Kitchen As A Pollution Hazard

Kitchen As A Pollution Hazard- EZ Breathe

Kitchen As A Pollution Hazard

By midmorning, the smell of hot peanut oil dissipated and inside the tightly sealed laboratory known as Building 51F, a pink hamburger sizzled in a pan over a raging gas flame. Overhead, fans whirred, whisking caustic smoke up through a metallic esophagus of ductwork.

Woody Delp, 49, a longhaired engineer in glasses — the Willie Nelson of HVAC — supervised the green bean and hamburger experiments. He sat at a computer inside a kitchen simulator, rows upon rows of numeric data appearing on his screen, ticking off the constituents of the plume sucked up the flue. A seared hamburger patty, as he sees it, is just a reliable source for indoor pollution.

“I can claim Alice Waters’ influenced the recipe,” he said. “It’s all fresh and local.”

But Dr. Delp and his colleagues aren’t really interested in testing recipes. They are scientists at the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the morning’s experiment concerned another kitchen conundrum, a fight against physics: how to remove harmful contaminants caused by cooking.

Find out why installing the EZ Breathe Ventilation System is beneficial to your home.

Simply put, cooking is an act of controlled combustion — you set oil, fat, and carbohydrates on fire. As a health hazard, incinerating hamburgers and green beans may pale in comparison with lighting wood or coal fires indoors, the leading environmental cause of death and disability around the world. Yet frying, grilling or toasting foods with gas and electric appliances creates particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and volatile organic compounds. (Acrolein, which most cooks recognize as the smell of burnt fats or oils, was used in grenades in World War I because it causes irritation to the lungs and eyes.)

Emissions of nitrogen dioxide in homes with gas stoves exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of clean air in an estimated 55 percent to 70 percent of those homes, according to one model; a quarter of them have air quality worse than the worst recorded smog (nitrogen dioxide) event in London. Cooking represents one of the single largest contributors, generating particulate matter (formally known as PM2.5) at concentrations four times greater than major haze events in Beijing.

“Because we’re used to the smell, we don’t think of it as an issue,” said Jennifer M. Logue, 32, an air quality engineer at the Berkeley Lab. “When you live in a small building, you cook a lot and don’t use your range hood, which may not be very effective anyway, then you’re probably going to have a problem with pollutants from cooking.”

Recently Dr. Logue estimated the long-term health effects expected from hundreds of chemicals found in average homes. Her 2012 study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, used a common epidemiological metric known as disability-adjusted life-year to show that the population-wide health impact of indoor pollutants is on a par with that of car accidents, and greater than that of traditional concerns like secondhand smoke or radon.

“It’s well over violence,” she said. “It’s not a small risk.”

Federal policy and financing tends to focus on research outdoors — air quality, drinking water, wastewater, hazardous waste sites and soil contamination. “We haven’t had that regulatory driver for the indoor environment, and yet the indoor environment is probably the most important environment in terms of human health,” said Richard L. Corsi, an engineer and professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

“If you look at just the dose of toxic chemicals we take into our bodies during our lifetime that are of environmental origin, it’s dominated by the air that we breathe and the surfaces that we touch indoors,” Dr. Corsi said.

The Berkeley Lab’s research is driven, in part, by renewed efforts to tighten building envelopes and save on energy costs. Airtight buildings keep outdoors out, but they also trap contaminants. Efforts to mask odors — incense, candles, and air fresheners — exacerbate the hazard. After all, indoor combustion creates more pollutants that linger in tightly sealed spaces; and, formaldehyde, for example, is formed when ozone reacts with gases, especially scenting agents, plug-in air fresheners and cleaners.

Since people aren’t likely to stop cooking, the lab aims to come up with science-based ventilation standards. “People don’t need to radically change their lifestyles,” Dr. Logue said. “We need to change the building codes so that everyone gets a venting range hood.”

