Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

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

Did you ever think that exposure to the environmental problems that make us sick is like hitting your thumb with a hammer……..but nobody can tell you what the hammer is?

We go and do so many different things and go so many places each day that it is often difficult to pinpoint what “is” or just as importantly what “is not” making us ill.

       Making all of this figuring out whether something in our environment is making us ill more of a puzzle is the fact that we react to environmental stresses in “time delay”. The difficulty is “time delay” is not how our brain usually works.

       Please let me explain: 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. Based upon that reaction, we each learn not to do those things. We learn in real time that for those actions there is a predictable, consistent and unpleasant reaction. We also figure out to not do those things again. However, I must admit that when I worked as a carpenter to get through college, that hitting fingers with a hammer happened a couple of times past the first. Before you judge that fact, I assure you that IT WAS NOT ON PURPOSE. Ouch.

        Environmental exposures are more complicated because they not only happen in time delay, but they also often occur in combinations of events. Our minds do not do well at processing the complex conditions and events that trigger environmental reactions.

       Keeping a diary of how you feel, where you are what you are doing and what you eat is probably the best tool for establishing health patterns that may predict sources of environmental reaction.

       As an example, a diary could show that you become ill 6 to 10 hours after a visit to a particular building, riding in and automobile, eating a particular food or a host of other events occurs. This can be a life changing tool.

      Based on that information, an assessment by a environmental specialist and testing of the area that appears to be the source of illness is the next step on the path to a return to good health

       Mold is one of the most common triggers for health issues. Allergens are another very common trigger. Testing for these issues is a prudent first step in the process of narrowing sources of environmental stressors
Posted by Dan Howard on May 12th, 2018 4:40 PM

By Caroline Picard

Apr 4, 2018

Don't let the recent snowfall across the country fool you. Spring is coming and while warm weather, flowers, and sunshine await, so do ticks, ants, and mosquitoes. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) released its bi-annual Bug Barometer last week, and the forecast for this season's pest populations doesn't look good.

Drawing on weather patterns and long-term predictions, the entomologists believe everyone's least favorite neighbors will arrive in full force once the country warms up. You can thank an extra-wet winter and La Niña — the cool phase of a natural climate pattern in Pacific Ocean — for creating conditions very favorable to these intruders.

“This year’s La Niña brought unusual moisture, sleet, and snow to southern areas that are typically much warmer and drier this time of year, while conversely, areas like the Northwest that are usually colder in the winter had much milder weather,” explained Jim Fredericks, Ph.D. in a press release. “Residual moisture is a prime attraction for pests, especially home-damaging termites and mosquitoes known for transmitting disease, and conditions are ideal for when these pests typically flourish in the springtime.”


Ticks Are Already a Big Problem This Spring

 Rising temperatures that come with the change of seasons also prompt major tick activity. “Tick populations will continue to boom with the onset of even warmer weather ahead,” Fredericks said. Vets across the country have already noticed a major increase in the number of parasites they've spotted on pets this year, and summer's still a long way off.

Here's exactly what you can expect in your region of the country this spring and summer:

Northeast and New England

Thanks to multiple heavy snowstorms and persistent cold weather, rodents will continue to seek food and shelter indoors. Once spring finally arrives, a greater-than-average tick population will emerge, the NPMA predicts.

Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, and Midwest

The drier conditions further west will prompt ants to seek moisture indoors this spring, with a boon of ticks expected later this season as well.

Southeast

Even though the South experienced atypical cold this winter, an accumulation of moisture will help mosquitoes thrive quickly. Termites and cockroaches will also start appearing in above-average numbers soon.

North Central

Fly, ant, and — you guessed it — tick populations will likely explode in the Plains region thanks to unseasonably high temperatures.

South Central

Prolonged moist conditions up your risk of termites (ick), with an influx of roaches remaining a concern as the mercury rises.

Northwest

The mild winter personally felt like a blessing, but warm conditions also helped ants survive the season. Now the insects will begin expanding their colonies for spring, with ticks also benefiting from the early thaw.

Southwest

Above-average temps this winter will also translate to more ants and cockroaches arriving earlier than usual.

Wherever you live, one of the best preventative measures you can take is sealing up your house against potential invaders. Filling cracks with caulk or steel wool, repairing torn screens, and replacing door sweeps can deter many pests from making themselves at home.

