Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Understanding and controlling common pollutants indoors can help reduce your risk of indoor health concerns. Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or, possibly, years later.
Health Impacts of Air Pollutants
Some health effects may show up shortly after a single exposure or repeated exposures to a pollutant. These include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Such immediate effects are usually short-term and treatable.
Sometimes the treatment is simply eliminating the person’s exposure to the source of the pollution, if it can be identified. Soon after exposure to some indoor air pollutants, symptoms of some diseases such as asthma may show up, be aggravated or worsened.
The likelihood of immediate reactions to indoor air pollutants depends on several factors including age and preexisting medical conditions. In some cases, whether a person reacts to a pollutant depends on individual sensitivity, which varies tremendously from person to person. Some people can become sensitized to biological or chemical pollutants after repeated or high level exposures.
In long-term effects, other health effects may show up either years after exposure has occurred or only after long or repeated periods of exposure. These effects, which include some respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal. It is prudent to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if symptoms are not noticeable.
Reasons for Poor Indoor Air Quality
Gas and respirable particulates in the air are the primary sources that contribute to poor IAQ. Sources can include inadequate ventilation, poorly maintained HVAC systems, cooking stoves, non-vented gas heaters, tobacco smoke, vehicle exhaust emissions, building materials, carpeting, furniture, maintenance products, solvents, cleaning supplies etc.
The actual concentrations of these pollutants can also be amplified by other external factors including poor ventilation, humidity, and temperature.
Air Genius – Best Indoor Air Quality Monitor
Air Genius is a state-of-the-art indoor air quality monitor that you should have at your house or in your office to monitor the air that we breathe. The device, developed by India-based Next Sense Technologies, uses the latest sensors to determine particulate matter, VOCs, total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs), carbon dioxide, temperature, humidity and other important parameters.
We have taken a leap in technological advancement by relaying the data automatically to the server so that you can access the data remotely and in real-time. Through this, one could take initiatives on switching on the Air purifier or by keeping the window open for allowing the fresh air.
While much of the focus has been on the damage air pollution can do, it turns out the air within our homes maybe even more detrimental. Last year’s Clean Air Day campaign showed that particle pollution levels are a staggering 3.5 times higher indoors than they are outdoors. With the average person spending 93 percent of their lives indoors, every effort must be made to promote clean, safe indoor air quality – including when it comes to designing homes.
Designing a home that promotes good indoor air quality not only encourages better health for you and your family but can save you money on heating costs in the long run.
If you exert effort to promote safer air quality indoors, your home will become healthier and cleaner. Contrary to popular belief, promoting cleaner and safer air quality indoors through the right home design isn’t taxing. Making small changes in different areas of your home and investing in the right tools, such as the Needlepoint bipolar ionization, can go a long way for you and your family to enjoy healthier air indoors. To make this process easier, consider the following tips to promote safer air quality indoors:
Control Outdoor Sources Of Air Pollution With Minimal Cracks, Leaks Or Uncontrolled Openings
A large determinant of indoor air quality is the transmission of outdoor pollution into the home. In an Indoor Quality Survey by UCL, nitrogen dioxide accounted for 84 percent of the variations in air quality. Nitrogen Dioxide is linked to asthma attacks and is majorly attributed to traffic emissions. The presence of nitrogen dioxide inside your home can worsen the symptoms of asthma or can increase your susceptibility when developing such disease.
The report went on to highlight just how important a role the airtight design of a building plays in maintaining optimal air quality. When designing an airtight home, ensuring there is adequate insulation and choosing the right insulation material is important.
New home builders can also benefit from new construction methods like insulation within the home’s frame or the use of structural insulated panels. Final checks for unsealed leaks or cracks should also be done. However, homeowners and contractors should also keep in mind that ventilation is also just as paramount in maintaining good indoor air quality. Therefore, the inclusion of ventilation points, such as appropriately placed windows, should be kept in mind.
Moreover, common entryways such as doors and windows should be free from any kind of cracks and leaks. Homebuilders can now install silicon in the frames of doors and windows, so make sure that you use this material when designing your home.