Current ventilation standards — the V in HVAC — represent a best engineering judgment. There’s never been much science involved in determining how well range hoods and other ventilation systems should work in terms of human health. Existing metrics for performance, most notably the Energy Star rating, measure energy use, not the impact of the appliance on human health.

And while it’s difficult to rid a home of the semi-volatile organic compounds that leak out of, say, a couch over a long period of time, volatile compounds from fire and water vapor can be removed with an effective kitchen fan. “A lot of homes don’t have that,” said Brett Singer, the lab’s director. “Secondly, a lot of the ones that do, people don’t use them, and thirdly, even if they have it and even if they use it, a lot of them don’t work very well.”

When they tested seven different commercially available range hood designs, Dr. Singer and Dr. Delp found that the airflow and the amount of burner exhaust and cooking contaminants whisked away — the so-called “capture efficiency” — varied from 15 percent to 98 percent. (Dr. Singer refers to recirculating hoods, only somewhat jokingly, as “forehead greasers.”)

Inside the kitchen simulator, fresh air whooshed through the room — an exchange rate of about 12 times per hour, nearly 40 times the amount circulating in an average home. But the experiments hadn’t generated much appetite. One lab assistant, Omsri Bharat, passed on the burgers because she is a vegetarian, and the other, Marcella Barrios, a science teacher, admitted to having packed a lunch.

Dr. Singer is optimistic that new scientific standards might even change habits inside actual homes. “We want people to cook,” he said. “The health of America will probably get better. We just want to make sure all those pollutants, vapors and moisture from cooking get vented outside.”

Peter Andrey Smith
The New York Times

Seven Products Now on BPI Product List

Seven Products Now on BPI Product List- EZ Breathe
Seven Products Now on BPI Product List

Malta, NY, August 25, 2015 – The Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI) has recognized several new products in its Product Listing Program that meet or exceed industry standards, providing contractors and consumers with quality assurance on products and materials in the residential energy upgrade marketplace.

BPI identifies the appropriate industry standard or efficacy requirement which the product must meet, then ensures the product meets the standard or protocol for its product group, such as ventilation, air sealing, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) or insulation. Once reviewed and approved, the product is added to BPI’s approved Product List on its website. The manufacturer is then eligible to place the BPI Product Mark on its packaging and marketing materials.

Not all products meet industry standards, so manufacturers included in this listing benefit from: differentiation of their higher quality materials, identification as a leader in the home performance industry and direct connection of consumers and contractors to their website. The BPI Product Mark on packaging, literature and advertising signals to the industry and consumers a high quality product that has been verified by a trusted third party.

There are currently seven products tested, approved and listed on the BPI Product Listing website.

FilterLock is a magnetic filter slot cover that seals a furnace or air conditioning system, manufactured by AllergyZone, LLC. This cover protects air conditioning systems and furnaces and helps reduce energy usage.

EZ Breathe Healthy Home Solutions manufactures two ventilation products that meet industry standards: EZ Breathe A400 Ventilation System and EZ Breathe Crawlspace Conditioner System. The EZ Breathe 1400 Ventilation System provides complete home air exchange that increases the indoor air quality (IAQ), reduces indoor humidity and lowers allergen and pollutant levels. The EZ Breathe Crawlspace Conditioner System satisfies the EPA’s requirements for mechanical exhaust ventilation and conditioned-air supply in crawlspaces. Both EZ Breathe products are maintenance free and operate efficiently at only $2-$4 a month.

Read the full article at:

Seven Tips for Keeping a Healthy Home

Seven Tips for Keeping a Healthy Home- EZ BreatheSeven Tips for Keeping a Healthy Home

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control has put together seven tips for keeping a healthy home:

1. Keep it Dry

Prevent water from entering your home through leaks in roofing systems, rain water from entering the home due to poor drainage, and check your interior plumbing for any leaking.

2. Keep it Clean

Control the source of dust and contaminants, creating smooth and cleanable surfaces, reducing clutter, and using effective wet-cleaning methods.

