Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

 Our church honored veterans last Sunday (our oldest son Bobby among them). They did a very touching program. It included 3 great videos. I can't pick one to share with you, so all three will be here one at a time over the next couple of days...in time for you to share for Veterans Day if you are moved by them.

Thank you to those who have bought our freedom for us.

Posted in:Vetrans Day and tagged: Veterans Day
Posted by Dan Howard on November 6th, 2017 10:00 PM
 

Imagine that winter’s approach is just another country music song. The song goes like this: “The temperature drops, the windows close, doors slam shut and all I got were those yucky, wheezy winter blues”.  The indoor environment can become a problem in winter.

There’s a very good reason that this happens. Closing up the house really is a big part of it all. The winter induced end of fresh air coming into your home is what concentrates the contaminants that can make you ill.

The old time environmental experts explained that “the solution to pollution is dilution”. Sounds hokey, but it is a simple principal. That process of dilution in summer is that if there is a contaminant or odor in the home, the fresh air will disperse and dilute it.     

Another factor that effects indoor air quality in winter is that the operation of heating systems elevates and spreads airborne contaminants. Most people think of heating systems as spreading heat through the home. Today, we need to think about heating systems as distributing mold, allergens, formaldehyde, sewer gas and whatever else is in the building. Even hot water heat systems create convection to distribute the contaminants.

If you are wondering whether we are talking about your home, you will have hints that there is something wrong when you have environmental problems. Our bodies try to protect us by issuing those warnings. If something does not taste good, smell good or feel good, it is usually not good for us. Many times, our pets react to toxins before we do and give us the “heads up” that there is a problem. We should pay attention to the warnings.     

Signs of an environmental problem in your home, school or workplace can include:

  • Odor
  • Not feeling well
  • Burning eyes, nose throat
  • Sneezing, coughing, hacking
  • Skin irritation
  • Nasal or sinus congestion
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Memory issues
  • Mood changes
  • Asthma attacks

By the way, not everyone in a home may notice the symptoms. That does not mean that there is not a problem. What it means is we are each different in our genetic makeup, current health and health history and the sum of all the exposures you receive in each of the places you spend time. As an example, some children can have severe reactions to peanuts. Most kids could live on PB&J. That is just “how it is.” We are each different in how we react to exposures.

With a little knowledge and preparation, you can have a healthier and safer household this winter. 

Give us a call to perform and environmental assessment and testing as needed. 724 443 6653    www.envirospect.com

Posted by Dan Howard on November 4th, 2017 7:29 PM

Daylight Saving Time change smoke and CO alarm batteries

by CPSC Blogge

 

Are your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms working?

We at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urge you to check your alarms this weekend when you set your clocks one hour ahead for Daylight Saving Time. Daylight Saving Time starts on Sunday at 2 a.m.

This is a great time to put fresh batteries in your alarms. Smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms do an important job of giving you and your family time to escape a fire or CO poisoning incident, but only if they have batteries that are working.  CPSC recommends replacing batteries in alarms once every year.

Why is this so important?  Because about 2,200 people die in home fires on average and there are about 400 CO poisoning deaths each year.

Many of those who died did not have working smoke or CO alarms in their homes. Don’t let this happen to you

Here is what CPSC recommends:

  • Change smoke and CO alarm batteries at least once each year.
  • Test the alarms every month to make sure they are working.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home and inside each bedroom.
  • CO alarms should be installed on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area.

There is nothing we can do about losing an hour of sleep this weekend as clocks spring forward, but there is something we can do about keeping our families safe.  Make your home safer by making sure you have working alarms.

Daylight Saving Time change smoke and CO alarm batteries

by CPSC Blogge

 

Are your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms working?

We at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urge you to check your alarms this weekend when you set your clocks one hour ahead for Daylight Saving Time. Daylight Saving Time starts on Sunday at 2 a.m.

This is a great time to put fresh batteries in your alarms. Smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms do an important job of giving you and your family time to escape a fire or CO poisoning incident, but only if they have batteries that are working.  CPSC recommends replacing batteries in alarms once every year.

Why is this so important?  Because about 2,200 people die in home fires on average and there are about 400 CO poisoning deaths each year.

Many of those who died did not have working smoke or CO alarms in their homes. Don’t let this happen to you

Here is what CPSC recommends:

  • Change smoke and CO alarm batteries at least once each year.
  • Test the alarms every month to make sure they are working.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home and inside each bedroom.
  • CO alarms should be installed on every level of the home and outside each sleeping area.

There is nothing we can do about losing an hour of sleep this weekend as clocks spring forward, but there is something we can do about keeping our families safe.  Make your home safer by making sure you have working alarms.

