Art

Art Restoration Solvents Could Cause Health Risks for Workers

Anyone who works in the art restoration industry knows that the work they perform takes a delicate touch and fumes or airborne contaminants from the chemicals used during this process could endanger not only the worker, but also the art.

Since certain pieces of artwork need to be preserved at the highest standard so the object, artifact or painting can last for as long as possible, art restorers must use different solvents and thinners to get pieces looking their best. According to Art Sparx, a solvent can break down paint and varnish components to successfully get colors and surfaces to look like they were just painted.

Dust, moisture, and other factors all can turn artwork into ruined or damaged pieces if they are not properly restored over the years. Eventually, artwork on any sort of canvas or paper will begin to lose its color without the right solvents, the source reported.

Art Restoration Solvents Can Cause Serious Side Effects

When solvents are exposed to the human body, such as on-hand and eyes or inhaled, serious health risks are a concern if the art restoration process is not performed in a well-controlled air environment. According to an article from L. Dei, P. Baglioni, and G. Sarti, titled “Aging Effects on Ammonium Carbonate/Acetone Solutions and Cleaning Works of Art,” ammonium carbonate solutions are the most popular methods to clean specific pieces of artwork.

“By applying this solution to the surface with cotton wool, wood pulp or paper poultices, it is possible to remove many kinds of dirt,’ for example, soot, present on works of art such as wall paintings, marble, and stone,” the report stated. “Generally speaking, cleaning with these aqueous solutions is not sufficient and restorers, therefore, use organic solvents to remove water-insoluble impurities.”

Even though these chemical solvents are used on a regular basis, the hazards of ammonium carbonate can cause eye and skin irritation, digestive tract irritation, and result in respiratory tract irritation as well, a material safety data sheet from Iowa State University reported.

To prevent these harmful contaminants from lingering in the air and harming art restorers, facilities need to invest in benchtop fume extractors to catch the hazardous airborne contaminants at the source. This equipment is ideal for anyone in the art restoration industry because it can fit most working spaces and helps remove harmful airborne particles from the workspace even if it’s a high-capacity facility.

Air Purification Safeguards Priceless Works of Art in the Sistine Chapel

With high pollution levels putting some of the world's most famous masterpieces housed in the Sistine Chapel at risk, the through new air purification systems

With high pollution levels putting some of the world’s most famous masterpieces housed in the Sistine Chapel at risk, the Vatican is hoping to save artwork through new air purification systems, The Associated Press reported.

The head of the Vatican Museums recently announced pollution in the Sistine Chapel have reached levels that may further damage its artwork. Recent studies indicate that the chapel’s almost 5.5 million annual visitors are adding to dust and humidity that pose a risk to various pieces of art, according to Religion News Service.

During the peak tourism season for the Sistine Chapel, 20,000 people walk through its halls each day – a figure that is three times the number of visitors compared to the last 30 years – bringing in dirt and dust along with them. In addition to Michelangelo’s painting depicted on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, the chapel contains the works of Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli and Luca Signorelli.

Restoration at the chapel last took place in the 1990s, with the frescoes ending up brighter than what Michelangelo would have envisioned, according to critics of the restoration. Director Antonio Paolucci was hesitant about having another major restoration. He said restoration is “traumatic” for the artwork.

“There won’t be any more restorations,” he said. “But maintenance continues.”

Air Filtration Systems Help Preserve Artwork’s Integrity

Instead of having another restoration, the Vatican Museums plan to maintain the integrity of its valuable artwork through the use of air purification systems. Paolucci said levels of dust, humidity and carbon dioxide are expected to be controlled through the chapel’s set of air purifiers as well as a new air conditioning system. These systems will be installed at what is usually the site of papal elections and should be operational by the end of 2014.

The Vatican aims to reduce the amount of pollution to a maximum of 800 particles per million. During the Sistine Chapel’s highest concentration of pollution, this level is more than 1,600 particles per million, according to officials.