If you're already spotting insects indoors, make sure to eliminate any potential food and water sources allowing them to prosper. While every pest problem requires a slightly different plan of attack, ants, roaches, flies, and mice all rely on sustenance and shelter to survive.
Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: healthBugs
Posted by Dan Howard on April 6th, 2018 8:10 PM

Imagine you are in one of those science fiction or horror shows where the people are being killed by a mysterious noxious gas. The contaminating gas is slowly and invisibly seeping from unknown sources. Your eyes are burning. Your muscles ache. Your head throbs with pain. With each passing day you are becoming sicker and sicker. Even sleeping is a struggle as your body aches for fresh air.  

For many people this is not a movie that will end in a couple of hours. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity patients are living that real-life nightmare.  The University of Melbourne has just reported its research in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The study showed that one in four Americans report some form of chemical sensitivity. They concluded that “nearly half of that group could be medically diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) suffering health problems from exposure to common chemical products and pollutants such as insect spray, pain, cleaning supplies, fragrances, and petrochemical fumes (VOC’s).” 

The study noted that “people with MCS are like human canaries. They react earlier and more severely to chemical pollutants, even at low levels.” 

We have learned that what we eat can affect our health. Too much fat? Too much sugar? Listeria on vegetables? E. Coli in meat? We know those can make us ill, very, very ill.

We eat a few times a day. We breathe ALL the time. Despite this we sometimes have trouble understanding that the chemical soup of fragrances and off-gassing products we create in the air can make some people ill. Yikes, holy odor Batman! How can all those fragrances in everything from household cleaners to new cars, furniture and carpeting and magazines delivered to our homes affect health?

We understand that some children can eat a single peanut and go into anaphylactic shock. Even though it is the same principle, some people do not understand or accept that individuals can react differently to certain shared chemical and biological exposures. It is often family members that do not understand that a spouse or child is reacting to environmental exposures.

Many MCS patients have spent years going to medical providers that fail to diagnose MCS as the cause of their health problems. The good new in this area is that many medical practitioners are now recognizing and treating this condition.

The next challenge for the MCS patient, their family and medical practitioners is identifying the type and location of the exposures that are making them ill. The objective is to avoid those contaminants, but you need to know what you are avoiding to avoid it.

We all know about Glade Air Fresheners. They are a great example of chemicals that can trigger a reaction in a patient. The description of the chemicals in the Material Safety Data Sheet on the Glade website starts that some of the chemicals in them include:    _1_alpha___e__2_beta___1__2_6_6_trimethylcyclohex_3_en_1_yl_but_2_en_1_one; 2,4-dimethyl-3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde*; 2,6,10-trimethylundec-9-enal; 2,6-dimethyl-7-octen-2-ol; 2-phenoxyethyl isobutyrate; 2-t-butylcyclohexyl acetate; 3.alpha.,4,5,6,7,7.alpha.-hexahydro-4,7-methano-1h-indenyl propionate; 3-hexenol; 3-methyl-2-butenyl acetate; 4,4.alpha.,5,9.beta.-tetrahydroindeno(1,2-d)-1,3-dioxin; 4-methylanisole; 5-methyl-2-(2-methylpropyl)-1,3-dioxane; amyl cinnamal*; The list of chemicals goes on from this partial list.

Reasons That Homes, Schools, and Public Buildings Now Have Increased Environmental Contaminants

  • Products and materials of all kinds are packaged and sold with fragrances added.
  • Building products, furnishings and equipment are made of materials that off-gas chemicals including everything for carpet to cabinets to the plastics used for flexible ductwork
  • Buildings are built tighter. The old timers would say “the solution to pollution is dilution” HVAC systems and building energy saving systems reduces the introduction of outside air which reduces dilution of chemicals in a building

The bottom line is that there are now hundreds of thousands of exposures to chemicals in increasing tight buildings. Each of the exposures or combination of exposures can create a chemical overload which can be debilitating to sensitive individuals.  

Identifying Environmental Triggers

One of the least used, but valuable techniques for identifying environmental triggers is doing a diary of where people spend time, what activities they do, what foods they eat and how they feel. That information can help narrow the source of exposures. 

Functional Medicine or Holistic Medical Practitioners have new testing methods to diagnose MCS triggers. There are skin and blood tests that can help identify the patient’s biological reactions to exposures. There is also an evolution of the practices where correlations such as mold exposure and difficulty in recovering from Lyme Disease are being considered.

