ION Science Industry Blog

The latest industry news, knowledge and opinion.
News Gas Detection VOC Toxicity Health & Safety Air Quality Environmental first responders HAZMAT spill response PID detection
24 May 2019

ION Science supplies 300 Tiger VOC detectors to Germany's federal office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance.

Market-leading hand-held PIDs part of vital equipment on board government body’s ‘first responder’ reconnaissance vehicles.

Ion Science has recently supplied 300 Tiger hand-held volatile organic compound (VOC) detectors to Germany’s Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) where they are part of the vital chemical measurement system on board ‘first responder’ reconnaissance vehicles.

23 May 2019

What is a volatile organic compound (VOC)?

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) include a wide range of both natural and synthetic substances. VOCs are chemical compounds – mixtures of more than one element – where one of the elements is carbon. They are described as volatile because they evaporate easily, releasing molecules into the atmosphere. VOCs can be detected by specialised VOC detectors utilising photoionsation detection (PID) technology.

 

VOCs are present in everyday life and can be harmless, some however, are not and can be hazardous to health and t

he environment. Solvents used in paints and adhesives, and in cleaning products, are often VOCs. The distinctive smell of some new plastics is the result of the ‘outgassing’ or release of volatile organic compounds to the atmosphere. Fuels including diesel, petrol, gasoline, heating oil, and aviation fuel are VOCs.

These and other potentially hazardous volatile organic compounds including benzene, toluene, ethylene, xylene, and formaldehyde require careful monitoring. The legal limits on emissions of and exposure to VOCs vary from place to place, and are set by authorities including the European Union and the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA. One common definition of a VOC, which has been adopted by the EU, World Health Organisation WHO, and others including Health Canada, is a carbon compound with a boiling point below 250C.

News Gas Detection VOC Toxicity Health & Safety Air Quality Environmental first responders HAZMAT spill response PID detection
20 May 2019

VOCs in HAZMAT and the power of PID detection

An emergency response organisation will greatly increase its effectiveness and the level of protection it offers its employees (Responders) by deploying a photoionisation detector (PID).

Incidents Involving VOCs
Many Hazardous Materials incidents involve volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a vast chemical family that is primarily made up of hydrocarbons such as gasoline, alcohols, methane and acetone as well as the BTEX family which include benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Typically, VOCs have a high vapour pressure at ambient temperatures, meaning the liquid gives off vapour that can be readily detected.

News Gas Detection VOC Toxicity Health & Safety Air Quality Environmental first responders HAZMAT spill response PID detection
20 May 2019

Hazardous Materials Spill Response Procedures

Hazardous Material spills including biological, chemical and radiological materials pose a serious risk if not promptly and properly responded to by the individuals who initially identify the spill and the appropriate emergency response team.

When a Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) response team arrives at the scene of any incident or accident involving hazardous materials there are many unknown factors which initially need to be identified, so it is critical that First Responders tackle each incident in an accurate and systematic way.

VOC Air Quality Environmental
28 March 2019

Environmental & Economic

 

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a fundamental parameter in assessing air quality.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) reported in 2018  that air pollution was the cause of almost 50,000 premature deaths in Europe per year.  This finding pre-empted the head of the EEA agency stating "Air pollution is an invisible killer and we need to step up our efforts to address the causes”.

Clearly preventing premature deaths is a priority and reducing air pollution could save millions of lives.  Heavy industries are a major source of VOCs and recent modification to EPA rules call for the tighter enforcement of fence line monitoring to reduce environmental emissions. 

VOC Health & Safety
28 March 2019

Health and Safety in Heavy Industries

 

Many vapours and gases found in heavy industries pose an explosion risk.

For any gas to combust it must reach its lower explosive limit (LELs). Lower explosive limits have been well established for 100s of chemicals and generally vapours from VOCs have relatively low explosion limits. For example, methane and hydrogen have LELs of 50,000 ppm and 40,000 ppm respectively whereas benzene has an LEL of only 13,000 ppm.

At high concentrations VOC are also an asphyxiation risk. Like CO2, a gas all too frequently responsible for serious effects on human health, VOC are much denser than air. Therefore, where confined spaces exist it is possible for VOCs to displace oxygen and create dangerous environments.

 
VOC
28 February 2019

Heating,ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)

 

 

Inadequate indoor ventilation is now being combatted by intelligent heating ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC).

HVAC systems are now being developed and integrated in a standard way to establish a balance between adequate ventilation to prevent sickness, and also energy efficiency.

Building management systems are one solution to address the balance, whereby widely distributed sensors that, for example, monitor temperature, humidity and VOCs can be used to optimise HVAC performance but minimise energy use.

VOC
28 February 2019

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)

 

 

Poor air quality and ventilation are key contributing factors to Sick building syndrome (SBS), an illness diagnosed by a collection of acute symptoms whilst in a particular environment.

Possible SBS symptoms according to the NHS include:

  • headaches
  • blocked or runny nose
  • dry itchy skin
  • dry and sore eyes
  • rashes
  • tiredness and difficulty concentrating