Legionella & Health Care Facilities
In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published information about Legionnaires' disease and health care facilities in their Vitalsigns™ publication. This short video shares some of the agency's knowledge and guidance from that document.
3D Printers & Potential Airborne Exposure Concerns
Three-dimensional or 3D printers as they are commonly referred to, are becoming increasingly popular as the technology advances and costs decrease. Today, 3D printers can be found everywhere, from research laboratories in schools, universities and businesses to factory floors and even in some people's homes.
Crystalline Silica & Respirable Exposures in Construction
In September of 2017, enforcement by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the construction industry's new respirable crystalline silica standard is scheduled to begin. According to the agency, this final rule was issued to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and kidney disease in America's workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica.
Compulsive Hoarding & Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)
Compulsive hoarding is estimated to affect between 2 and 5% of the population according to some estimates. It is a pattern of behavior where the excessive acquisition of items and the inability to discard items can result in a person's home being overrun with stuff.
Marijuana Grow Operations & Potential Occupational Exposure Risks
As more states legalize the use of medical and recreational marijuana, also known as cannabis, commercial grow operations and extraction facilities have become a rapidly growing business in many parts of the country.
VOCs & New Construction
People walking into a newly constructed or recently renovated home or building will often comment about the "new" home or office smell. While this "new" smell is pleasant to some, and may invoke feelings of a clean and fresh indoor environment, usually it actually means the person is being exposed to high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Chrysotile -The Most Common Form of Asbestos Used in the United States
Asbestos is the name for a group of six naturally occurring silicate minerals that can be found in some rocks and soil. Because of the fiber strength and heat resistance of asbestos, it was used extensively for over 100 years in a variety of building construction materials and a wide range of manufactured goods.
Most Common & Expensive Homeowners Insurance Claims
In 2016, The Travelers Companies, Inc. released information about the most common and expensive homeowners insurance claims in the United States, based on their claims from 2009 through 2015. Weather-related incidents were associated with over half of all claims. Wind, freezing and bursting pipes, roof and flashing leaks, and ice dams were all specifically listed by the insurance provider.
Vinyl Chloride & Exposure Concerns
Vinyl chloride is an important industrial chemical that is produced in large quantities as a chemical intermediate for use in manufacturing other products, such as polyvinyl chloride or PVC as it is commonly known. PVC is used to make a variety of plastic products, including pipes, wire and cable coatings, and packaging materials. Vinyl chloride is also produced as a combustion product in tobacco smoke.
Lead - Could It Be In Your Home?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no safe blood lead level in children has been identified and at least 4 million households in the United States have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead.
Asthma - What Happens During an Asthma Attack?
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 24 million people have asthma. The agency also reports that tragically, about 9 people die from asthma each day.
Interesting Facts About the Air We Breathe
For many people with healthy lungs they may never, or at least only rarely, think about what is in the air they breathe. When asked, people inevitably say oxygen makes up air, but this is only one component of what is in the air we all breathe.
Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) - Occupied Buildings & Construction Activities
Construction activities in an occupied home or building can lead to a wide range of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) concerns and even potential health issues. This is due in part to the fact that construction and renovation projects can adversely affect building occupants.
OSHA's Top 10 Citations for 2016
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that more than 4,500 workers are killed on the job each year in the United States. Another 3 million or so are injured. OSHA regulations area meant to protect workers and cover a wide range of hazards. These hazards can imperil worker health and safety and by law, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.
Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, TB and How It Spreads
Tuberculosis, commonly referred to as TB, is caused by a bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately one third of the world's population is infected by the bacteria, but only a small percentage of infected people become sick.
Indoor Mold - Allergen, Irritant, Asthma Trigger and Potential Fungal Pathogen
For mold to grow indoors, it needs moisture and a source of food. Unfortunately, many building materials, furnishings and personal belongings make for an excellent food source. If moisture is allowed to enter the indoor environment it can become an ideal breeding ground for mold in as little as 48 hours or so.
Antimicrobial Resistance & Environmental Pathogens
Disease-causing microbes are known as pathogens; although sometimes they are simply referred to as "germs" or "bugs." Since the 1940s, antibiotics and similar drugs, together called antimicrobial agents, have greatly reduced the number of illnesses and deaths from diseases caused by microorganisms.
Asthma - What is in the Air You Breathe?
According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2014, 7.7% of people in the United States had asthma. That equates to over 24 million people with the chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways.
