Fume Extractors

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.

Source Capture vs. Ambient: Two Important Air Filtration Methods

Welding is a process where there are many different methods, such as shielded metal arc, gas metal arc and submerged arc. Since the practice involves the use of sophisticated tools and equipment, workplaces have to ensure their employees are protected at all times. Welders often shield themselves by wearing protective clothing, in addition to a goggles and welding helmets. However, workplaces must also ensure their air filtration systems are properly working because the fumes from welding can become quite hazardous. Luckily, two filtration methods exist: source capture and ambient. Each filtration system has unique traits that workplaces need to be aware of.

benefits of source capture and ambient to welders

Dangers of Welding

Even though workers can protect themselves while welding, the process still results in other side effects that can be potentially dangerous to an individual’s health. To ensure welders are protected while working, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has developed standards that building management must abide by.

For example, welding standards for construction industries are quite thorough. Per section 1926.353(c)(1) of OSHA’s Safety and Health Regulations for Construction, any welders working in an enclosed space must do so only if the local ventilation system meets OSHA standards. One of the agency’s rules states that oxygen must not be used for ventilation reasons. If, sufficient ventilation is not possible, employees must be outfitted with air line respirators.

Employers must ensure workers are protected because welding can lead to severe illnesses for workers. Most notable is metal fume fever, which is caused by exposure to fumes. This illness leads to flu-like symptoms, and individuals will typically experience periods of fatigue, nausea, headaches, chills, high fever, chest pain and more. According to Weld Guru, a metallic or sweet taste can also develop in the mouth, and this will distort the taste of food and liquids.

More severe metal fume fever symptoms may include vomiting, skin rash and convulsions. But for most individuals who contract the illness, their symptoms will go away within 24 to 48 hours. Individuals will feel completely healthy after four days.

Unfortunately, the exact cause of metal fume fever is not known, but there is reason to believe that workers often breathing metal oxide fumes could be a contributing factor. This may then lead to an immune reaction that causes modified proteins in the lung to act as allergens.

Metal Guru also stated zinc, magnesium and copper tend to result in the dangerous fumes workers may breath.

Source-Capture Ventilation

The best way to make sure workers do not fall ill from metal fume fever is to have ventilation systems installed throughout the area where welding takes place.

“Source capture through fume extraction should be utilized in order to remove fumes.”

As such, source capture through fume extraction should be utilized in order to remove fumes created from welding. With source capture, harmful and dangerous particulates are minimized before they can cause damage to a worker’s respiratory system.

Four types of source capture ventilation work best to protect welders:

  • Fume arm systems
  • Tip extraction
  • Overhead hood
  • Downdraft tables

A building’s manager will have to decide which type of source capture system works best throughout a building’s setup. For example, overhead hoods are suitable for large workspaces where smoke and fumes have to be contained. These systems then isolate the welding fumes to make for easier breathing. As a comparison, downdraft tables are built to draw fumes down and away from the worker as he or she breathes.

There are some downsides to source capture systems, however. In particular, managers may find it difficult to install these types of ventilation systems due to existing building infrastructure that might not be able to be reconfigured. In other instances, individual welders may prefer to have freely movable hoods that can provide a sufficient airflow and remove any fumes.

Ambient Air Filtration

Ambient air filtration systems can be installed in overhead spaces to draw fumes upward. From there, the air can be circulated to create an airflow that will maximize the benefits of clean air.

While there is a clear distinction between ambient and source capture air ventilation systems, leadership and building management should not think of one as a replacement for the other. Instead, source capture and ambient systems should be used together for maximum benefits.

With metal fume fever affecting welders across the country, managers have to ensure they are doing everything possible to protect workers. This involves abiding by OSHA and other compliance regulations, in addition to installing the necessary air ventilation systems.

Together, ambient and source capture systems will help alleviate the dangers welders face.

Contact Air Impurities Removal Systems for more information and ways to protect welders from metal fume fever. Employers will find numerous options to choose from, including mobile and bench-top fume extractors and downdraft tables.

There is an Easy Fix for Laboratory Workers’ Air Quality Risk

Fume hoods are used by 82 percent of R&D Magazine readers, according to a recent survey.

In a chemistry laboratory setting, worker safety is ensured through proper training and handling of chemicals, equipment and other tools like ductless fume hoods. Research laboratories across the country are looking to change their safety practices after a chemistry facility at the University of California at Los Angeles was found to have safety violations, according to Science Magazine. The American Chemical Society issued a recent report as guidance for laboratories and academic institutions to improve safety protocols.

