clean Out the Dryer Vent

Sarah Wilson / Getty Images

A clogged dryer vent can be a fire hazard. To clean it, disconnect the vent from the back of the machine and use a dryer vent brush to remove lint. Outside your house, remove the dryer vent cover and use the brush to remove lint from the other end of the vent line. Make sure the vent cover flap moves freely.

Wash Exterior Windows

Hire a window-cleaning service to clean all exterior windows.

Keep Allergens Away

Photos: Christopher Shane/Styling: Elizabeth Demos

Keep dust, mold and pollen at bay by decluttering your home, checking pipes for leaks and keeping the air clean. Follow these 5 steps to an allergy-free home>>

Check Foundation Vents

A house with a crawl space has vents along the foundation walls. The vents provide air circulation that helps prevent excess moisture and mold growth, and they prevent critters from taking up residence underneath your home. The screens collect leaves and other debris from fall and winter. Spring is a great time to clean them out and check for damage. Clean the vents by hand or use a shop vacuum. Repair any damaged screens — critters can get through even the smallest holes.

Clean the Grill

Frank Murray

Your grill has most likely collected dust during fall and winter. Help your grill live a long life with these maintenance tips, whether you have a charcoal or gas grill.

Prep Your Garden

Julie Forney

You can’t have a successful garden without good soil. Follow these tips on how to prepare your soil to help you grow a lush garden.

Test Smoke Alarms

Test smoke alarms and CO detectors, and change out batteries as needed. It’s cheap, only takes a few minutes and can save your family’s lives.

Clean Outdoor Furniture

Emilee Ramsier

Outdoor entertaining season is just around the corner. Learn the best ways to clean all outdoor furniture (recipes included), from plastic to canvas.

https://www.diynetwork.com/made-and-remade/fix-it/12-maintenance-tips-to-get-your-home-ready-for-spring

Living Sustainably: Standards help make spaces more healthy

When designing a building, most architects consider the functions of the building to determine the building structure and materials. However, the WELL Building Standard rating system v1.0, launched in 2014, has increased the consideration of human health in design and construction strategies.

Seven years of development helped formulate seven wellness concepts included in the WELL Building Standard. A WELL building certification must demonstrate specific thresholds of compliance within each of those concepts: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. The International Building Institute, which administers the voluntary WELL standard, is committed to balancing occupant health benefits with profitability.

Each concept in the WELL Building Standard has many features that focus on specific aspects of occupant health, comfort or knowledge. It also identifies specific aspects of human health it will impact.

As an example, consider the following about the first feature, Air Quality Standards.

Air pollution contributes to 50,000 annual premature deaths in the United States and about 7 million annual premature deaths worldwide. Indoor air quality is particularly important since the average person spends more than 90 percent of their time indoors.

Indoor air quality can suffer from a variety of sources, including material off-gassing, decreased outdoor air ventilation, indoor combustion sources, and surfaces that can accumulate airborne germs.

These conditions can contribute to negative health effects such as asthma, upper respiratory illnesses, allergies, headaches, and decreased work productivity.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates indoor pollutant exposure and pollutant concentrations with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. These standards limit exposure to six major pollutants: carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particular matter, and sulfur dioxide.

The WELL Building Standard incorporates these U.S. standards, as well as the World Health Organization requirements.

Those compliance requirements also limit exposure levels for formaldehyde and radon. A radon kit can be purchased for testing and then mailed in to obtain free results. Formaldehyde, a carcinogenic, can be released into the interior spaces from adhesives in new materials, called off-gassing.

    • There are three easy ways to remove indoor air pollutants.
    • Increase outdoor ventilation by opening windows and/or doors as well as turning on exhaust fans.
    • Purchase High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that have different diameters of fibers that can retain smaller airborne pollutants.
    • Avoid materials and products that might contain chemicals or produce chemicals such as those for which the National Ambient Air Quality Standards recommends limited exposure.

Another option is that certain plants can absorb chemicals. The gerbera daisy and chrysanthemums are most effective at removing formaldehyde. Spider plants are best for removing carbon monoxide.

Good indoor air quality is important for everyone’s health. It is helps occupants live longer, feel better and be more productive.

— Morna Hallsaxton has degrees in interior design and environmental design and operates EcoCreative Design, an interior design business with an emphasis on healthy environments. Her work has included reviewing LEED projects, auditing BIFMA Furniture Sustainability Standard compliance and certifying products for environmental volatile organic compound emissions.

Article Source: http://www.hollandsentinel.com/news/20170716/living-sustainably-standards-help-make-spaces-more-healthy

Vapor Intrusion: What FMs Need to Know

Vapor intrusion is the migration of potentially harmful chemical vapors into a dwelling or occupied building from a subsurface source. This migration can lead to an accumulation of chemical-containing vapor. Evidence of toxic vapor intrusion is often found at various sites where manufactured chemicals such as petroleum hydrocarbons and chlorinated solvents are present in the groundwater, soil, or soil vapor. As vapor intrusion occurs, a building’s habitable indoor air quality is negatively affected and can lead to possible health risk. The types of chemicals which are major culprits in the concern of vapor intrusion are volatile organic compounds (e.g., trichloroethylene), petroleum hydrocarbons (e.g., gasoline), and semi-volatile organic compounds (e.g., naphthalene).

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, recognition of soil vapor intrusion to buildings and other enclosed spaces occurred in the 1980s with concerns over radon intrusion. There was an increasing awareness that  man-made chemicals in soil, groundwater, and sewers could pose a threat to indoor air quality.

