Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sniffing out culprits for odour complaints

Seven causes of unintentional air movement in condo buildings

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
By Dylan Haber

“My apartment stinks of garlic and I haven’t cooked in days!”

“Why can I smell the garbage chute in my bedroom?”

“If I have to smell Jimmy’s cigarettes one more time…!”

These are among the most frequent odour complaints building managers hear from residents plagued by unwanted scents creeping into their units.

Along with the benefits of a condominium lifestyle — urban living, fun amenity spaces, a diverse community of neighbours — come the pitfalls of a living space intimately shared with dozens of strangers — loud noises, boisterous kids and pets, or unwanted smells. For many, the odour problem is the most egregious. When foreign, and in some cases offensive, odours waft their way into one’s home, it can feel like a particularly intimate invasion. The negative emotional response can be significant.

Odour migration between interior spaces requires an open path of air travel (a door, a duct, a hole in the wall, etc.) and a pressure difference between the two spaces. Although building systems are designed to prevent unwanted air movement, there are often leaky areas that lead to unintended air and odour transfer.

Here are seven common causes of unintentional air movement through condo buildings:

1. Low-pressure corridors

In most residential buildings, fresh outside air is supplied to the corridors via a central make-up air unit, pressurizing the corridors. This allows fresh corridor air to flow into suites through gaps around doors and through the doors themselves, when opened. If the make-up air unit is off, malfunctioning, or undersized, the corridors are not sufficiently pressurized. This can unintentionally allow air to move in the opposite direction (suite to corridor) and then find its way into adjacent suites or common areas.

2. Unbalanced corridor air supply

The fresh air supply from the make-up air unit flows to the corridors in a central duct. Dampers at each branch are adjusted at construction to ensure the correct air volume is delivered to every floor. Over time, the system gets out of balance — dampers can shift; in some cases, residents will manually close the dampers off to stop “the cold air flowing into my suite from this vent.” If a floor’s fresh air flow is diminished due to balancing issues, suite odours may migrate into corridors, then into neighbour’s suites.

3. Wind-driven air movement

Exterior wind pressures are typically higher than those generated by the building mechanical systems. When windows or balcony doors are poorly sealed, or if there is an improper construction in the exterior wall assembly, exterior wind pressures can drive air inwards. The outdoor air may be carrying the smells of the garbage bins, cigarette smoke from the neighbour’s balcony, or kitchen/bathroom/laundry exhaust from surrounding suites.

4. Improper or missing smoke seals

While fires are difficult to prevent, there are strict construction requirements aimed at limiting the spread of flames and smoke. This applies especially to walls and floors between units. Sealant is required to keep smoke contained. A secondary benefit is that smoke seals also help to contain suite-to-suite odours. Mistakes can and do get made, however, and smoke seals may be missing or incomplete, resulting in odour paths. Ducts and conduits within fire-rated floor and wall assemblies can be especially challenging.

Another common odour transfer area due to poor smoke sealing is the often tricky interface at the vertical joint between an interior fire-rated wall and an exterior wall. Concrete walls are relatively simple to seal, but when wall construction consists of steel studs or window walls, it is increasingly difficult to ensure an airtight seal.

5. Elevator shaft air movement

As elevator cars shuttle up and down their concrete shafts, their piston-like action pushes and pulls large volumes of air along with them. This can cause unintended floor-to-floor air flows. For example, air from the garbage room may be sucked into a nearby elevator shaft and distributed to other floors. As elevator door seals wear, unintended air leakage will become more pronounced.

6. Intake and exhaust air short circuiting

Part of maintaining good indoor air quality is exhausting noxious air from kitchens, bathrooms and garbage rooms through the walls or roof to the outside. If the building exhaust air outlets are near windows, doors, or the fresh air intakes to make-up air units, there is risk of short circuiting: odour-laden exhausted air is drawn back into the building and re-circulated as fresh air.

7. Missing backdraft dampers

Suite kitchens and bathrooms are typically exhausted by individual exhaust fans that discharge through vents in the exterior walls. Backdraft dampers are installed in the exhaust ductwork to prevent reverse airflow and ensure the air is traveling in a single direction. If the dampers malfunction, exterior air can be drawn into the building through the exhaust ducts.

Making a diagnosis

While there are many possible causes of odour migration, they are all related to unintended air flows. That said, locating the errant airflow and correcting odour problems is notoriously difficult to do. Add in the fact that they are often transient — “Well, it only happens on Wednesdays at 3 a.m.” — and that people have significantly varying olfactory acuities — “Can’t you smell that? It’s awful!” — and the problem can get downright immovable.

Even with a strong understanding of building systems, solutions are unlikely to be obvious and it may take several measures to determine the origin of the issue. Here are a few common diagnostic steps:

Interview the complainant to put brackets around the problem. In other words, ask: What is the smell? Where is it strongest? When it occurs, who else notices? How long has it been a problem?

Review the condition and performance of the mechanical system, paying particular attention to the makeup air unit in the corridor. Measure the mechanical system airflows both subjectively and quantitatively. Also review the architectural drawings to understand system vulnerabilities.

Use smoke pencils or theatrical fog to illuminate airflow paths. Make selective openings in the drywall to check concealed smoke seals in vulnerable locations. Do blower door testing, which involves installing a large fan on the door of a suite to pressurize or depressurize the space. The goal is to induce air to flow across the breach, making it easier to identify via smoke pencil.

With skill, time and maybe some luck, the problem should be correctable, or at least reducible to a tolerable level. Some odour issues are either intractable, slight or infrequent, in which case it may not be worth the effort and cost to eliminate them completely. Rarely can air-tight perfection be guaranteed. Besides, the benefits still outweigh the risks in living within shouting, and smelling, distance of one’s neighbours.