While Paolucci said he was confident the new air purifying and conditioning system will help reduce the dulling and discoloration of the chapel’s artwork, if pollution inside the chapel is not curbed, the Vatican may be forced to limit its number of visitors.

“If this project doesn’t work, I’ll be forced to impose a limited number (of visitors),” Paolucci said. “But that would be a painful solution.”

Danger: Silica Dust! Proper Ventilation & Source Capture Are Key

In late March 2016, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration released its final rule regarding worker protection from the dangers of breathable silica dust.

With the implementation of the final rule, which has been debated for decades, OSHA estimated more than 600 lives will be saved annually, in addition to 900 or more cases of silicosis being deterred. The agency also stated the final rule will result in net benefits of $7.7 billion on a yearly basis.

The rule becomes effective June 23, 2016, but companies in various industries will have time to comply. Organizations in construction will need to meet the final rule’s compliance by June 23, 2017, while general industry and maritime have until June 23, 2018. Some of these compliance requirements will involve the implementation of modern air filtration systems to filter out the harmful particles.

Companies overseeing oil and hydraulic fracturing operations have more time to meet the requirements, as the deadline for this industry is not until June 23, 2021.

“More than 80 years ago, Labor Secretary Frances Perkins identified silica dust as a deadly hazard and called on employers to fully protect workers,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said. “This rule will save lives. It will enable workers to earn a living without sacrificing their health. It builds upon decades of research and a lengthy stakeholder engagement process – including the consideration of thousands of public comments – to finally give workers the kind of protection they deserve and that Frances Perkins had hoped for them.”

Silica dust.

New Regulations

The final rule will create a new permissible exposure, also known as PEL, for airborne crystalline silica of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air over an eight-hour shift. These new measurements will become the standard for construction, maritime and general industries and are 50 percent less than the old PEL standards, and 80 percent less than the old standards in the maritime and construction industries, Bloomberg BNA stated.

Additionally, the 50 μg/m3 PEL was first recommended as a safe level back in 1974 by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

With these new PEL standards, approximately 2.3 million employees are exposed to silica dust while on the job. Of that number, 940,000 will still be exposed to levels exceeding the new standard.

What is Silica, and Why is it Harmful?

According to OSHA, crystalline silica is found in granite, soil, and sand, among other minerals. The agency also stated that quartz is the most common form of silica, as it’s typically found in stones, concrete, rocks, and more. Silica dust comes from the process of cutting, drilling, or sawing these materials.

Silica dust is especially dangerous to individuals when it is inhaled, the small particles can end up inside the lungs. Over time, the buildup of these particles may lead to serious illnesses, such as silicosis, kidney disease or lung cancer.

Silicosis is especially dangerous because currently, there is no cure for it. The disease forms when scar tissue forms on the lungs, which then reduces one’s ability to breathe, and in turn, an individual then becomes more vulnerable to other lung illnesses, such as tuberculosis.

In most instances, individuals will not develop silicosis until years after the exposure. OSHA stated that chronic silicosis doesn’t start to occur until after nearly 15 to 20 years of low to moderate exposure to silica. Symptoms are not immediately noticeable and individuals will usually have to undergo a chest X-ray. Over time, those with chronic silicosis will experience a shortness of breath while exercising, and as the illness worsens, periods of fatigue and chest pain will occur.

Workers exposed to high silica levels may develop accelerated silicosis, which may start affecting an individual 5-10 years down the line. Symptoms are more severe, as someone may lose weight and become physically weak.

“The new rule requires ventilation systems be used to help decrease the amount of silica dust.”

The Role of Ventilation

During an interview with EHS Today, masonry trainer Tom Ward said the new compliance requirements can generally be met with materials found at a local hardware store. Workers can also protect themselves by using water to limit the amount of silica dust created.

With regular training and proper safety gear, worksites can protect employees and lower silica levels at the same time. In fact, the new rule requires ventilation systems be used to help decrease the amount of silica dust. Fume extractors, for instance, can collect silica as a worker is completing their work at a personal workstation.