There are environmental inspectors that can identify sources of environmental hazards. This is far and beyond simply testing the air. The process is to review a property and based upon identified potential sources then test to determine the presence of contaminants. Specially trained professionals are familiar with conditions, products and materials that can be of risk to MCS patients.

Posted by Dan Howard on March 31st, 2018 10:54 AM

              Two of the most significant impact items on environmental health today are new products and tighter building envelopes. 


               The bad news is that many of the building products and contents are made of oil processed in one way or another. Manufacturing complex chemicals is a complicated process. An improper mix, wrong temperature, impurities in a reagent, too long in a vat and the reactions can result is toxin production. In other cases, the produced materials and chemicals are not stable or break down chemically over time. Substitute materials can be used as solvents or as the products themselves and create indoor air toxins.

                For a great example of what can happen in every day indoor air, review the MSDS for your favorite air freshener. It will be a page long list of organic chemicals that are plugged into an outlet and heated. The heat breaks down those chemicals into more chemicals.  

               We also deal with leftover chemicals from prior occupants of a building. These can range from the accidental spill to left over contamination from drug activity in a home. The source of indoor pollution can be spills, burying of toxic materials or pesticide on farmland that happened decades before the building was constructed. 

              There are countless cleaners and pesticides that people and businesses will store that can spill or off-gas. A change of janitorial service in an adjacent office can introduce toxic chemical cleaners that are used to reduce labor costs that result in toxic fumes. In this scenario, unknowingly the improper mix of incompatible chemicals can create a toxic environment.       

There are also a host of toxins produced from poorly vented or unvented furnaces, hot water tanks or other fossil fueled appliances. 

Another major potential impact on indoor health is EMF (electromagnetic radiation). Cell phones, electronic devices and microwave devices in everything from cooking to communication systems may affect our heath. 

The Bottom Line in Environmental Assessments

               The solution to Sick Building Syndrome is a process. It begins with a history of the building, its occupants and the very ground the building sets on. The former site of an old dump or factory could be a plan of multi-million-dollar homes today. 

               The next step is evaluating the construction materials and methods of the building with consideration of materials that may have been brought into the building envelope.

                Those considerations are considered, and a testing plan developed and implemented to identify and verify the type, location and quantity of a contaminant. The factors that may allow the recurrence of a contamination need identified and avoiding those factors incorporated in any remediation.     

                 In the case of possible communicable biological contagions in the building, those need identified and the exposure risks and methods of transmission evaluated and included in the testing and remediation plan. 

                 All these steps are critical to developing a plan to correct the contamination if possible. In some cases, the best advice for an individual would be to avoid a building, but a medical practitioner needs the information provided n the assessment to make that recommendation.   

                 The final steps in the process are to remediate when possible and test the building when work is complete to assure success of the process.

In summary, investigate, discover, verify by testing, remediate and confirm success of remediation or disinfection work to provide a healthy environment for building occupants.

Posted by Dan Howard on March 1st, 2018 10:11 PM

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

Published on June 24, 2016

Did you know that every day in your home you come in contact with toxic and hazardous chemicals? If you don’t pay attention and make a concerted effort, it’s almost impossible to avoid this stuff. Let’s look at the most common household chemicals, and what you can do to reduce your exposure and susceptibility to their negative impact on health. 

Are Air Fresheners Hazardous?

Just because something smells nice and fresh doesn’t mean that it is good for you. Air fresheners are a prime example. Air fresheners can work by interfering with your sense of smell by coating your nasal passages with an oily film, or they can contain nerve-numbing agents.

Information published in a 2015 issue of The Journal of Toxicological Sciences concluded that air fresheners are a source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in indoor environments. They also contain ultrafine particles and formaldehyde which may cause sensory irritation, respiratory dysfunction, and other serious problems.[1] The full list of harmful side effects is long… damage to the central nervous system, altered hormone levels, organ damage, and damage the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems.[1] Even worse, the negative effects of air fresheners may take years to surface. At that point, it’s too late.

Are Household Cleaners Hazardous?

