Kitchen As A Pollution Hazard – Cleveland, OH

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

What National Indoor Air Quality Month means to you…

Basement Ventilation: The Foundation Link to Healthy Home

Human beings breathe – inhale and exhale – 10,000 to 70,000 times every day just to sustain life. Not really surprising, but, we don’t really pay that much attention to the air we are breathing. We as North American’s spend countless hours and billions of dollars deciding on the food we eat, beverages we drink, the lotions we put on our skin and the effects they have on our health and well-being. However, when was the last time you heard someone actually discussing the quality of the air they breathe?

If we are inhaling air into our lungs 10,000 to 70,000 times a day, doesn’t it make sense to at least consider the quality of air we breathe?

indoor air quality

So, let’s take a moment to consider what IS in the air we breathe. How is the air I am breathing effecting my home and health?

What is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?

Term to describe “the physical and chemical characteristics of air inside buildings including airborne constituents with special concerns for the impact on occupant health and comfort” Airborne constituents include:

Temperature – Humidity – VOCs – Allergens – Particle Counts – Bacteria – Building Materials – Type of Construction – Exchange Rates – Occupants – HVAC – Insulation – etc.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, tells us that “The air in the average American home is a minimum of 5 times (and can be as much as 100 times) more polluted than outdoor air.” There are quite a few reasons for this…from the off gassing of toxins we use in building our homes such as glues, epoxies, resins, varnishes, upholstery, carpets, paint fumes, formaldehyde, and other VOCs to the type of foundations our homes are built on, basements and crawlspaces, add in our quest for insulation and energy efficient upgrades to the mix and we’ve got quite a toxic cocktail of indoor air quality!

For homes with basements, indoor toxins are greater than for those homes without basements. Unfinished and finished basements both create risks for toxic exposure throughout the whole home. A recent study indicated that foundation walls, due to their porous nature absorb 10-15 gallons of water vapor per day, which is responsible for up to 80% of the home’s indoor moisture, and can accelerate the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew as well as attract bugs, spiders and pests.

We can all agree that it is important to control water leaks and water entry, from the basement into the rest of the house. Additionally, controlling mold is important as this toxin, will place your family at significant health risk. The humidity and condensation in the basement is what most often creates a mold risk.

indoor air qualityAdding the “Stack Effect” (the movement of air into and out of home) to this dynamic exaggerates the introduction of toxins from the basement into the home.

The rising warm air draws air in through either open doors, windows, or other openings and up from basement.

Actively drawing dirty basement air into the living environment above is detrimental to providing a healthy indoor environment.

For homes with crawlspaces, indoor toxins are greater than for those homes without crawlspaces. The average home built on a crawlspace has 80 square inches of air communication between the crawlspace and the living environment creating higher risks for toxic exposure throughout the whole home. Much like basements, these spaces are also built into the earth and surrounded by soil on all four sides and oftentimes have dirt floors as well. The water in the soil makes its way into these spaces in its vapor form (humidity) due to the laws of physics, ‘Wet Moves to Dry’. A recent study indicated that crawlspaces, due to their porous nature absorb up to 20 gallons of water vapor per day, which again, is responsible for up to 80% of the home’s indoor moisture. This process contributes to the acceleration of foundation decay, bacteria growth, mold and mildew as well as attracts bugs, spiders and pests.

indoor air qualityOnce again, adding the “Stack Effect” (the movement of air into and out of home) to this dynamic exaggerates the introduction of toxins from the crawlspace into the home.

The rising warm air draws air in through either open doors, windows, or other openings and up from crawlspace.

Actively drawing dirty crawlspace air into the living environment above makes indoor air quality even worse.

Crawlspace Vents? Many crawlspaces were initially built with passive vents to the outside to allow the crawlspace to be “vented”. These passive vents are dependent on the wind and weather to be effective. Building code across North America are now changing as passive vents to the outside, are actually contributing to a dirty crawlspace by introducing more moisture into an already damp space.

“From a psychometric standpoint, venting a crawl space to remove moisture works only when the outside air is dryer than the crawl space air.” – RLC Engineering, LLC., The Fallacies of Venting Crawl Spaces

Whether it be a basement foundation, crawlspace foundation or a combination of the two, they are contaminant sources contributing the poor indoor air quality in the home. Add to that a whole host of other pollutants that we build our homes with, clean our homes with and bring into our homes on a daily basis. The reality is that every day our families are breathing basement and/or crawlspace air that has been mixed with contaminated house air.