Larger ventilation systems can also be used to ensure any lingering particles are filtered out. The final rule is 1,772 pages, and among the document – currently available on the Federal Register – is a section dedicated to some of the costs of ventilation systems. This information will help employers know what to expect as the deadline for compliance approaches.

Additionally, companies can also contact Air Impurities Removal Systems to find out the air ventilation systems best suited for the removal of silica dust in order to preserve the health of workers.

Saving Mona Lisa: Eliminate Indoor Air Pollution

Eradicate indoor air pollution in order to preserve precious works of art

Eradicate indoor air pollution in order to preserve precious works of art

In the art conservation industry, professional painting conservators will tell you that regardless of the monetary worth of your artifact, indoor air pollution will, at some point, negatively affect the intrinsic value of the piece. In fact, as soon as an artist finishes his or her creation, aging and deterioration begin. (1) Whether it’s fine art or a painting that is merely decorative, an object’s curator must be prepared to protect it.

Almost any surface – textile, fabric, wood or paper – can be used as a base for paint. Artists most often use paper or canvas and with both materials, there is a natural aging process. Even if meticulous care is given to a particular painting, deterioration will inevitably take place.

Degeneration of painted works of art occurs due to a number of factors, including moisture, heat, light, indoor air pollution and pests. Damage can be sudden or transpire over a long period of time. Some factors, like heat and light, can be addressed from the outset with specialized resources. And if pests are discovered, control efforts can be employed. But issues such as pollution and poor indoor air quality are more insidious due to the fact that fumes and gasses cannot be seen. Airborne pollutants can originate from sources in the atmosphere or from emissive products and objects. Many conventional paints, for example, emit gaseous VOCs (volatile organic compounds), such as formaldehyde. (2) And numerous products used to clean paintings, such as methyl ethyl ketone and acetone, are toxic.

Because of this ongoing threat, the work of painting conservators is hugely important. Art conservation includes the cleaning, preserving and repairing of works of art in addition to ethical mindfulness and scientific consideration. Within this specialized industry, those who work in preservation deal with controlling agents of deterioration such as humidity, temperature, pests, light, and dust and air pollution. Those who work on the restoration end care less about a painting’s history and more about aesthetics; about making a piece look new and polished while appearing to look original. For example, restoration can include repairing an item that has suffered paint loss, a weakened canvas, tears or other damage. Conserving preserves the structural stability and visual appearance, such as removing old varnish, repairing a torn canvas or securing flaking paint. (3)

Take the National Gallery’s collection, for example. There are upwards of 4,000 paintings, all created with varying types of enamels, oils, glues and wax. The art conservators on staff work around the clock to preserve and restore their paintings from the effects of pollutants and age. (4)

Broadly defined, a pollutant is a substance that has a detrimental effect on the environment and can cause harm to a person or object (including the health of a living thing). Impurities can be generated in or out but typically do the most damage when they are produced and located indoors. Airborne pollutants continue to challenge art conservators due to the fact that they are often invisible and signs of contamination do not appear until after damage has occurred. (5)

But art conservators have tools to combat poor indoor air quality in the form of pollution removal systems such as our bench-top and wall-mount source capture systems both of which provide the ultimate combination of consistent airflow along with superior filtration all in a compact design.

At Air Systems Inc., we serve our painting conservation customers by providing indoor air quality management solutions in addition to stellar IAQ products. Our air impurity removal systems create clean air to protect valuable works of art so that people can continue to enjoy them for many years to come.

Contact us today for a free air quality assessment with one of our skilled and experienced indoor environmental specialists.

Longevity of Museum Artifacts Depends on Indoor Air Quality

Longevity of Museum Artifacts Depends on Indoor Air Quality 1

Museums are home to some of the world’s most beloved objects. Regardless of the type of displays or exhibits, curated pieces must be cared for scrupulously. To achieve this, indoor air quality must be clean and free of impurities.

