Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

August 19th, 2017 7:08 PM

New Radon Tech

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. The leading cause is the voluntary practice of smoking cigarettes.  A better way to test may be to have a professional test with high quality instruments, but this is "better than nothing"

Posted by Dan Howard on August 19th, 2017 7:08 PMLeave a Comment

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The pictures show a biofilm in water in a medical office. The question I was asked is whether the bubbles and slime are mold.  Short answer….let’s name it “biofilm” and discuss what that means

Biofilm that may contain mold, but is much more likely bacteria and chemical contaminants.
When we disinfect water at the water treatment plant, the treatment process is designed to kill all of the nasty organic disease that can make us ill

Now for the gross part .......the dead bacteria (coliform, legionella, parasites and host of materials are still in the water.

The bodies of dead contaminants decay and become slime, and just like animal waste can become a nutrient for other things to grow.
(yuck) The slime makes it through the municipal water system and into your drinking and flushing water ....and your fishes home in your aquarium
By the way, the fish produce their own bio issues as they do swim in their own waste

There is also sulfur, iron  and other contaminants that encourage the growth of organic contaminants

So.....I can test the water with a general test to show that there are a lot of things that are organic in the water (with a Luminometer)
I can test for specific diseases and organic materials. (coliform does turn up in a high percentage of municipal water tests)

The end story is that there is little to do with the water to make the bioslime go away

We can put Ty Di Bol or other product for toilet tanks in the tank to keep the slime from growing and neutralizing the minerals, copper, Mg, sulfur and iron

We can use distilled water in our relaxation fountains such as in the picture …..and clean it regularly (they will grow Legionella bacteria at room temperature)
By the way, we still need to change water over time as dust in the air will settled into the water and be host for bio growth.

We can get a Reverse Osmosis water treatment for our drinking water or purchase distilled water
(Notice.... DISTILLED water as most bottled water (spring water etc,) that we purchase has minerals and dead biological debris in it)

I do have several articles on my website about water contaminants and water supply issues    http://www.envirospect.com/SafeDrinkingWater  .............and this subject will become a blog post in the next couple of days because it is a good question    ( www.envirospect.com/blog )    

Agsain, my apology for pointing out that most of the dead organic and mineral substances are still in drinking water.      I think the young folks would say...... TMI (too much information)


Links About Biofilms in water




Scholarly cites for biofilms in water




Posted by Dan Howard on August 11th, 2017 10:06 PMLeave a Comment

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July 31st, 2017 9:24 PM

August 1 Is World Lung Cancer Day

My father died of Asbestos related lung cancer. We were exposed because we were making buildings safe from fire and nobody told us what would happen to  us.

For my dad, slowly suffocating with lungs filled with phlegm and cancerous cells is a difficult death.  Asbestos can cause asbestosis or  mesothelioma.

Smoking is still the leading cause of lung cancer despite all we have learned about it.  By the way, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer and can be corrected in almost every home for under $1,000.00.    

World Lung Cancer Day

World Lung Cancer Day is Tuesday, August 1, 2017. In the United States and worldwide, lung cancer is the most common form of cancer death; it is also the leading cause for both men and women in the United States and in developed countries. This year, lung cancer will account for about 156,000 deaths, or one in four U.S. cancer deaths.

Posted by Dan Howard on July 31st, 2017 9:24 PMLeave a Comment

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Attic Mold by The Numbers 

1.The people are selling their home.
2. Buyer makes offer 
3. The home inspector finds mold in the attic (not me)
4. Mold professional called in to test and assess solution (that is me)
5. Mold professional looks at mold directly above the bathroom fan vents
6. Seller needs to extend the vent pipe for the fan to the exterior
7. Attic needs remediated for mold  
            The bottom line is that the end of bathroom vents need to be extended to the exterior of the building envelope. They can go out through the roof, the overhang or the side wall.

          When bathroom fan vent pipes go into the attic, the warm moist air hits the cooler wood in the roof.  This condenses just like warm summer air condenses on a glass of ice water.