Beryllium - New Rule to Protect Workers from Occupational Exposures
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule to prevent chronic beryllium disease (CBD) and lung cancer in American workers by limiting their exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds. The new standards contained in the final rule took effect in March of 2017.
Solvents & Exposure Concerns
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) describes solvents as substances that are capable of dissolving or dispersing one or more other substances. Most solvents are liquids, but they can also be a solid or a gas.
Gasoline - Occupational & Environmental Exposures
From each barrel of crude oil, refineries in the United States produce approximately 19 gallons of automotive gasoline. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that in 2015, over 140 billion gallons of gasoline were consumed in the United States alone.
Air Quality Index (AQI) - What It Means For You
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed an Air Quality Index, also known as the AQI, which is used to report daily air quality conditions. It is a tool used by various agencies to provide the public with timely and easy-to-understand information on local air quality and whether air pollution levels pose a health concern.
Manganese - Occupational & Environmental Exposures
Manganese is an element with the symbol Mn and atomic number 25. The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) reports that as a trace element, consuming a small amount from food or water is needed to stay healthy.
Air Ducts - Tips to Prevent Contamination
Air ducts in a home or building allow for ventilation and a path for warm or cool air to provide a comfortable indoor environment for families or building occupants. However, if the ducts become dirty and contaminated they may not operate efficiently and could create indoor air quality concerns.
Welding Fumes & Exposure Concerns
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) states that welding, cutting and brazing are hazardous activities that pose a unique combination of both safety and health risks to more than 500,000 workers in a wide variety of industries. The risk from fatal injuries alone is more than four deaths per thousand workers over a working lifetime.
Antimony - Occupational & Environmental Exposures
Antimony is a silvery-white metal that is found in the earth's crust. Antimony ores are mined and then mixed with other metals to form antimony alloys or combined with oxygen to form antimony oxide.
Ice Arenas & Indoor Air Quality
According to some reports, there are over 3,200 indoor ice arenas in Canada and approximately 1,800 in the United States. These indoor facilities provide a year round place for people to enjoy ice skating and compete in sports. As with all buildings, the air quality of an indoor ice arena is important for the health and safety of guests and employees.
Environmental Industry Certificates of Training vs. Accredited Third Party Certifications
Insurance companies and government agencies can reduce risk and protect the public interest by ensuring that workers are knowledgeable and competent to perform environmental work. To reach this goal, they often require that workers obtain a certificate of training.
Winter Indoor Air Quality Tips
During the winter months, when people spend more time inside, and doors and windows of homes and offices are kept tightly shut, indoor air quality (IAQ) issues and complaints often come to light. This may be due to a lack of fresh air, a dry indoor environment or because of an increased concentration of allergens and indoor pollutants.
Chlorine & Exposure Concerns
Chlorine is an element that is widely used in industry and can be found in some household products. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that it is one of the most commonly manufactured chemicals in the United States.
Respiratory Protection for Workers
Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases a preliminary list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year. The list is compiled from thousands of workplace inspections conducted by federal OSHA staff.
Wood Smoke Exposure & Your Health
Many people burn wood in their homes for heat and ambience during the cold months. The smell of burning wood is pleasant to some people, but even though wood is a natural substance, exposure to wood smoke can be hazardous to one's health.
Cobalt & Cobalt Compound Exposure Concerns
In 2016, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the 14th Report on Carcinogens. It contained newly reviewed substances that are known or reasonably anticipated to cause cancer in humans. Included in this list was the metallic element cobalt and cobalt compounds that release cobalt ions in vivo.
Drinking Water Contaminant Categories
Water makes up approximately 60% of a typical adult male's body. The percentage is slightly lower in adult females, but is even higher in babies and young children. Water serves a number of essential functions and is a vital component of every cell in the human body.
Hair Salons & Formaldehyde Exposure Concerns
Several years ago, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and several State OSHA programs began investigating questions and complaints from hair salon owners and workers about possible formaldehyde exposure from hair smoothing products.
Aspergillosis & Moldy Indoor Environments
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that aspergillosis is a disease caused by a common type of fungus, known as Aspergillus, which lives indoors and outdoors. While the CDC states that most people breathe in Aspergillus spores every day without getting sick, people with a weakened immune system or lung disease are at a higher risk of developing health problems due to exposure.
