Imagine struggling with an unexplained illness that robs you of normal life. You go from traditional doctor to traditional doctor and still no answers other than it must be your imagination. This isn’t science fiction. It is real people, real life and may even be you or your loved one.
For too long, people have unknowingly eaten, inhaled, drank and absorbed toxins that are often hidden in everyday products and the vary air and water we need to live.
Big business and government have told us not to worry, they will keep us safe. We are told that we can trust the food, water and air. They tell us the multitude of energy waves they beam through our bodies won’t hurt us. They did the same with asbestos, lead paint, radon and the drinking water in Flint Michigan.
There is new hope and healing for the millions of people affected with environmentally created health problems. CIRS, MCS, chemical toxicity, autoimmune disease and sensitivity to electro-magnetic forces are some of the illnesses. For many individuals, the health problems are the result of compromised health due to chemotherapy, organ transplants, and other illnesses that attack the bodies’ ability to heal.
Modern chemistry has brought us tens of thousands of untested new chemicals mixed in combinations to create hundreds of thousands of new exposures. If the product doesn’t have a toxin as a key ingredient, manufacturers often add toxic chemicals to create a pleasant odor.
What we have been doing is not enough to protect our health and the health of our children It is not OK to keep dosing environmentally ill individuals and ignore the source and causes. It is unacceptable to dismiss environmental illness as imagined or unimportant.
People are the sum of their genetics, health history and exposures. We accept that some children can find a peanut deadly, but have a difficult time understanding that other exposures can be deadly.
It is time for qualified Functional Professionals to work together to identify the causes of environmental health, find ways to avoid the toxins and help the people affected by environmental hazards to heal.
Functional Health Professionals
It is not enough to give people pills to treat the symptoms of environmental illness instead of the illness itself. Functional Health Professionals identify the cause and source of illness. They prescribe testing that can confirm what is the cause of illness. The source of illness can range from the food we eat to the air we breathe.
When food is the source of illness, they prescribe diets to improve health. When environmental factors are the issue, they refer patients to Functional Environmental Professionals to test and evaluate the source of toxins. Mold is the most common source of environmental illness.
The Functional Health Professional’s next steps are to provide advice to avoid the risk and medical care detoxifying and healing patients.
Functional Environmental Professionals
Functional Environmental Professionals (FEPs) explore the wide range of sources of environmental health risks. Mold is the most common problem. Toxic exposures can be found in drinking water, building materials, construction defects, HVAC systems, or from the activities of every-day living. Health risks can be from daily or occupational activities, frequented buildings or even outdoor sources. Testing is done to confirm the source of an exposure and then it is important for the FEP to identify and report on the changes needed to remediate the risk and avoid its return. Educating the client in avoiding future exposures is important to recovery. All buildings and their exposures are a science experiment. We all know that if we do not change the conditions of the experiment, the results will be the same. Identifying the changes that are required to keep a building healthy is a critical part of the assessment that requires a qualified Functional Environmental Professional.
It is not enough to spray a chemical in a building and declare that everything is better. Functional Remediation Professionals (FRPs) understand that there is not a single magic spray or pixie dust that remediates every building. When you clean your kitchen counter, you wipe the food and debris that is the food of bacterial and viruses off the counter. Just picture if you sprayed Lysol on the kitchen counter without cleaning up the food debris for the next couple of weeks. Yep, Lysol has a 99.8% kill germ claim, but that is not enough to spray a house without cleaning up the bad stuff where the contaminants are living. It is critical to test a patient’s reaction to treatment products before they are applied. This is especially true in one that is occupied by chemically sensitive or environmentally ill individuals. Functional Remediators follow the protocols of Functional Environmental Professionals that include containment, negative air and air scrubbing. Just as the dandelion will spread its white seeds when blown on, contaminants can be spread through a building during remediation. Improper remediation can make an unhealthy building even more toxic.
The Healthy Infusion Program Brings Functional Professionals Together
It is not enough to treat symptoms of illness. We should have healing.
