Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

 

Pesticides: Having a professional treat for pests is not a guaranty of safe use of pesticide.  Some professionals use too much chemical to avoid return of the pests. In other instances, the problem is consumers not following directions or storing the leftover chemicals in the home. These products are often poisons for people as well as pests. Another common problem is a neighbor of a chemically sensitive individual’s use of chemicals in yards and homes.         

Chemiclas in the home

New homes: There are hundreds of products off gassing chemicals in new construction. We have found some very unusual sources of toxic gasses in new homes. In one case, the problem in a $750,000 home was defective flexible ductwork. The homeowners could not live in the home until the ductwork was removed and replaced.  

Home improvement and building supplies: You have probably heard about the Lumber Liquidators formaldehyde in flooring problem. Carpet, counters, sheathing, and almost every product in the home can have plastic which is made by chemistry that depends on heat, catalysts, timing, mixing and a host of factors that result in the imperfect creation of very complex chemicals. Some of those chemicals can be toxic to people and will evaporate from the materials.       
Cleaning products: The use of very concentrated cleaning supplies can create toxic residue and fumes. We have found numerous instances of offices becoming unhealthy as a result of these industrial strength products. 

Drugs: We have found homes and multi-family units that were toxic with the residue of drug manufacture. As an example, the manufacture of Meth uses Drano, lye and sulfuric acid, and other toxic chemicals    

Soil Gases: Many homes and other buildings are built on reclaimed industrial sites and farms. The chemicals and pesticides that may have entered the soil can be very safe in an open field. Buildings constructed over this soil can suck those chemicals into the air occupants breathe.   

Stored Products: Just about every container will leak fumes over time. One nasty smelling home we found was venting gases from the stored chemicals that were used to build model rockets. Another home had the chemicals from a photo lab. Another family thought it was a great idea to store chemicals used to dry clean clothing.    

Neighboring Environmental Problems: in one case, a neighbor had a side business that used toxic chemicals. He would pour those chemicals down their drains. The chemicals would evaporate into the neighboring home from the sewer making those people deathly ill.  A nearby fracking operation was a problem for one homeowner who was using a HRV system to pull outside air into their home.  

Misuse of Everyday Products: The safety of products is judged on “normal” use. As an example, many of the plug-in products to make your home smell good anticipate a minimal use in a home. Put one of those in every room and you can have a toxic level of exposure.


Posted in:Toxic Homes and tagged: pesticidesToxichomes
Posted by Dan Howard on July 27th, 2018 9:04 PM

Limited Sampling

Purpose:  The purpose of Limited Mold Sampling is to detect the presence of mold in Client chosen areas of the Subject Property.

Scope of Limited Mold Sampling. Limited Mold Sampling consists of a visual assessment for mold problems in area(s) designated by the client to test and the collection/analysis of sample(s) in these designated area(s).  Further, the objective of Limited Mold Sampling is to determine whether mold problems exist in the designated area(s) sampled at the time the Limited Mold Sampling is performed.  As such, the results of Limited Mold Sampling are not a guarantee that mold does or does not exist in the Subject Property. The results are indicative only of the presence or absence of mold in the areas sampled at the time of the Limited Mold Sampling is performed.  Limited Mold Sampling is narrower in scope than other mold inspections and testing strategies that area available. Mold inspections will be conducted only in these Client-defined areas and is NOT a complete assessment of the Subject Property.

Mold Screening

Purpose: The purpose of the Mold Screen is to test areas of suspect mold contamination base upon a visual inspection. This is done to detect the presence of a microbial problem in the inspected areas of the Subject Property and is not a comprehensive testing of all areas.

Scope of Mold Screen:  Mold Screen consists of a visual inspection in readily accessible area for mold and/or conditions that may indicate the presence of mold. For example, musty odor and/or evidence of water penetration. 

Posted in:Mold Testing and tagged: MoldLimitedScreening
Posted by Dan Howard on July 15th, 2018 9:00 PM

Announcing Tick Hunting Season

This particular “Tick Hunting Season” announcement is probably not going to go the way you first thought. The reality is that ticks are doing the hunting for humans and their pets to burrow into the nice, warm victim bodies. We don’t hunt them, they hunt us.