          The wood is wet. Mold grows where moisture and food for mold area found.

          The best set of "by the numbers" for this and thousands of cases like it is to vent the fan to the exterior of the home form the time it is installed.....eliminating the cost of testing, remediation, and re-testing after remediation....or the risk that a buyer would not go through with the purchase of the home because of concerns about mold  
$$$$$   The Other Numbers  $$$$$
Cost to extend the bathroom vents to the exterior of home   $200 to $300
Cost to test, remediate, post remediate test and extend the fan to the exterior $2,000 to $3000

Posted by Dan Howard on July 30th, 2017 8:41 PMLeave a Comment

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Almost a quarter of all disease caused by environmental exposure

As much as 24% of global disease is caused by environmental exposures which can be averted. Well-targeted interventions can prevent much of this environmental risk, the World Health Organization (WHO) demonstrates in a report issued today. The report further estimates that more than 33% of disease in children under the age of 5 is caused by environmental exposures. Preventing environmental risk could save as many as four million lives a year in children alone, mostly in developing countries.

The report, Preventing disease through healthy environments - towards an estimate of the environmental burden of disease, is the most comprehensive and systematic study yet undertaken on how preventable environmental hazards contribute to a wide range of diseases and injuries. By focusing on the environmental causes of disease, and how various diseases are influenced by environmental factors, the analysis breaks new ground in understanding the interactions between environment and health. The estimate reflects how much death, illness and disability could be realistically avoided every year as a result of better environmental management.

"The report issued today is a major contribution to ongoing efforts to better define the links between environment and health," said Dr Anders Nordström, Acting WHO Director-General. "We have always known that the environment influences health very profoundly, but these estimates are the best to date. This will help us to demonstrate that wise investment to create a supportive environment can be a successful strategy in improving health and achieving development that is sustainable."

The report estimates that more than 13 million deaths annually are due to preventable environmental causes. Nearly one third of death and disease in the least developed regions is due to environmental causes. Over 40% of deaths from malaria and an estimated 94% of deaths from diarrhoeal diseases, two of the world's biggest childhood killers, could be prevented through better environmental management.

The four main diseases influenced by poor environments are diarrhoea, lower respiratory infections, various forms of unintentional injuries, and malaria. Measures which could be taken now to reduce this environmental disease burden include the promotion of safe household water storage and better hygienic measures; the use of cleaner and safer fuels; increased safety of the built environment, more judicious use and management of toxic substances in the home and workplace; better water resource management.

"For the first time, this new report shows how specific diseases and injuries are influenced by environmental risks and by how much," said Dr Maria Neira, Director of WHO's Department for Public Health and Environment. "It also shows very clearly the gains that would accrue both to public health and to the general environment by a series of straightforward, coordinated investments. We call on ministries of health, environment and other partners to work together to ensure that these environmental and public health gains become a reality."

This research, which involved systematic review of literature as well as surveys of over 100 experts worldwide, identifies specific diseases impacted by certain well-known environmental hazards -- and by how much. "It brings together the best evidence available today on environmental links to health in 85 categories of disease and injury. Since the research focuses strictly on environmental hazards that are amenable to change, we can also see where preventive health measures combined with better environmental management and cleanup can have the biggest impact. In effect, we now have a 'hit list' for problems we need to tackle most urgently in terms of health and the environment," noted Dr Neira.

Diseases with the largest total annual health burden from environmental factors, in terms of death, illness and disability or Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs)1 are:

  • Diarrhoea (58 million DALYS per year; 94% of the diarrhoeal burden of disease) largely from unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene
  • Lower respiratory infections (37 million DALYs per year; 41% of all cases globally) largely from air pollution, indoor and outdoor.
  • Unintentional injuries other than road traffic injuries (21 million DALYs per year; 44 % of all cases globally), classification which includes a wide range of industrial and workplace accidents.
  • Malaria (19 million DALYs per year; 42% of all cases globally), largely as a result of poor water resource, housing and land use management which fails to curb vector populations effectively.
  • Road traffic injuries (15 million DALYS per year; 40% of all cases globally), largely as a result of poor urban design or poor environmental design of transport systems.
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD) -- a slowly progressing disease characterized by a gradual loss of lung function. (COPD, 12 million DALYs per year; 42% of all cases globally) largely as a result of exposures to workplace dusts and fumes and other forms of indoor and outdoor air pollution.
  • Perinatal conditions (11 million DALYS per year; 11% of all cases globally).