Dylan Haber is a project manager in the property condition assessments group at WSP Canada Inc. A mechanical engineer by training, his experience includes performance audits and reserve fund studies for condominiums as well as property condition assessments for various building types, including residential, industrial, commercial and retail. He can be reached at

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Environmentally-friendly business is profitable business

Many associate sustainability with expense, but companies that have embraced it are financially outperforming
 Sainsbury's Open New Energy Efficient Store In King's Lynn
Sainsbury's new Kings Lynn supermarket is one of the retailer's most energy-efficient stores. Photograph: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images
The failure of policymakers to make binding commitments at the Rio+20 Summit resulted, at best, in a lowest common denominator agreement that delivers few real benefits. In 2010, the UK Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) was axed as part of the government's spending cuts. In the US, Republican efforts to defund the entire Environmental Protection Agency risk even deeper structural shifts.

International governments' inaction and lack of leadership is clearly worrying but, at the same time, the proactive approaches of a few leading-edge companies are encouraging. Toyota, Sainsbury's, WalMart, DuPont, Tesco, Unilever, Marks & Spencer and General Electric have made tackling environmental wastes a key economic driver. As Jonathon Porritt, director of Forum for the Future, observed, a "governance shift" is occurring in the field of sustainability, with governments stepping back and businesses stepping forward to lead the change.

DuPont, one of the early adopters, committed itself to a 65% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the 10 years prior to 2010. By 2007, DuPont was saving $2.2bn a year through energy efficiency, the same as its total declared profits that year. General Electric aims to reduce the energy intensity of its operations by 50% by 2015. They have invested heavily in the Eco-magination project.

Unilever plans to double its revenue over the next 10 years while halving the environmental impact of its products. In 2010, WalMart announced that it will cut total carbon emissions by 20m metric tons by 2015. Closer to home, Sainsbury's has announced its industry-leading "20x20 Sustainability Plan" which is the cornerstone of the company's business strategy. It seems to be on track. In April this year, Sainsbury's said it had achieved its target of a 50% relative reduction in water consumption.

Tesco has announced that it will reduce emissions from stores and distribution centres by half by 2020 and that it will become a zero-carbon enterprise altogether by 2050. Toyota, already in its fifth five-year Environmental Action Plan, announced that it will improve the average fuel efficiency of its vehicles by 25% in all regions by 2015 compared to that of 2005. In manufacturing, Toyota has already reduced emissions per vehicle by 47% between 2001 and 2012.

Companies such as Tesco and WalMart, are not committing to environmental goals out of the goodness of their hearts, and neither should they. The reason for their actions is a simple yet powerful realisation that the environmental and economic footprints are most often aligned. When M&S launched its "Plan A" sustainability programme in 2007, it was believed that it would cost more than £200m in the first five years. However, the initiative had generated £105m by 2011/12 according the company's report.

When we prevent physical waste, increase energy efficiency or improve resource productivity, we save money, improve profitability and enhance competitiveness. In fact, there are often huge "quick win" opportunities, thanks to years of neglect.

Environmental waste is the best proxy for identifying and eliminating economic waste. That's the secret of these companies.

However, there is a considerable gap between leading edge companies and the rest of the pack when it comes to the adoption of lean and green ideas. There are far too many companies still delaying creating a lean and green business system, arguing that it will cost money or require hefty capital investments. They remain stuck in the "environment is cost" mentality. Being environmentally friendly does not have to cost money. In fact going beyond compliance saves cost at the same time that it generates cash, provided that management adopts the new lean and green paradigm.

Lean means doing more with less. That's why lean management supports green thinking and vice versa. Nonetheless, in most companies, economic and environmental continuous improvement are separate organisational silos and sometimes even come into conflict with each other. This is one of the biggest opportunities missed across most industries. Some companies are using lean and green as simultaneous sources of improvement in various sectors of industry – from automotive and retail to textile and brewing.

The size of the opportunity is enormous. The 3% Report recently published by World Wildlife Fund and CDP shows that the economic prize for curbing carbon emissions in the US economy is $780bn between now and 2020, rising to $190bn a year by 2020. It suggests that one of the biggest levers for delivering this opportunity is "increased efficiency through management and behavioural change" – in other words, lean and green management.

The report puts the return on investment (ROI) for lean and green interventions at 233%. In my experience, this is conservative: most organisations can achieve a far higher ROI when adopting the right behavioural and managerial changes. Some 47 studies from the likes of the Economist Intelligence Unit, Goldman Sachs, AT Kearney, Deloitte, MIT Sloan, Harvard and others show that companies that commit to such aspirational goals as zero waste, zero harmful emissions, and zero use of non-renewable resources are financially outperforming their competitors. Conversely, the DARA Group found that climate disruption is already costing $1.2tn annually, cutting global GDP by 1.6%. Unaddressed, this will double by 2030.

Here is an example. A couple of months ago I worked with one of the largest sandwich factories in the world. A team of great men and women engaged in a programme to reduce physical waste using problem solving techniques. The results were staggering. No one expected to see nearly 1,000 tonnes of waste prevented in just a few weeks in a very mature industry. Add to that, they also saved 9m litres of water from going down the drain every year with interesting financial benefits.

Keivan Zokaei is principal consultant at SA Partners LLP. He is co-author of Creating a Lean and Green Business System: Techniques for Increasing Profits and Sustainability

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Brushing Up on Gum Disease

by Steven Shepherd, M.P.H.

Getting your teeth pulled because of a sore arm may sound
farfetched.  But it happened more than once, says Saul
Schluger, D.D.S., professor emeritus at the University of
Washington's school of dentistry in Seattle.

Schluger has been involved in the treatment and study of gum,
or periodontal, disease for more than 50 years, and he recalls
that the patients in these cases were professional baseball
players who had the ill luck to have developed their dental
(and arm) problems when the "focal infection" theory of
periodontal disease was in vogue earlier this century.
The theory held that periodontal disease always worsened, could
only be stopped by pulling teeth, and that it could spread--not
only from one area of the gums to another, but to other parts
of the body.  In the case of an affected ballplayer with a sore
arm, explains Schluger, it was considered possible that
migrating infection from the gums might be the cause of the
sore arm.  To prevent further problems it was sometimes thought
best to simply pull the player's teeth.