Posted by Dan Howard on November 4th, 2017 6:52 PM

Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday, November 5, 2017. As you prepare to set your clocks back one hour, remember to check the batteries in your carbon monoxide (CO) detector. If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO alarm, now is a great time to buy one. More than 400 people die each year in the United States from unintentional, non-fire related CO poisoning.

CO is found in fumes produced by furnaces, vehicles, portable generators, stoves, lanterns, gas ranges, or burning charcoal or wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and can die from breathing CO.

When power outages occur during emergencies such as hurricanes or winter storms, the use of alternative sources of power for heating, cooling, or cooking can cause CO to build up in a home, garage, or camper and to poison the people and animals inside.


Prepare for daylight savings time by installing a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home or by checking the batteries, if you already have one, as you set your clocks back one hour.

You Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Do

  • Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Install a battery-operated or battery back-up CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
  • Leave your home immediately and call 911 if your CO detector ever sounds. Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseated.

Don’t

  • Run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open.
  • Burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
  • Heat your house with a gas oven.
  • Use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or outside less than 20 feet from a window, door, or vent.

CO poisoning is entirely preventable. You can protect yourself and your family by acting wisely in case of a power outage and learning the symptoms of CO poisoning.

Click here for important CO poisoning prevention tips in 16 additional languages.

For more information, please visit CDC’s CO Poisoning website.

 

Posted by Dan Howard on November 3rd, 2017 8:42 PM
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/scented-laundry-products-release-carcinogens-study-finds/<br>


(CBS) Scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets make laundry smell great - but do they cause cancer?

A small study suggests scented laundry items contain carcinogens that waft through vents, potentially raising cancer risk.

"This is an interesting source of pollution because emissions from dryer vents are essentially unregulated," said lead author Dr. Anne Steinemann, professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs at the University of Washington, said in a written statement. "If they're coming out of a smokestack or tail pipe, they're regulated, but if they're coming out of a dryer vent, they're not."

Previous studies have looked at what chemicals are released by laundry products, since manufacturers don't have to disclose ingredients used in fragrances or laundry products.

Needless to say, these researchers weren't thrilled with what they found.

For the study - published in the August issue of Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health - researchers enlisted two homeowners to volunteer their washers and dryers, which the team scrubbed clean beforehand. The researchers ran a regular laundry cycle for three scenarios in each home: once without any detergent, once with a scented liquid laundry detergent, and the last with both scented detergent and a leading brand of scented dryer sheets.

Their analysis found more than 25 "volatile" air pollutants - including the carcinogens acetaldehyde and benzene.

Benzene causes leukemia and other blood cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Acetaldehyde has been shown to cause nasal and throat cancer in animal studies.

Steinemann thinks agencies focus too much on limiting other pollution sources when they should look closer to home.

"We focus a lot of attention on how to reduce emissions of pollutants from automobiles," she said. "And here's one source of pollutants that could be reduced."

The American Cleaning Institute, however, Steinemann's study, calling the findings "shoddy science" that didn't take into account many factors like washing machine brands, different load cycles, and non-scented products.

"Consumers should not be swayed by the sensationalist headlines that may come across the Internet related to this so-called research," the Institute emailed CBS News.
Posted by Dan Howard on November 1st, 2017 10:18 PM

Imagine, without warning every picture, keepsake, and valuable that is important to you could be reduced to charred carbon. Even worse, lives of those dear to you could be snuffed out in the moments after a fire starts. When you think about it, the destruction of fires is often a lot more total and complete than most natural tragedies.    

We Will Never Know the Fires We Kept from Happening

We are lulled into believing we are “safe” from fire in our own homes. When we look at the frayed electrical cord, we know that the cord has worked for the last three years. That fireplace has been used every winter for the last ten years and never been a problem.  Heck, you have dried your cloths in the clothes dryer week after week and the lint blocking the heat source didn’t catch fire. Why would it today?   It’s tough to take action when all has gone well until that moment.  When we do the preventive work that prevents the fire, nothing happens to tell us we prevented a tragedy.

]Click Here For a Full Article on Making Your Home Fire Safe

Posted by Dan Howard on October 29th, 2017 2:54 PM

This story starts with a second story window, split open window sill and spaces between the brick openings. These had gone unnoticed before we arrived.

It appeared that the dining room window was the source of a leak. The actual leak was in a second story window above the dining room. The people who first looked at the dining room mold problem had wrongly assumed that the leak was caused by the dining room window. It is experience and proper training that teaches us to look at all of the possible sources of leakage above a leak.


(Rule #27: Water goes down-hill and always consider additional possible

sources/causes above a leak).

 

The homeowner said that water poured through the dining room wall in driving rains. He had he water stains, wet drywall and mold to prove the point. The paper face that is part of the drywall in the room was great food for mold, as was the wood framing inside of the wall.

 

By the way, there was visible mold. It was that fuzzy green mold that is typical of bread that has spent about a week too long in the bread drawer. The call was about the mold and remediation.