3. Keep it Safe

Store poisons out of the reach of children and properly label. Secure loose rugs and keep children’s play areas free from hard or sharp surfaces. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep fire extinguishers on hand.

4. Keep it Well-Ventilated

Ventilate bathrooms and kitchens and use whole house ventilation for supplying fresh air to reduce the concentration of contaminants in the home.

5. Keep it Pest-free

All pests look for food, water and shelter. Seal cracks and openings throughout the home; store food in pest-resistant containers. If needed, use sticky-traps and baits in closed containers, along with least toxic pesticides such as boric acid powder.

6. Keep it Contaminant-free

Reduce lead-related hazards in pre-1978 homes by fixing deteriorated paint, and keeping floors and window areas clean using a wet-cleaning approach. Test your home for radon, a naturally occurring dangerous gas that enters homes through soil, crawlspaces, and foundation cracks. Install a radon removal system if levels above the EPA action-level are detected.

7. Keep it Well-Maintained

Inspect, clean and repair your home routinely. Take care of minor repairs and problems before they become large repairs and problems.

You can download the PDF version of these tips here.

For more information on what the EZ Breathe Ventilation System does click here.

Primary Sources of Indoor Air Toxins and Allergens

Primary Sources of Indoor Air Toxins and Allergens- EZ BreathePrimary Sources of Indoor Air Toxins and Allergens

Pity the poor bathroom fan.

Infrequently the concern of most homeowners. Seldom the recipient of adequate investment by builders. In most dwellings, it’s not uncommon for the vents to be furred with dust. Yet it can dramatically improve the comfort of a home or apartment’s atmosphere, and in some cases even help the occupants live longer and better. In fact, some experts on the subject leave theirs running constantly in certain seasons.

Click here for more related information on how EZ Breathe removes allergen triggers in your home.

This whitepaper will address several sources of indoor air contamination, some of which are well known. Others will be less so. For example, few people realize that one of the most common comes right from their stovetops: Spaghetti.

Download the whitepaper today.

“Why Is My Basement/Crawlspace Damp?”

“Why Is My Basement/Crawlspace Damp?”

"Why Is My Basement/Crawlspace Damp?"- EZ BreatheWe at EZ Breathe get this question regularly. We also get this statement often: “Well that is just the way basements are, and the way they smell.” Of course this is timely in much of the country right now… snow is melting, or has melted. Rain is falling…and more water in the soil outside our homes leads to….

When we are talking about DAMP, let’s be clear, we don’t mean WET. If you have liquid water that trickles across your floor at times, or even pools or floods your basement/crawlspace, that is WET, and it needs EZ Breathe, and some other work. Between EZ Breathe and our extensive family of distributors, we can help you solve WET basement problems.

When we are talking about DAMP, we are talking about air borne moisture, “feels damp”, condensation on cold surfaces, usually accompanied by musty odors.

For more related information about the crawl space conditioner system, click here.

Why is your basement or crawlspace damp? Very simple, even in the absence of liquid water entering your home through the foundation, research has documented “as much as 15 gallons per day of water vapor entering a basement space via vapor transmission through unsealed walls, floors, cracks, and openings and by evaporation from wet surfaces.” (Powell and Rogers, Kansas State University, “Dry Basements and Crawlspaces”.)

And that water vapor can wreak havoc in our homes! What can it cause/exacerbate?
– Mold
– Structural issues
– Bugs, spiders, etc.
– Health issues

How do we handle water vapor in the rest of our homes?
– In the bathrooms, we vent it to the outside
– In the kitchen, we vent it to the outside
– Our clothes dryer? Yep, vent to the outside

Has anyone ever told you to put a dehumidifier in each of your bathrooms, in your kitchen, and behind your dryer?
So you see, it is simple, a great way to handle excess water vapor in our homes is venting it to the outside…and that is what EZ Breathe has been doing for over 12 years!