For ordinary people, a more common scenario was the wholesale
pulling of teeth at the first sign of gum disease.  The
reaction, says Schluger, was "almost Pavlovian.  If you had gum
disease, you had your teeth out.  It was the cause of a lot of

                     Old Beliefs, New Data

Though the focal infection era is now behind us, its legacy
remains.  Many older people are toothless and wearing dentures
for reasons now considered unnecessary.  And many fears and
beliefs formed during that period continue to hold sway.
For instance, periodontal disease is commonly said to be
responsible for 70 percent of the teeth lost after childhood.
But, according to Brian Burt, Ph.D., a dental epidemiologist in
the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, this
oft-repeated statement is based largely on a single study
conducted in the early 1950s.  A more recent study published in
the January 1987 Journal of the American Dental Association
found that dental decay was the most common disease-related
reason for adult tooth extractions in the late 1970s and early
80s; only 9 percent were necessitated by periodontal disease.
Clearly, much has changed.  So what is the threat of
periodontal disease today?  And what can be done about it?

                  What Is Periodontal Disease?

In the broadest sense, periodontal disease can be considered
any form of ill health affecting the periodontium--the tissues
that surround and support the teeth.  These include the gums
(or gingiva), the bone of the tooth socket, and the periodontal
ligament, a thin layer of connective tissue that holds the
tooth in its socket and acts as a cushion between tooth and

Inflammation or infection of the gums is called gingivitis;
that of the bone, periodontitis.  These conditions can arise
for a variety of reasons.  A severe deficiency of vitamin C can
lead to scurvy and result in bleeding, spongy gums, and
eventual tooth loss.  And at least one periodontal disease--the
uncommon but highly destructive juvenile periodontitis--is
thought to have a strong genetic basis.  But as the terms
periodontal disease, gingivitis, and periodontitis are most
commonly used, they refer to disease that is caused by the
buildup of dental plaque.

Plaque is a combination of bacteria and sticky bacterial
products that forms on the teeth within hours of cleaning.  Its
source is the natural bacteria in the mouth, of which more than
300 different species have been identified.  In small amounts
and when newly formed, plaque is invisible and relatively
harmless.  But when left to accumulate, it increases in volume
(in large amounts, plaque can be seen as a soft whitish
deposit), and the proportion of harmful species in the plaque

                     Separating Gingivitis

The role played by plaque in the development of gingivitis was
demonstrated in the early 1960s.  Dental researchers had people
stop brushing their teeth and let the plaque in their mouths
build up.  Within two to three weeks signs of inflammation
appeared--redness, swelling, and an increased tendency to
bleed--and when brushing resumed, the inflammation went away.
Gingivitis is fairly common.  Just about everybody, says Burt,
has it in some degree.  A recent nationwide survey by the
National Institute of Dental Research, for example, found that
40 to 50 percent of the adults studied had at least one spot on
their gums with inflammation that was prone to bleeding.
At one time gingivitis and periodontitis were thought to be
different phases of the same disease, meaning that the sort of
inflammation detected in this study would lead inevitably to
periodontitis if left untreated.  Yet, dental researchers no
longer believe this to be true.  In the April 1988 Dental
Clinics of North America, National Institute of Dental Research
director Harald Loe, D.D.S., describes an ongoing study, then
in its 15th year, of Sri Lankan tea workers who practice no
oral hygiene.  All have gingivitis--but not all have

This and other studies with similar results have led dental
researchers to two conclusions.  One, says dental
epidemiologist Ronald J. Hunt, of the College of Dentistry at
the University of Iowa, is that "gingivitis is not a
particularly serious disease."  The other is that "gingivitis
and periodontitis are different disease entities."

                       From Periodontitis

Some people with gingivitis do, nonetheless, develop
periodontitis.  The plaque that causes gingivitis is located at
or above the gum line and is referred to as supragingival
plaque.  With time, areas of supragingival plaque can become
covered by swollen gum tissue or otherwise spread below the gum
line (where it is called subgingival plaque), and in this
airless environment the harmful bacteria within the plaque
proliferate.  These bacteria can injure tissues through the
direct secretion of toxins.  But they cause the greatest damage
by stimulating a chronic inflammatory response in which the
body in essence turns on itself, and the periodontal ligament
and bone of the tooth socket are broken down and destroyed.
This is similar to what happens in rheumatoid arthritis and,
like rheumatoid arthritis, periodontitis is now considered
primarily an inflammatory disease.

The bone destruction from periodontitis can be fairly even,
resulting in receding gum lines.  But more often it causes deep
crevices between an individual tooth and its socket.  These
crevices are called periodontal pockets, and just as it once
was thought that gingivitis inexorably progressed to
periodontitis, so it was once believed that shallow periodontal
pockets inevitably deepened, eventually becoming deep enough to
jeopardize the socket's support of the adjacent tooth.

Recently, however, dental researchers have collected
substantial evidence to support a theory called the burst
hypothesis.  This theory states that periodontal bone loss is
not a steady process but results instead from periodic
flare-ups of infection and inflammatory response inside the
pocket.  Writing in a 1988 issue of the Journal of Clinical
Periodontology, researchers from the British Medical Research
Council say this theory helps explain epidemiologic and
clinical findings that many, if not most, periodontal pockets
are not actively diseased.  Rather, they are remnants of past
infections that the body has overcome.  Further, not all
periodontal pockets inevitably deepen; some apparently
partially heal and get shallower.

What triggers a destructive "burst" inside a periodontal pocket
(or, for that matter, the transition from gingivitis to
periodontitis) is unknown.  But, as described by these British
researchers, such events are most likely the result of
unfavorable fluctuations in the balance between the type,
quantity and location of bacteria in a person's mouth, the
ability to resist bacterial infection, and the unique
characteristics of an individual's inflammatory response.