Ensure You Have An Effective Ventilation System Design And Components In Place
A carefully designed ventilation system ensures that there is a free flow of air throughout the home and that any internal pollutants are flushed out. Ventilation is also important in the prevention and control of mold spores, which can have a large and potentially toxic impact on indoor air quality. Since molds thrive in humid or moist environments, proper ventilation can prevent their growth and the resulting health complications of mold exposure, such as the triggering of asthma symptoms or lung infections. Molds can also become an eyesore indoors, which is why you should ensure that your home has proper ventilation. A well-ventilated home can also increase the comfort of the people living in it, making the space more relaxing.
When designing your home’s ventilation system, you will want a contractor that is experienced and an NICEIC approved ventilation installer for the installation. In addition to adhering to building regulations, be sure to include mechanical switches or CO2 powered sensors for your MVHR unit so the speed can adapt according to changing conditions, such as seasons of the year. You should also consider the air filter size: larger filters allow for greater airflow, but those made with a thinner material can come with an extended life and dust loading abilities.
There are many ways on how you can improve the ventilation of your home. For instance, you can install extractor fans and attic vents or invest in a home ventilation system. There are several products available in the market today that can provide ventilation indoors so make sure to ask your contractors about your options. For you to end up paying and using a ventilation system that fits your needs and budget, do some research online on how these products work.
Choose Non-Toxic Building Materials And Furnishings For Your Home
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are one of the leading types of indoor air pollution and commonly stem from certain liquids or substances such as paint varnishes, building materials, and the finishes on indoor furniture. Research has also shown that concentrations of VOCs can be up to 10 times higher indoors than they are outdoors. Exposure to VOCs can result in both long and short term health complications, including headaches, skin conditions and liver damage.
To avoid this, homeowners can opt for chemical-free building materials such as formaldehyde-free boarding, Rockwool for insulation, and low VOC paints for painting and interior designs. Since you’ll be designing your home, make sure that the contractors understand your needs and will only use these materials.
When it comes to furnishing, choose second-hand furniture over new. Preowned furniture is more likely to emit lower levels of VOC when you buy them, since they stop emitting VOC after the first few initial years. As a bonus, it is much easier on your home design budget as preowned furniture is cheaper than buying brand new ones. For you to score great deals, you just have to exert effort when searching for secondhand pieces.
Key Takeaway Points
With so much time being spent in our homes, it makes sense that homeowners would want to design a home that is as safe as possible, including the indoor air quality. Incorporating simple hacks like these into your home design process can help you design the home of your dreams – and a healthy one at that.
As the medical marijuana, recreational marijuana and CBD markets each grow into multi-billion dollar industries, the demand for cannabis is at an all-time high — and canny entrepreneurs across the country are starting commercial cannabis grow operations in earnest. However, institutions like the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) are studying the potential effects of cannabis farms on air pollution and finding worrying results.
Aurora, Colorado, which is the second most popular locality in the nation for commercial cannabis farming operations, currently has the country’s 8th worst air quality according to the American Lung Association. The CDPHE asserts that this has much to do with cannabis farms and their output of what are known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.
What are VOCs, and why are they a problem?
VOCs are naturally released by a wide range of plant life, and are generally harmless on their own. An example of well-known VOCs are terpenes, which are present in everything from lavender to black peppercorns. The terpene profiles of different cannabis strains give them their respective identities, like the Lime OG strain which is incredibly popular among consumers.
The problem with VOCs occurs when they combine with combustion gases and become harmful to the ozone. Cannabis farms are commonly positioned along stretches of highway, with frequent car traffic through all times of day. This makes them uniquely problematic, as unlike other VOC-emitting plants like lavender, they are positioned to release VOCs en masse to combine with automobile exhaust and produce air pollution.
We can’t alter the release of VOCs in agriculturally and industrially-grown crops like marijuana at present, but there are ways farmers can offset these emissions with the use of environmentally-friendly alternatives to onsite operations. In this post, we go over three important examples of how cannabis farms can reduce or counter their own VOC emissions with little to no impact on productivity.
Strategic Positioning of Cannabis Farms Using Road Hierarchy
The first and most obvious step that can be taken to reduce the harmful interaction of VOCs produced by cannabis farms with motor vehicle exhaust is to position them along less traffic-intensive roads. The current road hierarchy within the United States and Canada is as follows:
Freeways are categorized as interstate or intercity roads, limited access roads and on- and off-ramps.
Arterial roads are designed to accommodate plenty of traffic throughout the day, and are subdivided into minor and major arterials for urban and rural areas respectively.