 

There is a very important part of this story that I have not told you yet. One of the homeowners is an organ transplant recipient. What most people don’t know is that patients on immunosuppression therapy (anti organ rejection drugs) are very susceptible to potentially fatal mold health complications.

 

Mold exposure is a big deal in hospitals, but many people are just not aware of the issue. If you think back, you probably remember that mold deaths from hospital mold exposure in organ transplant patients has made the national news. In fact, some of those deaths have recently resulted in multi-million dollar settlements from hospitals to families of patients who have died from hospital acquired mold exposures.

Here is What We Know So Far:

  • Mold is very bad for organ transplant patients
  • Water leaks cause mold
  • Even if you clean the mold, it can (will) return if the leak is not resolved
  • It would have been the typical procedure of some remediators to clean the mold. Then they would get to another job down the road to come clean the mold again.

This is What Needs Done:

  • Test for the amount and type of mold (it is critical to know the risk to transplant patient and others in the home)
  • Locate the cause of the water intrusion
  • Clean the mold
  • Test to make sure the mold is clean. (Mold can be in hidden areas)

When it is important……Especially, when it is “life or death” important… (but from our perspective the health of all of our clients is important) …………..you need to call experts trained in the science of environmental exposures who know the right path forward. You need and deserve and to have professionals that understand the issues and can get you to a healthy environment.

Go to our website   www.Envirospect.com for more information or to arrange an assessment of your home.

Posted by Dan Howard on October 26th, 2017 9:44 PM
Posted in:flood, mold and tagged: Moldfloodcar
Posted by Dan Howard on October 16th, 2017 9:49 PM

The Germiest Places in Your Community

Cold and flu season means germs, and some places you go every day may be germier than others.

"The prime source of germs -- and in the winter season, we're mostly talking about viruses like the flu and the common cold -- is other people," says Neil Schachter, MD, author of The Good Doctor's Guide to Colds and Flu.

These five places are the germiest you're likely to visit, Schachter says.

  1. Public restrooms. Bacteria and viruses thrive in a moist place. So sinks, soap dispensers, and toilet seats can host germs.
  2. Your child's school or day care. In a school or day care, lots of kids are together. There will be lots of opportunities for germs to spread.
  3. Public transportation. "The closer you are packed together with other people, the more likely you are to spread germs to one another," Schachter says. So subways, buses, trains, and airplanes are likely spots to pick up germs.
  4. Your doctor's office. Some people in the waiting room may have a cold or the flu. Some pediatricians' offices have separate waiting rooms for "well" and "not so well" kids. But others don't, and you rarely see separate waiting rooms in doctors' offices for adults.
  5. Other public places. "Places like malls, food courts, museums, sporting events, and concerts -- anywhere big crowds of people gather -- are prime sources of germs, particularly if the space is limited and there are lots of people pushed together," Schachter says.

Of course, you should still be out and about, living your life. You can take steps to keep germs at bay, wherever you go.

5 Ways to Defend Yourself

  1. Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. It can dislodge germs and send them down the drain.
  2. Carry hand sanitizer. It's handy if you can't wash your hands, especially if you're touching surfaces that other people use, like keyboards, elevator buttons, and door handles.
  3. Let something else do the touching. If you're in a germy place, like a doctor's office or your child's day care, press elevator buttons with your elbow, and use a paper towel to open bathroom doors and flush toilets. Only use banisters or escalator handrails if you need to for balance. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, mouth, and ears, so that germs on your hands don’t enter your body.
  4. Wipe down shared surfaces. Use your hand sanitizer or a package of sanitizing wipes to clean off spots such as food court tables (they're often just wiped down with a rag that only spreads germs around) or the desk or phones in shared office spaces.
  5. Leave the germs outside. When you come home, take off your shoes and wash your hands. That's a family rule for Bridget Boyd, MD, director of the newborn nursery at Chicago's Loyola University Health Center. "My husband and I are both in the health care field, and my son goes to day care, so who knows what's on our shoes?" she says. "But it makes sense for anyone. It's a good idea to wash off germs and dirt when you come home."
Posted in:Community Health and tagged: Cold Flu Season
Posted by Dan Howard on October 14th, 2017 7:17 PM

The following article recognizes that the emphasis on energy savings without factoring healthy indoor air is a health problem. There are many days that my work is dealing with homes and businesses that were make too tight in the name of energy savings. Many of those times the savings on energy were spent on additional health care costs from too tight construction



Data from Danish window and rooflight manufacturer, Velux, suggests people living in damp or mouldy homes were 40 percent more likely to suffer from asthma. (Photo: 
bartb_pt)

BRUSSELS, 5. OCT, 18:19

MEPs will debate amendments to new EU building regulations next week (11 October), which could see indoor air quality become a mandatory criteria for the first time - a boon for workers and residents.