Ammonia is found in a variety of household cleaners—kitchen, bathroom, floor, oven, glass, and polishers. If the product is at least 5% ammonia, it has to be labeled as poisonous.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine maintains TOXNET, the Toxicology Data Network. According to TOXNET, short-term exposure to ammonia can irritate, burn, and even damage the eyes and skin. Ammonia is irritating to the respiratory tract and causes coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Higher exposure can cause pulmonary edema, a life-threatening issue.[2]

Ammonia is not the only hazardous ingredient in household cleaners. Drain and oven cleaners contain sodium hydroxide (lye). Lye is corrosive and a strong irritant to both skin and eyes.[3] Just touching the stuff can produce serious damage and swallowing it will result in a “lights out” emergency.[4] In high concentrations, lye can burn skin and cause permanent blindness on contact.

Toilet bowl cleaners often contain hydrochloric acid, which is corrosive and will seriously damage any tissue it touches, irreversible damage. Protective equipment is an absolute requirement when handling any product that contains hydrochloric acid (or better yet, don’t handle it). Never mix hydrochloric acid-containing products with bleach as it will produce toxic gas!

When buying household cleaners, read the labels. Pay attention if they say “danger” or “corrosive.” All household products come with warnings and disclaimers. Read them and make sure you know what you are about to buy and exactly how, and how not, to handle it! 

The Problem With Dishwasher and Laundry Detergent

Most dishwashing detergents contain chlorine in a dry, concentrated form. Those little dishwasher packets usually have bright colors and have been mistaken for candy by many a curious child. In fact, they’re actually a leading cause of child poisonings. The similar-looking laundry detergent packages have also become a problem.[5]

From January 2013 through December 2014, poison control centers in the U.S. received 62,254 calls related to laundry and dishwasher detergent exposure by children younger than six years old.[5] About 60% of all calls were related to detergent packets; 45% were referred to a healthcare facility—more than twice the number of visits caused by traditional laundry detergents.[5] Every 45 seconds, poison control centers receive a call about a child exposed to toxic laundry detergent packets.

Toxic Carpets, Hazardous Furniture

Many carpet cleaning formulas use toxic substances such as perchloroethylene and ammonium hydroxide. The former is a known carcinogen and can damage the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.[6] The latter is corrosive to the eyes, skin, and respiratory passages.[7, 8]

It’s easy for the carpet, upholstery, and furniture to blend in with the scenery. Few people think of these items as a source of hazardous chemicals. But, they can actually outgas VOCs.[9] VOCs are a group of hazardous chemicals that evaporate at room temperature and include benzene, acetone, and formaldehyde. Exposure, even short-term exposure, to VOCs can cause respiratory irritation, eye irritation, nausea, and headache. It can also trigger asthma symptoms. Long-term exposure to VOCs can cause liver, kidney, or nervous system damage, even cancer.[10] 

How to Limit Exposure to Hazardous Household Chemicals

There are many other ways to reduce the toxicity of your indoor living environment. Stop using toxic brands, start using natural, non-toxic alternatives. You can even go a step further and make your own. Baking soda can be an effective cleaner for sinks and tubs. Mix water and vinegar to make a good surface cleaning solution that’ll handle doors and windows without issue.

Instead of chemical-based air fresheners, opt for natural air fresheners such as fresh flowers and houseplants.

For laundry, use fragrance-free detergents and avoid the detergent packets. Opt for eco-friendly and organic alternatives.

Traditional mattresses can be loaded with flame-retardant chemicals. Instead, get one that’s all-natural and made from untreated wool, organic cotton, or natural latex.

Instead of cheap, synthetic carpet, find a natural option, preferably something made from wool or hemp. Hemp is resistant to mold and mildew and you can use it in the bathroom or other moist areas. Also, consider that most popular carpet cleaners can be quite harmful to humans and the environment. Instead, use organic and biodegradable alternatives.

To compensate for the toxins you can’t avoid, consider performing a comprehensive, full-body cleanse. Cleansing your colon, kidneys, liver, and gallbladder is a great way to feel better. You can also perform targeted cleanses for harmful organisms or chemicals and toxic metals. Eliminating toxins should not only make you feel better, it should boost your energy.

Do you have any tips for a less-toxic home? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.

