Don’t be S.A.D.

The shortest day of the year is once again upon us. Winter Solstice arrives in the Northern Hemisphere on December 21st this year (some years it’s the 22nd) and despite the levity of the Christmas and Chanukah season, some of us may find we’re feeling a little sluggish or irritable around now.

It used to be called simply the “winter blues” but in 1984 mental health researchers first described Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and made the link between reduced sunlight exposure and mood disruptions. If you find you’re feeling depressed starting in late fall and throughout the winter, you may just be SAD. Symptoms include difficulty with concentration, decreased libido, anxiety, lethargy and even carbohydrate cravings. So, savour those yummy Christmas cookies but be mindful: weight gain is another SAD symptom.

The good news is that there are a few easy lifestyle tweaks that can help ease the symptoms of this seasonal syndrome.

The first order of business is to make sure you optimize your vitamin D levels. A simple blood test will let you know whether or not you’re deficient. If you are – and those of us living in cold, northern climes are prone to deficiency, especially during winter – you can supplement with vitamin D3 to raise your levels to the optimal range.

An added benefit of ensuring you have enough of the so-called “sunshine vitamin” is that recent studies indicate, in addition to the known benefits of helping maintain healthy teeth and bones, D may have a protective effect against cold and flu viruses, as well as some cancers.

And, of course, nothing brightens the mood like sunshine itself. Take time for yourself to go for a brisk walk when the sun is shining, preferably around noon when you’ll get the most benefit from the sun’s rays. If you can manage to get away to a tropical place in winter, you’ll store up enough vitamin D to help get you through to spring. It’s estimated that just 30 minutes of full body sun exposure around mid-day generates about 10,000-20,000 IUs of vitamin D.

Staying active — a little bit of exercise for 30 minutes at least 3 times a week — can lift your mood and relieve anxiety and stress. And be sure to get enough sleep, but not too much — it’s easy to hide under the covers when you’re depressed.

Whether you work from home, in an office or an industrial environment, in addition to helping alleviate the winter blues, proper lighting makes work easier and more efficient. Poor lighting conditions, such as low, glaring or shadow-casting light can cause headaches and eye fatigue, which can lead to more serious consequences like workplace accidents. Proper lighting reduces stress and increases productivity by allowing you to concentrate better on the task at hand.

Additionally, light therapy, in the form of a full-spectrum light box, has been used for decades to effectively combat seasonal affective disorder. SAD sufferers use the specially-calibrated table-top light in the morning for just 30 minutes a day. It’s simple and easy – just turn it on while you’re catching up on the news or scrolling through your social media feeds.

So, if you’re feeling SAD, no need to suffer in the dark. The best way to beat the winter blues, to work more efficiently and to have a healthier, happier life is to live in the light.

Is Washing Your Hands Really Necessary?

When you were a kid you were taught to wash your hands — before every meal, after using the bathroom and after coming in from outside. But now you’re an adult and you know when to wash your hands. And if you don’t wash them occasionally, it’s not the end of the world, right?

In 2015, Initial Washroom Hygiene conducted a massive survey of 100,000 people about their hand washing habits. According to the survey, a staggering 62% of men and 40% of women didn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. So, is this just another harmless oversight or does it have real health consequences?

The average person has about 1,500 bacteria per square centimetre on their hands, so good hand hygiene is crucial in reducing the spread of germs and controlling disease. Germs, such as bacteria and viruses are invisible and everywhere. They’re on everything you touch, cellphones, hand rails, shopping carts, even your toothbrush. Germs can spread rapidly after handling raw meat, by using the toilet or by coughing and sneezing.

As mentioned above, you should be washing your hands throughout the course of your day, but let’s get real and talk about the bathroom. Bathrooms are where bacteria really like to hang out and plot their next attack.

Properly washing your hands, especially after using the bathroom, prevents the spread of germs and keeps you and the environment around you clean. Proper hand-washing reduces the risk of getting diarrhea by about one-third and reduces the risk of contracting respiratory illness by up to 20%.

So, what’s the right way to wash your hands? Follow the five steps below to wash your hands the right way every time.

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air-dry them.

This video can also help you learn how to wash your hands the right way.

We care about clean – hands.

Preventing the Growth of Moulds in the Workplace

The public has increasingly become aware of the health effects and symptoms of exposure to mould. For instance, it’s not uncommon to hear about schools closing when mould growth is discovered. Mountainview Elementary School in Howie Centre, Nova Scotia was the latest to close.