 

The CDC estimates there are more than 300,000 cases of Lyme infection in the U.S. each year – which is roughly 10 times as many as what is reported. That group of undiagnosed Lyme Disease victims can suffer for years with the disease. You or someone you care about could be one of those victims

There have been countless news stories explaining that the weather this year has been great for the tick population.  It’s no wonder that readers and viewers care about ticks. A human taking a pleasant walk in the woods or petting of a dog is all that a bloodsucking tick needs to spread disease and misery.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Early signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease include chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, fever and swollen lymph nodes. The sneaky part is that these symptoms can be mistaken as flu symptoms.

When Lyme Disease goes undiagnosed and untreated, the symptoms can progress. They can be debilitating. Each of the symptoms can also be indicative of other diseases and health problems. This is another reason that Lyme Disease can be misdiagnosed for years.

Some of Chronic Lyme Disease symptoms are:

  • Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
  • Headaches and neck stiffness
  • Arthritis type of joint pain
  • Muscle and heart symptoms
  • Rashes

Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)

CIRS happens in response to repeated exposure to toxins. This causes the immune system to go haywire. CIRS can be triggered by the combination of mycotoxins, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other inflammatory toxins found in water-damaged environments. Lyme Disease is often one of the exposures that underlies CIRS

The Role of Mold and Other Toxins in Lyme Disease and CIRS

Only some individuals are at risk for reacting to Lyme Disease or any mold and biotoxin related diseases.

Genetic factors, individual health histories, weakened immune systems, viral, parasitic, bacterial, or other co-infections play a role in CIRS. Auto-immune diseases and exposure to mold and toxic VOCs can also be triggers to those diseases. This is complicated. 


Posted by Dan Howard on July 14th, 2018 10:41 PM

Some Individuals Can Not Recover from Lyme Disease or CIRS

These diseases are the sum total of the factors in a personal health and exposure history. It is not easy to reverse the cumulative health events that get people ill. It can be as difficult to identify and correct the contaminants that prevent patient recovery as diagnosing the disease. Once again, this whole thing is complicated.  

Professionals to Identify Building Conditions that Make People Ill

Mold and the biotoxins common to a building that has moisture issues is the most logical place to start. This process is more in depth than simple mold testing. It is like CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) for buildings. Hidden moisture is only one of many possible health robbing culprits. 

There are products, materials, building practices and dozens of factors that can create exposure hazards for sensitive individuals. Hazards can be as simple as improperly installed plumbing, heating systems, or using the wrong kind of cleaning products in a building. In one recent case, the use of the wrong type of furniture stain on refinished flooring resulted in a toxic soup of VOCs in a home that was so intense that the results were higher than the chart used by the testing lab. Overuse of a toxic chemical by a remediator was a problem rendering another home uninhabitable.

Simply put, when someone is ill in a building, it takes more than considering mold exposure. Professionals with that level of training are rare and often difficult to find. If you are looking for these types of individuals, explore websites for individuals that have more information than mold testing and deal with sick building syndrome from the building science perspective.  

Finding the Medical Professional to Treat Chronic Diseases Including Lyme

The practice of medicine is rapidly changing. Traditionally, the reversal of symptoms was the goal of practitioners. As an example, if you had a headache, they would suggest that you take something for the headache pain. 

There are now medical practitioners who explore the source of the headache and work to resolve the cause of the headache. These are referred to as Functional Medical Professionals, or Holistic Practitioners. The approach of combining conventional and alternative medicine is referred to as Integrative Medicine

In addition to the use of both new and old treatments to correct the causes of medical problems, these practitioners have new research and information to help them recognize previously undiagnosed conditions.  It is not unusual for new patients of Functional Medical practitioners previously had frustrating years of suffering and ineffective treatment. In many cases, prior medical providers had blamed psychological causes for undiagnosed health problems like Lyme Disease. 

Many new tests have been developed to determine the exposures that a Multiple Chemical Sensitive individual is experiencing. Many of those tests are available through nationally recognized labs such as Quest or Lab Corp. 

There are also treatments that help remove the toxins that have built up in the bodies of individuals suffering for these diseases and syndromes. Web searches will help to identify the medical practitioners that specialize in this approach.  

Finding Professionals to Remediate Buildings

Imagine paying to have a contaminant removed from a home or other building, and having the building be more toxic. It happens more often that you would guess. 

Many remediators don’t understand the importance of protecting the building and residents from additional exposures. There are principles of containment, negative air and air scrubbing that should be followed. They should always provide samples of chemicals and products before they are used in a sensitive person’s building.