The preservation of artwork and historical artifacts is the central duty of curators and museum administrators. While many items are showcased in a protective case, most display items are not, so facility operators must ensure that an environment conducive to indoor air pollution does not exist. A contaminated IAQ is a threat to precious objects, especially those historical in nature. If lighting, temperature, and humidity levels are less than ideal, deterioration can take place.

According to The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, temperatures that are either too hot or too cold can damage materials such as wood, rubber, and metal. Therefore, artifacts should be stored in spaces with proper ventilation and climate-controlled filtration systems. In addition, areas such as basements, attics, and sheds should be avoided when warehousing important items. While such places may seem logical for storage, environmental conditions such as poor humidity and air circulation can encourage a collection of pollutants that could harm precious goods.

Humidity represents the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. High humidity can quickly damage important documents, as mold and pests are particularly fond of paper, parchment, and textiles. Even metal can be affected, as high moisture levels can cause it to rust over time. But low humidity can also be problematic. Objects can become brittle and prone to breakage if there is not enough moisture in the air.

Maintaining Good Indoor Air Quality

Poor air circulation such as a lack of constantly moving, purified air allows chemicals, vapors, and other impurities to damage not only documents, but also items such as wood frames, metal sculptures, and marble statues.

To protect their inventory, museum workers should follow specific air quality measures to prevent their indoor environment from turning hazardous. For example, textiles and paper-products should be stored in climate-controlled areas, and according to The National WWII Museum, documents should be kept at temperatures below 72 degrees Fahrenheit and at a humidity level ranging from 50 to 55 percent.

The last line of defense against environmental damage to museum objects is the use of high-quality air filtration equipment. For buildings already equipped with these systems, regular maintenance should be employed to guarantee all components continue to function properly.

Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc. takes pride in the service they provide to their customers in the museum industry. Please contact us today for a FREE clean air analysis from one of their highly skilled environmental specialists.

Poor Indoor Air Quality Negatively Affects Employee Health, Productivity

While employers may concentrate on employee management techniques that will help increase productivity, they may neglect to focus on a factor that will influence both worker output and health: indoor environmental quality. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines indoor environmental quality as the quality of a building’s environment when connected to worker health and well-being. NIOSH said this determinant of employee well-being is often influenced by air quality.

Numerous studies have connected the effects of air pollutants to worker productivity, showing impurities in the air may actually lower productivity and therefore economic growth.

Since worker productivity is often dependent on health, employees may feel less productive if air pollution is affecting their health, according to nonprofit Brookings Institution. Air impurities may have more severe effects as they could lead to more respiratory problems and a higher chance of infant mortality.

Removing Indoor Air Pollutants Increases Building Energy Efficiency

Another study published by the International Centre for Indoor Environment and Energy, Technical University of Denmark suggested indoor air quality contributes to lower productivity because building occupants may feel uncomfortable.

The study authors found getting rid of sources of air pollution, such as floor-coverings, helped improve indoor air quality. Another method used to enhance the building’s environmental quality was to supply them with clean outdoor air.

Since ventilation is a key part of worker safety and productivity, employers should focus on providing their workers with adequate ventilation to increase air circulation and reduce the number of pollutants in an indoor space.

While authors said having higher amounts of outdoor air helped, the study found building energy use is significantly impacted by various efforts to reduce pollutant levels. 

“It is usually more energy-efficient to eliminate sources of pollution than to increase outdoor air supply rates,” the Denmark-based study concluded. “The experiments summarized in this article have documented and quantified relationships that can be used in making cost-benefit analyses of either solution for a given building.”

As an energy-efficient way to remove air impurities, companies should invest in air filtration systems to extract pollutants and replace them with clean air to enhance worker productivity and health. Since workers can greatly benefit from cleaner indoor air that could lead to higher output, companies may see higher revenue growth. 

By Chris Zehner

Indoor air pollution and air quality news brought to you by Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc.