Most recent stat coming from the National Center for Healthy Housing tells us “40% of the air we breathe in our living spaces is air that was once below grade and has risen up from the basement/crawlspace.”

One of the more obvious symptoms of this growing epidemic of poor indoor air quality is the substantial rise in allergies and asthma in recent generations.  According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America we have seen “a 700% increase in people suffering from asthma and allergies in the past 20 years, leading to a staggering 50% of North American’s reporting allergy symptoms”. A fairly recent condition labeled “Sick Home Syndrome”, may be to blame.

How EZ Breathe Ventilation can help…

The good news is homeowners can do something to combat this growing health concern. Even better news is that it does not include major home renovations or serious lifestyle changes…by simply increasing the home’s air exchanges YOU can make a difference.

Helping to reduce the natural stack effect (tendency for basement/crawlspace air to rise up into the living space) YOU can improve your indoor quality. This will also provide a path of escape for the bad air to exit which will further prevent polluted indoor air from accumulating to unhealthy levels and entering the living environment. By exhausting that bad air out and increasing air exchanges you can dramatically improve the indoor air quality…and the health of the occupants!

indoor air qualityIt’s really a very simply solution to a complex problem. By increasing the ventilation rates in the home sourced at the lowest part of the foundation, you will see a reduction in indoor allergens, humidity levels, trapped gasses and pollutants, as well as all of those nasty chemicals we introduce into our indoor environment every day.

Create a fresher, cleaner, drier indoor air environment naturally, without expensive air filters, air cleaners, scrubbers, etc. When you increase ventilation there is no need for any harmful air fresheners, sprays, plug-ins, candles, chemical masking agents or fragrances. These synthetic compounds do nothing to improve the air quality and oftentimes add dangerous chemicals further polluting an already compromised air quality.

 

If we need to breath up to 70,000 times per day just to sustain us, it’s probably a good idea to be sure that the air we are inhaling is the healthiest it can be to support us in being the healthiest we can be!

To Learn more about how the EZ Breathe Ventilation System and CrawlSpace Conditioner System can:

  • Improve indoor Air Quality
  • Reduce allergens
  • Monitor humidity levels
  • Remove pollutants
  • Reverse natural stack effect
  • Prevent Ice damming
  • Protect your home and health
  • Create a healthy and happy home!

Visit us at www.ezbreathe.com or call us at 1.866.8227328

What National Indoor Air Quality Month Means to You?

National Indoor Air Quality Month

State of Indoor Air Quality The US Environmental Protection Agency states “The air quality in the average American home is a minimum of 3-5 times more polluted than outdoor air and can be as much as 100 times more polluted than outdoor air” This indoor air quality problem stems from many variables including the tighter, more energy efficient building materials and upgrades, our homes no longer “breathe” in the way the older homes did, resulting in a more stagnant, stale air quality coupled with the increased amount of chemicals in our modern homes, lifestyles, furnishings, cleaning products, beauty products, off-gassing, etc. We have created quite the toxic indoor air cocktail complete with high allergens and irritants.

The US EPA ranks indoor air quality as the #1 environmental health problem reporting “6 out of every 10 homes and buildings are sick, meaning they are hazardous to your health to occupy as a result of airborne pollutants.”

The consequences of poor indoor air quality are often times life altering in many ways, for example Medical Director of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, E. Neil Schachter said “If you live in a home with chronically poor air quality, you can experience frequent headaches, long lasting colds and bronchitis as well as chronic asthma.”

Human beings breathe – inhale and exhale – 10,000 to 70,000 times every day just to sustain life. Not really surprising, but what is surprising is how very little attention we pay to the quality of the air we are breathing so often every day. Especially when compared to the countless hours and billions of dollars we spend considering the food we eat, beverages we drink, the lotions we put on our skin and the effects they have on our health and well-being. The time has come for us to recognize the quality of air is having a direct impact on our health and happiness.

With over 60% of the American population reporting some allergy symptoms it’s no wonder that we have seen “Perennial (year-long) allergens are 10- to 100-fold higher indoors than outside” reports William J. Calhoun, MD, chair department of medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch

What does all of this mean?

indoor air qualitySick Home Syndrome by definition is when a person suffers “acute, adverse health effects that can be linked to spending time within a specific structure and are not caused by an illness.” For example, do you get headaches only when you are at home? Do you start to feel better once outside? Or do you regularly stay up at night suffering with a cough and scratchy throat that keeps you from getting a good night’s sleep, only to feel better once you get outside? These are just a few of the symptoms of “Sick Home Syndrome”, others include:

allergies, asthma, sinus and respiratory infections, itchy, dry skin, fatigue, sneezing, coughing, insomnia, scratch throat, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, the list goes on and on.

