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Dangers of VOCs: Guarding Against Volatile Organic Compounds

Posted by on Mar 6, 2020 in Health And safety, Volatile Organics | 0 comments

What’s in the air you breathe? Is it free of toxins? Air pollution is one of the largest problems of our generation, and the release of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) is a large contributor. Understanding the dangers of these toxic gases will help you protect the air quality in your environment.

How’s your air quality? Protect the health of you and your workers from dangerous pollutants found in VOCs. Learn more here.

When you work with chemicals containing volatile organics in your manufacturing processes, your indoor air quality is threatened. Harmful levels of VOCs are hard to detect by the human nose. Thus, reliable detection systems are necessary to keep you and your workers safe. With lasting health effects like cancer and memory impairment, monitoring volatile organics can’t be overlooked.

What are VOCs exactly?

Volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) are carbon-based chemicals that turn into gaseous form at room temperature. These toxic gases are invisible to the human eye and can be found in many consumer products and industrial processes. Some of the most common VOC substances include formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, phenol, and methylene chloride. 

Volatile organics can be found in paint varnishes, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials, correction fluids, glues, adhesives, and other chemicals. Be sure to monitor all sources of VOCs to protect your current and future health.

Pro Tip: Installing a photoionization detector to accurately measure the volatile organic molecules in the air near you.

Harmful Levels of VOCs

When dealing with VOCs, there are safe and unsafe levels of concentration to consider. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), organic pollutants can be 2-5 times higher in interior spaces compared to outdoor air. Installing proper detection systems is crucial for guarding against toxic levels in your working environment.

When measuring volatile organics, you may be presented with the term, Total VOC (or TVOC for short). TVOC is the total concentration of all VOCs found simultaneously in the air. Any volatile organic could be found in a number of elements. Instead of focusing on a single compound, detectors measure the sum concentration of VOCs.

Federal officials haven’t fully regulated VOCs, but the following chart shows the appropriate levels of TVOCs in the air.

Dangers of VOCs: Guarding Against Volatile Organics | GDS Corp, Houston, TX

Health Effects of Volatile Organics

If you regularly interact with VOCs, your future health could be in danger. Although many signs of VOC poisoning are noticed immediately, some people may experience symptoms days after exposure. Health effects could include eye, nose, and throat irritation, central nervous system damage, the development of cancer, and memory impairment.

According to the EPA, health symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include:

  • Conjunctival irritation
  • Nose and throat discomfort
  • Headache
  • Allergic skin reaction
  • Dyspnea
  • Decline in serum cholinesterase levels
  • Nausea
  • Emesis
  • Epistaxis
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

If you work with volatile organics, it’s important to have easy access to fresh air in the case of exposure. Those experiencing severe symptoms should contact emergency personnel for immediate assistance.

Protect Yourself from Air Pollutants

Do you regularly deal with volatile organics? Protect your facility’s air quality and guard your employee’s health by installing photoionization detectors, or PIDs. GDS Corp offers a number of PIDs with high energy ultraviolet lights to accurately measure the compounds in your environment.

Could you be exposed to VOCs? Connect with our gas detection experts to find the best detector for your environment.

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3 Dangerous Health Effects of Natural Gas

Posted by on Feb 21, 2020 in Health And safety, Natural Gas Monitoring | 0 comments

Natural gas, a fossil fuel found under the surface of the earth, is a hydrocarbon gas that primarily contains methane. Natural gas is used in the manufacture of fertilizer, antifreeze, plastics, pharmaceuticals, and fabrics. It’s important to understand the health and safety effects of natural gas, and how to prepare in the unfortunate case of hazardous leaks.

If there was a natural gas leak, would you know how to protect yourself from being poisoned? Pay attention to these top 3 health effects of natural gas!

What Are The Dangers of Natural Gas?

Since natural gas is naturally invisible and odorless, it can be hard to detect at high concentrations in the air. To combat this problem, natural gas distribution companies are required to add a form of mercaptan, a chemical that smells like rotten eggs. At low concentrations, escaping natural gas can be detected by smell; however, relying entirely on your sense of smell can be disastrous. 

Furthermore, in some cases, natural gas used in some plants may not contain any odorant and so would go undetected. Without a natural gas detection system in your manufacturing processes, the health your workers could be at risk in the following three ways.

  1. Decreased level of oxygen
  2. Release of carbon monoxide
  3. Risk of a flash fire or explosion

1) Decreased level of oxygen

Leaking natural gas can replace oxygen in ambient air. Without oxygen, you will be unable to breathe, resulting in a range of symptoms including:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Eye and throat irritation
  • Fatigue
  • Breathing problems
  • Pale skin or blisters from skin contact

2) Release of carbon monoxide

One of the primary uses of natural gas in industrial applications is to provide heat. This requires that the gas be burned in the presence of air. If natural gas is burned without sufficient oxygen, the incomplete combustion process creates carbon monoxide, a highly toxic gas that is very dangerous to humans. 

Carbon monoxide usually extrudes an extremely pungent odor and can cause a round of dangerous health effects. That being said, carbon monoxide poisoning looks very similar to natural gas poisoning, with severe cases having deadly consequences.

Pro Tip: Each of our detectors can be customized for equipment or facility. Install a carbon monoxide sensor as part of your gas detection system to monitor unsafe gas concentration levels in your vicinity.

3) Risk of a flash fire or major explosion

Finally and most importantly, leaking natural gas can quickly become an explosive hazard. It only takes a concentration of five percent (5%) by volume to create an explosive atmosphere. And there will be a source of ignition! 