                       Good News-Bad News

All this has something of a good news-bad news flavor to it.
The good news is that most of us have less to fear than we may
have been led to believe.  Periodontal disease is often
described as almost universal--a disease that can or will
affect almost everyone and that can have "devastating"
results.  But most such statements are based on studies that
are not only old (dating from the 1950s and early '60s) but
that also combine gingivitis and periodontitis under the single
heading "periodontal disease."  More recent studies suggest
that only about 10 percent of adults have periodontitis severe
enough to possibly cause tooth loss.  The percentage is lower
in younger people and higher in older people.  Even among these
people, says epidemiologist Burt, it is unusual to have more
than a few affected teeth.  In one 1985 study of nearly 55,000
Italians, among those who had what are considered deep
periodontal pockets the average number of affected teeth was
fewer than one.

The "bad" news generated by all this new research into the
causes and natural history of the periodontal diseases (as
gingivitis and periodontitis are now referred to collectively)
is that while most of us may be at lower risk than previously
thought, it is still impossible to say who is at high or low
risk individually.  It can't be predicted who with gingivitis
will develop periodontitis or who with shallow periodontal
pockets will go on to develop deep pockets and possibly lose

Researchers are, however, working rapidly on methods to make
such predictions.  These techniques will involve tests of
immune function and the types of bacteria in a person's mouth.
Once available, they are expected to dramatically change
current approaches to the treatment of periodontitis.

Today, periodontitis is treated either by surgically
eliminating periodontal pockets or by cleaning affected tooth
roots in a process known as scaling and planing.  The current
trend is towards the latter, and the ability to predict who is
susceptible to worsening disease could accelerate the move in
this direction.  By one estimate, such predictions could make
90 percent of "pocket elimination" surgeries unnecessary.

                        Fighting Plaque

As yet, however, dentists can't make such predictions.  And
because both gingivitis and periodontitis are caused by the
buildup of plaque, one dental maxim is as true now as ever: If
you want to keep your teeth you have to keep them clean.

Only a dentist can diagnose and treat periodontitis.  And only
a dentist can remove the subgingival plaque responsible for
periodontitis and its worsening.  Nonetheless, according to
Sebastian Ciancio, D.D.S., professor and chairman of the
Department of Periodontology at the School of Dental Medicine,
State University of New York at Buffalo, controlling the
buildup of plaque above the gum line helps control both the
quantity and harmful nature of plaque below the gum line.  He
says an ideal plaque control program involves periodic
professional examinations and cleanings--"so you can start out
with a clean mouth"--coupled with good cleaning at home.

The most effective method of plaque control at home is brushing
and flossing.  According to dental experts, most people don't
brush their teeth properly and frequently miss some areas of
their mouths, so it is a good idea to get instructions in
effective brushing from a dentist or dental hygienist.  One way
to help determine how well you are brushing is through the use
of disclosing agents (available over-the-counter), which make
plaque easier to see.

As for toothbrush selection, studies show that soft bristles
are better than hard at removing plaque.  Toothbrushes are also
less effective when splayed or matted and for this reason
should be replaced at the first signs of wear.  These
considerations aside, virtually any toothbrush can be effective
if properly used and a choice can usually be made based on
personal preference or a dentist's advice.

There is a large and growing selection of dental flosses on the
market today.  According to the August 1989 Consumer Reports,
which evaluated "anti-plaque" products, waxed and unwaxed floss
are equally effective.  Flosses do vary in strength and
resistance to shredding, but as long as it doesn't break, the
kind of floss you choose is less important than how well you
use it--and whether you use it at all.  Surveys show that fewer
than 20 percent of Americans floss their teeth daily.

Though flossing is the only effective way to clean between the
teeth, toothpastes can help in the removal of plaque from more
accessible tooth surfaces.  This is not because they have
special "anti-plaque" ingredients, but because they contain
abrasives and detergents that aid in the mechanical removal of
plaque that occurs during toothbrushing.  This is the source of
the "anti-plaque" statements made on some toothpaste labels.

Several toothpastes are also now being marketed for preventing
the buildup of "tartar."  Tartar, which is plaque that has
calcified and hardened on the teeth, was once thought to
contribute to or even cause periodontal disease by physically
irritating the periodontal tissues.  It is now considered far
less important, however, and, according to the January 1988
Journal of the American Dental Association, tartar control
toothpastes have a "cosmetic benefit" only.  They have no
effect on gingivitis or periodontitis.

Theoretically, a toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste are all you
need to control supragingival plaque.  Yet estimates are that
only 30 percent of the U.S. population clean their teeth
adequately using these mechanical means alone.  For this
reason, dental researchers have been searching recently for
additional ways to help people control plaque.  In particular,
this search has focused on mouthwashes.

There have been differences of opinion over the anti-plaque
claims made for various mouthwashes (see "Anti-Plaque
Mouthwashes" on page xx).  But regardless of how effective a
mouthwash might be, Ciancio points out that not everyone needs
such products.  "People who don't have periodontal problems
don't need an anti-plaque mouthwash," he says.  "If you are
having problems--for instance, gums that bleed when you
brush--see your dentist.  If an anti-plaque mouthwash is
recommended, what I advise is using the product for three to
six weeks to see what a clean mouth feels like.  Then stop and
see if you can maintain that feeling with mechanical means
alone.  If not, resume the mouthwash for another few weeks,
then try again to maintain a clean mouth mechanically."

This kind of conscientious effort at good plaque control holds
great promise.  When combined with researchers' rapidly growing
knowledge about the causes of periodontal disease and how it
can best be treated, the future offers a realistic prospect,
says NIDR's director Loe, that "no one need ever lose a tooth
to periodontal disease."