The good news is that we can help homeowners do something to combat this growing health concern. Even better news is that it does not include major home renovations or serious lifestyle changes…by simply increasing the home’s air exchanges YOU can make a difference.

indoor air qualityHelping to reduce the natural stack effect (tendency for basement/crawlspace air to rise up into the living space) you can improve indoor quality. This will also provide a path of escape for the bad air to exit which will further prevent polluted indoor air from accumulating to unhealthy levels and entering the living environment. By exhausting that bad air out and increasing air exchanges you can dramatically improve the indoor air quality…and the health of the occupants!

It’s really a very simple solution to a complex problem. By increasing the ventilation rates in the home sourced at the lowest part of the foundation, you will see a reduction in indoor allergens, humidity levels, trapped gasses and pollutants, as well as all of those nasty chemicals we introduce into our indoor environment every day.

indoor air qualityCreate a fresher, cleaner, drier indoor air environment naturally, without expensive air filters, air cleaners, scrubbers, etc. When you increase ventilation there is no need for any harmful air fresheners, sprays, plug-ins, candles, chemical masking agents or fragrances. These synthetic compounds do nothing to improve the air quality and oftentimes add dangerous chemicals further polluting an already compromised air quality.

If we need to breathe up to 70,000 times per day just to sustain us, it’s probably a good idea to be sure that the air we are inhaling is the healthiest it can be to support us in being the healthiest we can be!

 

To Learn more about how the EZ Breathe Ventilation System and CrawlSpace Conditioner System can:

  • Improve indoor Air Quality
  • Reduce allergens
  • Monitor humidity levels
  • Remove pollutants
  • Reverse natural stack effect
  • Prevent Ice damming
  • Protect your home and health
  • Create a healthy and happy home!

Visit us at www.ezbreathe.com or call us at 1.866.8227328

‘Fragrance’ Making Us Sick?

Fragrance Making Us Sick- EZ Breathe“Fragrance” can mean any of thousands of combinations of chemicals whose identities are not disclosed.

Miller is just one of countless Americans who are sensitive to “fragrance,” a cryptic category of ingredients manufacturers add to products from cleaning supplies to toiletries. This generic term encompasses thousands of combinations of chemicals that give consumer goods their odors, but the identity of those chemicals is rarely disclosed.

Click here for related information on how E-Z Breathe helps with fragrances, smells, and odors.

For decades, fragrance makers have insisted on treating their recipes as trade secrets, even as complaints about negative health effects have proliferated. A 2009 study, for example, concluded that nearly one-third of Americans were irritated by the smell of scented products on others, and 19 percent experienced headaches or breathing difficulties when exposed to air fresheners or deodorizers.

The fragrance industry, with projected global sales of $40 billion this year, insists it ensures the safety of its products through a rigorous system of self-regulation administered by its trade group, the International Fragrance Association. But Women’s Voices for the Earth, a small consumer advocacy group in Missoula, Montana, recently outlined some troubling flaws in the industry’s methods and identified scores of chemicals used in its mixtures as toxic substances.

The Fragrance Association’s North American branch declined to comment for this story, as did association member BASF, the chemical giant. Four other members—Phoenix Aromas & Essential Oils, Premier Specialties, Flavor & Fragrance Specialties Inc., and Bedoukian Research—did not return phone calls.

“There’s a real kind of state of ignorance on the part of scientists, on the part of researchers, on the part of consumers.”

“There’s a real kind of state of ignorance on the part of scientists, on the part of researchers, on the part of consumers, on what is in fragrance and how safe fragrances are for your health,” says Alexandra Scranton, director of science and research at Women’s Voices, whose mission is to eliminate toxic chemicals that predominately affect women. “We were trying to pick apart the claim that the industry is ensuring the safety of fragrance.”

This problem isn’t new. In 2005, California passed the Safe Cosmetics Act, which compels manufacturers to report any product containing ingredients suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm. But the reporting database doesn’t include ingredients, including fragrance chemicals, that the companies identify as trade secrets—and experts worry some manufacturers are failing to comply altogether.