An indoor mould growth
Indoor mould can impact the health of a building and those who live or work in the space.

Mould is a serious issue that needs to be addressed to prevent human exposure and further damage to building materials and furnishings. Every Allcare cleaner pays close attention to moulds, making sure to check janitor rooms, window sills, washrooms, and elsewhere for the first signs of mould growth.

In this post, we’ll explain how mould develops and what your workplace can do to eliminate a mould problem.

What do Moulds Need to Grow?

Moulds need moisture and nutrients to grow, so keeping a dry and clean environment is an essential step to prevent them from growing.

It’s also important to note that different kinds of moulds grow on different materials. Certain kinds of moulds like an extremely wet environment. Other kinds of moulds may be growing even if no water can be seen. Even dampness can give certain kinds of moulds enough moisture to grow.

Sources of Moisture

Moisture can enter the workplace in various ways. It could be from leaks in the floor, walls, or roof, or through plumbing leaks, poor drainage and window condensation.

Dampness and moisture can also build up in a workplace throughout the day from activities like washing or cooking. Moisture also accumulates when there is not enough ventilation to expel that moisture.

In your workplace, you should constantly be aware of musty odours, condensation, and discoloration, which are signs of moisture problems, water damage, and mould growth. And take action once you suspect a mould problem is developing.

Removing Mould

When dealing with mould, you should always limit your exposure by wearing a dust mask and rubber gloves.

Small areas of mould can be cleaned by scrubbing the area with detergent, then sponge with a clean, wet rag and dry quickly and thoroughly. Large areas of mould should be cleaned by professionals.

Simply killing mould with is typically not enough since people can react to particles present even in dead mould. Removing mould entirely is usually necessary.

Extra attention should be paid to porous materials like wood that moulds can infiltrate from the inside out, and grow on or in. These materials that are wet and have mould growing in them usually have to be removed and replaced.

And remember…

Unless the root cause of the moisture and water accumulation is corrected, mould will continue to come back time and again.

Places We Clean: The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s “Restoration Services Centre”

Allcare cares about clean, and we’re happy to say that we keep clean Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s “Restoration Services Centre”, the first green building in Ontario to earn the industry’s top designation for eco-friendly design.

The two-story building, which houses office space for 50 occupants and a works garage, was awarded Platinum ranking in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (or LEED) program administered by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) in 2008.

The LEED certification basically assesses the energy efficiency and environmental impact of buildings, and assigns a rating based on the number of credits they get for these practices. For instance, the Restoration Services Centre attained all 10 LEED energy credits, having won points for having solar panels that provide the facility with a portion of its electricity.

It also employs water conservation through the use of ultra low-flow plumbing fixtures and other techniques that helps it consume 95 per cent less indoor water than a typical building of this size. Their composting toilets and waterless urinals seem right at home in the office, thereby contributing to this significant reduction in use of potable water for sanitary purposes.

This, of course, is only part of the story. The Restoration Services Centre strives to maintain its eco-friendliness and sustainability through a sustained commitment to green practices. In turn, they chose Allcare Maintenance Services to provide green cleaning services, and ensure that the thoughtfully constructed indoor environment does not become tainted by harmful chemicals.

Lorne Mlotek, a green building consultant for LeadingLEED, said in an email message that there’s no specific LEED credit that awards points for green cleaning, but it’s consistently given an Innovation in Design point as a means of on-going cleaning. “In fact,” writes Mlotek, “the CaGBC actually use ‘Green Cleaning’ as an example of how to achieve an  innovation in Design point because it is out of the scope of the LEED rating system, but still attributes to a sustainable building.”

Allcare cares about clean, and so do our clients. In its “Restoration Services Centre”, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority  is one such organization that has made a commitment to environmental sustainability and responsibility, and we’re happy that others see a value in that commitment.

Importance Of Purchasing Green Paper Products

When purchasing janitorial paper products, there are things to consider. The most important being; does it help reduce the health and environmental impacts?.

Some of the key issues when choosing which paper products to use are:

Recycled Content: Having recycled content, reduces the amount of virgin free fibers required to produce paper.

Post Consumer Content: This uses Municipal curb recycled content. Having this encourages recycling everywhere.

Source Reduction: Dispensers: Use multi roll dispensers. It helps reduce waste from smaller rolls.

Replace multifold paper towels with larger rolls. Use touch free dispensers or dispensers which release only specific sized sheets.

Bleaching of Product: Try to avoid papers bleached with chlorine or bleached without the use of chlorine.