Indoor Air Quality in the Time of Covid-19 2020 Year End Review

Indoor Air Quality in the time of Covid-19 2020 Year End Review 3

2020 has been a year of significant events in America. Our president was impeached. The stock market crashed. Wildfires ravaged parts of the west coast and murder hornets wreaked havoc on honeybee colonies. Civil rights protests continue alongside legal challenges to the results of our national election. And of course, COVID.

Of these trials, none have been more life-changing than Covid-19. The statistics are staggering:

Infections, Global: 77,557,000+
Deaths 1,707,000+

Infections, U.S.: 18,058,000+
Deaths 320,000+ (as of 12/23/20) (1)

At various locations around the country, stay-at-home orders and other restrictions on citizens, businesses, and schools are in place due to the highly transmissible nature of this deadly virus. But some workers are expected to work, even during a pandemic. For example, medical personnel, essential office support, and health and wellness employees must be present while their businesses are open. In many areas, students and teachers need to be on school grounds or they risk loss-of-income or instruction. And patients need treatment.

Researchers know that the novel coronavirus is spread through droplets released into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets generally do not travel more than a few feet, and they fall to the ground (or onto surfaces) in a few seconds — this is why physical distancing, staying outdoors, and wearing face coverings are effective in preventing the spread.

Unfortunately, airflow is limited while indoors, and physical distancing is often not possible. And while the virus picks no favorites in whom it afflicts, some occupations are at higher risk than others, simply by the nature of what they do or the buildings they occupy.

Here is an overview of just some of the businesses we have supported during this past year and why they are vulnerable.

Hospitals & Medical Centers

For centuries, hospitals have worn the mantle of medical care for patients. But their mission to safeguard human life has been severely tested during the coronavirus outbreak as medical facilities are also places where pathogens can linger and spread.

The need for additional measures of protection have never been more important.

Patients and healthcare workers alike benefit from existing healthcare practices such as personal protective equipment and environmental control. But for the most aggressive infectious diseases, like Covid-19, additional measures such as portable air cleaners and negative pressure HEPA machines for patient isolation will make the difference between potentially lethal illness and health. (10)

College Housing & Common Areas

The U.S. Department of Education lists more than 4,000 academic institutions of higher learning (2) at which nearly 20 million students attend.

In addition to students, at every one of these schools there are hundreds – in some cases thousands – of workers, many of whom commute from other areas, widening the scope of transmissibility. And an alarming number of them are getting sick. With barely a month back at school, there were more than 40,000 cases of Covid-19 reported from campuses across all 50 states. (2a). That was in September. The numbers have more than doubled since that time.

Containing the spread of viruses and other illnesses has always been a challenge on college campuses. Think how colds and flu thrive there – classrooms, residential housing, cafeterias – all of these locations are enclosed spaces that tend to be crowded, often with poor ventilation. Add to that the very nature of college social life – dorm and fraternity parties, clubs and team sporting events, college bars – plus the diminished judgment of many younger people, and germ-sharing becomes communal. Students living in residential housing are particularly vulnerable.

Dental Offices

The greatest risk of transmission is through aerosolization such as a cough or a sneeze. But in dental offices, germs can also spread during routine procedures and oral surgeries that generate their own aerosols. (3)

Dental aerosols are defined as the splatters, mists, and droplets created from the use of certain dental instruments. These fine sprays and particles include saliva, blood, plaque, and oral debris and can travel distances up to 20 feet. The use of high-speed equipment such as scalers and drills allow pathogens the opportunity to spread rapidly (3a), particularly during surgeries where oral emissions enter the breathing space of dental workers.

Fitness Centers & Locker Rooms

Pre-Covid, the most common thing athletes, coaches, and sports teams worried about in terms of clean air in their locker rooms was primarily focused on odor control. Then there was MRSA.

For nearly a decade, bacterial staph in the form of MRSA (4) plagued athletes from high school all the way up to the pros. But now, coronavirus (4a) poses an even greater threat. For athletic departments and professional sports teams across the nation, maintaining good health presents considerable challenges – ones that professional teams and athletic departments are now trying to conquer.