                    Anti-Plaque Mouthwashes

The use of mouthwashes in the quest for a healthy mouth has a
long history.  According to Irwin Mandel, D.D.S., professor of
dentistry at Columbia University's School of Dental and Oral
Surgery, an ancient Chinese text contains the first known
recommendation for the use of a mouthwash in the treatment of
gum disease: Rinse the mouth with urine.

In the intervening 5,000 years, urine (which from a healthy
person is sterile) has been used as a mouthwash in cultures
around the world.  By lowering the acidity of the mouth it may,
says Mandel, help reduce the formation of cavities.  But
against the periodontal diseases it's unlikely to have an

The modern era of mouthwashes might be said to have begun in
1920.  It was then that Listerine, which had already been sold
for more than 40 years as a general antiseptic, was first
marketed as a remedy for bad breath.  A new advertising
campaign for the product introduced the American public to the
term "halitosis" and its social undesirability.  The pitch was
so successful it is now considered a classic.

Such promotional activities no doubt contributed to what Mandel
describes as a longstanding "disdain" of mouthwashes by members
of the dental and scientific communities.  This view was
further reinforced by a widely held assumption that any effect
mouthwashes had against oral bacteria was only temporary.  In
the early 1980s, however, studies began to appear suggesting
that some mouthwashes might indeed reduce supragingival plaque
and plaque-related gingivitis.  There is no evidence that
mouthwashes can affect subgingival plaque or periodontitis.

A prescription product (trade name Peridex) containing the
antimicrobial chlorhexidine was approved by FDA in 1986 based
on studies showing that it reduced gingivitis by up to 41
percent.  Chlorhexidine mouthwashes have long been used in
Europe, and a 1986 article in The Journal of Periodontal
Research called chlorhexidine "the most effective and most
thoroughly tested anti-plaque and anti-gingivitis agent known

A month later the American Dental Association awarded Peridex
its "Seal of Acceptance"--the first ever granted a mouthwash by
the ADA.  This seal (which can have considerable marketing
value and is probably most familiar as a result of its being
displayed on many brands of toothpaste) indicated that Peridex
had met a series of guidelines established by the ADA for
evaluating products making anti-plaque, anti-gingivitis claims.

 In 1987 the ADA awarded its second (and so far only other)
Seal of Acceptance to a mouthwash for use in the reduction of
plaque and gingivitis.  This seal went to Listerine, and its
manufacturer has since used the ADA seal in promoting the
product as a plaque-fighter.  FDA, however, has not yet
approved Listerine for this use.  In fact, FDA has sent letters
to the makers of Listerine and several other over-the-counter
(OTC) products making anti-plaque claims stating that in its
opinion the products are being marketed in violation of the
Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and are "at risk of
regulatory action."

The basis for these letters is that no ingredient for use in an
OTC drug product has yet been recognized as safe and effective
for the prevention or reduction of plaque or gingivitis in
FDA's ongoing evaluation of OTC drug products.  FDA therefore
considers as unproven claims that a product's ingredients have
such effects.

In part, the reason for this stance (and for the difference
between the actions of FDA and those of the ADA with respect to
Listerine) has to do with timing.  Data concerning the claims
of the OTC anti-plaque, anti-gingivitis products were not
available until after FDA's review of OTC dental products was
well under way.  Such data have since been submitted and in the
case of Listerine, says Jeanne Rippere, a microbiologist in
FDA's over-the-counter drug evaluation division, the
information is probably much the same as that presented to the
American Dental Association and on which the awarding of its
Seal of Acceptance was based.

In a continuation of its ongoing OTC drug review, FDA plans to
have a panel of non-government experts evaluate ingredients
that might be used in OTC drug products making anti-plaque and
anti-gingivitis claims.  Steps are being taken to facilitate
this process, and it may begin within the next year. n


                    What About Baking Soda?

In the late 1970s and early '80s an oral hygiene program known
as the Keyes Technique was widely promoted in the United
States.  Aimed at combatting plaque-related periodontal
diseases, the program included not only such conventional
advice as frequent professional cleanings, but also the
recommendation that patients apply to their gums and brush
their teeth with a mixture of salt, hydrogen peroxide, and
baking soda.

Laboratory studies showing these agents had some
effectiveness against harmful bacteria were the principal
basis for this recommendation.  But critics pointed out that
what worked in the laboratory didn't always work in the
mouth.  A study by the technique's proponents showed some
effectiveness in humans.  However, it lacked a control group,
so it was impossible to say how the technique compared to more
traditional methods of oral hygiene.  Furthermore, the
subjects in this study had been liberally treated with
antibiotics, so it wasn't known if the benefits they had
experienced were actually due to the baking soda brushing

To resolve these issues, dental researchers at the University
of Minnesota, led by Larry Wolff, Ph.D., D.D.S.,
conducted a four-year study involving 171 adults with moderate
periodontitis.  The study's design enabled the researchers to
compare the effectiveness of a baking soda, salt, and hydrogen
peroxide mixture with that of ordinary toothpaste.  The
results, published in the January 1989 Journal of the American
Dental Association, showed that while the baking soda mixture
did help in the maintenance of oral health it was no more
effective than ordinary toothpaste.

Wolff and his colleagues also found that, compared to the
patients using ordinary toothpaste, those using the baking
soda regimen were three times as likely to stop following
their oral hygiene program because it was inconvenient.
Overall, they said, there was no evidence that a baking soda
brushing regimen "will contribute more toward periodontal
health than use of a commercial toothpaste, a toothbrush, and
dental floss."

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The riskiest gift you’ll ever buy : PERFUME

By University of Stirling 13 February 2017

Image result for perfume tester

Getting the facts right.
Many will pay just as much attention to how they smell, of course. And if it’s a special occasion, a gift of perfume might well be on the agenda too. Either way, read on. There are some must-knows about the science of smell and perfume that may well be new to you.