At the core of the report’s approach is the task of dealing with laboratory hazards before work is undertaken. “Hazard identification, hazard evaluation and hazard mitigation in laboratory operations are critical skills that need to be part of any laboratory worker’s education,” the report said. “Integrating these concepts into research activities is a discipline researchers must establish to ensure a safe working environment for themselves and their colleagues.”

The University of California system is now making safety training mandatory for every worker – from students and faculty to visitors – interacting with labs and scientific stockrooms.

Importance of Fume Hoods in a Laboratory Setting

Fume hoods are integral in a chemistry lab setting, according to a survey of researchers and scientists conducted by R&D Magazine. In the survey, fume hoods were in the top three of the most used technologies or laboratory instruments used by the publication’s readers. Meters and monitors were the most used instruments as 86 percent of respondents said they used these devices, followed by balances at 84 percent and fume hoods at 82 percent.

When asked which equipment needed the most improvement, one-third of respondents said they had problems with performance regarding analyzers, detectors, fume hoods as well as imaging systems. Respondents said fume hoods were one of the pieces of equipment they were least likely to experience issues regarding accuracy as only 6 percent of survey takers said they had these kinds of problems. Almost half (48 percent) of respondents said they required no additional improvements to fume hoods.

OSHA Recommendations for Fume Hoods

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration recommends that laboratory workers should be protected using a fume hood when they are handling chemicals that may be flammable or toxic. OSHA’s laboratory standard requires that fume hoods are functional and maintained. If hoods are not working optimally, workers should report any defects to their supervisor immediately.

OSHA said laboratory employees need to understand the hazards involved with the chemicals they are working with.

“When the work to be performed changes, that change must be evaluated against the current hazards analysis to determine if the hazards analysis continues to be sufficient,” the ACS report said. “If this is not done, the researcher could begin the task not fully armed with the knowledge and mitigations to do the work safely.”

Workers should also know how the fume hood operates to properly operate them. They should make sure there are no obstructions to airflow through the hood’s baffles or exhaust slots. In protecting parts of their body, workers need to ensure that their head does not enter the plane of the hood opening and they have correct eye protection.

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.

FDA IAQ Compliance Requirements In Food Production

During the fall of 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized a rule regarding preventive controls of human food. The final rule is part of the legal obligation of the FDA to provide guidelines that align with the Food Safety Modernization Act, a law signed into legislation in early 2011.

According to the FDA, the law is one of the most comprehensive reforms of food safety laws in the last 70 years. Prior to the signing of FSMA, laws were designed to respond to food contamination outbreaks. That has now changed, as the focus shifts more to preventing contamination.

Statistics from 2014 collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that throughout that year, 846 foodborne illnesses were reported, with 13,246 individuals falling ill and 21 fatalities. To help prevent these outbreaks, the FDA’s rule establishes regulations for manufacturers and compliance requirements to ensure food doesn’t become contaminated during the production process. These regulations specifically outline sanitary guidelines, which include air filtration systems.

Food production line.

What is the rule?

Preventive controls of the finalized rule indicate that within a food-processing plant, systems are required to ensure hazards are eliminated or minimized. The FDA stated that this requirement covers food allergens and sanitation controls.

While food manufacturing plants are likely outfitted with air filtration systems, the FDA has imposed compliance deadlines to ensure all aspects of food processing follow the rule and have the proper air filtration systems in place. Small businesses will have two years to comply, very small organizations, defined as, defined as those with less than $1 million in annual revenue, will have three years and every other company must comply in a year of the final rule’s publication.

Role of Air Filters in Food Production

Air filters, specifically HEPA filters, clean out the air when various foods are manufactured. It’s a process a majority of consumers likely don’t think about as they sit down to eat at the dinner table, but it’s one that has a huge effect on the final product.

For example, the process of making yogurt involves the filtration of plant air, according to Michael Bryne, a business and technical manager at EHL Group, a company that specializes in various engineering fields. He stated in a LinkedIn post that yogurt facilities need point-of-use air that is filtered to a sterile level, otherwise the final product may not turn out as intended.

Food processing plant managers and executives will have to ensure their facilities are outfitted with air filtration systems to minimize the risk of food being exposed to contaminants. Since companies will have time to comply with the FDA’s final rule regarding preventive controls for human food, they can contact Air Impurities Removal Systems to find the best filters available to use during the food production process.