Nursing Homes

Presently, there are over 51 million Americans 65 and older in the United States in contrast to the over-195 million adults under age 65. And yet, older Americans make up 55% of all adults at-risk for serious complications if infected with Covid-19. As of December 1st, more than 100,000 US deaths from Covid-19 were linked to 28,000 senior care institutions. (5) While only 5% of the country’s cases have occurred in these types of facilities, nursing home residents represent 38% of Covid-19 deaths. Simply put, if you are an adult over the age of 65 and live in a nursing home or long-term care facility, your chance of becoming infected by Covid-19 and then dying from it, are higher than any other group in the country. Why are these populations more at risk?

Nursing homes – like many medical institutions – have long been breeding grounds for communicable diseases. Consider the communal nature of elder-care facilities. There is frequent physical contact between patients and staff, residents often share rooms, and many of them are shuttled back and forth between hospitals and doctor’s offices where germs run rampant. (5a) And while coronavirus is blind to age per se, it feeds on those with weak or compromised health profiles.

Offices

Office environments, like any place where people from different households gather, are potential breeding grounds for germs. Office employees spend the majority of their waking hours during the week inside, sharing space with others. This creates an atmosphere ripe for germ-sharing. Consider the seasonal flu. As we all know, year after year, every American becomes a potential vector for the infection, every surface, a possible hot spot for transmission. If even one doorknob or computer keyboard has a transmissible bug, a virus can infect nearly everyone in that workspace in a matter of hours.

Common areas like meeting and break rooms, waiting areas, and exit and entryways (6) are examples of places where germ transmission is more likely and where social distancing needs to be enforced.

Schools

Poor indoor air quality in schools has been known to hamper student wellness even before Covid. In addition to communicable infections, pollutants such as molds, dusts, and fumes can negatively impact a student’s wellness, ability to concentrate, and classroom performance. (7)

Schools are vulnerable for a variety of reasons (7a). Schools tend to have more people crowded in smaller spaces and children, even those who are young adults, are inclined to pack together tightly, with little to no thought given to personal space. Think: cafeterias at lunchtime and indoor spectator events viewed from bleachers. Think: crowded hallways and stairwells in between classes. Lastly, minors are more likely to cough and breathe in direct proximity to others and share food, drinks, and personal items.

Spas & Salons

Indoor Air Quality in spa and beauty salons has been a concern since the dawn of their opening. For hair shops, cancer-causing formaldehyde was enemy number one due to the toxic fumes emitted from perms, dyes, and hair-straightening treatments. (8a) For nail salons, it was the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) present in lacquers, adhesives, and polish removers that presented the most serious occupational health risk. (8) While those problems still exist, Covid-19 has become the greater concern.

The spread of infection in spas and salons is heightened because these types of businesses are often smaller, tighter spaces making social distancing difficult. Every spa table, sink, chair, and surface are possible hot spots for transmission. If even one hairbrush or cabinet knob has a communicable microbe, a virus can infect nearly everyone in that shop or salon days before someone shows symptoms.

What To Do

Obviously, cleaning and disinfecting are crucial. But COVID-19 transmission is more common by way of airborne respiratory droplets, meaning that the biggest risk of viral spread comes from sick people, not from objects. Staying at home is the best way to avoid contact.
But millions of workers, students, and medical patients need to leave their homes. How can one be sure that they are positioned for wellness rather than illness? The answer is clean air.

CDC recommended control measures for improving indoor air quality indicate that “elimination” is the most effective means of reducing transmission of Covid-19 and advocates the use of portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaners as an additional means of reducing viral spread.

Air cleaners with HEPA filtration are designed to draw in polluted air and filter out the impurities. Quality air cleaning and filtration units are proven to reduce airborne contaminants, including particles containing viruses. Portable air cleaners (also known as air purifiers) may be particularly helpful. By itself, air cleaning or filtration is not enough to protect people from exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. But when used alongside other control methods recommended by the CDC, air filtration can be an effective means of avoiding the spread of illness.