The Road to Recovery

If you know someone that is chronically ill, it could be Lyme Disease or any one of many other environmentally affected diseases. Individuals with chronic and acute diseases, chemotherapy patients, transplant patients, respiratory patients, and many other individuals need to identify and remove toxins from the home for an opportunity for the best possible quality of life and recovery. 

The best course is to find medical and environmental professionals that go beyond treating the symptoms and looking for underlying causes.

Posted in:Lyme, Mold and tagged: CiRSMoldLyme
Posted by Dan Howard on July 9th, 2018 5:39 PM

The first step in controlling Asthma triggers is accomplished by removing contents and materials that can harbor mold and other Asthma triggers. This needs carefully accomplished without spreading the allergens through the home like the white seeds on the dandelion plant. Treating the home with the proper treatment methods and products is another important step. Our approach to this is to help our clients by identifying the sources of allergens. We then write an assessment report to guide remediators on the path to giving you a healthy home.

Though mold is one of the leading triggers for Asthma, we need to look at every trigger in the home to make it a healthy home. Other allergens include animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches and pollen.

This baby is peacefully sleeping on the beautiful carpet and is breathing in dust mites, dander, dirt and every other allergen brought across the floor on the shoes of every visitor and paws of every pet. YUCK!

Control irritants: These can include tobacco smoke, sprays, plug in air fresheners, fragrant candles, sprays, smog and other pollutants. These can be better controlled with use of sweepers with HEPA filters and not bagged sweepers. Install hard surface floors instead of carpet. Minimize dust.

Avoid Other Asthma Triggers: These include sulfites in food and beverages. These sulfite sources include alcohol, dried fruit, processed potatoes, sandwich meat and shrimp.

Cold air can be an Asthma trigger as well as some medicines such as cold medicines, aspirin, vitamins, and some other supplements.Pesticides to control the pests that are triggers can also be Asthma triggers. Other VOC’s can be triggers. Make sure to avoid those chemicals.

We are experts in the subject of mold, allergens and environmental triggers. That is what we do every day. We want to do more than talk about mold and allergens. We want every child to have the best chance of having a healthy life. That is why you can trust us to provide  “Healthy Home” information for you and your family. Please consider us a trusted friend and bookmark us or sign up to receive our future blog posts.

Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: asthmaChildairBabyMold
Posted by Dan Howard on June 27th, 2018 5:03 PM

This particular “Tick Hunting Season” announcement is probably not going to go the way you first thought. The reality is that ticks are doing the hunting for humans and their pets to burrow into the nice, warm victim bodies. We don’t hunt them.  

 

PICTURE OF A TICK NEST IN A DOGS EAR 

There have been countless news stories explaining that the weather this year has been great for the tick population.  It’s no wonder that readers and viewers care about ticks. A human taking a pleasant walk in the woods or petting of a dog is all that a bloodsucking tick needs to spread disease and misery.


The CDC estimates there are more than 300,000 cases of Lyme infection in the U.S. each year – which is roughly 10 times as many as what is reported. That group of undiagnosed Lyme Disease victims can suffer for years with the disease. You or someone you care about could be one of those victims

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Early signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease include chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, fever and swollen lymph nodes. The sneaky part is that these symptoms can be mistaken as flu symptoms.

When Lyme Disease goes undiagnosed and untreated, the symptoms can progress. They can be debilitating. Each of the symptoms can also be indicative of other diseases and health problems. This is another reason that Lyme Disease can be misdiagnosed for years.

Some of Chronic Lyme Disease symptoms are:

  • Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
  • Headaches and neck stiffness
  • Arthritis type of joint pain
  • Muscle and heart symptoms
  • Rashes
Posted in:Lyme Disease & CIRS and tagged: LymeCIRSticks
Posted by Dan Howard on June 26th, 2018 9:06 PM

Even if you have not personally experienced Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) your probably know at least one person suffering with an illness that appears to the result of indoor environmental exposures. Some people use the term “MCS” standing for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity instead of SBS.  No matter what you call it, the effects of environmental exposures can range from inconvenient to devastating for victims and their loved ones.

Solving the riddle of what the cause or the remedy for Sick Building Syndrome can become a lifetime struggle. If you ask what is the relationship between our bodies and the environment, the answer is the same as many relationships in life:  Its complicated! Too often we do not get to the bottom of “complicated”.

It is Tough to Figure Out What Makes Us Ill

The first barrier to solving the healthy environment problem is that most environmental reactions happen in time delay. Our brain wiring is much better looking at things as cause-effect when they are occurring together. If we touch a burner on the stove, we feel pain. If we hit our thumb with hammer, we immediately feel the consequences of that action. We learn in real time that for those actions there is a predictable, consistent reaction. We also figure out to not do those things again.