The nose knows

Smell is the dominant sense in many animals, including humans, and meetings between individuals usually begin with a period of intense mutual sniffing. From this olfactory exploration, animals glean relevant information about a potential mate’s fertility and quality, enabling decisions about whether to breed now or wait until someone better comes along.

While our greetings tend to be more reserved, research on the perception of human body odour reveals that similar messages lurk within our armpits. Researchers commonly test such perceptions using armpit odour collected on worn t-shirts or underarm pads, the wearers having been asked to avoid using fragranced products beforehand.

In experimental tests, men find women’s odour more pleasant and sexy when they are in the fertile part of their menstrual cycle than at other times. Women are more attracted to odours of men who have attractive non-olfactory qualities, such as being socially dominant, facially attractive, or having an air of confidence about them. So smells are important when assessing partners, especially for women.

Our body’s natural smells also appear to provide a for couples to check out their genetic compatibility. Research using the same t-shirt method indicates that both sexes prefer the odour of potential partners who are genetically dissimilar when it comes to a set of genes known as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). A range of other vertebrates, from fish and reptiles to birds and mammals, show the same smell preference, apparently because this ultimately produces healthier offspring.

Image result for perfume tester

Arcane aromas

So where do perfumes fit into the picture? Applying perfume to the body probably emerged as a means of disguising the build-up of odour on clothing, which in times past was often worn for weeks or months at a time. Because ingredients were expensive, perfumes were associated with high social status.

There are numerous references to people using perfume in ancient scripts including the Old Testament and the writings of the Roman natural historian Pliny the Elder. The oldest known perfume factory, discovered 12 years ago near the Cypriot town of Pyrgos, dates back about 4000 years.

Eau de yes please

Nowadays, of course, perfumes are relatively cheap and accessible. Despite this and the advent of washing machines and ventilated kitchens, we continue to use them. The social stigma of bad body-odour persists, and the modern fragrance industry is worth billions of pounds worldwide.

But if we need perfumes to simply mask our bad odour, why are there so many different products available? And how do perfumes change or block the potentially relevant information contained within body odour?

Research is now challenging the conventional view that perfumes simply mask bad odour. In one study, researchers asked participants to wear cotton underarm pads, as described above, but they were instructed to apply a particular fragrance under one armpit while leaving the other fragrance-free. Unsurprisingly perhaps, volunteer sniffers later found the fragranced armpit odour to be more pleasant.

But then the researchers asked a new set of participants to apply their fragrance of choice under one armpit and to apply another fragrance, chosen by the experimenters, under the other.

This time, the sniffers judged the fragrance/body odour blends as more attractive when they involved the wearer’s own preferred fragrance – even though the sniffers found the two fragrances roughly comparable when there was no body odour involved. The conclusion? People select fragrances that complement their own body odour, producing a favourable blend.

How might we achieve this? This question brings us back to the MHC genes that we mentioned earlier. A key study determined the MHC group of different sniffers and then noted which odours they preferred among a range of common ingredients that might contribute to a perfume that they would wear.
Image result for perfume tester

The results revealed a correlation between certain MHC groups and preferences for certain ingredients, suggesting that we choose fragrances that enhance the MHC signals that we are already giving off. Yet these correlations disappeared when the same sniffers rated the ingredients for a perfume their partner might choose to wear. At the genetic level, perfume preferences only work when thinking about ourselves.

Another experiment took a slightly different approach to reach a similar conclusion. Researchers first extracted MHC peptides, a signature component of MHC molecules, from a number of volunteers.

They then spiked samples of the volunteers’ body odour with peptides representative of either their own MHC or of other people’s MHC. When they were then asked to choose which spiked odour sample smelled like themselves, they tended to choose the one spiked with their own MHC peptides.

Back to the perfume counter

Taken together, these studies suggest that we evaluate perfumes, at least in part, according to whether they suit our individual, genetically influenced odour.

In an ideal world we might all know our partner’s MHC genotype and choose perfumes that suited them accordingly, perhaps following some helpful system of colour coding or the like. Unfortunately this doesn’t look likely to happen in any major way any time soon – the test currently costs about £160 a head.

So what lessons can be learned from these studies? One main point is that choosing a perfume for your partner based on your own preference is unlikely to work well. Your best bet is to ask perfume shop staff to select a perfume that smells roughly similar to the one you know your partner likes. Or do it yourself using perfume finders online, such as FR.eD or Nose.

For those choosing a fragrance for themselves, the lesson is to ensure you select one that really suits you. In the study of odour/fragrance blends, there were a few wearers who bucked the trend and smelled better with the experimenter-assigned perfume than with the brand they chose themselves.

So it’s always worth investing some time in making a choice, and to test-drive it on your skin first. If this sounds daunting, you can at least proceed in the knowledge that the person best placed to decide what perfume suits you best is looking back at you in the mirror.

S Craig Roberts, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of Stirling; Caroline Allen, Researcher, University of Stirling, and Kelly Cobey, Honourary Researcher (Psychology: Hormones and Behaviour), University of Stirling

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
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Friday, December 09, 2016

A major study investigating air pollution in the New South Wales Lower Hunter has found chemical giant Orica is contributing to ammonium nitrate levels.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) carried out the particle characterisation study and dust deposition study in 2014 and 2015.

Particles were sampled at four sites — Newcastle, Beresfield, Mayfield, and Stockton.

The studies found levels were good overall by world standards, but did spike at times as a result of seasonal weather patterns and industrial activities on nearby Kooragang Island.

The study found sea salt was the largest contributor of fine and coarse inhalable particles.

EPA chief executive Barry Buffier said the higher levels at Stockton were mainly due to sea salt and ammonium nitrate.

"I don't think we had a good understanding of that ammonium nitrate issue in Stockton before we did this study," he said.

"So we've put some pollution reduction programs in at Orica in relation to their operations there.

"We'll have a better idea soon as to how effective that's been."