Any combustible gas detector system should include highly visible warning strobes and loud horns to indicate the presence of a leak and give employees a chance to leave the premises before hazardous conditions exist. In addition, the gas detection system can be programmed to trigger exhaust fans and close gas valves in the event of a warning indication. 

How to Respond to a Suspected Gas Leak

To guard against the health risks of a potential natural gas leak, it’s important to know what to do if you. In the case of an emergency, immediately call 911 to contact the fire department for further assistance. If the leak is suspected outside and you’re not in immediate danger, follow these instructions:

  • Mild Gas Leaks – Leave the area if you’re not sure of the leak’s extent.
  • Severe Gas Leaks – Leave the surrounding area as soon as possible. Due to the flammability of natural gas, a simple phone call uses enough energy that could ignite a fire. Drive away from the area and contact emergency personnel for further assistance.

Caution: Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the power of natural gas. If there is a suspected gas leak, any source of electricity can create an explosion. Do not touch any electrical components in your vicinity until the natural gas levels are under control.

Prepare for Natural Gas Leaks

Burning natural gas is a safe and common practice, but without proper safety detection, it can cause a myriad of health issues. Install a safety detection system to help prepare for a natural gas leak before it’s too late. 

Don’t put your health at risk. Connect with our gas detection experts to find the right monitor system for your industrial applications.

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3 Workplace Safety Goals for 2020

Posted by on Jan 3, 2020 in Health And safety, Workplace Safety | 0 comments

The new year is a great time to reevaluate your progress and set goals for the future. As you start setting resolutions for 2020, don’t forget to think of ways to improve your business and make safety a priority. From personal protective equipment to safety training, setting workplace safety goals is a great way to start.

Developing Safe Work Environments

No matter what industry you work in, safety hazards are always present. From equipment handling to interacting with toxic gases, there is an array of different health concerns at every worksite. This year, protect your employees by resolving to make workplace safety and health goals for your business.

1. Recognize safety hazards

If you have a new business or if your safety standards need to be updated, it’s important to start with analyzing your facility. While there are general safety concerns to address, there are also dangers that are specific to you. Make an analysis of any work-related injuries and use historical data to determine where your employees could potentially be harmed.

In the unfortunate case that there is an injury or illness, perform an incident investigation to ensure that it won’t happen again. By interviewing your employees and finding out what led to the mishap, your safety and health standards can be changed to minimize future issues.

2. Create and maintain safety programs

Once you’re able to determine which safety hazards are present, it’s crucial to create a safety program personalized for your company. In addition to what is required in the Occupational Safety and Health standards, your plan should include specific instructions for your equipment and working procedures.

Whether you’re a small business or large treatment plant, maintaining your safety program is key. Schedule regular training sessions to make sure employees are informed. Provide resources to communicate the safety standards for future reference. Creating safety guidelines is important, but ensuring that your workers understand the process is crucial to minimizing hazards on your job site.

3. Install safety detection systems

For many facilities where natural gas is present, many safety hazards are unseen by the naked eye. To protect your employees and warehouse equipment, install a safety detection system to monitor the exposure levels. There are a number of systems available to detect harmful chemical levels that can be installed directly on a piece of equipment or within your entire warehouse.

Pro Tip: Invest in a wireless alarm station to extend the range of your safety detection system throughout your job site.

Securing Your Employees’ Safety and Health

No matter what may have transpired in 2019, the start of a new year welcomes a fresh start and room to achieve your goals. There shouldn’t be any excuse for the lack of safe work practices. To protect your employees and secure their health, it’s important to make a plan and maintain it on a regular basis.

What kind of safety issues does your business face? Share with us on social media!

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Learn All About Ammonia And Its Dangers

Posted by on Jul 10, 2016 in Exposure To Hazardous Gases, Health And safety, News, Offshore Gas Detection | 0 comments

Ammonia is a toxic, flammable gas that finds many applications in various industries. A majority of food processing plants make use of ammonia in its refrigeration systems. However, workers employed in facilities that use ammonia need to be trained in safe handling and emergency response training, to ensure the safety of workers and protection of equipment in the facility. This is primarily due to the harmful effect of ammonia on the human body.

Ammonia can cause adverse reaction in the skin and eyes. When inhaled, ammonia can impact the lungs, leading to death. Read this article to learn about ammonia, its dangers and why you should invest in ammonia detection equipment.

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Confined Spaces Require Adequate Safety Procedures And Protocol

Posted by on Feb 11, 2016 in Fire Safety Tips, Health And safety | 1 comment

Zodiac Cabin & Structures Support was fined $1.3M for an explosion that took place in July of 2015. The explosion that took place in the facility at Newport could have been averted if the curing oven was used appropriately by following all the safety regulations and procedures as laid out in the report of a consulting engineer. Moreover, the facility should have set up a quality confined space monitor to enable timely detection of the presence of toxic gases to prevent combustion. Read on to learn about how you can prevent a major explosion from taking place.

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How A VOC Sensor Can Prevent A Disaster

Posted by on Aug 5, 2015 in Health And safety | 0 comments

Wherever the possibility of a gas leak exists, precautions must be taken. An alarm system connected to a sensor array can greatly reduce the chances of a disaster. In the petroleum, waste treatment, and chemical production industries, hazardous gas compounds are often produced. Sometimes they are actual ingredients in a finished product or are formed as a byproduct of liquid chemical manufacturing. If the gas is carbon-based and is a known health hazard, it is labeled as a VOC. A VOC sensor can detect changing levels of any particular hazardous organic compound in gas form and send the appropriate alarm or machinery shutdown signal.

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