Industrial Hygiene & Indoor Air Quality Concerns

Industrial Hygiene & Indoor Air Quality Concerns 1

In the early 20th century, public awareness of occupational-related illnesses was not yet a reality, but advocacy for the safety of US laborers was beginning to grow. Physicians, research scientists, and medical experts began documenting worker health problems. Pioneers of the labor-advocacy movement led efforts to improve industrial hygiene after finding conclusive evidence linking worker illness to contact with noxious contaminants. Industrial hygiene, simply put, is the environment of cleanliness in a given industry. It is a broad-reaching topic, one that includes indoor air quality.

Indoor air quality can be compromised everywhere – in all types of businesses. Perhaps the most at-risk industries are those in the production of goods. Dust and fumes generated during the manufacturing process can result in the release of impurities in the workplace. This exposure to unclean air can be hazardous which is why agencies such as OSHA have gone to great lengths to protect the US labor force from unsafe working conditions.

The World Health Organization named airborne dust and vapors in the workplace vital global health concerns because of their association with widespread disease. (1)

Clean Air Standards in the Workplace

The government requires all industries to comply with certain clean air standards. But in some cases, business owners wish to go beyond what is federally mandated and ensure that their workers are completely protected from errant toxins in order to eliminate health risks and improve productivity.

This is where industrial hygiene becomes a necessary focus. OSHA defines industrial hygiene as,

The science devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, and control of those environmental factors or stresses arising in or from the workplace, which may cause sickness, impaired health and well being, or significant discomfort among workers. (2)

Industries most likely to generate excessive dust include:

  1. Any job that breaks or crushes solid material, such as stone masonry
  2. Foundries
  3. Blasting labors such as rust and paint removal
  4. Glass and ceramics manufacturing
  5. Powered chemical use in chemical, pesticide, pharma and rubber industries
  6. Food processing plants, such as flour mills and bakeries

In addition to dust and particulates, fumes and mists threaten workplace safety. Specific manufacturing jobs that have a high incidence of occupational exposure to chemical fumes include those in the paint, welding, rubber, and pharmaceutical industries. It isn’t just the health of the workforce that can suffer. When indoor air quality is poor, production can suffer as well.

Building Awareness

Often, business owners are aware of the exposure risks faced by their employees and take steps to remediate. However, when it isn’t clear what environmental dangers exist, they can hire industrial hygienists (IHs) to analyze, identify, and measure occupational hazards that can cause health problems in their workers. (3) IHS uses environmental monitoring and analytical methods to detect the extent of worker exposure.

The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) names – but does not limit – occupational risks to the following contaminants:

Aerosols, airborne particles, asbestos, combustibles, dust, gases, hazardous waste, lead, nanotechnology, pesticides, silica, and solvents. (4)

A professional industrial hygienist will measure air quality in two key areas: a worker’s breathing zone and the ambient air in a given physical area. The resultant approach to improving air quality is three-tiered:

  1. Eliminate or reduce particles and fumes through engineering controls
  2. Extract particulates and fumes through capture and ventilation systems
  3. Filter particulates and fumes from inside and then discharge outside (5)

WHO backs up this standard of practice, citing the best way to improve poor IAQ is through elimination at the source, containment, and ventilation. (1)

Don’t let poor industrial hygiene prove to be a setback for your business. At AIR Systems, Inc. we serve our customers by identifying areas of potential risk. We supply stellar products that will eliminate, extract, and filter out hazardous dust and fumes, removing air-impurities from your place of business, keeping your workers safe. Contact us today to schedule a free estimate with one of our skilled and experienced clean air specialists.

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. (1)

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.

Carcinogens in the Workplace

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. (1)

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 carcinogens continue to exist. Researchers at the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified more than one hundred carcinogens of physical, biological, or physical nature. Experts continue to discover new carcinogens, many of them occupationally related. (2)

Education and Outreach

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, dusts, and particulates in the workplace, potential exposure can still occur through accidents, regulation violations, or unknown hazards. (3)

Educational outreach and dissemination of information has 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. (4) 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 pollution, but some industries top out 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 (3)

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 manufacture workers are potentially exposed to the chemicals found in the products they manufacture (5), 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. (6) This exposure 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. (7)

At AIR Systems Inc., we serve our customers by identifying areas of potential risk. We supply stellar products that will properly 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.

Engine Exhaust Fumes Cause Indoor Air Quality Problems

Engine Exhaust Fumes Cause Indoor Air Quality Problems 1

Health Hazards for Auto and Aircraft Engine Workers

As long as there are people who wish to travel and move things from one place to another, fast and easy transportation will continue to be a necessity. Global air travel alone accounts for 44,000 flights a day. Add the number of all road vehicles in use and it equals a staggering number of engines from planes, cars, and trucks that are tested, maintained and repaired every day. We must protect workers from possible air quality problems stemming from engine exhaust.