The study found annual average PM 2.5 concentrations were very similar at Newcastle, Mayfield and Beresfield.

Orica to work on pollution reduction program

More data has been collected from Stockton since the particle characterisation study finished, and Orica is funding further analysis.

Kooragang Island site manager Scott Reid said the company was committed to addressing the matter.

"We'll immediately propose a pollution reduction program with the EPA," he said.

"We'll also fund further analysis of particles from the Stockton station, and we'll continue investigations into technologies that will further reduce ammonium emissions from our site."

Mr Reid said changes had been made to the site, including shutting down a section of the plant.

"We've also modified aspects of the prill tower's operations, that will hopefully minimise a generation of particulates during the cooling process," he said.

"We've reduced the airflow through that prill tower.

"We have replaced some equipment and upgraded some equipment in the plant, and we've also done some tweaking of our chemical processes."

Newcastle industry
Photo: The Environment Protection Authority took particles samples at four sites — Newcastle, Beresfield, Mayfield, and Stockton. (Supplied: J Spencer, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage)
10 per cent of dust particles come from coal

The findings of the dust deposition study found coal made up just 10 per cent of the larger dust particles that were visible to the human eye.

Sample sites were selected on where air pollution complaints had been received.

EPA Hunter manager Adam Gilligan said nearly 70 per cent of the large particles came from soil and rock.

"People often expect that material that appears black on their window sills and the like must be coming from the coal industry," he said.

"To see that coal is actually averaging 10 per cent of that large dust that's deposited is no doubt going to be a surprise to some."

The NSW Minerals Council said the research shows coal dust is a relatively minor source of pollution, contradicting what it describes as 'alarmist rhetoric' on the region's air quality.

But Keith Craig from the Stockton Residents Group said coal dust levels are not insignificant.

"I think that's typical of the Minerals Council, but if you talk to the coal industry themselves they realise you've got to have continuous improvement and do things better," he said.

"I mean, every winter people start complaining about black stuff in their pools and on their houses when you've got those westerly winds, so it's still definitely an issue for the community."

The EPA's dust deposition study
Photo: The findings of the EPA's dust deposition study found coal makes up just 10 per cent of the larger dust particles. (ABC News: Nic MacBean)
Greens continue calls for national air pollution act

Greens candidate for the federal seat of Newcastle John Mackenzie described the studies as a "smoking gun".

"It has revealed the extraordinary contribution to particulate pollution from the Orica operations on Kooragang, and the black carbon particles attributable to the city's coal haulage industry, including the coal terminals," he said.

"This study reinforces the Greens' call for a national Air Pollution Control Act and a Commonwealth regulator, so that this kind of work can be extended to other pollution hotspots around the country."

Dr Mackenzie said he would be campaigning for a nationally-consistent approach to air pollution during the upcoming election.

"The innovative work on particle pollution characterisation is a landmark achievement, and demonstrates the kind of outcomes that are possible when industry, community, and government work together to find solutions to the complex issue of air pollution," he said.

"The Greens will continue to argue for strict and enforceable limits in industry operating licences, where the polluters themselves are financially responsible for the health and environmental costs of their pollution.

"Enforceable limits provide real incentives for ongoing improvements and the adoption of cleaner technologies, and works to bring air pollution back within safe levels of exposure, to the benefit of the entire community."

Newcastle Greens candidate, Dr John Mackenzie
Photo: Greens candidate John Mackenzie described the studies as a "smoking gun". (ABC News: Liz Farquhar)
Opposition and residents call for action

The NSW Opposition's environment spokeswoman Penny Sharpe is calling on the Liberal Government to come up with a management plan to address air quality issues.

Ms Sharpe said she was not surprised by the recent findings.

"It shows that there are increased fine particle matters in the air and around the Hunter," she said.

"Really, there needs to be a plan of action from the EPA, local industry and the community on how you're going to reduce that.

"I'd like to see the EPA sit down with the community, which I know they've been doing, and I'd like them to sit down with Orica and really work through what emissions reductions are happening."

Stockton residents have also urged chemical giant Orica to install better pollution measures.

Keith Craig from the Stockton Residents Action Group said while the chemical giant is already taking action, he would like to see more done to cut fine particle pollution from the plant.

"I think the big one, and some of the most dangerous fine particles, was the 40 per cent contribution from Orica during the winter months, when the winds come from Orica," he said.

"So it really needs action and really the only way to do it is to collect those emissions, and put them through a scrubber to reduce the fine particles.

"That's what the new prill towers are designed to do, they have low emissions."

In 2014, Newcastle residents gathered to hear the results of a community-run survey called 'Dust Free Streets Project'.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Odour receptors found in human lung tissue

London: It was always thought that the sole bodily function of olfactory receptors was to smell and they could only be found inside the nose. But a new study has found two olfactory receptors in human lung tissue. And when the researchers from Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany activated these receptors, they found that they regulated the way in which the airways smooth muscle cells contracted. Contraction of smooth muscle changes the size of our airways, suggesting that this research, published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, may open new avenues for treating chronic breathing disorders — such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis — that constrict and obstruct the airways. Working with human smooth muscle cells, Benjamin Kalbe and his colleagues applied a large number of odour molecules and watched two of them activate the muscle cells. The researchers also determined how activating the receptors with the odour molecules affected the isolated smooth muscle cells. In their experiment, the researchers explored the impact of activating the receptors with a compound called amyl butyrate. The study showed that the compound had different effects on the receptors. “At the beginning of the experiment we did not expect that the olfactory receptors would have completely different effects,” Kalbe said. These results suggested that activating the receptor OR1D2 would constrict the bronchi, whereas stimulating the other receptor, OR2AG1, might help prevent airways from closing in response to pathological triggers. To further explore the therapeutic potential of these receptors, Kalbe said his team are planning to obtain tissue from people with chronic airway diseases to compare them to healthy tissue, to observe if the receptors change in abundance or function in disease states.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pahang DOE: Water supply at Sungai Semantan plant free from odour contamination