At the federal level, the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees cosmetics, doesn’t require manufacturers to prove in advance that their ingredients are safe—the FDA must demonstrate harm before requesting a recall. And while the agency compels cosmetics makers to disclose their ingredients, it, too, has a trade-secret exemption for fragrance or flavor chemicals. Products such as laundry detergents and air fresheners fall under the purview of the Consumer Products Safety Commission, which does not actively screen fragrances for safety.

“Government has failed to provide a real regulator…There are plenty of examples of where counting on the good graces of industry has wound up being a mistake.”

“Government has failed to provide a real regulator,” which is a problem, says Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group (EWG). “There are plenty of examples of where counting on the good graces of industry has wound up being a mistake.”

In May 2010, a coalition called the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics revealed the results of independent tests it commissioned on 17 popular perfumes, colognes, and body sprays. EWG analyzed the results: Each product contained more than a dozen undisclosed chemicals, including “chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions,” the group reported, and other “chemicals with troubling hazardous properties or with a propensity to accumulate in human tissues.”

Earlier that year, under pressure from Women’s Voices and others, the International Fragrance Association released a list of some 3,000 chemicals used by its members. Women’s Voices presented its analysis this past November: Well over 1,000 of the listed ingredients, the group reported, also appear on official listings of worrisome chemicals. The United Nations, for instance, has more than one-third of the fragrance chemicals flagged with the word “warning” and explicitly labels 190 of them a “danger.” The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a division of the World Health Organization, lists seven of the ingredients as possible human carcinogens. Fifteen of the chemicals, Women’s Voices noted, are banned from cosmetics in the European Union.

Scranton, the scientist who authored the Women’s Voices report, points out that the Fragrance Association’s list gives no indication of how often and in what quantity each chemical is used, which makes it difficult to vet. “When I see styrene [a possible carcinogen] on the list of chemicals in fragrance, that’s a red flag,” she says. “Is it only used very, very rarely, in very small amounts? Possibly. Is it used in every fragrance that you come across? Then it’s going to be a problem.”

In a brief paper posted on its website, the Fragrance Association touts the industry’s ability to ensure “the highest levels of safety,” and insists that the industry adapts to new scientific findings “more quickly and efficiently through self-regulation as opposed to diverse legislation in different countries on different continents.” The association works with its research arm, the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials, to produce standards it says are science-based.

“The Research Institute for Fragrance Materials is like a black box…None of their safety studies are publicly available.”

Women’s Voices cites several problems with this setup: First, the vast majority of fragrance safety studies are produced by the Research Institute—the Fragrance Association says it spends about $8 million a year on joint studies with manufacturers—or by the fragrance houses themselves. But the industry research is rarely published or peer reviewed, and there is no routine review of laboratory practices, Women’s Voices says, to ensure that results “have not been manipulated.”

Over the past year, however, the European Commission Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety has examined studies by the Research Institute and found repeated failings in its methodology—including incomplete data and invalid protocols.

The industry vets safety data and creates safety standards with guidance from a panel of “independent experts“—but the panel’s deliberations are off limits to the public. These standards, according to the Fragrance Association’s website, amount to 186 substances it has banned or restricted over the years, but Women’s Voices contends that the group does little to police its standards.

“The Research Institute for Fragrance Materials is like a black box,” says Janet Nudelman, the director of program and policy for the Breast Cancer Fund and director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “None of their safety studies are publicly available.”

The Research Institute did not argue with the findings of Women’s Voices but simply responded with a statement affirming that “the industry is committed to addressing consumers’ interests through a continuous health and environmental safety review.”

The Fragrance Association opposed a recent bill that would force manufacturers of cleaning products to disclose their top 20 ingredients.

But the industry remains opposed to greater transparency regarding the chemicals it uses. The Fragrance Association, for example, opposed a California bill—introduced last February by state Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles)—that would force manufacturers of cleaning products to disclose their top 20 ingredients on the label. In a letter to the assemblyman, the association said it was worried about counterfeiters.

Miller, the New York professor with fragrance sensitivity, says “it would be very helpful” for people like her if companies would come clean about what’s in their products. “Fragrance is not just some pretty concept,” she says. “It actually can be a fairly nasty combination of chemicals.”

This story was reported by FairWarning, a nonprofit news organization focused on public health, safety and environmental issues.

“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!

Thanks,
Tim Chapin, HHS, CRMI
EZ Breathe Ventilation
866-822-7328