Air pollution is a big problem: indoors, outdoors, in the street … and in factories and other workplaces.
One of the biggest problems is that pollutants in the air are generally invisible. But they can lodge themselves deeply in human lungs, and make their way into the bloodstream, causing major health problems from breathing difficulties and airway irritations, to aggravating asthma and exacerbating heart and lung diseases. Some toxic chemicals that are released into the air are also cancer hazards.
Particle pollution is a very real danger in many industrial environments. For instance, very fine dust, smoke, soot, and droplets of liquid are formed when chemical reactions take place, or when certain fuels (including fossil fuels) like coal, wood, and oil are burned. Nitrogen oxide gases and sulfur dioxide are emitted during electric power generation and other industrial processes. In welding workshops, fumes, gases, and welding dust are all potentially harmful. Chemical manufacturing plants, petroleum refineries, and various other industrial facilities use products that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Even though steps have been taken by most companies to reduce these VOCs, there are still risks in terms of air quality.
Clean Air Legislation
In the US, a federal law, the Clean Air Act (CAA) regulates emissions of hazardous pollutants found in the air. It requires that pollution sources are reduced and cleanup methods used.
The Act defines various area sources of air pollutants as well as major sources that are covered by emission standards developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Commonly referred to as maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards, these are designed to reduce residual risks and to ensure air quality is maintained at optimum levels.
As a result, the EPA has established permissible levels for the most common pollutants found in the air, that make people sick. The EPA can also limit air pollutant emissions from sources including steel mills, chemical plants, and utilities.
In working environments where pollutants are commonly produced, it is important to monitor the air to ensure that levels are not excessive. If there are unacceptably high levels of any type of pollutant in the air, the air must be cleaned or staff evacuated.
Measuring Air Quality in the Workshop
The challenge for any industry is to find a way to collect reliable measurements of particulates and other pollutants in the air. If nobody knows what’s in the air, there is a real danger that workers will be exposed to health-threatening (if not life-threatening) pollutants. Many pollutants can also be a threat to product quality.
One of the best solutions is a powerful control system trademarked by Kemper America in 2016. Called AirWatch, it monitors air quality in any environment and uses a traffic-light display to alert employers and employees if legal limits are not adhered to.
AirWatch uses very sophisticated sensor technology to measure even the finest dust particles and analyzes them for air quality. The system ensures that even the finest, lightest “invisible-to-the-naked-eye” particles are counted.
Not only does AirWatch monitor compliance, it also works to keep everyone who might be exposed to harmful pollutants safe.
Cleaning Polluted Air in Workshops and Factory Environments
While some workshops operate with ventilation and extraction systems in place, not all keep these running continuously. In an environment where dust, fumes, and other harmful particles are commonly known to be in the air, it’s essential to remove pollutants with a local extraction system or a ventilation system like Kemper’s CleanAirTower.
When used in conjunction with the AirWatch system, the CleanAirTower can be activated when AirWatch warns that the air quality has deteriorated. Your employees will thank you, and production rates won’t suffer!