Collector roads are the convergence points for local roads, ultimately distributing local street traffic to different arterials.
Local roads carry low traffic volume and can typically be found in residential areas or specialized districts. In rural areas, these are sometimes unpaved depending on budgetary constraints or development timelines.
Cannabis-friendly states like California, Oregon and Colorado would benefit from the creation of more specialized farming counties and districts, where cannabis farms are positioned along local roads connected to a single collector a respectable distance away. This would prevent anything other than essential traffic, such as transport or supply vehicles to and from the farms themselves, from being in frequent proximity to the VOCs produced by onsite crops.
Use of Biofuels in Tractors, Tillers & Other Onsite Utility Vehicles
Continuing on from the concept of using road hierarchy in positioning cannabis farms: the risk of VOC conversion from approaching transport or supply vehicles could be further diminished if they were either electric vehicles (EVs) or made use of currently available biofuels.
This also applies to utility vehicles operated onsite, such as tractors, diggers and tillers, all of whose emissions are in contact with VOCs far more often than those from logistics vehicles.
Green Energy to Power Onsite Machine Processes
While they may not yet have the output specifications to effectively power entire farms, solar panels can provide ample energy for common onsite machine processes, such as the extraction of cannabinoids and terpenes to make isolates or the wet-mixing of hemp hurds to make hempcrete.
Depending on the products onsite facilities are purposed to manufacture, the use of green energy could be feasible for several farms across the country that haven’t already made the switch.
Industrial plants and facilities have been instrumental in propelling the modernization of human society. From that pen you use to sign your cheques to the knife you use to cut fruits for breakfast – almost every object of daily use has been manufactured at a production unit.
However, despite the numerous benefits of industries, they’ve been responsible for a wide array of environmental issues, including greenhouse gas emission, global warming, and air pollution. Also, improper waste management at manufacturing plants has adversely affected biodiversity in various regions.
The good news is that today’s industrial units are becoming more aware of their environmental impact and taking various steps to reduce their carbon footprint. This change has been propelled by increasing consumer demand for sustainable business practices, as well as federal and state regulations.
But while you’re striving to reduce energy consumption and waste generation at your plant, you’re likely ignoring the crucial aspect of industrial paint. That’s right! The paint that’s used for industrial plants, machinery, and tools is a key contributor to environmental degradation.
This, in turn, has compelled manufacturers and plant managers to look for eco-friendly industrial paint options from established distributors, such as Promain Paints. But if you’re new to the world of eco-friendly industrial paint, you might be skeptical about making the switch.
Is eco-friendly industrial paint worth the cost? Is it going to have the same characteristics as traditional industrial coatings? Is it mandatory for industrial units to use eco-friendly coatings?
If you’re looking for answers to these questions, we’ve got you covered. In this blog, we’ll delve deeper into the concept of industrial paints and understand their environmental impact. We’ll also explore the benefits of replacing traditional industrial paint with eco-friendly alternatives. Let’s get started.
Industrial Paint: A Closer Look
Industrial paint or industrial coating is specifically formulated for machinery, equipment, structural facilities, and end products at manufacturing plants and other industrial units. It’s also used to coat floors and other surfaces that endure the stress of heavy machinery.
Industrial paint can be in the form of a liquid, powder, or paste. When exposed to natural air, the paint gets cured and dried, thus forming a protective layer over the surface on which it’s been applied.
The primary purpose of industrial coating is to protect equipment, goods, and other substrates from physical and chemical damage. Depending on its chemical composition, the paint can also prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime. It even goes a long way to improve safety by making surfaces, such as floors, less slippery.
Typically, industrial paint comprises the following components:
Pigments are the chemicals or dyes that give the paint its color. Commonly used pigments include titanium oxide, iron oxide, and phthalocyanine derivatives. Binders are polymers, such as alkyd and acrylic resins, that allow the paint to adhere to the substrate and form a protective film on drying.
A solvent is a liquid that’s added to the paint to reduce its viscosity and improve its consistency so that it can be sprayed or applied with a brush. Typical solvents used in industrial paint include aliphatic hydrocarbons, aromatic hydrocarbons, esters, ethers, alcohols, ketones, etc.
Additives are special chemicals that give specific characteristics to the paint. Common examples of industrial paint additives include wetting agents, drying agents, fungicides, biocides, and plasticizers.
