Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

by lifepolicyshopper | Jan 18, 2018 | Worry Free Life Insurance With COPD 

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is by definition an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness. Here we discuss what COPD is, how it can be treated, and what are the risks.

Many people mistake their increased breathlessness and coughing as a normal part of aging. In the early stages of the disease, you may not notice the symptoms. COPD can develop for years without noticeable shortness of breath. You begin to see the symptoms in the more developed stages of the disease.

Damage to the lung tissue over time causes physical changes in the tissues of the lungs and clogging of the airways with thick mucus. The tissue damage in the lungs leads to poor compliance (the elasticity, or ability of the lung tissue to expand).

The decrease in elasticity of the lungs means that oxygen in the air cannot get by obstructions (for example, thick mucus plugs) to reach air spaces (alveoli) where oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange occurs in the lung. Consequently, the person exhibits a progressive difficulty, first coughing to remove obstructions like mucus, and then in breathing, especially with exertion.


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Symptoms

lung xray

People with COPD can often mistake their symptoms for other respiratory problems, such as exercise-induced asthma or a bad cold. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible:

  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Fatigue
  • Multiple respiratory infections
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea) that gets worse with mild activity
  • Having to clear your throat first thing in the morning, due to excess mucus in your lungs
  • A chronic cough that may produce mucus (sputum) that may be clear, white, yellow or greenish
  • Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds (cyanosis)
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Unintended weight loss (in later stages)
  • Swelling inyour ankles, feet or legs

If left untreated, COPD can lead to hospitalization and even death. Be proactive if you are showing signs of the disease and be evaluated by your physician promptly.

What Causes COPD?

The main cause of COPD in developed countries is tobacco smoking. In the developing world, COPD often occurs in people exposed to fumes from burning fuel for cooking and heating in poorly ventilated homes.

Only about 20 to 30 percent of chronic smokers may develop clinically apparent COPD, although many smokers with long smoking histories may develop reduced lung function. Some smokers develop less common lung conditions. They may be misdiagnosed as having COPD until a more thorough evaluation is performed.

Exposure to certain gases or fumes in the workplace, exposure to heavy amounts of secondhand smoke and pollution, frequent use of a cooking fire without proper ventilation, and genetic problems like Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency are also causes of COPD.

Stages of COPD

FEV1 test

One way to establish stages for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease program (GOLD).

The staging is based on the results of a pulmonary function test. Specifically, the forced expiratory volume (how much air one can exhale forcibly) in one second (FEV1) of a standard predicted value is measured, based on the individual patient’s physical parameters.

The stages are as follows:

  • Stage I is FEV1 of equal or more than 80% of the predicted value
  • Stage II is FEV1 of 50% to 79% of the predicted value
  • Stage III is FEV1 of 30% to 49% of the predicted value
  • Stage IV is FEV1 of less than 30% of predicted value or an FEV1 less than 50% of predicted value plus respiratory failure

Other staging methods are similar but are based on the severity of the shortness of breath symptom.

COPD Treatment


Medical treatments of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease include bronchodilators, steroids, mucolytic agents, oxygen therapy, and surgical procedures such as bullectomy, lung volume reduction surgery, and lung transplantation.

The treatments are often based on the stage of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, for example:

The three major goals of the comprehensive treatment and management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are to reduce airflow limitation, prevent and treat secondary medical complications, decrease respiratory symptoms, and improve quality of life.

The patient may need to be hospitalized if they develop severe respiratory dysfunction, if the disease progresses, or if they have other serious respiratory diseases. The purpose of hospitalization is to treat symptoms and to prevent further deterioration.

The patient may be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) if they require invasive or noninvasive mechanical ventilation or if they have the following symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Respiratory muscle fatigue
  • Worsening hypoxemia (not enough oxygen in the blood)
  • Respiratory acidosis (retention of carbon dioxide in the blood)

Treatment of Moderate to Severe COPD

Doctors often use these additional therapies for people with moderate or severe COPD:

  • Oxygen therapy – Some people with COPD use oxygen only during activities or while sleeping. Others use oxygen all the time. Oxygen therapy can improve quality of life and is the only COPD therapy proven to extend life.

  • Pulmonary rehabilitation program. These programs generally combine education, exercise training, nutrition advice and counseling. You’ll work with a variety of specialists, who can tailor your rehabilitation program to meet your needs.

Even with ongoing treatment, you may experience times when symptoms become worse for days or weeks. This is called an acute exacerbation, and it may lead to lung failure if you don’t receive quick and appropriate treatment.

