indoor air quality

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.”

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.

Agency Cites Air Pollution as a Lung Cancer Risk

WHO Encourages a Global Effort to Instill Regulation and Clean the Air After Classifying Outdoor Air Pollution as Cancer Risk

WHO encourages a global effort to instill regulation and clean the air after classifying outdoor air pollution as cancer-causing.

Outdoor air pollution is officially classified as a carcinogen, according to a recent report by the World Health Organization. WHO came to the conclusion air pollution is cancer-causing after evaluating more than 1,000 scientific publications and reviewing significant evidence connecting particulate exposure and lung cancer. Approximately 223,000 of the global population died of lung cancer in 2010 and WHO expects this rate will increase with the rising amount of particulate matter in the air. Air pollution also increases the risk of developing heart and respiratory diseases as well as bladder cancer, according to ABC News.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of WHO responsible for cancer research, said air pollution is not only the most prevalent cause of cancer risk in the environment but also the worst.

Kurt Straif, head of the IARC department that analyzes carcinogens, said the air people breathe in becomes mixed with cancer-causing substances, which can include gases and particulate matter. One of the major risks of air pollution is having fine particles that can become embedded deep within the lungs.

“The predominant sources of outdoor air pollution are transportation, stationary power generation, industrial and agricultural emissions, and residential heating and cooking,” the IARC stated in the report. “There are effective ways to reduce air pollution and, given the scale of the exposure affecting people worldwide, this report should send a strong signal to the international community to take action without further delay.”

IARC encourages the international community to adopt stricter limits of pollution and for governments to enact public policy to reduce emissions of particulates and other potential harmful substances.

How the Manufacturing Sector Can Help Improve Air Quality

IARC suggests the main way to prevent this rising cancer rate is to clean the air, according to CNN. The manufacturing sector is reported to contribute to the widespread air pollution, which puts developing countries that are in the process of industrializing at the most risk. Manufacturers can help improve air quality through removing contaminants at the source with fume extractors, which will help maintain air quality of indoor facilities to make it safer for workers. Installing air purification systems will help extract pollutants that mix with outdoor air, including hazardous fumes, gases and particulates, before they make their way outside facilities. Portable air cleaners are also effective in removing airborne contaminants before they enter the lungs of employees, which could mean the difference between developing health problems later on.

Protect Metalworkers From Oil Mist Hazards

Employers must protect workers from the hazards of cutting fluids that become airborne.

Employers can protect workers from the hazards of cutting fluids that become airborne through oil mist collectors.

For jobs involving metalworking that produces an airborne oil mist, it’s important to remember this substance poses a potential health hazard to workers, especially in the event of long-term exposure. Prolonged interaction with the colorless, odorless and oily liquid substance could result in irritation to workers’ eyes, skin and respiratory systems, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Employees could show signs of respiratory problems if they inhale oil mist, leading to chronic respiratory disease, making it essential that employers protect against such hazards.

Simple, compliant measures to reduce exposure include having workers wear protective work clothing and being careful in avoiding skin contact with metalworking fluids. If their clothing is contaminated, they should change into clean clothing immediately. After being exposed, employees should wash themselves promptly and after their shift ends.

An oil mist collector is one of the best defenses against the hazards presented by oil mist. The air cleaner acts to remove workplace contaminants from the air. This type of safety equipment can also be equipped with a variety of filter options for chemical fume removal and more.

Eliminate Harmful Locker Room Bacteria With Clean Air Systems

Powerful air ventilation systems can reduce the amount of bacteria found in a locker room.

Building managers overseeing locker rooms in gyms and stadiums will need to ensure these areas are outfitted with working air filtration systems. Whether it’s the men’s or women’s area, locker rooms may foster the harmful growth of infectious diseases and more if they are not properly cleaned, or don’t have a functioning HVAC system.

Filter Out the Odors

Locker rooms are typically used by gym goers and professional athletes for a variety of reasons, and it’s not uncommon to sometimes think of locker rooms as where athletes hang out. In fact, these facilities serve many purposes, starting with as a private area for individuals to change and shower in.

But as sports have changed to become an even bigger part of popular culture, professional teams have invested more into their facilities. These days, locker rooms are only one part of a much larger facility. Take for instance the Oregon Ducks college football team, who in 2013 unveiled a $68 million dollar structure where student-athletes could realistically live in.

Athletes have access to not only a cafeteria, barbershop and theater, but also a weight room, health center and changing area. No matter the time of the year, athletes are training to better themselves for the next season. While the sweat or odors inherent in any locker room setting may not seem like much at face value, if perspiration and such aren’t accounted for, health issues can arise.

By removing odors, building managers are creating a cleaner environment that not only looks well kept, but also smells pleasant, given the purpose these areas serve. Locker rooms in public gyms or workout spots may be avoided if they are not properly maintained, and this could translate into members foregoing storing their personal belongings in a locker. This may increase the risk of potential theft.

But in locker rooms, a more dangerous situation has the potential to cause serious medical harm in the form of staph infections and potentially MRSA.

Locker room.

What is a Staph Infection?

As defined by the Mayo Clinic, staph infections can be caused by staphylococcus bacteria making its way deep into an individual’s body, such as the bloodstream or heart. Staph infection symptoms are varied depending on where the infection is first found.

For example, skin infection symptoms include the development of boils, a painful impetigo or even scalded skin syndrome, which is when blisters form and easily break.

In sports, staph infections can spread through contact when there are open cuts or skin-to-skin contact. Locker rooms are also known to be a cause for these infections when athletes share equipment, towels or uniforms.

One serious form of a staph infection is MRSA, which the Mayo Clinic stated is typically resistant to major antibiotics used to treat regular staph infections. MRSA can also be spread by skin-to-skin contact in locker rooms.

MRSA infections are not just a concern at the high school or amateur level, either. In 2015, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Lawrence Tynes sued the team after he contracted MRSA that forced him to retire. He claimed the organization never informed the team members that individuals who had MRSA visited facilities, nor was equipment properly cleaned and sterilized.

The infection also affected former New York Giants player Daniel Fells, who, as of December 2015, underwent 10 surgeries to treat MRSA, according to USA Today.

These are only a small number of professional athletes who have developed MRSA and as such, organizations and building managers need to ensure their athletes are in the safest locker room environment possible.

“Powerful air ventilation systems can reduce the amount of bacteria found in a locker room.”

Creating a Clean Locker Room

First, all gym and locker room equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized to help prevent staph infections from spreading. Athletes will also have to be proactive to prevent contracting these serious infections. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended athletes always wash their hands before and after playing or practicing their sport. By following good personal hygiene, athletes of all ages will help decrease the chance of contracting a staph infection or MRSA.

But the locker rooms also need to be outfitted with the latest in air filtration systems. The Mayo Clinic stated that staph bacteria is found in the nose or on the skin of roughly a third of the population and in most instances, the bacteria is harmless.

Even so, powerful air ventilation systems can help reduce the amount of bacteria found in a locker room, while also eliminating odors and mildew. These systems should be utilized everywhere, from high school and college locker rooms to those found in public gyms and workout facilities.

By contacting Air Impurities Removal Systems, locker room and building managers are helping to ensure they are doing everything possible to reduce the likelihood of athletes contacting a serious infection.

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.

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.