Most of the same environmentally-triggered diseases also rank as the biggest killers outright -- although they rank somewhat differently in order of lethality. Diseases with the largest absolute number of deaths annually from modifiable environmental factors (these are all parts of the environment amenable to change using available technologies, policies, preventive and public health measure). These diseases include:

  • 2.6 million deaths annually from cardiovascular diseases
  • 1.7 million deaths annually from diarrhoeal diseases
  • 1.5 million deaths annually from lower respiratory infections
  • 1.4 million deaths annually from cancers
  • 1.3 million deaths annually from chronic obstructive Pulmonary disease
  • 470,000 deaths annually from road traffic crashes
  • 400,000 deaths annually from unintentional injuries

The report shows that one way or another, the environment significantly affects more than 80% of these major diseases. Moreover, it looks to quantify only those environmental hazards that are modifiable - that is, those that are readily amenable to change through policies or technologies that already exist. The report also spells out us how much environment-related disease is preventable.

By acting assertively and setting priorities for measures aimed at curbing the most serious killers, millions of unnecessary deaths can be prevented every year. Working with sectors such as energy, transport, agriculture and industry to ameliorate the root environmental causes of ill health is crucial. 

Posted by Dan Howard on July 22nd, 2017 8:54 PMLeave a Comment

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July 20th, 2017 7:41 PM

Strong Emotions Can Trigger Asthma

Strong emotions like anger can make you breathe faster and set off an asthma attack. Laughing, crying, yelling, and even feeling stress or fear can be triggers, too.

Some Children Can Outgrow Asthma

About half of all children seem to outgrow asthma symptoms by their teen years, though these symptoms may come back in up to 50% of those children when they become adults. Once the airways become sensitive to asthma triggers, they remain that way for life.

Of the 24 million Americans living with asthma, about 6 million are children. Kids can have normal, active lives with proper care. Learn your child's asthma triggers and work closely with his doctor. Teach your child to care for his asthma and to tell you when he doesn't feel good. If your child is missing a lot of school, it probably means he needs a better treatment plan. 

Many People with Asthma also Have Allergies

About half of all children seem to outgrow asthma symptoms by their teen years, though these symptoms may come back in up to 50% of those children when they become adults. Once the airways become sensitive to asthma triggers, they remain that way for life.

Of the 24 million Americans living with asthma, about 6 million are children. Kids can have normal, active lives with proper care. Learn your child's asthma triggers and work closely with his doctor. Teach your child to care for his asthma and to tell you when he doesn't feel good. If your child is missing a lot of school, it probably means he needs a better treatment plan.

A Quick-Relief Inhaler Works Best With Other Medications

If you're having an asthma attack, a rescue inhaler can help in the moment. But if you have symptoms often, you may also need to take medication daily to help control flare-ups. What counts as often? Either:

  • Three or more times a week
  • Three or more times a month at night

Quick-relief inhalers don't prevent asthma attacks.

Continue to Exercise even of It Triggers Asthma

Everyone needs exercise, including people with asthma. Working out can help strengthen your breathing muscles. Talk to your doctor. With the right treatment, you can control your asthma and stay fit.

Warm up before you work out, and cool down to help with chest tightness. Avoid outdoor exercise on chilly days, when the pollen or air pollution counts are high, or if you have a respiratory infection. You might also want to talk with your doctor to see if using an inhaler before you exercise could help.

Often, a cough is the only sign of asthma. If you find yourself coughing at night, when you exercise, or if your cough won't go away, it may be asthma. Other common symptoms are chest tightness and trouble breathing, and wheezing. If you have any of these, see your doctor. The sooner you start treatment, the less damage to your lungs.