The plans come as part of a larger rethink on future building standards in the wake of the Paris Agreement on climate change, and are intended as part of improving the overall energy performance of the built environment.

And they come after several pieces of recent research showing the potential health and economic costs to EU citizens of poorly-ventilated or damp homes and workplaces.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned in a report this month that healthier homes and workplaces could prevent around 1 million deaths, globally, a year, and explicitly singled out indoor air quality as a factor.

The WHO said "globally, 29 percent of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) deaths are attributable to household air pollution, 8 percent ambient and 11 percent in workplaces."

Data from Danish window and rooflight manufacturer Velux, in their Health Homes Barometer report, also suggests people living in damp or mouldy homes were 40 percent more likely to suffer from asthma.

And according to current healthcare spending reports by Fraunhofer, a German research organisation, it costs the EU €82 billion euros annually to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.

Crunch time at Parliament committee

Under the microscope next week in the European Parliament are amendments to the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). A series of proposed amendments to the EPBD will be going before the committee on industry, research, and energy (ITRE) on 11 October.

The proposed policy changes are intended to ensure all EU citizens will have access to the best indoor air quality and seeks to set high minimum standards at the member state level, along with ambitious renovation strategies.

"My main point is to ensure our buildings are helping to keep us healthy", says Anneli Jaatteenmaki, a Finnish MEP, former prime minister and member of the environment committee.

With most people spending some 90 percent of their time indoors, the stakes could hardly be higher - both for tenants, home owners, office workers, and the construction and renovation sectors.

"Energy efficiency and indoor air quality must go hand in hand. The consequences poor indoor air quality has on Europeans' health and quality of life, as well as on our economies, cannot be underestimated," according to Roberta Savli, director of strategy and policy at the European Federation of Allergies and Airways Diseases Patients' Associations (EFA).

"Europeans have the right to breathe clean and safe air everywhere," she said and adds, "the European Parliament has the opportunity to introduce an indoor air quality certificate to protect us."

Interchanging air

But potential conflicts between the energy efficiency measures and proposed indoor air quality standards are already becoming apparent. Attempts to increase the energy efficiency of buildings generally mean "we are not opening windows; we are interchanging incoming and outgoing air" according to Jaromir Kohlicek, a Czech MEP and vice-chair of the ITRE committee.

Whilst not necessarily disagreeing, the construction industry is keen to point to the problem with maintaining and repairing existing air systems in the current building stock.

Eugenio Quintieri, secretary general of the European Builders Confederation (EBC) stresses "we need a European legislative framework able to ensure heating and air-conditioning systems are not only functioning safely, but remain in good repair, because they have a huge influence on indoor air quality".

The general feeling towards the legislation amongst special interest groups and politicians is positive.

Adrian Joyce, secretary general of the European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EuroACE), admits that to "live up to the Paris Accords we have to change."

He points out that buildings consume 40 percent of all energy and produce 36 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and 70 percent of all buildings were constructed before there were energy regulations.

The amendments must set a "strong vision for the building stock for 2050", but he highlighted the "need to strengthen renovation strategies at the member state level".

Achieving the balance between a high level legislative framework and member state commitment for ambitious renovation strategies and action plans will be essential to see significant progress on the issue.

The amendments sets a framework that, "defines responsibilities and allows member states to create their path to the overall 2050 goal," according to EuroACE, "this is positive for the member states". "If these amendments are adopted it means we will see much lower energy demand and much lower carbon dioxide emissions from buildings by 2050."

"What we hope to establish is good practice concepts", Kohlicek states, for renovating and preserving the current building stock and for new builds.

Heat or eat

Affordability will continue to be an issue. Financial support packages at the EU and member state level must be encouraged, according to Jaatteenmaki.

Kohlicek said that the intent of the changes, with respect to energy poverty and health outcomes, were such that "the declaration is quite clear, we must help the impoverished".

"When you are living in better homes the heating costs are lower," Kohlicek said.

Properly renovated and insulated buildings lose less heat and use less energy overall, meaning fewer decisions about 'whether to heat or eat'. "We hope with these directives, we can push the entrepreneurs who own these buildings to fix the issues," he comments.

Velux, the major Danish window and rooflight manufacturer, has pointed out that individuals living in more affluent European countries are able to afford staged projects over several years whereas those living in the central Eastern European region are in the opposite situation. Twice as many people experience poor health when they are not able to adequately heat their homes, according to Velux.

"Policy with a long view"

But Kohlicek offers a word of caution, stating "the direct impact of indoor air quality will not be readily apparent". It could take as long as ten years to see a statistical change, he warns, as these directives are for new buildings and future renovations. "This is a policy with a long view".

Posted in:General and tagged: energystarIndoor air
Posted by Dan Howard on October 13th, 2017 10:05 PM

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