Effect of Industrial Coating on the Environment
The solvents used in industrial paint contain toxic chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs have low boiling points and react with other gases present in the air when exposed to sunlight. They’re also responsible for giving paint its characteristic smell.
Short-term inhalation of VOCs can cause a wide array of health problems, including headaches, nausea, dizziness, and skin rashes. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can lead to serious diseases, including cancer and liver ailments, as well as damage the central nervous system.
However, the impact of VOCs isn’t restricted to health-related disorders. They also adversely affect the environment and cause air pollution. It’s because these chemicals react with nitrogen oxides present in the environment in the presence of sunlight. This, in turn, results in the formation of tropospheric or ground-level ozone.
Ground-level ozone is a harmful air pollutant that creates smog and damages plants. It could affect the natural habitat of various animals and, in turn, destroy biodiversity. Also, it acts as a greenhouse gas, thereby contributing to global warming. That’s why increased use of conventional industrial paint is proving to be catastrophic for the environment.
The Search for Eco-Friendly Options
The harmful effects of industrial coating have forced manufacturers to look for environmentally-friendly alternatives. Eco-friendly industrial paint usually contains special solvents that emit negligible or very low amounts of VOCs into the air.
The biggest benefit of using eco-friendly paint is that it helps you comply with the environmental regulations in your area. The Environmental Protection Agency has outlined specific limits for VOC emissions in different regions. Non-compliance with these regulations could result in legal ramifications.
Also, many eco-friendly paints are formulated to be more durable. Some of them are even made using bio-renewable or post-consumer waste raw materials. This further reduces the environmental impact of your unit and takes you a step closer to creating sustainable business operations.
What other steps are you taking to minimize the environmental impact of your business? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.
Not too long ago, mountains of old tires were to be found in virtually every town and city’s landfill, and toxic tire fires that would sometimes take months to subside were a common occurrence. Today, these tire piles are a rarity, and thankfully, so are the fires that used to go with them.
We have largely to thank the combined initiatives of scientists, entrepreneurs, and legislators from banishing unsightly these unsightly tire piles from the landscape. Today you’re more likely to see old tires in your yoga mat or the asphalt you drive on than in ugly piles that you can see from the distance.
However, there have been questions about the widespread use of tire chips, especially in playgrounds, as mulch, and as repurposed water containers for agriculture and livestock.
These concerns are quite understandable, as we are in direct contact with tire chips when they are used in the first two applications. When used for agriculture and livestock, there seems to be a distinct and logical risk that any toxins that are released in those applications may eventually end up in our bodies.
Recycled tire products are safe for consumers
Provided that you are not the one processing the tires yourself (more on that later), there is an extremely low toxicity risk in tire chips. A typical tire chip is made from old tires, which means that they have already off-gassed much of their volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). New tires emit a good amount of VOC’s, which you can readily detect because of the unique new tire smell.
Many of these compounds have been linked to cancer. However, decades of research and uncontrolled use of old tires in different applications through the 20th century seem to strongly indicate that unless you are actually involved in producing or processing tires, your risks are quite low due to the low dosage of chemicals a typical consumer can expect. It’s the doses that makes a chemical toxic, and in the case of old tires where most tire chips are derived, the risk is negligible.
However, working in an environment where you can actually smell the “new tire scent” constantly can be a significant risk. By analogy, a bartender will be fine if they have a drink with one customer. But if they drink with every single customer that comes by every night, they’re in serious trouble.
Recycling large volumes of tires can be problematic
Unless you constantly work with tires, the risk is quite minimal. You can and should feel free to recycle or repurpose any tires you have around your house or yard into furniture, tire swings, planters, or pet beds. However, if you’re thinking of recycling dozens of tires a week, you should reconsider, as the particulate dust from carving up or shredding old tires can also be a risk over time if you don’t have the right equipment or safety gear.
Improper tire recycling can also heighten your exposure to dangerous chemicals in the tires, especially when they are subjected to the heat of a grinder or shredder that is not specifically meant for tire recycling. This can expose you to high levels of carcinogenic VOCs without you realizing it.
If you need to safely dispose of a high volume of tires, or tires that are difficult to recycle, such as those on tractors and OTR vehicles, be sure to contact a professional recycler like Western Tire Recyclers.
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