Be sure when purchasing paper products to look for the Eco Logo Certified symbol. This ensures all the above are taken care of.

Another Reason to do Spring Cleaning: Keeping Allergens at Bay

The coming of spring is a time when the Toronto area wakes up from a snowy winter and enjoy warmer weather. But for one in six Canadians who suffer from hay fever or seasonal allergies, this is the time of year when some of us have allergies that make us cough, scratch our eyes, wheeze, and become irritable. We don’t want that.

As we wrote before, spring is the time when we make it a priority to do a deep annual clean involving steam cleaning carpets, cleaning windows, and stripping and waxing floors. Spring cleaning also helps remove allergens that make their way into the work environment, which helps those with allergies breathe easier.

When it comes to vacuuming, it’s important that vacuums get the very tiny particulates that cause allergies. Allergy Consumer Review explains that a good vacuum should have a high air flow rating, which means that it pulls out allergens from carpets and upholstery faster and penetrate deeper. It should also have a HEPA filter positioned after the motor and sealed so that allergens don’t leak out.

Eliminating airborne dusts and allergens helps improve indoor air quality, which, in turn, helps reduce building related illnesses. When employees aren’t suffering allergies, they tend to be happier and more productive taking fewer sick days. This helps save organizations money.

We care about clean, and we’re sure that any allergy sufferers at your workplace also care about clean. There’s no way to eliminate all allergens, but regular cleaning definitely makes a difference. Make it a priority this spring to schedule a deep spring clean and regular cleaning to keep allergens at a minimum.

Clean Building = Productivity

Building related illnesses affect many Canadian workers. Many experience respiratory complaints, asthma, and allergies. This causes lost work times and poor productivity in employees.

Improving indoor air quality fights building related illnesses and saves organizations money.

Providing a clean and safe workplace encourages employees to maintain their premises. Intern, this too saves the organization money.

It also encourages employee moral and is a good representation of your company to your customers.

Spring Cleaning

With spring around the corner, it’s time to start preparing.

It’s around this time of the year that the snow has finished and is melting away. Your building has taken a beating because of the salt and dirt being tracked in.

It is very important to start scheduling that spring cleaning now!

The following are services we provide to get your building back up to beautiful.

Carpet Steam Cleaning: It is important to remove all the salt and stains to your carpet to extend its life expectancy.

Stripping and Waxing of Floors: Salt fades the shine on floors and damages the floor finish.

Window Cleaning: We offer both interior and exterior of windows

Painting: Rejuvenate the appearance of your office and improve employee moral.

Light Fixture Cleaning: In the fall, flies and bugs hibernate into offices and end up in your light fixtures near the heat. These can be vacuumed and washed.

Call us today to schedule your spring cleaning!

Is your office Mould and Mildew Free

Concerns about indoor exposure to mold has increased along with public awareness that exposure to mould can cause a variety of health effects and symptoms, including allergic reactions.

In the workplace, our main concern is indoor mould.  Mould growth needs to be avoided.  Problems may arise when mold starts eating away at materials, affecting the look, smell and possible structural issues.

Mould can grow on virtually any surface, as long as there is moisture or water, oxygen, and an organic source.  Mould reproduces by creating tiny spores that usually cannot be seen without a magnifier.  Mold spores continually float throughout the indoor and outdoor air.  Exposure to mould can irritate the eyes, skin, nose and throat in certain individuals.

Moisture control is key to mould control.  When leaks or spills occur indoors- act promptly.  An initial water infiltration should be stopped and cleaned properly.

Mould Prevention Tips:

  • Repair leaky plumbing or leaks in the building structure as soon as possible.
  • Look for condensation and wet spots.  Fix source of moisture as soon as possible
  • Perform regular HVAC/ building inspections
  • Maintain Indoor Relative humidity below 70%
  • Be sure to vent moisture generating appliances
  • Provide adequate drainage around building and slopping
  • pinpointing areas where leaks have occurred, identifying the causes, and taking preventative action to ensure that they do not re occur.

Having your janitorial service provider be trained at spotting mould or moisture areas of concern is very important.

Please contact the office at 905-856-8558, if you are looking for a full service janitorial provider.

Upcoming Flu Season

In Canada, the flu season usually runs from November to April.  An estimated 10-25% of flu-seasonCanadians are affected by the flu each year.

Has your workplace begun to use different methods of preventing the flu from spreading amongst your employees, protecting both you and your business?

Contact Allcare for all your prevention tips and products to help reduce the spread of the flu.