References (10)

  1. Kim, Sanghwa, Seong-Ho Hong, Choon-Keun Bong, and Myung-Haing Cho. "Characterization of Air Freshener Emission: The Potential Health Effects." J. Toxicol. Sci. The Journal of Toxicological Sciences 40.5 (2015): 535-50. Web. 9 May 2016.
  2. "HSDB: AMMONIA." TOXNET. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 24 July 2015. Web. 09 May 2016.
  3. Mackison, F.W., R.S. Stricoff, L.J. Partridge, Jr. (eds.). NIOSH/OSHA – Occupational Health Guidelines for Chemical Hazards. DHHS/NIOSH Publication No. 81-123 (3 VOLS). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, Jan. 1981, p. 2.
  4. Gosselin, R.E., R.P. Smith, H.C. Hodge. Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products. 5th ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1984., p. II-66. Print.
  5. Davis, M. G., M. J. Casavant, H. A. Spiller, T. Chounthirath, and G. A. Smith. "Pediatric Exposures to Laundry and Dishwasher Detergents in the United States: 2013-2014." Pediatrics 137.5 (2016): n. pag. Web. 9 May 2016.
  6. "Perchloroethylene (PCE, PERC) - Toxic Chemicals and Environmental Health Risks Where You Live and Work - Text Version." Tox Town. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 31 Mar. 2016. Web. 09 May 2016.
  7. "AMMONIUM HYDROXIDE (10%-35% Solution)." The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 01 July 2014. Web. 09 May 2016.
  8. Lee, Soo-Jeong, Bora Nam, Robert Harrison, and Oisaeng Hong. "Acute Symptoms Associated with Chemical Exposures and Safe Work Practices among Hospital and Campus Cleaning Workers: A Pilot Study." Am. J. Ind. Med. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 57.11 (2014): 1216-226. PubMed. Web. 9 May 2016.
  9. Katsoyiannis, Athanasios, Paolo Leva, and Dimitrios Kotzias. "VOC and Carbonyl Emissions from Carpets: A Comparative Study Using Four Types of Environmental Chambers." Journal of Hazardous Materials152.2 (2008): 669-76. PubMed. Web. 9 May 2016.
  10. "Volatile Organic Compounds in Your Home." Minnesota Department of Health. Minnesota.gov, 26 Jan. 2016. Web. 09 May 2016.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

Posted by Dan Howard on February 20th, 2018 7:52 PM

                Identifying and cleaning touchpoints is the best practice to control the spread of germs in homes, schools, and businesses. Touchpoints are the places where germs can sit and wait to infect the next person. 

                The “handshake” is the ultimate touchpoint where we transfer communicable diseases to each other in the name of greeting each other. We do this ritual everywhere from the workplace, and grocery store to our houses of worship. In times of communicable diseases, the elbow bump makes a lot more sense than the handshake.   

               Other common touchpoints are light switches, doorknobs, the back of chairs, restaurant menus, faucet and refrigerator handles. Less obvious touchpoints are the food storage container, the juice bottle, the top of a chair you pull out or the kitchen counter. Use the office microwave or use a grocery store cart?  Well, you get the picture.

In the cases where someone in a home has a serious illness such as C-Diff or MRSA, every linen, TV remote or candy dish they touched can be the source of reinfection. The more serious the illness and worse the immune system of occupants, the more critical disinfection of a property becomes to stop the spread of an illness. 

                The good news is that there are some excellent disinfection systems and programs that were originally designed for medical facilities that are now available for use in any type of property. Once we identify a risk, we can implement effective solutions for just about every cause of Sick Building Syndrome.            

Suggestions for Stopping the Spread of Illness in the Home 

                 It is really, really hard to pay attention to details and healthy practices when we are sick with a nasty bug. The only way this works in most households is to put these habits into practice before there is a sick person in the home. If you don’t have disposable plates and cups in the cupboard before illness, you are not going to the store to buy them after you are tending the sick.  

  • Get available vaccines
  • Wash or disinfect your hands frequently
  • Use paper or disposable plates and cups
  • Use disposable tissues as opposed to handkerchiefs
  • Have ill household members wear a mask to protect from spreading their illness
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth (viruses can transfer from your hands and into the
  • body).
  • Have children only handle toys that can be easily disinfected before being shared

Suggestions for Stopping the Spread of Illness in the Workplace

                The best solution is to have a plan in place before dealing with the illness and human resource challenges that a sick workforce can bring to a professional organization. There are consultants that can set programs in place that can work for just about any facility. It is a matter of their establishing a system of communicating responsibility and direction for the workforce.  

  • Create and communicate an infection control plan.
  • Use signage to remind visitors and co-workers of best practices
  • Wipe and disinfect all touchpoint surfaces and workspaces each day
  • Provide soap, sanitizing wipes and boxes of tissue at convenient locations
  • Put hand sanitizer and masks at the entries to the facilities
  • Remove magazines and papers from waiting areas or common rooms
  • Verify that ventilation and air filter systems are working properly.