Backyard Poultry & Salmonella Exposure Risks
An increasing number of people are choosing to raise live poultry in their backyards in both rural and urban communities as more towns and cities change ordinances to allow the practice. Having poultry in the backyard can be an enjoyable experience for many while also producing food for families.
Particulate Matter (PM) Pollution & Your Health
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes particulate matter, also referred to as PM, as a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot or smoke, are large or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye. Others are so small they can only be detected using an electron microscope.
1-Bromopropane (1-BP) & Occupational Exposure Concerns
1-Bromopropane (1-BP), also known as n-propyl bromide, is a colorless liquid solvent with a sweet odor. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) reports that the use of 1-BP has increased in workplaces over the past 20 years.
Noise & Occupational Exposure Risks
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), twenty-two million workers are exposed to potentially damaging noise at work each year in the United States. The agency also reports that U.S. businesses paid more than $1.5 million in penalties last year for not protecting workers from noise and an estimated $242 million is spent annually on workers' compensation for hearing loss disability.
Methylene Chloride & Occupational Exposure Concerns
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) describes methylene chloride, also known as dichloromethane, as a volatile, colorless liquid with a chloroform-like odor. The agency reports that the chemical compound is used in various industrial processes, in many different industries including paint stripping, pharmaceutical manufacturing, paint remover manufacturing, and metal cleaning and degreasing.
Superbugs: CDC's 2013 List of the Biggest Drug-Resistant Threats
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance as the ability of microbes to resist the effects of drugs - that is, the germs are not killed, and their growth is not stopped.
Hydrogen Peroxide & Exposure Concerns
Hydrogen peroxide is a manufactured chemical compound (with the formula H2O2) although small amounts of gaseous hydrogen peroxide occur naturally in the air. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR), hydrogen peroxide is found in many households at low concentrations (3-9%) for medicinal applications and as a clothes and hair bleach.
Ethylene Oxide & Occupational Exposure Concerns
Ethylene oxide is an organic compound (with the formula C2H4O). According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), ethylene oxide (EtO) is produced in large volumes and is primarily used as an intermediate in the production of several industrial chemicals, the most notable of which is ethylene glycol. It is also used as a fumigant in certain agricultural products and as a sterilant for medical equipment and supplies.
Formaldehyde Exposure in RVs, Mobile Homes & Travel Trailers
Exposure to elevated levels of formaldehyde is an important public health issue. Following Hurricane Katrina, when displaced people were temporarily housed in new trailers and mobile homes supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), concerns over exposure to formaldehyde off-gassing from building materials, furnishings and fabrics in these temporary homes gained national attention.
Zika Virus & Occupational Exposure Risks
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that has made international headlines in recent years as it spreads to countries where it had previously not been found. In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) even declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern due to the Zika virus.
Copper - Occupational & Environmental Exposure Concerns
Copper is an element and metal that occurs naturally in the environment. It has been used by humans for thousands of years and today, copper, along copper alloys and compounds, can be found in everything from jewelry, instruments (brass instruments) and coins to building materials (roofs, pipes, plumbing fixtures), electronics, wiring and motors to name just a few applications.
Mold - EPA's 10 Things You Should Know about Mold
In recent times, people have become much more aware of exposure risks to elevated levels of mold in their homes, schools and work environments. High levels of mold indoors can lead to air quality issues and health concerns. Its presence indoors can also result in property damage and expensive repairs.
Asphalt Fumes & Occupational Exposure Concerns
Asphalt as it is referred to in the United States or bitumen, as it is called in many other parts of the world, is found in natural deposits or can be obtained by refining crude oil. The primary use of asphalt is for road construction where it is mixed with aggregate particles. It is also commonly used to seal flat roofs and in waterproofing products such as roof felt and shingles.
Beach Home Maintenance & Indoor Environmental Quality
For many people, having a full time or vacation home on the coast is a dream come true. Having an oceanfront or nearby home can also provide lucrative rental income for property owners. However, these properties come with unique exposure risks and typically require additional preventive maintenance to protect the owner's investment and even the indoor environmental quality of the home.
Ticks & Lyme Disease
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks.
Carbon Monoxide Hazards & Boats
The U.S. Coast Guard's Boating Safety Division warns boaters that exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) can harm or cause death to people both inside and outside of a boat.
Lightning Strikes, Property Damage & Indoor Environmental Quality
During any second, there may be anywhere from 50 to 100 lightning strikes that occur somewhere on the Earth. As lightning passes through the air it can heat the air to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about 5 times hotter than the surface of the sun according to the National Weather Service.