Exacerbations may be caused by a respiratory infection, air pollution, or other triggers of inflammation. Whatever the cause, it’s important to seek prompt medical help if you notice a sustained increase in coughing, a change in your mucus or if you have a harder time breathing.

When exacerbations occur, you may need additional medications, supplemental oxygen, or treatment in the hospital. Once symptoms improve, your doctor will talk with you about measures to prevent future exacerbations.

Surgical Procedures

Surgery is an option for some people with some forms of severe emphysema who aren’t helped sufficiently by medications alone. Surgical options include:

  • Lung volume reduction surgery. In this surgery, your surgeon removes small wedges of damaged lung tissue from the upper lungs. This creates extra space in your chest cavity so that the remaining healthier lung tissue can expand, and the diaphragm can work more efficiently.

  • Lung transplant. Lung transplantation may be an option for certain people who meet specific criteria. Transplantation can improve your ability to breathe and to be active. However, it’s a major operation that has significant risks, such as organ rejection, and it requires taking lifelong immune-suppressing medications.

  • Bullectomy. Large air spaces (bullae) form in the lungs when the walls of the air sacs are destroyed. These bullae can become very large and cause breathing problems. In a bullectomy, doctors remove bullae from the lungs to help improve airflow.

Can You Live Well With COPD?


There are many things you can do at home to stay as healthy as you can.

  • Avoid things that can irritate your lungs, such as smoke and air pollution.
  • Use an air filter in your home.
  • Get regular exercise to stay as strong as you can.
  • Eat well so you can keep up your strength. If you are losing weight, ask your doctor or dietitian about ways to make it easier to get the calories you need.

As COPD progresses, you may have flare-ups when your symptoms quickly get worse and stay worse. It is important to know what to do if this happens. Many doctors will give you an action plan and medicines to help you breathe if you have a flare-up. But if the attack is severe, you may need to go to the emergency room.

Knowing that you have a disease that gets worse over time can be hard. It’s common to feel sad or hopeless sometimes. Having trouble breathing can also make you feel very anxious. If these feelings last, be sure to tell your doctor. Counseling, medicine, and support groups can help you cope.

Posted by Dan Howard on March 22nd, 2018 9:01 PM

              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

We all know the philosophical question:
"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? The whole sick building question is pretty much the same question: If nobody is sick in the building, is it a sick building?

            Health reactions to a building environment are dependent upon the occupants.  When it comes to potential environmental problems, we are each the sum of our genetics, health history and current health. The buildings don’t get sick, the people do.   

            It’s like Mr. Rogers of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood would say at the end of every show: “There's no person in the whole world like you”. That also goes for your health and what factors can influence your health.


            As an example, Legionella has a 5% infection rate. That means that 95 out of 100 occupants of a building harboring the bacteria will not get Legionnaires Disease. That could mean that the building may never be identified as a “Sick Building”         

What can Make the Occupants of a Building Sick?

            It can be mold, off-gassing from the thousands of new and untested products we put into homes, combustion or industrial gasses or the myriad of bacteria, viruses and other contagions that can be brought into any building. That complexity of possible causes of illness complicated by individual occupant reactions to different exposures makes environmental investigations “CSI for buildings” 

Environmental Risks and Hazards are not a New Problem

              We shouldn’t ignore the old issues of centuries ago. Leviticus 14 of the Bible discusses mold in homes. World history includes plagues and diseases that almost wiped out major segments of past civilizations.   

            We can only eliminate environmental hazards that can affect people when we identify them. We need to put up our hands and demand assessment and testing when health reactions lead us to suspect them.

            We now know that water problems can be a source of mold. Sewage can harbor the diseases that devastated civilizations. We have developed understanding about those issues, but still often fall short in avoiding these contaminants in individual cases.

            Lead is credited as a major factor in the fall of the Roman Empire, yet we have lead in the water supply of major cities like Flint and Pittsburgh. Imported dark color plastic toys, decorations, mascara, china dishes and crayons are still often sources of toxic lead.

             Asbestos was a miracle product as fire retardant, and we still have it in our homes, schools and businesses. Old plaster, popcorn ceilings, suspended ceilings and imported eye liner are a few of the examples of asbestos that can still be a deadly health risk that an average person can’t identify by appearance.
Posted by Dan Howard on February 25th, 2018 9:33 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
From: https://www.webmd.com/

When your immune system is on point, it’s a lifesaver. But as good as it may be, it’s not perfect. Sometimes, this group of special cells, tissues, and organs doesn’t act the way it should.

If it kicks into action too often, you may get a condition like allergies, asthma, or eczema. Or if your immune system starts to attack your body instead of safeguarding it, you could have an autoimmune disorder like rheumatoid arthritis or type 1 diabetes.

