The Maine Project for Fine Art Conservation

Charly-MEACThe Maine Project for Fine Art Conservation is the only non-profit studio of its kind in the state of Maine, helping to restore not only artwork from museums and public collections, but pieces of artwork privately owned by families and individuals as well.  The project is based in Portland, Maine, where they work out of a small studio.  During the conservation process, their artists are exposed to a number of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, from the chemicals used in restoration, including acetone, alcohol, naptha, turpentine, methyl-ethyl-ketone, toluene and xylene.  While these chemicals are vital for the restoration of the artwork, they can be irritating or even dangerous when inhaled in high concentration. For years, the project has been searching for an air purifier that would effectively reduce these VOCs from the air and protect their conservators, who were working to restore artwork in order to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of Maine.

Bonnie-MEACRabbit Air donated two of our MinusA2 air purifiers to the project, for use in their “in-painting” rooms.  We equipped them with our specialized Toxin Absorber Customized filter, designed to increase the air purifier’s efficiency at removing VOCs from the air.  After running our air purifiers, the project was happy to report that they noticed a significant reduction in VOCs from the air, and they sent along these fantastic pictures of their team and our MinusA2s in action.  We thank the Maine Project for Fine Art Conservation for their great work and we look forward to continuing to provide them with cleaner, more breathable air!

Forest Fires and Health

Forest FireForest fires can be more dangerous than you might think. Though the most immediate danger comes from the fire itself, the smoke from a fire can harm people up to hundreds of miles away from the actual blaze. During a forest fire, a number of harmful emissions are released into the air in high concentrations, including small particulate matter, such as carbon monoxide, atmospheric mercury, and volatile organic compounds. As these pollutants are released during a fire, winds can spread them further than one might expect, leaving people unprepared or unaware of the health hazards.  Breathing in these pollutants can exacerbate symptoms for those who have lung or heart disease, and even otherwise healthy people can also be at risk for symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and headaches.  The longer one is exposed to these pollutants, the higher these risks can be.

We can all do our part to stop wildfires before they start. When camping, make sure to never leave camp fires unattended and douse them fully with water when you are ready to put them out.  During dry summer days, make sure to keep a close eye on barbeques, bonfires and even lawnmowers – they can create sparks that can ignite dry grass.  When fires do occur, you can protect yourself by checking local air quality reports and staying inside when air quality dips.  It is also advised not to do any indoor activity that will add to pollutant levels if possible. This includes using wood burning stoves, lighting candles, and even vacuuming, as vacuums can throw particles that have settled on surfaces back into the air.  Using an air purifier is the best way to keep the indoor air clean, and if you live in a fire-prone area, consider adding an air purifier with a true HEPA filter before fire season starts so that you know you are protected even before pollutant levels begin to rise.

How Heat Waves Hurt Air Quality

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1397489While everyone loves a little summer sunshine, when temperatures keep rising dangerous conditions may occur.  Heat waves are more than mere annoyances; they can increase the risk of health concerns from mild conditions such as heat rash to more serious problems such as strokes.  Even when limiting one’s exposure to the sun and heat, heat waves can still create health risks in areas one might not expect.  Air quality can worsen during a heat wave, to the point of becoming deadly in extreme circumstances. When the air is heated, chemicals compounds such as the fumes from our cars combine with the already present nitrogen oxide in the air to create thick layers of smog. The risk for this is particularly strong in urban areas, where there is already a greater concentration of chemical compounds in the air due to larger populations and more industry.

Smog is never healthy to breathe in, and during a heat wave when smog is found in higher concentrations it can cause lung tissue to become inflamed which over time can cause more serious complications. The increase in smog during a heat wave is especially dangerous for those who are suffering from respiratory illness, such as asthma, as it can increase or induce symptoms. During a heat wave, keep your lungs as healthy as possible by avoiding spending time outdoors in highly populated areas.  While in your home, keep an air purifier running that can trap the harmful VOCs from smog, such as our MinusA2 with the Toxin Absorber Customized Filter.  Stay cool, breathe clean air, and avoid direct sun exposure to stay as healthy as you can during a heat wave.

All About Activated Carbon

One of the very best things that you can do to remove common household odors from the air is to use a Charcoal Based Activated Carbon filter, like the ones we include with every MinusA2 or BioGS air purifier. These filters are packed with pellets of charcoal that are capable of removing all sorts of household odors and chemical VOCs out of the air. What makes these little pellets so powerful?  A process called activation, where each piece of charcoal gets heated to incredibly high temperatures, causing them to become extremely porous.  After this process, each pellet can have an internal surface area the size of a football field! It is this large surface area that allows the charcoal to absorb odors and chemicals. When these impurities pass through the filter, they are attracted to the carbon and bind to it. Having a large surface area means that each pellet has the space to bind a large amount of impurities, making these filters long lasting and very efficient.

Activated carbon is great for more than just filtering the air and it is used in many other instances where purification is required.  Many households use filters with activated carbon to filter out particles or unpleasant tastes from their drinking water. Aquarium owners use activated carbon to filter water too, in their tank filtration systems so that they can remove impurities that may harm their finned friends. Commercially, activated carbon has been used in many surprising applications, from the decaffeination of coffee to the purification of gold.  Activated carbon has even saved lives, as it is used in hospitals as a treatment for some kinds of poisoning!

 

What are VOCs?

VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, which are gasses that are emitted from some solids and liquids. Although VOCs can come from a variety of places, in the home they are typically associated with paint or cleaning products. Many other household substances can release VOCs as well, such as glues, solvent, or fuels. The inhalation of these VOCs can be quite dangerous for your health. In the short term, they can irritate the lungs and cause headaches or nausea, while over time they can cause more serious issues such as damage to the internal organs. It is important to be aware of any VOC emitting substances in your home, and to keep indoor levels of VOCs as low as possible.

Photo by Icekitty37 One of the most important things that you can do to minimize contact with VOCs is to keep your home well ventilated whenever you are actively using a product that emits these gases. When cleaning or painting, make sure to keep windows open and not work in enclosed spaces. Even after these substances have been used, they can still emit VOCs where they have been applied or from their storage containers, so it is important not to forget about them once you put them away.  Make sure to follow all label instructions for storage, and to purchase these products in small quantities so that you do not have large unused amounts sitting in the home for a long time.  To help get rid of VOCs, you can also use an air purifier to help remove these gases from the air. Rabbit Air has a special Toxin Absorber Customized Filter for our MinusA2 air purifier that is specially designed to capture harmful VOC emissions. Protect yourself and your family by keeping smart about VOCs and their harmful side effects.