Asbestos & Secondhand Exposure
Asbestos is the name given to six naturally occurring fibrous minerals. Due to the unique properties found in these minerals, they were used for decades in thousands of commercial products and building materials.
Laundry Room - Fire, Water & Mold Prevention
For many people, having a laundry area in their home to wash and dry their clothes is high on their "must have" list. Having a washing machine and clothes dryer in a home provides convenience and increased property values, but they also can increase property damage risks if they are not installed and maintained properly.
Methane & Exposure Concerns
Methane (CH4) is a colorless, odorless and extremely flammable gas that can be explosive when mixed with air. It is a primary component of natural gas and is a major greenhouse gas. It is used to make ammonia, formaldehyde, hydrogen and methanol.
Water Leaks, Termites & Mold
If water damage occurs in home or building, its presence can not only ruin and destroy building materials and personal belongings, it could also result in mold contamination and a termite infestation.
Air Conditioner Preventive Maintenance & Indoor Air Quality
When hot outdoor temperatures arrive, a properly functioning central home air conditioner provides a comfortable indoor environment for building occupants. Depending on where people live, air conditioning could be a luxury or an absolute necessity.
Urban Gardening & Lead Exposure Concerns
In urban locations across the globe, individuals and community organizations have been converting abandoned lots into urban gardens. These urban gardens provide fresh fruits and vegetables while removing urban blight, but in some instances these gardens could contain high levels of lead and other hazardous materials.
Eyewash Stations & Potential Microbial Contamination Risks from Improper Maintenance
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), thousands of people are blinded each year from work-related eye injuries and these injuries cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses and worker compensation.
Rodent Infestations, Property Damage & Indoor Environmental Concerns
Almost everywhere across the globe where people have settled, rats and mice can also be found. These rodents often try to live in and around people�s homes, schools and businesses as they seek shelter and food.
Diacetyl Workplace Exposure Concerns
In early 2016, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published the science blog, Coffee Workers at Risk for Lung Disease. It discusses diacetyl and a diacetyl substitute (2,3-pentanedione) which are both volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are produced naturally and commercially.
Perchlorate & Potential Exposure Concerns
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), perchlorate is a chemical used in items such as rocket fuel, fireworks, road flares and explosives. It also forms naturally in the environment in small amounts.
Hailstorms, Property Damage & Potential Indoor Environmental Concerns
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), hail causes approximately $1 billion dollars in damage to properties and crops each year in the United States.
Seasonal Allergies & Things to Avoid Indoors
Seasonal allergies impact millions of people each year with symptoms ranging from a runny or stuffy nose to itchy eyes. Commonly referred to as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, seasonal allergies begin for many people during the spring months when trees and plants begin to bloom and outdoor pollen and mold counts begin to climb. However, the condition can also occur during other parts of the year.
Sewer Gas and Exposure Concerns
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, sewer gas is a complex mixture of toxic and nontoxic gases that can be present at varying levels depending upon the source. It is formed during the decay of household and industrial waste.
Spring Maintenance Tips for a Healthy Home
Spring ushers in longer days of sunlight and warmer weather and it's also good time to check the condition of a home or commercial property. Performing some preventive maintenance tasks now can help to ensure a property is in good condition to provide a safe, healthy and comfortable place for the months ahead.
Smoke Damage - After the Fire
Building fires destroy or damage many homes and businesses each year. These fires may burn a structure down to the ground, but many others are saved with varying degrees of damage.
Cat Allergens and Your Indoor Environment
According to many estimates, there are over 80 million cats in the United States and approximately one third of U.S. households have a pet cat. While more households are believed to have a dog, the total number of actual cats is thought to be greater than the dog population.
Sewage Contamination, Property Damage & Exposure Concerns
Sewage contamination, two words no property owner ever wants to hear. It can cause devastating damage to a property and create serious exposure concerns for anyone who lives or works in the building.
Lead Exposure Risks in the Work Environment
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that while many people worry about lead in their homes or in the environment, for some the workplace may offer the greatest potential for exposure.
Natural Gas & Exposure Concerns
Natural gas is a fossil fuel which contains methane, a hydrocarbon that is a highly flammable chemical compound. Natural gas is colorless and odorless in its pure form, but gas companies add a warning smell (mercaptans) to it to make it more easily detected if there is a leak.
