Wednesday, November 22, 2006


A Possible Source of Health Problems

Formaldehyde is a chemical widely used in many building materials and household products. According to the Environmental Defense Scoreboard it is ranked as one of the most hazardous compounds to ecosystems and human health.

Possible Health Problems

Exposure to formaldehyde affects people differently. Some experience no adverse reactions when exposed to moderate levels, while others do, even after low exposure. This colorless, pungent gas can cause one or more of the following health problems:



Eye irritation or watery eyes





Nose irritation

Skin rashes

Throat irritation

Upper respiratory tract irritation


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Household chemicals causing "silent pandemic"

Household chemicals causing "silent pandemic"

Paint is just one of the many household items we encounter every day that may contain potentially toxic ingredients.

Paint is just one of the many household items we encounter every day that may contain potentially toxic ingredients. Photograph by : Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Margaret Munro, CanWest News Service

Industrial chemicals have impaired the brain development of children, knocked down IQs, shortened attention spans and triggered behaviour problems, says a new report that is calling for better regulation of 201 chemicals with neurotoxic effects.

In a report warning of ''a silent pandemic in modern society,'' a team from the Harvard School of Public Health says millions of children may already have been affected.

''About half of the 201 chemicals that we list are high-volume production chemicals,'' says lead author Dr. Philippe Grandjean. The list includes aluminum and tin compounds, solvents like acetone and benzene, many organic substances and dozens of pesticides.

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The report takes a global view of the problem, but Grandjean says there is no question Canadians are exposed and affected.

''Most of these chemicals occur in Canadian chemical production, in the environment, in consumer goods,'' he says. He also says Canada stands out for exposure to the neurotoxin manganese, which has been used as an anti-knock agent in gasoline.

Health Canada declined to comment on the report, published Wednesday in the Lancet, or say how widely used the compounds are in Canada. But the department is promising action on thousands of chemicals that were introduced into use in Canada without adequate toxicity testing.

''We will have something in the very near future,'' says Erik Waddell, press secretary for Health Minister Tony Clement.

Critics doubt the government will go far enough, and predict it will be decades before the toxins are off the market.

''We're moving toward the George Bush model,'' says Bruce Campbell, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which recently issued a report harshly critical of the way the government has moved towards deregulation and cut funding for enforcement and testing.

The Lancet report says one in six children now has a developmental disability, many of them learning problems, sensory deficits and developmental delays that affect the nervous system. Mounting evidence has linked industrial chemicals to such neurological disorders, and the report deplores the way the chemicals are ''not regulated to protect children.''

There are ''great gaps'' in testing of the chemicals, and regulators will only restrict compounds if there is a ''high level'' of proof of damage and problems, the report says, adding this puts vulnerable developing brains at unacceptable risk.

In nine months, the fetal brain grows into ''a complex organ consisting of billions of precisely located, highly interconnected and specialized cells,'' the report says.

The growth occurs within ''a tightly controlled time frame, in which each developmental stage has to be reached on schedule and in the correct sequence.''

This creates ''windows of unique susceptibility to toxic interference'' that can have permanent consequences, say Grandjean and co-author Philip J. Landrigan, a professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

The researchers compiled the list of 201 chemicals toxic to the human brain based on available data and studies. They say there are likely many more.

Friday, November 17, 2006

You Clean Air Solution -

President's Message

In most places in North America, November is the true beginning of what could be labeled the "indoor months". It goes without saying that during these cold months, indoor air quality becomes an even more important concern. This also means that it is a crucial season for AllerAir and our partners. Remember that AllerAir's trained support staff is in place to help you during this rush season.

These last few months have been an eventful ones for us as we exhibited at the Canadian Manufacturing Week's WeldExpo outside of Toronto. We are happy to report that we were received extremely well by welders and plant managers. Especially now with several major safety-related lawsuits by welders in the USA, there is an increasing concern for welding safety from both the welders and management. From recent industry trends and our presence at the Expo, we expect to be experiencing an increasing demand for our welding fume extractors in the immediate future.

Furthermore, we have just returned from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Meeting on November 11-13. We spoke to many frustrated medical professionals who are finding only limited success with traditional prescription medications and are looking hard to find more effective and long-lasting solutions for their patients. It was our first time exhibiting at this show, and our reception then more than met our expectations.

As things are getting busy for everyone, I have kept this month's letter brief. In the rest of the newsletter you will find a report on a study citing the dangers of poor air quality in the Houston area and a story on how the EPA is making it a goal to educate students and teachers on the dangers of poor IAQ.


Sam Teitelbaum

President, AllerAir Industries

Study: Urgent Measures Needed to Improve Houston Air Quality

Houston's decaying air quality deserves "urgent attention," and immediate steps should be taken to dramatically reduce emissions, a report released Wednesday by the Houston Endowment concludes.

The study authors, a diverse group of high-level educators and students from five area universities, say that the sprawling city's declining air quality has marred its reputation.

The study summary focuses on health risks associated with four hazardous air pollutants -- benzene, 1.3-butadiene, formaldehyde and diesel particulate matter -- and urges government and business leaders to slash emission levels from industrial plants and motor vehicles.

The study suggests that the city's long-term goal should be to match the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's benchmark of reducing excess cancer risk to less than one death in every 1 million people.

However, considering the report says that some "hot spots" -- most notably in the city's southeast quadrant -- have observed air concentrations of toxins posing a health risk of one excess cancer death in 10,000 people, that would represent a massive reduction in pollutants.

You can find the rest of the article here

EPA to do Webcasts on Air Quality in Schools

Children's Health Month is every October, and this year's theme is: "Promoting Healthy School Environments." EPA programs for schools can help improve the health, productivity and performance of 53 million children and 6 million staff in the nation's 120,000 public and private schools, as well as save energy and money.

In celebration of Children's Health Month, EPA is offering webcasts throughout October to raise awareness about protecting children from environmental risks, such as indoor air pollution, while they are in school.

Beginning Oct. 5, the webcasts will be available for parents, educators, facility managers, school administrators, architects, design engineers, school nurses, teachers, staff and healthcare practitioners.

"What better place to teach children the importance of a healthy environment than the place they do most of their learning -- at school," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "Working with our school partners, EPA is providing our future leaders a healthy, cleaner environment in which to learn and play."

You can find the rest of the article here