At least 80 illnesses are caused by immune system problems. They can all cause inflammation. But do you know the other warning signs?

Keep in mind that these possible clues can happen for many other reasons. To figure out what’s going on with your health, you’ll want to see your doctor.

1. Cold Hands

If your blood vessels are inflamed, it can be harder for your fingers, toes, ears, and nose to keep warm. The skin in these areas may turn white, then blue, when you’re exposed to the cold. Once blood flow returns, the skin may then turn red.

Doctors call this “Raynaud’s phenomenon.” Immune system problems can cause it, but so can other things, including smoking, some prescription drugs, and conditions that affect your arteries.

2. Bathroom Problems

Diarrhea that lasts more than 2 to 4 weeks can be a warning sign that your immune system is harming the lining of your small intestine or digestive tract.

Constipation is a concern, too. If your bowel movements are hard to pass, very firm, or look like they’re made up of small rabbit pellets, your immune system may be forcing your intestine to slow down. Other possible causes include bacteria, viruses, and other health conditions.

3. Dry Eyes

If you have an autoimmune disorder, that means your immune system attacks your body instead of defending it. Rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are two examples.

Many people who have an autoimmune disorder find that they have dry eyes. You might feel a sandy, gritty feeling like something is in your eye. Or you may notice pain, redness, a stringy discharge, or blurred vision. Some people find they can’t cry even when they’re upset.

4. Fatigue

Feeling extremely tired, like you do when you have the flu, could mean something’s going on with your body’s defenses. Sleep is unlikely to help. Your joints or muscles can ache, too. Again, there could be many other reasons why you feel this way.

5. Mild Fever

If you’re running a higher temperature than normal, it could be that your immune system is starting to overwork. That can happen due to an oncoming infection or because you're starting to have a flare of an autoimmune condition.

6. Headaches

In some cases, headaches can be related to the immune system. For example, it could be vasculitis, which is inflammation of a blood vessel caused by an infection or autoimmune disease.

7. Rash

Your skin is your body’s first barrier against germs. How it looks and feels can reflect how well your immune system is doing its job.

Itchy, dry, red skin is a common symptom of inflammation. So is a rash that is painful or doesn’t clear up. People with lupus often get a butterfly-shaped rash across their nose and cheeks.

8. Joints Ache

When the lining inside your joints becomes inflamed, the area around them is tender to the touch. It might also be stiff or swollen, and it can happen with more than one joint. You may notice that it’s worst in the morning.

9. Patchy Hair Loss

Sometimes the immune system attacks hair follicles. If you lose hair on your scalp, face, or other parts of your body, you could have a condition called alopecia areata. Strands or clumps of hair coming out can also be a symptom of lupus.

10. Repeated Infections

If you need to take antibiotics more than twice a year (four times for children), your body may not be able to attack germs well on its own.

Other red flags: Chronic sinus infections, being sick with more than four ear infections in a year (for anyone over the age of 4), or having pneumonia more than once.

11. Sensitive to Sun

People with an autoimmune disorder sometimes have an allergic reaction to ultraviolet (UV) rays called photodermatitis. You may get blisters, a rash, or scaly patches after being in the sun. Or you may get chills, a headache, or nausea.

12. Tingling or Numbness in Your Hands and Feet

It can be completely innocent. But in some cases it can mean that your body is attacking nerves that send signals to your muscles. People who have Guillain-Barre syndrome, for instance, may have numbness that starts in their legs then moves up to their arms and chest. 

Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy has symptoms similar to the demyelinating form of GBS, (called acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, or AIDP), but while GBS lasts two weeks to 30 days. CIPD lasts much longer.

13. Trouble Swallowing

If you have a tough time getting food down, your esophagus (the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach) could be swollen or too weak to work well. Some people feel like food is stuck in their throat or chest. Others gag or choke when they swallow. One of the possible causes can be a problem with your immune system.

14. Unexplained Weight Change

You find yourself gaining extra pounds even though your eating habits and workouts haven’t changed. Or the number on your scale may drop for no clear reason. It's possible this is because of damage to your thyroid gland from an autoimmune disease.

15. White Patches

Sometimes your immune system decides to fight the skin’s pigment-making cells, called melanocytes. If so, you’ll start to see white patches of skin on your body.

16. Yellowing of Your Skin or Eyes

Called jaundice, it may mean that your immune system is attacking and destroying healthy liver cells. That can lead to a condition called autoimmune hepatitis.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on August 05, 2016



University of Rochester Medical Center, “Disorders of the Immune System.”