In addition to health risks that vapor intrusion poses, there are financial implications to this environmental condition as well. There are lawsuits on record of having been filed against various businesses for their dangerous air quality due to vapor intrusion. Class action lawsuits have been settled at upwards of $8 million in certain cases.

The source of a vapor intrusion risk is not always on the property being developed. Soil, groundwater, and soil vapor contamination can migrate a great distance, depending on soil characteristics, from the initial location of release onto adjacent properties as well as properties considerably down gradient. This movement of chemicals may result in a vapor intrusion risk below a proposed or existing structure without there having been any history of storage or use of these chemicals on the property at issue.

Solutions

From a new construction point of view, land assessments are continuing to become more thorough. Doing their due diligence on the history of the land and being sure to test for the presence of the volatile chemicals is becoming a standard operating procedure before finalizing plans on a new development. If it is determined that vapor intrusion is indeed a real potential risk for the site, architects are now specifying that something be done to mitigate this risk. This mitigation comes in the form of chemical vapor barriers, not to be confused with standard moisture barriers (too often referred to as vapor barriers). Chemical vapor barriers are being laid down underneath the foundation to block dangerous vapors from migrating into the habitable zone of the future building. Contractors are receiving the specifications of new projects that include a chemical vapor barriers on a more regular basis.

But what if there is a vapor intrusion risk in a facility that is already standing? Is there anything that can be done at this point? Fortunately, there are solutions for this type of situation.

There are chemical vapor-barrier products that are specifically designed for existing structures. Sealant materials are applied to the top of the slab as opposed to the bottom, as they would if the chemical vapor barrier were applied before the foundation is laid. Facility managers are finding this retroactive installation of a chemical vapor barrier attractive because it not only acts as a useful vapor mitigation system but it also doubles as a finished floor surface. Because it coats the floor, the system is always “on” and always working. Alternatively or in addition to the sealant product described above, is the installation of a depressurization system below the slab in order to provide a piped pathway leading chemical vapors away from the interior of a structure. These are known as sub-slab depressurization systems. Essentially, these systems act as a fan blowing out any contaminants. However, these systems do have to be continually powered, require a level of maintenance to ensure continued effectiveness, and require trenching below the slab and reconstruction of the slab to install.

It is important for a facility manager to understand if there are harmful chemical vapors migrating into an existing structure. After testing, if it is determined that there is a risk, the next step would be to consult a chemical vapor installation professional to do a site assessment and help determine the best course of action.

Wesley Robb is director of technical strategies and applications of Vapor Mitigation Strategies and has more than 23 years of environmental field and laboratory experience including several years of soil vapor sampling and analyses. He can be reached at wes@vapormitigationstrategies.com.

Article Source: http://www.facilitiesnet.com/iaq/article/Vapor-Intrusion-What-FMs-Need-to-Know–17174

Foul Smell around You? Could be an Indoor Air Quality Problem

Have you been puzzled lately by various types of odors such as scented products, air fresheners, laundry detergent, personal care scents, or others? A survey of selected consumer goods showed some of these kinds of products may emit volatile organic compounds. Some of these compounds are classified as toxic or hazardous by law. Some of these aromatic compounds can be the source of IAQ problems. These compounds may be inorganic or organic in nature. They can emit pleasant and unpleasant odors.

aroma

By the end of the 19th century, more synthetic ingredients started replacing the natural products, such as essential oils in perfumes and other cleaning products. Over 3000 fragrance ingredients are estimated to be used in these products. Approximately over 12% of the population suffers from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). The emitted volatile chemicals by these products may pose an issue or nuisance to these individuals.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission regulates the cleaning supplies, air fresheners, and laundry products and the Food and Drug Administration oversees the personal care products. However, the manufacturers are not enforced to disclose some of the ingredients due to copyright and trade secret issues. Some common compounds which may be toxic or unpleasant includes, but is not limited to, acetaldehyde, acetone, ethanol, benzaldehyde, isopropyl alcohol, pinene, benzyl acetate, ethyl acetate, isoamyl acetate, cymene, limonene, etc. These compounds, after emitting from their source materials, can also give rise to byproducts such as ozone, formaldehyde, etc. which have adverse effects on health and hygiene.

Therefore it is important to take people’s complaints seriously on the above issue. To assess the exposure risks, it is essential to estimate these chemicals in and around the individual’s dwellings. A number of tests, from Do-It-Yourself screen tests to detailed environmental diagnostic evaluations are available to help identify indoor environmental contaminants of these chemicals resulting from various products used in our day-to-day lives.

Contact Dr. Rajiv Sahay, CIAQP, FIAS at (800) 422-7873, Ext. 304 for additional information.

Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab):

Alan Wozniak founded Pure Air Control Services, Inc. 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.

The Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab) (established in 1992) at Pure Air Control Services (PACS) is an environmental lab offering complete and comprehensive indoor environmental microbiology laboratory services. They include: microbiology, aerobiology, chemistry, allergen assays and microscopy designed to meet all your indoor air needs. EDLab supports IAQ investigations by assisting with strategic sampling plan development and supplying media collection equipment while performing a wide range of environmental analyses.

The company’s expanding client roster includes the General Services Administration (GSA); US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Allstate Insurance; Carrier Air Conditioning; US Naval Air Warfare Center, Orlando; and Naval Air Station – King’s Bay, Georgia, and many other Fortune 500 companies, school boards, and city, state, and county governments, making Pure Air Control Services/EDLab the reliable industry leader in IAQ.

Article Source: http://pureaircontrols.com/foul-smell-around-indoor-air-quality-problem/