Tim Chapin, HHS, CRMI
EZ Breathe Ventilation

Important Information for YOU from the Indoor Air Quality Association Annual Meeting

Good Information on UV Light and Air Quality
From the 18th Annual Indoor Air Quality Association Meeting

March 17, 2015

At EZ Breathe we often get questions from our customers, and the public, about specific technologies in the areas of ventilation, air quality, and healthy homes. We encourage those questions, and we constantly attend conferences to learn, as well as to teach others. One of the things we want to accomplish with our blogs is to inform and educate you on what we are learning!

I’m sure many of you have heard about UV Light being used for air purification. You may have even seen it at a home and garden show, or in a magazine, or on TV.

For some time, we at EZ Breathe have been watching UV light being used in commercial, medical, and residential buildings for the purposes of increased air quality. It is a fascinating subject, with a lot of promise, and there are several sessions at the conference.

In fact, I just attended a session “The NADCA White Paper: Ultraviolet Lighting Applications in HVAC Systems”. Thanks for enlightening me Dan Stradford, presenter!

What a bowl of alphabet soup! Here is a quick preface to the acronyms I’ll be referencing:
NADCA = National Air Duct Cleaning Association

HVAC = Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (I could jump on my soap box about the “missing V in most residential HVAC companies”, but that is for another day.)

UVC = The type of ultraviolet light that is used in these type of systems

UVGI = When UVC is used for germicidal purposes

Quick facts:

1. UVGI deactivates or kills microorganisms by disrupting their DNA. This includes bacteria, molds, etc.
2. I was amazed to learn that UV light has been used to reduce microorganisms all the way back to around 1900!
3. UVGI is used to make drinking water safe in much of the world.
4. In HVAC systems, it is primarily used in two ways:
a. On coils and drip pans to kill microorganisms on surfaces
b. In duct work to kill the same on surfaces in the duct work, but primarily to kill them as they pass through the air stream when the blower is operating.

UVGI can be effective, the following will determine how effective it will be:

1. Temperature
2. Humidity
3. Particulate in the air stream
4. Cleanliness of the lamps themselves
5. Age of the lamps
6. Proper placement of lamps
7. Reflectiveness of the surfaces
8. Speed of air flow
9. Number of lamps
10. The microorganism’s ability to withstand the UVGI
11. Intensity of the lamp
One thing that was stressed was the importance of the training of the people who install, and maintain these UVGI systems. This is not something that should be done by untrained people. Bad installation or maintenance can actually do harm to your HVAC system components, and can cause at least short term harm to human skin or eyes if improperly installed or maintained. If you inspect or replace your own bulbs, you really need to be properly trained.

In conclusion, we at EZ Breathe are going to continue to stay abreast of UVGI. It is being used widely in commercial, and hospital/medical facilities. There are residential applications available, and they are worth considering. If you want to talk about YOUR indoor air quality needs, please give us a call.

Off to another session!

Tim Chapin, HHS, CRMI
EZ Breathe Ventilation Systems

For more information on EZ Breathe’s Balanced Air Ventilation System, click here.

“60 Minutes” Report on Formaldehyde – What YOU should know!

“60 Minutes” Report on Formaldehyde
Aired March 1, 2015

On March 1, 2015 “60 Minutes” aired a segment on the formaldehyde levels found in a particular company’s products. This article is not about that company, but about formaldehyde.

Some might have seen the report, or heard about it, and did a quick memory check,
“Did I buy laminate flooring from company xyz?”
Answer, “No”
(Sigh of relief)
“Whew, I’m good.”

Not so fast…

Formaldehyde is classified as a “known carcinogen.” But that doesn’t make it illegal to use. Formaldehyde is in all kinds of products we take into our homes, from the no-iron coating of threads in our clothes to the glues holding wood together in our floors to the shampoos we slather in our hair.