 

Posted by Dan Howard on February 12th, 2018 9:32 PM

 The Most Often Asked Questions are:

What Can You Keep or Clean after Flood or Mold Problems?
 and What Needs Thrown Out
? 

                Food items that have been in contact or stored in areas with mold or water damage should be thrown away. Add a period and exclamation point to this statement.

                Materials that have a solid surface such as plastic, glass or metal and no electronics or foam padding are easily cleaned and preserved. Soap and water or a commercial disinfectant is the simplest cleaning method. A mixture of 1/4 cup of Clorox to a gallon of water is another way to disinfect the hard-surfaced materials. Warning: Do not use a higher concentration of Clorox as it can result in injury to people, pets and the items the mixture contacts.

                The short story is if contents are porous and flood contaminated or moldy they will probably need thrown away. This includes cardboard, carpet, padding, stuffed animals and upholstered furnishings. Mattresses and box springs are on that list.     

                  The paper materials that did not get wet or damp and do not have visible mold or damaged may be preserved with simply HEPA vacuuming. Most paper products including books will need thrown out once moldy or wet from flooding.  For very valuable items such as a family bible, there is an expensive, but effective freeze-drying process that can preserve those items.

                Clothing is readily saved by washing in regular laundry detergent unless the fabric has been damaged. Mold will clean out of machine washable material. but damaged clothing is not restored to its original condition by washing.

                Major and small appliances that have mold exposure but have not been under water may be saved with a professional cleaning.  Consult a professional about these items. As an example, a hard drive may be removed from a computer and salvaged but could be damaged if the powered on with moldy electronics.  

                All appliances both big and small that have been under any water will need replaced. The cost of cleaning some of these items will often exceed the cost of replacement. Failure to clean these can result in fires, health hazards or recontamination of the home.  Furnaces, hot water tanks, washing machines and the like are total losses if any part of the components have been under water. 

When the Problem is “Just Mold, not Flooding”

                Forced air furnaces can redistribute mold through an entire home after the property is cleaned. Furnace ductwork, blowers, cabinets need cleaned as a part of any mold remediation.   

                Mold can and will live behind walls. Removal of house wall finishes may be required to get rid of the mold.  If you do this work yourself, learn and follow the principals of containment, negative air and air scrubbing.  Handling of mold contaminated materials should be done with personal protective equipment such as gloves, eye protection and masks. 

                There are materials used in the construction of homes that will require replacement as opposed to cleaning. Fiberboard, carpet and pad are examples. Some types of HVAC ductwork and insulation are other common examples. 

                Water events and ice buildups can result in damage to property, contents and occupant’s health. Professional advice that can save these materials is a bargain.  Go to http://www.envirospect.info/WInterMold  for links and sources for additional information about contaminated materials or how to locate a professional service.

 

Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: Mold Contents
Posted by Dan Howard on January 23rd, 2018 9:32 PM



Living Healthy & Green

Retired NFL Player Chester Pitts tells homeowners about the dangers of radon
View larger video
We want Americans to know that a big part of “living green” is breathing clean, healthy indoor air. One of the best ways to protect our families’ health is to get radon gas out of our homes. It is the environmentally responsible choice that can help reduce lung cancer.
Since radon enters homes from under the ground, living healthy and green starts from the ground up. By kicking radon out of homes every family can have safer, healthier air to breathe.
Posted in:Healthy Home and tagged: radonJanuary
Posted by Dan Howard on January 23rd, 2018 9:17 PM

Merry Christmas and please pass the antihistamine or inhaler---‘tis the season for asthma and allergies. Like Aunt Helen’s twice re-gifted fruit cake, sneezing and congestion are simply not welcome guests at the family holiday celebration.

Smack in the middle of Christmas debate is often the choice of a real or artificial Christmas trees, wreaths and other decorations. Which is better “real” or “artificial” is one of those questions that the answer is a resounding: “that depends, but let me explain.” The bottom line is that you want the “beauty of Christmas” and not the allergens to take your breath away.
 


If you want a quick clue as to how complicated the issue is, you need to know more about the first artificial tree. In the 1930’s, the Addis Brush Company created the first artificial-brush trees using the same machinery as they used to make toilet brushes. The Addis 'Silver Pine' tree was actually patented in 1950. Now, does a toilet brush go into the healthy or unhealthy category?  