Environmental exposures usually take time. We walk into a contamination, and may not feel ill for the first hours, days or weeks.  Often we do not become ill from an exposure for years until our immunity is affected by another illness or aging.

Our bodies work hard to keep us from having health problems from short term or low level exposures to toxins. As an example, most municipal water authorities have traces of arsenic in the water we drink. Our bodies can usually process the small amount of arsenic and we get on with life with little disruption. Our liver and kidneys can push small amounts of the arsenic out of our bodies and lives. If we open a jar of arsenic and consume a large amount of arsenic at one time, we can become very ill if not dead.

“Time loading” is how environmental illness often occurs. What that means is that if we have a little arsenic each day, and we start accumulating more in our bodies so that the liver and can clean up that chemical mess, we will become ill. By the way, this explains why a person who spends more time in a sick building can become sick and others who spend less time there are not affected   

Posted by Dan Howard on June 20th, 2018 9:35 PM

“Trust but Verify” After the Remediation

               At the end of the work, you should have proof that the work was effective in removing the mold. This is done by conducting a "clearance test" also known as a PRV, short for "Post-Remediation Verification."

The remediation firm should not conduct their own PRV They have the obvious temptation to “pass” the job when it should fail. They want paid for the work and do not want to say they did a bad job. Even the very best firms can fail a clearance because of an oversight or hidden mold source.  Clients need an independent Post Remediation Verification test for several reasons. We can’t see mold spores, there can be multiple sources of contamination or an ineffective treatment. Mold can hide in areas we can’t see.

Back to earlier today, and the remediator that has ignored the basic principles of remediation. Four times he did not clean visible mold and the dirt and debris that holds mold. Four times he didn’t correct the obvious water leaks creating more mold. The remediation contractor in today’s story is a pleasant person, and I believe meant well and wanted to succeed. He just lacked the discipline and experience to do the job correctly.

The lesson is that it is critical to have a PRV or Post Remediation Verification test after a mold remediation.   

Posted in:mold remediation and tagged: PRVClearance
Posted by Dan Howard on June 1st, 2018 9:05 PM

Imagine you are a professional mold remediator. You know that the goal you are pursuing is to correct the nasty mold levels. You should also make corrections so that the mold doesn’t return. The customer is paying you thousands of dollars to achieve those goals. Hanging in the balance is the health of the family living in the home.

                Now that you have a vivid picture of the importance of a proper mold remediation in your mind, let me tell you about my experience as an environmental consultant earlier today. Today is the fourth time this professionally remediated home has failed clearance. Each previous time it failed, I have spoken with the remediator about ways that his company can properly remediate the home. Each time, he has ignored the advice. I truly want this job done correctly and the family living in the home o enjoy a healthy home forever more.   

Mold After Remediation

Mold Remediation 101

Choosing Remediation Systems and Reliable Professionals: There are many mold treatment systems available that encompass a wide range of chemicals of varying toxicity. Some of the chemicals that have superb effectiveness are very dangerous to health and safety. Others require precise attention to detail. The goal is to select best treatment system for a project that will fully remove or kill mold in a safe environment for workers and occupants of a building.  

 

Treatment Systems for Chemically Sensitive Individuals: In the case of mold or chemically sensitive individuals, we highly recommend exposure to a sample of treatment products before a system or chemicals are used in their property. This can easily be accomplished by provision of a sample cloth treated with a product and given to the sensitive occupant prior to remediation treatment. They should also have “test” exposure to any building material or product brought into a building. Even reaction to a common product such as caulking can create problems for chemically sensitive individuals.   

 

Preparation for Remediation: Remediation systems require proper preparation and conditions for the treatment system to be effective. One example is that the building should be less than 40% to 50 % relative humidity. Another example is that mold and biological debris should be removed before treatment. Moldy contents need addressed with treatment or removal from the site.  All water leaks and events need corrected and promptly addressed and resolved. We need to avoid the types of surfaces and materials that may be a substrate for mold growth.