Formaldehyde is in a LOT of products, and is used in processes most Americans probably use:

Pressed wood products
Some foam insulation types
Permanent press clothing
Combustion including tobacco products

Probably none of us are living a “formaldehyde free” life.

Formaldehyde is a “Volatile Organic Compound”, VOC, which means it is a gas at room temperature. If formaldehyde is present in a product you bring into your home, it will be released into the air.

What’s most concerning are the levels of formaldehyde trapped inside your home, your individual response to those levels, and ways to manage/limit the amount of formaldehyde our families are exposed to.


1. LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF VOCS, including formaldehyde that you bring into your home/building. This is worth pursuing, the less formaldehyde you bring in the better. Pay attention to labels!

2. INCREASE VENTILATION. Ventilation is an excellent strategy for reducing formaldehyde levels. Simply moving the air with a fan is NOT ventilation, ventilation includes removing contaminated/stale air, and replacing it with fresh air. In fact, if you blow a fan on a product, let’s say a laminate floor, as was the case of the 60 minutes episode, you may indeed increase the rate it “off gasses” the formaldehyde.

In order to effectively reduce formaldehyde, and other VOCs, you must provide a path of escape from your home/building. This is only half of the solution; you must also replace the toxic air that is being exhausted with fresher, cleaner air. This increased air exchange will reduce VOC levels throughout your entire home further protecting you from the health concerns associated with formaldehyde as well as other indoor toxins and allergens.

Another strategy would be to allow the product(s) to off gas outside of the home for a minimum of 30 days, so that contaminants don’t become concentrated to unhealthy levels inside your home, limiting the exposure to your family and pets.

3. MONITOR TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY. A reduction in temperature and humidity will reduce the off gassing of formaldehyde. The higher the temperature, and humidity, the more formaldehyde off gassing will occur. The second article cited above actually recommends using temperature and humidity to determine your personal tolerance to the product in question.

When it comes to indoor pollutants and odors, EZ Breathe has been working to reduce and eliminate odors, pollutants and allergens (including formaldehyde), since the very first unit was installed! Ventilation is our middle name!

Tim Chapin, HHS, CRMI
EZ Breathe Ventilation Systems

EZ Breathe GREAT QUESTION….Settings?

Settings, Settings, Settings….
One of the most common calls we get at EZ Breathe happens the first winter that a customer has an EZ Breathe in their home…
It usually goes like this: “Hi, I bought my EZ Breathe earlier this year, and we LOVE it. BUT, it stopped working, what do I do?”

I personally love this call!

What has happened? Well, the standard setting on the humidistat dial in most cases, is 35 – 45%. That is the optimal range for human comfort according to a lot of different studies.
35 to 45% is also a range that is NOT hospitable to:
– Bacteria
– Viruses
– Fungi (mold)
– Mites
– Respiratory infections
– Allergic Rhinitis and Asthma
– Chemical Interactions (Arundel, ET AL, and other studies)

And those are the kinds of things we don’t want to have visit, or stay with us.

So what is the answer?

It depends on what you want to achieve. Some customers are only concerned about maintaining a comfortable, moisture, mold and odor free basement/crawlspace. If that is you, then leaving the humidistat at 35 to 45% year round is fine. Set it and forget it.

If your concerns are overall home air quality, and being as inhospitable to the items listed above as possible, then perhaps setting the humidistat at 20% year round is the answer. Fan speed adjustment is a choice to consider.

On the subject of it being too dry, that is certainly a concern. Humidifying upstairs may be necessary. Definitely don’t over humidify, you want to be in that 35 to 45% range upstairs, and properly maintain the humidifier so that it doesn’t produce an environment for fungal or bacterial growth. EZ Breathe will help distribute the humidified air more evenly throughout the house.

Hope this helps!

A gift certificate for Question of the Month goes to: Theresa C., Ohio.

Thanks, and keep the questions coming!
Tim Chapin, HHS, CRMI