Office on Women’s Health, US Department of Health and Human Services, “Autoimmune Diseases Fact Sheet.”

American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, “Recurrent Infections May Signal Immunodeficiencies.”

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, “Autoimmune Diseases.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Hygiene-Related Diseases: Diarrhea.”

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “Vasculitis Syndromes of the Central and Peripheral Nervous Symptoms Fact Sheet.”

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Pathology, “Autoimmune Disease Research Center: Frequently Asked Questions.”

The Johns Hopkins Lupus Center, “Signs, Symptoms and Co-occuring Conditions.”

University of Washington Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, “Fatigue.”

National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.”

National Institutes of Health, “Red Itchy Rash? Get the Skinny on Dermatitis.”

World Allergy Organization, “Diagnostic Approach to the Adult With Suspected Immune Deficiency.”

University of Maryland Medical Center, “Photodermatitis.”

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, “Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS.)”

University of Florida Health, “Raynaud’s Phenomenon.”

University of Michigan Health System, “Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia.)”

The IBS Treatment Center, “Constipation.”

National Eye Institute, “Facts About Dry Eye.”

NIH News in Health: “Dry Eyes and Mouth?” March 2012.

Review of Optometry, “When Autoimmune Disease Initiates Dry Eye.”

Lupus Research Institute, “Lupus and Your Skin.”

Arthritis Foundation, “Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms.”

© 2016 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


Posted in:Health and tagged: AutoImmune DIsease
Posted by Dan Howard on February 13th, 2018 9:58 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 crazy cold weather sweeping the nation is making mold a problem from top to bottom in many homes that have never had a mold problem before. Your home may be one of those homes, and you may not know it…..yet. This is especially true in homes with high efficiency construction and improvements.               

             The mold in attics and crawlspaces is the sneaky mold that comes from cold weather. Warm air in the living areas of the home holds a lot of moisture. When that warm, moist air hits the attic or crawlspace, it condenses on the surfaces. That moisture freezes into layers of ice. The colder the weather and the longer the time of cold weather, the more ice builds up.

You would be amazed to look in a cold attic or crawlspace and see layers of ice on the nails and wood surfaces. When that ice melts, it can soak the wood creating the ideal conditions for the growth of mold that could go unnoticed for months. Black fuzzy mold could meet you when you finally poke you head into those areas. You could save heartache and expense by taking the time to check on those areas sooner than later.

What You Need to Know if You Have A Winter Ice Buildup in Your Attic or Crawlspace

                The rapid thawing of the built-up ice can result is severe damage to a home. Use of evaporation techniques and equipment by a professional is the best way to minimize damage to a property from ice buildup. In cold temperature areas, commercial dehumidification equipment will not be effective.  Adding heat too quickly can result in materials getting damaged from the ice becoming water. The secret trick of the professionals is that air movement causing evaporation from the iced area to the exterior is the best solution to minimize damage to the home.       


Posted in:Mold, ice, winter. attic and tagged: Moldattics
Posted by Dan Howard on January 26th, 2018 8:27 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

 What Is a Healthy Home?

Most of us spend at least half of our lives inside our homes without realizing there is a connection between our housing and our health. This slide show will explore that connection, along with ways to make your house a healthy home

Hidden Dangers

Our homes can make us feel safe, but they can also make us sick. Some homes may have health hazards including lead-based paint, mold, rodents and insects hiding in clutter, secondhand smoke, and pesticides. Other health hazards are invisible and can be deadly such as carbon monoxide and radon.

Many Homes Have Unhealthy Conditions

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports many homes have unhealthy conditions, including:

  • One in 16 have high radon levels
  • One in 10 have water leaks
  • One in six have structural problems
  • One in four have lead-based paint
  • One in four do not have a working smoke alarm

For Bedrooms, Living Rooms, and Family Rooms

Here are some ways you can make your bedrooms, living room, and family room more healthy:

  • Install smoke alarms on every floor and near all bedrooms, test these smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries every year.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms near bedrooms.
  • Do not smoke or allow anyone else to smoke in the home.
  • Clean up clutter so insects and rodents don't have a place to burrow
  • Keep your floor clear of electrical cords and other clutter such as shoes, toys, and clothing

If your home was built before 1978:

  • Have your home tested for lead paint.
  • Fix peeling or chipping paint using lead-safe work practices.
  • Use safe work practices when painting, remodeling, and renovating to prevent spreading lead dust.

For Kitchen Pests

If you find pests such as cockroaches, ants, or rodents in your kitchen, there are safe and healthy ways to stop them:

  • Seal openings to the outside and between rooms to keep pests out.
  • Put away food, clean up, and cover the trash and garbage to starve pests.
  • Fix leaks and wipe up spilled water so pests have nothing to drink.
  • Use closed baits, traps, and gels only if necessary.
  • Never use bug bombs or foggers.