Pneumonia - Things You Should Know
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness in people of all ages. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria and fungi. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports it is the leading cause of death in children younger than 5 years of age worldwide.
Pros and Cons of Carpeting Your Indoor Environment
Whether building a new home or commercial building, remodeling, or repairing a property due to water damage or another event, choosing the type of flooring to be installed is an important decision.
Furnace Maintenance and Indoor Air Quality
A home's furnace provides a warm and comfortable indoor environment during cold weather. Like all systems in a home, a furnace requires preventive maintenance to ensure that it is working properly, efficiently and is providing good indoor air quality (IAQ).
Nanomaterials and Occupational Exposure Concerns
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter on a near-atomic scale to produce new structures, materials and devices.
Flood Risks & Property Damage
As defined by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a flood is a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow.
Water Heaters, Water Damage & Mold
One of the modern conveniences many people take for granted is hot water in their home or business. A simple turn of the tap provides for a warm bath, shower or hot water for washing dishes and clothes.
Are You Allergic to Your Dog? Tips to Minimize Allergy Symptoms
It has been estimated that there are over 70 million dogs in the United States alone and that perhaps as many as 40% of U.S. households have a pet dog. Their popularity is due to their unique ability to enrich pet owners' lives and provide companionship.
Fire Safety & Indoor Air Quality Holiday Season Tips
The holiday season is a time for friends and family to gather and enjoy each other's company with the ambience of the holidays. Festive meals, decorations, candles and the warmth of a fireplace are all common during this time of year. However, the holiday season is also a time when indoor air quality (IAQ) issues may occur and the number of residential fires peak.
Allergies & Simple Steps for a Healthier Home
A family's home should be their sanctuary where people can relax and enjoy their lives. However, for the millions of people with respiratory allergies, asthma or COPD, their home can sometimes be the source of allergens that can trigger or aggravate their condition.
Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) Treated Wood in Homes & Playgrounds
Chromated copper arsenate, also referred to as CCA, is a pesticide containing chromium, copper, and arsenic that protects wood against termites, fungi and other pests. This inorganic pesticide has been widely used as a wood preservative pesticide since the 1940s.
Acetone & Exposure Concerns
Acetone is a manufactured chemical that can also be found naturally in the environment. It is a colorless liquid that evaporates easily, dissolves in water and is flammable.
El Nino - Preventing Water Damage & Mold
Approximately every two to seven years, an unusually warm area of water develops in the central and east-central equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean. The condition is known as El Nino and it not only impacts the ocean, but can also change weather patterns on land across the globe.
Lead Poisoning - Possible Signs & Symptoms in Children
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead. The CDC also reports that there are approximately half a million U.S. children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the reference level at which the CDC recommends public health actions be initiated.
Attached Garages & Indoor Air Quality Concerns
For many people, having an attached garage is a major convenience that allows them to keep their vehicles out of the rain, snow and hot summer temperatures. Garages also act as a storage and work area for many people. Some properties even house components of the home's mechanical system in the garage.
Dental Offices & Laboratories - Occupational and Environmental Exposure Concerns
In the United States alone, there are hundreds of thousands of dental workers employed at dental offices and laboratories that provide essential services for the rest of the population. These same professionals may face potential occupational hazards due to exposure risks inherent in the profession.
Wind Damage, Moisture and Mold
Thunderstorms, microbursts, tornadoes and hurricanes are all associated with high velocity winds that cause billions of dollars in property damage each year. While certain regions of the world may experience strong winds more frequently than others, they can and do occur virtually everywhere.
Styrene and Exposure Concerns
Styrene is a colorless to yellow liquid that is highly flammable and evaporates easily. It is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that is widely used to make plastics, fiberglass, rubber and latex. It is also used to make polystyrene plastics and resins that can be made into foam and rigid plastic products.
Fall Maintenance Tips for a Healthy Home
Fall brings shorter days, cooler weather and even snow and ice to some areas. It is a good time to check the condition of a home or commercial property and perform some preventive maintenance tasks to help ensure it is in good condition to provide a safe, healthy and comfortable place for building occupants.
Cyclospora & Infection Risks
Cyclospora cayetanensis is a parasite composed of one cell, too small to be seen without a microscope. This parasite causes an intestinal infection called cyclosporiasis. In the United States, outbreaks of the infection have been linked to imported produce.