KUANTAN, Oct 11 ― The water at the Semantan raw water plant in Temerloh, which is transferred to the Langat and Cheras water treatment plants (LRA) in Selangor, is free from any odour contamination from Saturday until today. Pahang Department of Environment (DOE) director Rosli Zul said the reading was zero based on the measurement of the rate of odour pollution called Threshold Odour Number (TON) to indicate that the quality of water on the time and days in question was normal until today. “DOE obtained the date from the operator at the Semantan water plant. According to the standard operating procedure, the operator must monitor the odour quality and measure the odour pollution every hour. “The Pahang DOE will act if the data they recorded odour pollution, but until today, the water at the Semantan plant is normal, the TON reading is zero,” he said when contacted by Bernama today. However, he did not denied a little odour pollution was recorded on Friday (October 7) at the plant at 9.45pm and it was detected much earlier at 7pm, at the Langat and Cheras LRA. “The process of transferring raw water from the Semantan plant to the two water treatment plants will take 12 hours and based on the monitoring record from 8am to 8pm on October 7, no pollution took place and it was only detected at 9.45pm,” he said. Rosli said after 11pm on the same day, the TON reading of raw water at the Semantan plant had returned to normal and did not indicate any odour pollution. He said the odour pollution was detected again at the Semantan plant at a level of four TON at dawn (5am) on October 8 (Saturday) and the situation returned to normal after 9am. ― Bernama


Pahang DOE: Water supply at Sungai Semantan plant free from odour contamination

KUANTAN, Oct 11 ― The water at the Semantan raw water plant in Temerloh, which is transferred to the Langat and Cheras water treatment plants (LRA) in Selangor, is free from any odour contamination from Saturday until today. Pahang Department of Environment (DOE) director Rosli Zul said the reading was zero based on the measurement of the rate of odour pollution called Threshold Odour Number (TON) to indicate that the quality of water on the time and days in question was normal until today. “DOE obtained the date from the operator at the Semantan water plant. According to the standard operating procedure, the operator must monitor the odour quality and measure the odour pollution every hour. “The Pahang DOE will act if the data they recorded odour pollution, but until today, the water at the Semantan plant is normal, the TON reading is zero,” he said when contacted by Bernama today. However, he did not denied a little odour pollution was recorded on Friday (October 7) at the plant at 9.45pm and it was detected much earlier at 7pm, at the Langat and Cheras LRA. “The process of transferring raw water from the Semantan plant to the two water treatment plants will take 12 hours and based on the monitoring record from 8am to 8pm on October 7, no pollution took place and it was only detected at 9.45pm,” he said. Rosli said after 11pm on the same day, the TON reading of raw water at the Semantan plant had returned to normal and did not indicate any odour pollution. He said the odour pollution was detected again at the Semantan plant at a level of four TON at dawn (5am) on October 8 (Saturday) and the situation returned to normal after 9am. ― Bernama


Monday, October 17, 2016

Natural Wonders Monday for you

Australia gears up for rare weather event

IT’S been described as the most spectacular thing you can see in the sky, other than a full eclipse. And it’s happening right here in Australia.

‘It’s fundamentally weird and alien’

IT lives on the forest floor but “the blob” could be the key to changing all of our everyday lives.

Morons topple iconic rock pedestal

AT first it was said to be an act of nature. But footage has revealed a group of young people deliberately destroyed a beloved rock formation.

Fisherman’s find is just pearl-fect

THE world’s biggest pearl, weighing 34kg and worth more than $100 million, has been unveiled in The Philippines. You won’t believe where it’s been kept the past 10 years.

‘Earth will be one giant continent’

A WORLD without borders is a very distinct possibility when one supercontinent forms from all of Earth’s major land masses, predict scientists.

Coral ‘orgies’ could save our reef

THERE is still plenty to learn about the mass spawning events of coral, and such secrets could help save the world’s dying reefs.

Ellen is not backing down on reef comments

IT got her Twitter bombed by Environment Minister Greg Hunt, but Ellen DeGeneres says she’s glad her call to save the Great Barrier Reef is being talked about.

The truth Australia doesn’t want to hear

SAVING the Great Barrier Reef should be about more than embracing a photo opp. We need to make the one hard decision that could actually save it.

First snow dump this season

IT MAY have surprised some, but the year’s first snowfall fell early this morning in Thredbo providing exciting scenes for skiers.

Barrier Reef ‘dead in 20 years’

IT’LL be harder to find Nemo in years to come with experts saying damage to the Great Barrier Reef is more dire than previously thought.

Scientists discover hidden Antarctic lake

A LARGE lake may be hiding beneath the ice that covers Antarctica and it may contain countless life forms that frozen continent for millions of years.

Secret coral reef discovered in Amazon river

THE world’s second longest river is home to hidden treasures, a scientific research team has discovered.

This is how desperate scientists are

SOME Aussies are so desperate to be heard they’ve spent $14,000 to get their message across this week.

Radical idea to save Aussie icon

MORE than $40 million has been pumped into a hi-tech research facility in Australia powered by nuclear technology, but has it come too late?

Massive dust storm engulfs Barossa

FIVE cars were involved in a crash after strong winds whipped up a huge dust storm from the recent Pinery bushfires in South Australia.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

remediation odour

Anotec Environmental Pty Ltd has a unwavering commitment to provide the best odour control solution for you. To meet the current and ongoing odour control needs of our national and international clients; Anotec Environmental offers comprehensive odour control solutions meeting and exceeding client expectations. Anotec Environmental's diverse client portfolio spans an enormous variety of commercial interests (small and large) including insurance companies, health care providers, manufacturers, retailers, property developers, building and construction companies, telecommunications, and entertainment and information technology companies, exporters of Australian goods and services, engineers, local Commonwealth and State government entities, research and development syndications, hospitality and industrial companies.

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