air pollutants

Hazardous Air Pollutants Have Tire Manufacturers Slamming On The Breaks

Air pollutants may prove hazardous to rubber industry workers.

Hazardous Air Pollutants Have Tire Manufacturers Slamming On The Breaks 1

We Americans like our cars. Our country ranked #3 on a list of countries with the highest car ownership per capita – nearly 800 cars per 1,000 people. At four tires (or more) per vehicle, that’s a lot of tires. In fact, market data compiled by tirebusiness.com reported that together, the top eight tire-producing states turn out nearly half a million tires per day. (1)

It takes a great number of workers to make those tires. And many within that group are exposed – day in and day out – to indoor air pollutants that can make them sick.

The rubber tire manufacturing industry has come a long way since Charles Goodyear discovered vulcanization in 1839. His process of hardening rubber by treating it with sulfur at high temperatures paved the way for industry behemoths such as Michelin, Bridgestone, and the company bearing his name, Goodyear, to share the worldwide market, together with selling billions of tires to needy consumers. But with all the industrial and manufacturing advancements came environmental challenges, many of which still exist today.

The EPA has identified rubber tire manufacturing facilities as major sources of hazardous indoor air pollution. Formaldehyde, styrene, hexane, and toluene are just some of the toxins associated with adverse health effects, both acute and chronic, for manufacturing workers. (3)

The process of making a tire is far more involved than just molding rubber into a form. First, more than 25 different ingredients and hundreds of chemicals are blended to create the rubber filler. The resulting rubber is then milled and cut in preparation for construction. After a tire is built, curing takes place; this is the step in which the tire is vulcanized in a curing machine and is compressed into a final shape. Lastly, the inspection takes place. During the milling and curing stages, in particular, impurities are released into the air. If not contained, vented or eliminated, deadly dust and fumes will hover in an employee’s workspace, making inhalation and absorption through the skin likely. (2)

Due to the potential for exposure to harmful chemicals, OSHA recommends that proper engineering controls, work practices, protective clothing, and respirators be used and that,

Engineering controls should include an enclosure, dilution, or general and local exhaust ventilation. Furthermore, Isolation of the operation of equipment should also be considered.(4)

At Air Systems Inc., we serve our customers in the rubber tire industry by providing indoor air quality management solutions in addition to stellar IAQ products. Our air cleaning systems remove toxic fumes for the health and peace of mind of both employee and business owner.

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