For Bathrooms

To keep your bathrooms safe:

  • Keep all medications away from children by locking them in a medicine cabinet and using childproof caps.
  • Clean up moisture and mold safely.
  • Open windows and doors to get fresh air.
  • Use a bathroom exhaust fan that is vented outside; a fan that is not vented outside keeps moisture in the house.
  • Install grab bars on the wall of the bathtub and shower and next to the toilet if anyone in the house has mobility challenges.

For Attics

Steps you can take to keep your attic safe and healthy include:

  • Check for water leaks from the roof.
  • Make sure your attic is properly ventilated to prevent moisture that promotes mold growth.
  • Seal gaps around roofing and attic openings to keep rodents and insects out of the house.
  • Clean up clutter to deny rodents and insects any places to nest.
  • Older insulation may contain asbestos. Hire an expert if insulation must be removed or disturbed.

For Basement, Crawl Space, Utility, and Laundry Areas

Remember to safety-proof your basement, utility, and laundry room as well. Steps you can take to keep these areas safe include:

  • Set the water heater at 120 F to prevent burns.
  • Change the furnace/AC filter regularly.
  • Have gas appliances and furnaces checked yearly by a pro¬fessional to make sure they do not release carbon monoxide (CO).
  • Vent the clothes dryer to the outside.
  • Test for radon (if a high level is detected, hire a specialist to eliminate the hazard).
  • Lock up products used for cleaning, car maintenance, gardening, and pest control

For Stairways and Halls

Stairways and hallways should be free of clutter and safe:

  • Use stair gates at the top and bottom of stairs if children live in or visit the home.
  • Keep a working light bulb in overhead lights in the hall and above the stairs.
  • Fix loose or uneven steps and rails on stairs.
  • Attach stairway carpet firmly to every step or remove carpet and attach nonslip rubber stair treads.
  • Keep stairs free of clutter.
  • Install handrails on both sides of the stairs

For Outer Parts of House and Yard

To have a safe and healthy home, also consider your yard and outside areas as well:

  • To keep pests away, fix exterior holes, cracks, and leaks, eliminate standing water and food sources, and keep trash covered with a lid.
  • Maintain gutters, downspouts, and roof to prevent moisture from entering the home.
  • Use safe work practices when painting, remodeling, or renovating a home built before 1978.
  • If you have a septic tank or private well, properly maintain it to prevent illness.
  • If you have a swimming pool, use self-closing and self-latching gates and four-sided fencing to prevent small children from unintended access.
  • Complete a playground safety checklist if you have playground equipment in your yard.

Cleaning Tips for a Healthier Home

A clean home is one way to have a healthier home. Following are some suggestions to keep your home clean.

Dust Your Home

Dust thoroughly, and clean or replace air conditioning and heating filters regularly, clean ducts and vents to reduce pollen and other airborne allergens.

Organize Your Medicine Cabinet

Keep your medicine cabinet organized and free of older medications. If a medication is expired, discard it safely.

Check the Garage, Basement, and Under the Sink

Get rid of any old and no longer used items that could be "toxic" including cleaning products, pain cans, thinners, oils, solvents, and stains. Do not throw these items into the regular trash. These should be disposed of properly so contact your local sanitation department to find out where the hazardous waster drop-off center is located.

Chimney Sweep

If you have a fireplace with a chimney, have it professionally cleaned to reduce the chances of carbon monoxide exposure.

Mold and Mildew

Mold can be dangerous and can make people in the household ill and trigger allergic reactions. Clean mold and mildew in bathrooms and other damp areas with a nontoxic cleaning product.

Check Your Rugs

Make sure all rugs are secure. Rugs on bare floors should have on-skid mats underneath them, and old mats should be washed or replaced to ensure they do not slide. All bathrooms should have non-skid mats as well.

Playground Equipment

Keep the kids safe by ensuring outdoor playground equipment such as swing sets and slides are in good shape, and sturdy. Make repairs if needed. Pay attention to guardrails, protruding bolts, swing rope/chain attachments and other things that could injure children.

Change Batteries

Make sure batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are changed regularly and working. Do not throw batteries in the trash - dispose of old batteries by recycling or taking them to a hazardous waste center.

Your Healthy Home

A healthy home can help you have a healthy body! Use these tips and make your home a healthy one!

Posted in:Healthy and safety and tagged: Unhealthy Home
Posted by Dan Howard on December 16th, 2017 8:19 PM



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