Our air cleaning and purification products not only remove fumes and odors from the source but when paired with our HEPA filtration systems, also remove up to 99.99% of fine particulates floating in the air – keeping both workers and customers breathing clean air and feeling secure. Contact us today for a free estimate with one of our clean air specialists.

Presidential Executive Order: COVID-19 and Worker Protection

What this means for businesses regarding indoor air quality

Presidential Executive Order: Covid-19 and Worker Protection 1
On January 21, 2021, a Presidential Executive Order was signed regarding the policy of ensuring the health and safety of American workers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. (1)

Before this order was issued, OSHA developed a Covid-19 planning guide (2) to help businesses identify workplace risk levels and determine what measures were appropriate to implement.

The order states that the Federal government should take swift action to reduce Covid-19 transmission risk in the workplace. Section 2 of the order specifies that under the OSHA Act, revised guidelines will be given to employers and that coordination with state governments will be executed so as to ensure adequate protection against Covid-19 for all workers.

Specifically, the EO orders OSHA to:

1. Issue revised guidelines to employers regarding Covid-19 worker safety measures. Note: this is NOT a directive for OSHA to issue emergency temporary standards.
2. Consider whether new – but temporary – mask wearing requirements are needed.
3. Review OSHA enforcement efforts.
4. Launch a national program related to Covid-19 violations creating occupational risk.
5. Coordinate with states that have workplace safety plans to help ensure adequate worker protection.
6. Partner with US Department of Labor’s public affairs office and OSHA regional offices to create and implement a multilingual outreach campaign.

The White House set forth this order not just to underscore the importance of following existing OSHA regulations, but to reduce – if not eliminate – workplace risk of Covid-19 transmission.

What does this mean in terms of indoor air quality? It means that anything that could negatively affect worker health and safety – in the context of this current pandemic – should be addressed and remedied. Cleaning, social distancing, and mask-wearing isn’t enough if workplace air is unhealthy. A clean and uncontaminated environment is crucial for worker wellness.

The EPA states there are three basic strategies to improving indoor air quality:

  1. Source Control
  2. Improved Ventilation
  3. Air Cleaners (3) 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) goes further and states that air purifiers have the potential to further reduce exposure to virus-laden aerosols and serve as a useful supplement to other protective procedures. (4)

Regardless of industry, every profession has its own challenges when it comes to indoor air quality. Fortunately, the key to providing a healthy IAQ is the same regardless of the type of business. The solution is employing air purification / filtration methods.

Here are just five examples of businesses and their specific IAQ challenges:

Schools

Primary schools, unlike personal residences, commercial buildings, and office structures, tend to have more people crowded in smaller spaces. For example, K-12 schools struggle with social distancing in congested areas such as cafeterias and classrooms (5), while colleges face challenges with areas such as student housing and lecture halls. Germ-sharing is communal at many schools. But it doesn’t need to be.

Dental Offices

Many dentists operate out of small offices where proper ventilation may be compromised. Unhealthy air could threaten worker health every time a patient opens his mouth – which is done often and without a mask during dental procedures. The aerosols created during patient treatment are emitted into the air and linger unless airflow and ventilation are suitable. (6)

Spas, Salons, Barbershops

These types of businesses are often located in smaller, tighter spaces which can create an environment ripe for transmitting illness. Workers are unable to social distance from their clients, putting them in harm’s way if someone is sick. Air purification and constant air flow help combat viral transmission.

Nursing Homes

In any healthcare facility, the potential for communicable diseases to enter a worker’s breathing space is an ongoing risk. Even more so at nursing homes, where transmission and death rates are particularly high. While only 7% of the country’s cases have occurred in nursing homes, residents there represent 40% of all US Covid-19 deaths. (7)

Gyms, Health Clubs, Sports Facilities

Indoor places where heavy breathing and sweating regularly occur require extra attention. (8) When people are outside, droplets from exhalations, coughing, and sneezing are dispersed into the air more quickly. But indoors, viral spray can linger, increasing the potential for transmission.
What Can Businesses Do to Improve IAQ?