Protecting the Occupants and Workers:  Depending upon the level, location, use and extent of remediation required, the remediation needs to be done with appropriate levels of protection for the premises, occupants and workers. Persons handling building materials, contents and debris contaminated by mold are exposed to elevated mold levels. This is because the disturbed mold spreads in the same way as when you blew on the dandelion that turned white.  As kids, we were amazed as the tiny seeds went everywhere. If you are like me, you never gave a thought to the fact we were spreading dandelion seeds. We know better now. PPE or “Personal Protective Equipment” needs to be worn by those exposed to airborne mold during work.

 

At a minimum, workers need protected with masks. In higher mold conditions or closed areas, gloves and suits may also be crucial and necessary protective equipment.

 

Stopping the Spread of Mold During Remediation:  If an area of remediation has disturbed materials, the area being cleaned needs first contained from spreading disturbed mold through other areas of the building envelope. Contaminated materials need to be wrapped and carried out of the building while enclosed or wrapped so as not to allow the mold contaminated materials to harm others.

In areas of significant disturbed mold contaminated materials, the area of work may need protected with an airlock, usually simple, overlapping plastic doors that appear like the scene you may remember from the movie "ET the Extraterrestrial. This is called containment. 

Exhausting Mold Spores Outdoors: In situations where there is concern and risk that disturbed mold may be drawn from the disturbed area into the other areas of the building, the work area needs placed under a negative pressure. That means the air is drawn from that area and sent to the exterior. Furnace ductwork may need sealed within work areas to avoid the furnace or AC blower pushing mold through the building while the unit is operating. The process of establishment of a negative air flow away from the non-contaminated areas is called negative air.

Filtering the Mold Floating in the Air: Another aspect of the professional mold remediation job is air scrubbing.  Disturbed mold spores go into the air. The mold floating in the work area can be collected onto a filter in the piece of equipment called and air scrubber. This is a highly efficient air filter designed to capture the small particles such as mold.

Drying out the Building: Dehumidification to a low moisture level is required for effective mold remediation. Portable commercial dehumidifiers are often used for that purpose.

Posted by Dan Howard on May 26th, 2018 10:45 AM

Lawsuits Filed In Cases of Death in Mold Outbreak at UPMC Hospitals

Paris Healthcare Linen Services has been discovered to be the original source of the mold.

A deadly mold outbreak at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hospital campuses Montefiore, Presbyterian and Shadyside in Western Pennsylvania has been linked to contaminated bed linens from Paris Healthcare Linen Services. The contaminated sheets and linens were distributed by Paris Linen’s DuBois facility in Clearfield County; the same location which provides linens to all UPMC hospital campuses.

The attorneys of Meyers Evans Lupetin & Unatin are currently (as of October 31, 2017) representing four families in cases against the UPMC hospital system and Paris Companies in which multiple transplant patients have died as a result of a fungal infection. More such lawsuits are expected to be filed in the coming weeks.

About The Mold Outbreak

This mold outbreak started with sheets that were contaminated with the fungi including Rhizopus, Rhizomucor, Mucor, Lichtheimia, and Zygomycetes.

These common fungi are considered harmless for most people – but for immune compromised patients or those suffering from auto-immune diseases they can result in a deadly infection such as Mucormycosis or Zygomycosis.

The sheets delivered by Paris Companies to the UPMC hospital system were found to be damp and contaminated with the mold spores. Upon delivery they were distributed throughout the hospitals, including to the transplant wards, where immune suppressed transplant patients were exposed to the fungi both through skin contact and more dangerously, through respiratory contact.

As of February 2017, the UPMC hospital system continues to use Paris Companies as their hospital linen distributor, and Paris Companies continues to use the same laundry service.

Any patient suffering from an auto-immune disorder or a compromised immune system needs to be aware that UPMC hospitals may not taking proper precautions to protect patients from exposure do potentially deadly mold and fungal infections.

Contact our experienced medical malpractice lawyers if you have questions about any patient treated at UPMC hospitals that experienced a fungal infection during hospitalization.

Additional Articles About The UPMC Mold Outbreak From Other Sources:

Trib Live: Family disturbed by UPMC statements on mold death
CNN: Lawsuit alleges sixth death linked to Pittsburgh hospital mold outbreak
Post Gazette: Lawsuit says mold killed patient at third UPMC hospital
CBS: Attorneys: 6th Patient Died Due To UPMC Mold Outbreak
WPXI: Lawsuit blames death of 6th patient on UPMC mold
WTAE : New lawsuit alleges wrongful death of UPMC Shadyside patient due to mold infection
CNN: Mold at two Pittsburgh hospitals linked to 5 deaths

Posted by Dan Howard on May 14th, 2018 9:26 PM

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