A primary care doctor can usually diagnose and treat asthma. You may need to see a specialist if you need extra tests, if you've had a life-threatening asthma attack, or if you need more help to keep your condition under control.

Obese Individuals Have a Higher Chance of Having Asthma Compared to Those Who Aren't

Among other things, obesity can cause your airways to narrow. That can lead to asthma. Being overweight can also make asthma harder to control. 

Researchers are looking at links between obesity and inflammation. Extra fat can lead to inflammation in the whole body, including the lungs. Trouble with breathing could also cause people with asthma to be less physically active.

To Help Avoid Asthma Flare-ups, You Should Wash your Hands and Get A Flu Shot

Flu and colds can make your asthma much worse. You have a greater chance of having problems caused by the flu, too. So if you have asthma, make sure to get your flu shot, and wash your hands often. Also, be extra careful around people who are sick.

Posted in:Health and Safety and tagged: asthmafacts
Posted by Dan Howard on July 20th, 2017 7:41 PMLeave a Comment

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"They could die an untimely death in their 30s or 40s because of the exposure in this product," an expert says

What could possibly be worse than finding out the makeup you use contains asbestos? Finding out the makeup your child uses contains asbestos.

The news team at WTVD, an ABC station in Durham, North Carolina, is reporting that its recent investigation into the ingredients of cosmetics aimed at tweens has revealed frightening results about a product sold at Justice, a national retail chain selling girls' apparel. According to the Scientific Analytical Institute in Greensboro, Just Shine Shimmer Powder tested positive for dangerous asbestos.

"In this powder designed for children, they could die an untimely death in their 30s or 40s because of the exposure to asbestos in this product," Sean Fitzgerald, the lab's Director of Research and Analytical Services, told WTVD.

Specifically, the lab found tremolite asbestos fibers, which contaminated the talc used in the Just Shine Shimmer Powder. Fitzgerald says the mineral reserve from which the talc was derived should have been tested for contamination; if it had been tested, it never would have been used by the manufacturer because the FDA prohibits asbestos-contaminated talc in cosmetics.

"Fibers like this get into your breathing zone, and when you inhale, these fibers can get into the lung and go to the very bottom of the lung, and that is exactly where you have the greatest likelihood of asbestos to cause disease," Fitzgerald said. "Children should not be allowed to breathe it. If a 10-year-old inhaled this fiber today, when he's 50 years old, it's still there." According to the National Cancer Institute, it can take at least 20 years for malignant mesothelioma to form after asbestos exposure.

As if the asbestos findings aren't scary enough, the lab also found the heavy metals barium, chromium, selenium and lead in Just Shine Shimmer Powder.

"The more lead you have in your system, the more negative health effects you're going to have," Fitzgerald explained. "Any amount of lead can be absorbed through the skin and go into your blood, and contribute to your overall poisoning of your blood."

You can find the station's full report here.

When WTVD's Diane Wilson showed Justice the lab results, the company issued a statement: "Justice is committed to the safety and integrity of our products. Upon receiving the inquiry from WTVD, we immediately began an independent investigation. We cannot speculate regarding the matter until we have more information. Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, we have stopped the sale of this product while we investigate."

Birnur Aral, Ph.D., Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Health, Beauty and Environmental Sciences Lab, stresses that instances like this are examples of how cosmetics need to be regulated as tightly as pharmaceuticals and food.

"The Personal Care Safety Act, a bipartisan bill, has gained support from both small companies and giants of the industry as well as advocacy groups, and it has the best chance of modernizing our outdated cosmetics laws," Dr. Aral says. "Good Housekeeping has supported the bill for over a year. While it is not a cure-all in my opinion, it is a very good start toward safer cosmetics." (You can voice your own support at a petition here.)

Just Shine Shimmer Powder is no longer available for purchase on the brand's website, but it has not been added to their recalls section yet. Fitzgerald urges those who own the powder to stop using it and to "treat it like a deadly poison, because it is." The news station also notes in their report that other Justice products they tested did not come back positive for asbestos.