It is no secret that fuel emissions are a major source of air pollution (1). Government agencies and private companies exert great effort in developing cleaner fuels, reducing smog, and strengthening emission standards to lessen the negative environmental impact on our planet. What about how they affect indoor air quality? Aircraft and automotive engine exhausts are major contributors to indoor air pollution in airplane hangars and vehicle repair workshops. Combustible substances abound and if not contained, carry the threat of fire and explosion. (2)

The danger of compromised indoor air quality is not limited to spontaneous combustion; there are occupational health risks, as well.

Harmful Emissions

Engine exhaust emissions do not materialize from one single source. There are thousands of varieties of molecules possible and millions of varying chemical combinations. Contaminants abound. Depending on the type of fuel and engine, carbon particles, soot, Benzene, PAHs, and VOCs (3, 4, 5) can escape into the air and make people sick.

Here is a list of some, but not all, of the elements found in gas, diesel, and jet fuels:

Gas Exhaust (6):

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Hydrocarbons (Benzene)
  • Sulphur dioxide
  • Soot

Diesel Exhaust (7):

  • Nitrogen
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Hydrogen
  • Carbon soot

Jet Fuel (8):

  • Kerosene
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Nitrogen & sulfur oxides

When an engine burns fuel, it mixes with air to create a complex combination known commonly as exhaust. If air cleaning measures are not properly in place, these fine particles and gases become suspended in the air and enter a person’s breathing space. Workers who spend the majority of their waking hours in airplane hangars and automotive garages are literally walled in, breathing fumes emitted from running engines.

Protecting Workers From Exhaust Fumes

In the short term, directly inhaling large quantities of exhaust fumes may cause nausea, dizziness, and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. These effects will usually go away after contact ends. But very high and/or prolonged exposure to exhaust fumes may cause ongoing health problems. Respiratory symptoms such as coughing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing, particularly in persons who are naturally predisposed to or have a history of asthma or other lung problems, may not be reversible. (5) In addition, ultrafine particles from aircraft and diesel engine exhausts have proven to cause cancer, heart disease, blood clots, brain hemorrhage and airway diseases, thereby increasing the risk of serious work-related illnesses and premature deaths. (4)

Both the auto and aerospace manufacturing industries must comply with OSHA regulations and standards but often, the minimum standards are not enough to protect workers from harm. Failure to control exhaust at its source can turn deadly. Most employers do their part. But extra caution can mean a healthier, safer, and more productive workplace.

Beyond meeting minimum regulatory requirements, there are steps that can be taken to implement stricter internal standards to ensure worker safety. For example, products such as our exhaust blowers and fume extraction arms together provide a safe and easy means of removing harmful particulate matter and toxic fumes.

At AIR Systems, Inc., we serve our customers in the aircraft and auto industries by providing indoor air quality management solutions in addition to our stellar air-cleaning products. Contact us today for a free estimate from one of our highly skilled clean air specialists.

The Tennis Ball, Indoor Air Quality, and Occupational Risk in the Rubber Industry

Compromised Indoor Air Quality Causes Occupational Risk in the Rubber Industry

The Tennis Ball, Indoor Air Quality, and Occupational Risk in the Rubber Industry

Whether you compete for a club championship trophy, spend afternoons on the clay with friends, or are simply a pet owner who passes time playing fetch with your dog at the park, you are no stranger to that universally recognized ball wrapped in bright yellow felt. The tennis ball.

Tennis as we know it was first played in the 1870s but before that, the balls used were considerably different than those of today. Fabricated from cloth or leather and filled with rags or horsehair, tennis balls during that time weren’t uniform in design. Modern tennis adopted improvements to the ball that including stitched flannel around the rubber surface and air pressurizing the balls for a reliable bounce. Then along came vulcanized rubber, which quickly became a manufacturing mainstay. Felting was the last major change. (1)

Today, over 300 million tennis balls are produced each year with more than 200 brands worldwide. It takes a lot of rubber to turn out that many balls. As a result, rubber workers are at risk for illness due to air pollution caused by the industrial methods employed during manufacturing. (2)

Harmful Byproducts of Rubber Production

According to the EPA, the occupational risks affecting the rubber industry are directly related to the rubber-making process. In addition, the EPA has identified rubber manufacturing facilities as a major source of HAP (hazardous air pollutant) emissions. (3)

While rubber goods are an important part of modern life, their production involves subjecting varied combinations of hundreds of chemicals to heat, pressure, and catalytic action during the various manufacturing processes. As a consequence, toxic substances and chemical byproducts abound.