Portable HEPA Filtration

Before new guidelines are issued and officially in place, businesses of all types can safeguard worker health by reducing the threat of viral transmission. In addition to social distancing, mask-wearing, and cleaning and disinfecting, establishments – wherever space and funding will allow it – can add portable HEPA filtration systems to their virus-combating arsenal.

The reason why air cleaners with HEPA filtration are powerful tools against viral transmission is that they are designed to draw in polluted air and filter out impurities. Quality air cleaning and filtration units are proven to reduce airborne contaminants, including particles containing viruses. Portable air cleaners (also known as air purifiers) may be particularly helpful. Used exclusively, air cleaning and filtration are not enough to protect people from exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. But when used alongside other control methods recommended by the CDC, air filtration can be an effective way to reduce Covid-19 transmission rates.

Our portable HEPA filter air cleaning systems come in three different models, the filtration and recirculation capabilities ranging in room sizes as small as your typical classroom to multi-use areas up to 1200 sq. ft.

To find out more about our air purifying systems – such as our 987-AMB-HEPA model – contact Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc. to speak to one of our clean air specialists.

For a Healthy Indoor Air Quality Source Capture Ventilation is Key

For a Healthy Indoor Air Quality Source Capture Ventilation is Key 1

What do woodworkers, artists, dentists, nail technicians, and welders all have in common? Yes, they work with their hands. But that is not all. Those who work in these professions all produce indoor air emissions by just going about their daily duties.

Artists who paint or make pottery may breathe in fumes or particulate matter, as well as many dentists when they use laughing gas or drill teeth to fill cavities. Woodworkers can inhale particle dust; nail techs vapors from glues and polishes. Welders heat up the metal that can emit noxious fumes into the air. The list of jobs, professions, and tasks performed that can create indoor air quality problems goes on and on.

As most business owners know, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires employers to comply with standards created under it. It requires that employers be reasonably aware of the possible sources of poor air quality and that they should have the resources necessary to recognize and control potential hazards.

Most business owners take seriously this responsibility for creating a safe and healthy workplace. They uphold OSHA compliance by keeping their factories, studios, and manufacturing floors clean by maintaining their machines and equipment. But to truly protect their employees from the risk of illness and other hazards, the indoor air quality must be free of pollutants or all their other efforts will fall short of real protection.

The bottom line? Airborne pollutants create a poor IAQ. Experts agree that in most cases, the most effective way to keep the air clean and healthy is to eliminate pollution at the source. This proven method of indoor air cleaning is known as source capture.

At its most basic, source capture may be defined as the process of removing gas, smoke, fumes, and particles where emissions originate.

This process prevents pollutants from dispersing into the surrounding air, the effects of which can cause worker illness, risk of fire and explosion, and an unclean indoor environment.

The top three benefits to source capture are:

Improved worker health

Enhanced productivity & worker retention

Reduced operating costs

Source capture ventilation equipment is less expensive to purchase, run, and maintain than large area (ambient) cleaning methods.

Reduced energy costs

Source capture ventilation products are smaller, thus using less energy than ambient systems.

There are several types of source control products used in the industry. The most common include:

  • Extraction Arm systems
  • Bench-Top and Wall Mount Fume Extractors
  • Mobile Fume Extractors
  • Downdraft Tables

These systems isolate contaminants and remove them from a worker’s breathing space.  

In addition to the professions and applications mentioned at the outset of this article, any trade or occupation that involves cutting, mixing, or burning, or deals with chemicals or substances that emit fumes, mists, or vapors, are also effectively handled by source capture ventilation systems.

The type of source capture ventilation product that is right for a given job and task will depend on a variety of factors including the application and the building infrastructure. At Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc. we provide source capture air cleaning systems for our customers. We have numerous options to choose from, such as our SP-800 mobile fume extractor, our S-981-2B bench-top fume extractor, and our model SCDD-3450 downdraft table. For more information, contact us for your free estimate with one of our clean air experts.