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Cancer is Manufacturing’s Silent & Deadly Occupational Hazard

Cancer is Manufacturing’s Silent & Deadly Occupational Hazard 1

Cancer. The word evokes many feelings in people, sadness, and fear top the list. It’s no wonder. On a global scale, nearly 13 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year. Cancer is the leading cause of death in developed countries, including the United States

This group of diseases is caused by the division of abnormal cells, which causes malignant growths (or tumors) in specific parts of the body. A malignancy can increase in size, spreading the disease throughout the body. This often results in death.

Many causes play a role in the growth of malignancies. A person’s risk of developing any given cancer is influenced by a combination of factors. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on exposure to cancer-causing agents in the workplace. In most instances, exposure is due to poor indoor air quality (IAQ).

Millions of U.S. workers are exposed to substances that have been tested and deemed carcinogenic. Based on research studying a link between cancer and occupational exposures, the CDC has reported these findings:

It has been estimated that 3-6% of all cancers worldwide are caused by exposure to carcinogens in the workplace. Using cancer incidence numbers in the U.S, this means that in 2012 (the most recent year available), there were between 45,872 and 91,745 new cancer cases that were caused by past exposure in the workplace.

Cancers that occur as a result of exposures in the workplace are preventable if exposures to known or suspected carcinogens can be reduced

Our science and medical communities have cautioned industries about specific substances that cause cancer (such as benzene, styrene, and asbestos, for example). In addition, the government has imposed indoor air quality regulations. Despite this, occupational exposures to cancer-causing carcinogens continue to exist. Researchers at the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified more than one hundred cancer-causing carcinogens of physical, biological, or physical nature. Experts continue to discover new cancer-causing carcinogens, many of them occupationally related. 

Occupational exposure to cancer-causing material is thought to account for about 4% of all cancers in the US. Though such exposure has decreased greatly over the past several decades (due to stricter government standards), current statistics may reflect historical exposures that are only now being identified.

Though knowledge and strict regulations exist for certain cancer-causing compounds, dust, and particulates in the workplace, potential exposure can still occur through accidents, regulation violations, or unknown hazards

Educational outreach and dissemination of information have been consistent, but workers may still be unaware they are at risk. Factory production workers, in addition to manufacturing laborers, are particularly vulnerable. Production workers often repeat the same set of tasks for every product that comes down the assembly line. The repetitive nature of the process allows workers to become highly efficient at their assignments.  It also means that if carcinogenic exposure is present, they will be exposed day after day, week after week to toxic, disease-causing agents.

Many occupations hold a threat of contact with cancer-causing carcinogens and pollution, but some industries top the list for cancer rates and exposure risks. Consider the following:

Occupations With The Highest Incidence Of Cancers Reported

Paint-Related Manufacturing – Bladder, Kidney, Lung, Lymphoma

Rubber-Related Manufacturing – Bladder, Larynx, Leukemia, Lung, Lymphoma

Plastics-Related Manufacturing – Kidney, Larynx, Liver 

In the paint industry, for example, there are thousands of chemical compounds used. Pigments, extenders, binders, additives, and solvents contain known cancer-causing agents such as toluene and xylene. Paint manufacturing workers are potentially exposed to the chemicals found in the products they manufacture, as are laborers in the manufacture of rubber. Rubber workers handle raw materials in day-to-day operations. Production workers in both groups are exposed to dust and fumes via inhalation and dermal contact.  This exposure to cancer-causing carcinogens translates to a significant risk of contracting the occupational illness, even cancer.

Working in these industries needn’t be a cancer threat, however. The EPA recommends eliminating indoor air pollutants through air cleaning source control and ventilation

At Air Systems Inc., we serve our customers by identifying potential risk areas. We supply stellar products that will adequately ventilate work areas and remove air impurities. Contact us today to schedule a free estimate with one of our skilled and experienced clean air specialists.

Nail Care Workers: Leave Your Surgical Masks At Home

In the healthcare community, when a worker wears a surgical mask the patient is being told that an effort is being made to prevent germs from infecting them. But when a nail technician wears one, it makes most customers uncomfortable as it suggests that the air they are breathing is unclean and unsafe. This is likely true.

Prompted by years of complaints from workers about job-related illnesses, the state of New York passed new measures protecting nail salon air quality,  personnel, and their clientele. “This is an industry where workers have long been prone to exploitation and unsafe working conditions – and these regulations are the latest step to right these wrongs and help ensure [that] employees across New York are treated fairly and with dignity,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

Of course, indoor nail salon air quality in the beauty trade is not a new topic. Hair and nail salon employees have long suffered the effects of VOC emissions in their places of work. Many of the ingredients in nail care products evaporate easily into the atmosphere causing vapors and dust to release into the air. For nail techs, whose faces are within inches of the toxic source, all day long, there are significant health risks to such negative nail salon air quality exposures

The products used at any given time will depend on the nail services being provided. This, in turn, will ultimately determine what harmful matter will be released. However, there are a few substances that are almost always present in the nail shop. Dibutyl, Formaldehyde, and Toluene – commonly referred to, within the industry, as the “toxic trio” – are chronic offenders. Together, and individually, these compounds (found in polishes, removers, glues, and hardeners) are responsible for symptoms that include nausea, liver damage, and countless respiratory illnesses. Formaldehyde is a proven carcinogen.