Why Allergies and Asthma Spike During Holidays

Stored holiday items can be a source of mold growth. Fiberglass and other insulation particles, dust and mold from storage areas and other allergens can get into improperly stored holiday heirlooms. Even tightly sealed boxes can attract mice and insects, each contributing to the allergen and germ categories. Yuck !    

 

There has been an increase in the number of people affected with asthma and allergies spiking during the holidays. Obviously, Christmas comes at a time of year when homes are most likely to be closed up to protect from winter weather. Many homes are built with wet crawl spaces and improper venting systems. With tighter construction, attic and basement storage areas are often full of mold.

 
Fortunately, the suffering from Christmas allergies can be avoided with a few tips on proper selection, storage and care of holiday trees and decorations whether they are artificial or real.

Storage and Allergen Prevention Tips

  • Start by selecting moisture and dirt free areas for holiday decoration storage.
  • Clean stored items with a damp cloth before storage. Dirt supports the growth of mold.
  • Store trees, decorations and other materials in plastic bins, or wrap in plastic bags, not cardboard. Cardboard holds moisture and is a food source for mold.
  • Control humidity in storage areas. Dehumidify basement storage areas and install fans controlled with humidistat in attics.
  • If the stored items from last year are already covered with mold and dust, place them in plastic bags or bins before carrying them through the house. Dragging mold and other allergens through the house can spread mold and allergens.
  • Once out of storage, take the contaminated items outside of the home or into a garage to unpack them.
  • Fresh cut trees or stored items can have dust blown off them using a leaf blower or they be can be hosed down with a garden hose. If you use a leaf blower, wear a mask. Both methods remove mold, dust, and some of the lead dust usually found on artificial trees and decorations.
  • Discard contaminated packing and bring the cleaned items into the home.
  • If your holiday items were covered with mold and dust, change the conditions in the storage area. Mold growing in the storage areas will affect the air quality in the main home all year around.
  • Do not spray materials with pesticide no matter how grossed out you are by the bugs. The poisons designed to kill bugs will damage people’s health. Plain soap and water will safely and effectively remove insect and rodent contamination.
 

The Live Versus Artificial Christmas Tree Debate    

In this corner, we have live Christmas trees and decorations. Live Christmas trees are a crop. The National Christmas Tree Association states that the average Christmas tree is 7 years old when harvested. That would mean that the tree was producing oxygen to improve the environment for 7 years. Those trees require care, thereby creating American jobs.

One disadvantage of live Christmas trees is that they require replacement every year. That cost may be greater than the cost of an artificial tree across its lifetime. There is also the issue that Christmas trees need properly disposed of each year. The good news is that they can be turned into mulch.  

 
In the other corner are artificial Christmas trees and decorations  

Artificial trees are light to carry and easy to assemble.  It is the only option for people who can’t handle the work of a live tree. 

According to the US Commerce Department, 80% of artificial trees are manufactured and shipped from China. That would be Chinese jobs created. 

Artificial Christmas trees, tree lights and plastic decorations have been subject to warnings about lead. Lead is added to PVC during manufacture to make the plastic more pliable when hanging strings of light or adjusting tree limbs. That lead is a soft material will easily fall from the products containing it when they are handled Lead is a serious health hazard, particularly to children. 


The process of manufacturing the PVC creates the toxic chemical dioxin, which is also released if the plastic is burned during disposal.

“Christmas Bonus” Healthy Indoor Air Tips

  • Given a choice, it is better to place trees and decorations in areas of hard surface floors such as wood as opposed to carpet. These floors are easier to clean and hold fewer allergens.
  • The use of a quality air cleaner such as a HEPA filter can provide immediate indoor air improvement by removing the circulating allergens.
  • We want our homes to smell like Christmas. Many of those “plug in” scents contain synthetic esters and formaldehyde. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology states that “we know that asthmatics are clearly sensitive to odors and fumes; therefore, it would not be unexpected that air fresheners could trigger asthmatic episodes.” Bake a pie or use potpourri as an alternative to the artificial scents.

If you are curious as which side of the tree discussion the Howard household falls, we have a 10’ artificial tree and a 12’ real Christmas tree. No matter which type of tree and decorations you select, have a happy, allergy and asthma free holiday.

Posted by Dan Howard on November 28th, 2017 8:37 AM

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