Posted by Dan Howard on July 16th, 2017 9:39 PMLeave a Comment

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(HealthDay News) -- A dip in a pool, stream or lake on a hot summer day is refreshing, but take some precautions to avoid bacteria and parasites that might lurk in the water.

"One of the worst offenders is the kiddie wading pool," said Dr. Christopher Ohl, a professor of infectious diseases at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

"Warm, shallow water and kids in swim diapers -- which don't do a good job of containing feces -- can create a perfect breeding ground for water-borne infections even though the water is chlorinated," he said. "The best way to prevent young children from getting sick is to keep them from swallowing that water."

Ohl offered some other tips:

  • For starters, keep children who have had any type of gastrointestinal illness away from pools or water parks for several days to prevent contamination of the water.
  • Don't swallow the water when you're in freshwater lakes or streams. It can contain threats such asleptospirosis, a bacterium excreted in the urine of mammals that drink from the water. Infection can causefeverwithheadacheor muscle aches, but it's usually treatable, Ohl said.
  • Another potential threat is Naegleria, a rare but deadlybrain-eating amoebathat is almost impossible to treat. To avoid it, don't jump feet first into a warm, stagnant pond, especially during a very dry summer. Doing so can push water up into the top of the nose where the amoeba can crawl through to get into the brain, Ohl explained.
  • Salt water poses a lower risk from bacteria and parasites, but swimmers should stay out of the water if they have a cut orwoundthat could become infected.
  • Also, stay away from jellyfish floating on top of the water in the ocean.

"Most people don't realize that the tentacles of some jellyfish, especially Portuguese man-of-war, can be 10 to 15 feet long, so keep a safe distance to keep from being stung," Ohl said.

-- Robert Preidt

Posted in:General
Posted by Dan Howard on July 8th, 2017 10:02 PMLeave a Comment

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If you have ever removed wallpaper, you know what they are talking about. We install wallpaper with wallpaper paste (yes Mr. Obvious) Wallpaper paste is WHEAT paste. Just imagine that you leave a piece of bread sit out......That mold will find the wallpaper paste to be a yummy environment.

For More Information


Toxins from fungus growing on wallpaper can easily become airborne and pose an indoor health risk, researchers say.

"We demonstrated that mycotoxins could be transferred from a moldy material to air, under conditions that may be encountered in buildings," said study corresponding author Dr. Jean-Denis Bailly. "Thus, mycotoxins can be inhaled and should be investigated as parameters of indoor air quality."

Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: Mold testingwallpaper
Posted by Dan Howard on July 2nd, 2017 9:52 PMLeave a Comment

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By Julie Davis
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, June 30, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- When you're hosting picnics in the park or patio barbecues, you might be totally focused on creating the menu and doing your grocery shopping.

But how you prepare, transport and serve those special dishes is just as important to avoid foodborne illnesses, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Whether eating on your patio or packing food to go, remember to keep raw meat, chicken and seafood separate from other foods to avoid cross-contamination. Marinate food in the fridge, not on your counter. Avoid drips on the way to the grill and throw out any liquid left in the bowl you used.

Wash platters and utensils used on raw meat before using them for cooked foods. Get in the habit of using a food thermometer when grilling to test for doneness, and then keep hot foods hot by moving them to the sides of the grill rack.

Keep cold foods well chilled. At home, leave dishes in the fridge until you're ready to eat. For picnics, pack them in insulated coolers with cold packs. Keep foods in a separate cooler from drinks to minimize how often their cooler is opened.

As a general rule when eating outdoors, foods that were refrigerated can stay out for 2 hours maximum, but only 1 hour if the temperature is 90 degrees or higher. The hotter it is, the faster bacteria can multiply.

Remember to carefully wash and dry whole fruit and veggies before serving or packing in your cooler.

Eating outdoors is a great way to socialize, but don't let the heat become a food safety health risk.

Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: safetyfood
Posted by Dan Howard on July 1st, 2017 3:45 PMLeave a Comment

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