Despite the health hazards that loom, nail salon workers and patrons needn’t lose heart. Much, if not all, contamination can be eliminated with conscientious safety measures. OSHA recommends various steps to improve workers’ nail salon air quality, steps that including air cleaners and ventilation equipment, including portable units to be used at the source

Nail Care Workers: Leave Your Surgical Masks At Home 2

At Air Systems Inc, we have been cleaning the air you breathe since 1982. In 2005, we developed our Salon Pure Air line of equipment, specifically with the nail salon air quality in mind. For superior systems and products, please contact an AIRSInc specialist today for a free and thoroughly clean air analysis

Saving Mona Lisa: Eliminate Indoor Air Pollution

Eradicate indoor air pollution and preserve precious works of art with air quality systems for art conservation efforts.

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. Whether it’s fine art or a painting that is merely decorative, an object’s curator must be prepared to protect it. Air quality systems for art conservation help preserve artists’ work for years to come.

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. And numerous products used to clean paintings, such as methyl ethyl ketone and acetone, are toxic.

Art Conservation vs. Art Preservation

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, 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.

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. 

Museum Air Quality for Art Conservators

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 the damage has occurred.

Art conservators have air quality systems for art conservation ]to combat pollution, 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 provide air quality systems for art conservation alongside our indoor air quality management solutions and 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.

3D Printing Particles May Cause Respiratory Problems

The market for 3D printed products is rapidly increasing and the manufacturing sector may have to adapt to use these new processes to keep up with demand. Since 3D printing will likely change how consumers buy and make products, companies investing in these machines may want to ensure they are cognizant of the potential health effects of this relatively new manufacturing process. Companies may want to increase the safety of 3D printing by installing fume hoods to remove harmful contaminants.

With consumer demand for 3D printing increasing and companies finding new ways to advance manufacturing with these game-changing devices, the global market for 3D printing is projected to increase more than 20 percent each year through 2017 to reach $5 billion, according to a study by The Freedonia Group. The market research firm predicts much of the growth in the global 3D printing market will center in the U.S., which will generate 42 percent of all sales in 2017.

One of the benefits of 3D printing is local manufacturers being able to send items to nearby customers fast, Forbes reported, which could be a boon with the popularity of online shopping continuing to grow.

“Products are getting to market quicker, arguably as better-designed products with more end-user feedback because they are able to play with a working model of the product,” said John Hauer, co-founder, and CEO of 3DLT, which sells 3D printing templates. “We really don’t believe that 3D printing will replace mass manufacturing, but instead that [they] will coexist.”

Health Effects of Tiny 3D Printing Particles 

As with other manufacturing processes that require heating plastic, 3D printing particles may be emitting harmful chemicals. In the case of these 3D printing particles, machines may generate small particles that can be embedded into the lungs, TechWorld reported. Researchers from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and France’s National Institute of Applied Sciences discovered that plastic 3D printing particles are less than 100 nanometers in diameter. Their small size makes them likely to be inhaled and travel into the lungs and brain.

“These small particles can cause inflammation in our respiratory system, or penetrate deep into our lungs and are small enough to enter our bloodstream,” Brent Stephens, lead author of the study and assistant professor of civil, architectural, and environmental engineering at IIT, told Techworld. “Once in our bloodstream, they may interact with our cells, or maybe deposited in sensitive areas such as bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, or heart. They can also access the central nervous system via our brains.”

Workers may want to be aware of the risks of handling a plastic called acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), which can produce 10 times as many ultra-fine 3D printing particles as another type of common 3D printing material called poly(lactic acid). When people are exposed to ABS, they may experience headaches and respiratory irritation. Researchers recommend that 3D printing companies utilize fume hoods when they print with ABS to prevent harmful side effects. 

Industrial and manufacturing news brought to you by Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc.

Equipping Every Workplace with Air Filtration Solutions

Equipping Every Workplace with Air Filtration Solutions:

Poor indoor air quality can impact the productivity and health of workers across the nation no matter the workplace. To protect employees from contaminants specific to their work facility – from auto plants to hospitals – employers should consider investing in air filtration solutions that will replace air impurities with clean air.

Here are ways various workplaces can reduce occupational safety risks:

Air Filtration Solutions For Automotive plants

Problem: Auto plant workers often have to work with metalworking fluids that could endanger worker health by causing them to develop problems with their skin, allergies, or respiratory systems.

Solution: To capture these hazardous contaminants at the source, oil and coolant mist collectors operate using multi-stage air filtration solutions that will effectively extract air impurities before they reach workers’ breathing space.

Commercial laboratories

Problem: Lab workers may inhale dangerous chemicals and outside contaminants may threaten the integrity of their experiments.

Solution: Bench-top fume extractors and downdraft systems are standard in protecting laboratory workers and maintaining a safe and sterile workspace necessary to cultivate scientific innovation.

Hospitals Can Provide Their Workers With Air Filtration Solutions 

Problem: Health care workers and patients may be exposed to chemicals and impurities that could cause them to have adverse health effects and hospitals must follow clean room regulations.

Solution: Healthcare administrators have a variety of air filtration solutions to choose from to comply with regulations and maintain outstanding indoor air quality, including mobile fume extractors, ambient air cleaners and bench-top fume extractors.

Food Processing Facilities

Problem: Food producers often have to worry about the possibility of contamination from multiple sources, including the air.

Solution: Companies could install air purification and other air filtration solutions like bench-top fume extractors and downdraft systems to avoid the build-up of contaminants in ambient air that touch food as it is being produced.

Air Filtration Solutions For Government Facilities

Problem: Buildings owned by the federal, state, or local governments often contain valuable objects that may be affected by air impurities.

Solution: Facilities could implement ambient air cleaners and mobile fume extractors to preserve precious historical documents or artifacts for the long haul.