The rubber manufacturing industry employs a considerable number of workers. Though the current US Department Of Labor statistics is not available at this time. The fact that in 1989 there were approximately 132,500 workers employed in non-tire rubber production is telling. There are many thousands of rubber workers potentially at risk, many of whom, make tennis balls.

How Does It Happen?

Beginning with a rubber-based core, there is a five-step process for making a tennis ball.

  1. Crushing – The rubber compound is repeatedly crushed in an open mill
  2. Compressing – The forms are cut from the rubber core and then compression molded into a thin shell
  3. Sheeting – The shell is made into a sheet and rolled up, then cooled and cut into semi-circles
  4. Buffing – Shell halves are combined then buffed and then placed into a cylinder to add grooves before felt is added
  5. Felting – A machine cuts the fabric so felting may be stuck to the rubber core to create the finished product

Steps 1-3 present the highest risk for unhealthy exposure, according to the National Institute Of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH). Indoor air quality concerns such as contact with amine composites (which are organic derivatives of ammonia) (5) and exposure to hundreds of different chemical emissions in the form of vapors, dust, gases, and fumes (4) are at the top of the NIOSH caution list. Workers are exposed to these toxins – some of them carcinogenic compounds – by way of inhalation and dermal absorption. OSHA, too, has warned workers in the rubber industry about specific health problems affecting the kidneys, lungs, skin, and eyes. Headache, nausea, fever, and dizziness are only a few of the possible symptoms.

Protecting Rubber Industry Workers

Most rubber manufacturing plants (including those that produce tennis balls), comply with OSHA recommendations for minimizing worker risk by way of wearing protective clothing and using engineering controls. (5) But it proves prudent to make sure that source capture equipment is modern and up to date and all ambient air cleaning systems are sufficient to adequately purify the air so workers are not at occupational risk.

At Air Systems Inc., we serve our customers in the rubber manufacturing industry by providing indoor air quality management solutions in addition to our stellar air cleaning products. Contact us today for a free air quality assessment with one of our skilled and experienced indoor environmental specialists.

Remove Indoor Air Quality Occupational Risk For Plastics Industry Workers

Workers are exposed to a variety of fumes as part of heating and molding  processes in the plastics industry during plastics manufacturing.

As a versatile material, plastics is used to make packaging and containers, to ensure quality smartphone manufacturing and for a variety of other applications. There are over 1.1 million employees in the plastics industry, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

These workers commonly come into contact with chemical fumes that are emitted during raw material manufacturing and plastics processing. As plastics come in the form of granules, powders or pellets, there are certain ways to mold or shape these materials into products. For the plastics manufacturing process, the material has heat or pressure applied to the plastic or the plastic resins are combined with additives, including fillers and pigments, according to Health and Safety Executive.

Sources of Plastics Fumes

One of the main plastic-making processes employed by manufacturers is thermoplastic injection molding, which heats plastic pellets until they are melted so they can be shaped by a mold to form products. As workers perform these manufacturing procedures, they are at risk for being exposed to fumes from the plastics either from the machines used for manufacturing or the plastics materials themselves.

“The primary sources of emissions at plastic products manufacturing facilities are the pieces of equipment (e.g., extruder hopper, die head, sander) used to handle raw materials and produce the final product,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. “These are typically the locations where chemical reactions occur, liquid solvents and solvent blends are exposed to the atmosphere, solid resin is heated and melted, and additives are introduced.”

The level of fume exposure during the process varies but it is usually dependent on the type of operating procedure and the material that is being produced. Workers may find themselves exposed to different kinds of fumes during plastics processing, including hydrogen chloride from PVC plastic and formaldehyde from acetals. When heat is applied to it, pure PVC breaks down to form hydrochloric acid gas. Fumes from plastics can irritate the lungs and are even thought to be cancer-causing.

Types of Emissions From Plastic Manufacturing

Employees can also come into contact with plastics fumes while handling thermoforming resins, which could generate volatile organic compounds (VOC) and hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions. These are byproducts of the chemical reactions of heating resins and are also emitted by additives, a secondary material in the process. In addition to VOCs and HAP emissions, particulate matter can also form while workers handle raw materials through grinding or cutting or other finishing procedures for plastic production.

To help control the presence of fumes, HSE recommends implementing local exhaust ventilation (LEV). This engineering control can include fume extraction equipment such as extractors, which can be effective in case plastic film sticks and overheats or other instances where heating processes can endanger workers. Aging machines can also pose a risk to workers if their processing controls are unpredictable.

OSHA also recommends adequate ventilation and fume extraction systems so workers do not inhale gases that could cause long term health effects.

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