It is not enough to test for an environmental risk. We should strive to correct the cause or reduce the exposure and its return.
It is not enough to spray a “one size fits all” chemical and declare a building free of toxins. We must treat with sensitivity to the occupants and using methods to contain exposures during treatment. We must change the conditions that cause a toxic environment.
Functional Professionals are a team that is focused on identifying the underlying conditions and improving the causes and conditions that can be improved.
Simply put, the Healthy Infusion Program is designed to bring the functional professionals together to address the source of environmental hazards and the path toward good health.
Where do we go From Here?
We know that our modern world has created many environmental risks that can affect each person differently. We need to understand the complexities of the life today and not dismiss the concerns of those that are affected by elements of our changing, complex and often toxic environment. We need to work together to provide the best outcomes for environmentally ill individuals.
What would be worse than finding a mold infestation or mold problem? That’s easy. Finding both!
The door in the picture is the entry door of a building having a mold
assessment. SURPRISE! Termites inside the metal door. Yes, the door has
metal on the outside, but these doors have wood between the metal faces
to allow for installation of hinges and locks using carpenter tools for
Termites and other wood destroying insects occupy the same place in
the eco-system or “universal plan” as does mold. They recycle dead wood
and turn it into top soil so that new plants and trees can grow.
It’s not that one causes the other. Think of it as they have the same
needs to survive and thrive. As an example, we find both desert plants
and animals in the same place.
In a damp location with wood fiber, we can find both mold and
termites. Now I am not trying to be “Little Miss Mary Sunshine”
here……..there is a point to this observation.
When you have had a termite or other wood destroying insect
infestation that requires damp wood, you should have the building also
checked for mold. That advice goes the other way too. If you have mold,
be on the look-out for wood destroying insects. The earlier you find
either a mold or wood destroying insect infestation the less damage and
expense will occur.
By the way, the door in the picture is hanging and swinging on only
the top hinge. When I opened the door, the termites were scurrying to
get out of the exposed air and light.
This was an Interesting observation of nature at work and as a
science experiment, This was not as delightful as a science experiment
for the building owner.
You have probably seen the pictures of crowds in Japan where there
are some of the people are wearing respirator masks. The reason is not
what most of us would guess. Americans tend to wear the masks to protect
themselves from getting sick from other people if they have immune
In the Japanese culture. if you have a contagious illness you have a
responsibility to wear the mask to protect the well people. Americans
are usually not as careful to “keep illness to themselves.”
That having been said, here are the public areas you may not have
thought about that could be a source of you getting sick with
suggestions to avoid the risk.
Doors Handles on Swinging Doors The button to turn on the hand dryer or the lever to start the paper towel coming out.
The best solution for you is to use an elbow or shoulder to open or start these things when you can.
Keypads. ATMs, Security Access Pads, elevator
buttons, and other such places where hundreds of people touch, but are
never cleaned can give you a contagious disease. A pencil of stylus are
the best solutions to keeping your fingers from delivering the
contamination to your body. If you do touch these things, do not touch
you face until you have used a hand sanitizer.
Menus Restaurant menus have 100 times more bacteria
than a toilet seat, says Charles Gerba, PhD, a microbiologist with the
University of Arizona, better known as Dr. Germ. They’re touched by
tons, but only wiped down once a day, if that, and usually with a used
rag. Instead of washing your hands before you sit down, scrub up after
you order. And never lay your silverware on top of the menu.
Drink Garnish Lemons limes, and other cut-up fruit
used on the rims of glasses are not usually cleaned before cutting or
handled with freshly washed hands. Many germs including E. coli have
been found on these when tested. Order your drinks without the garnish
to avoid this exposure. The little decoration is not worth the
potentially severe stomach and intestinal issues.
Public Water Fountains. Did you ever notice the
slime that is usually around the hole the water spouts from? If that
doesn’t paint the picture, think how many people have turned that
handle. Carry your own water bottle and avoid using these fountains.
Dirty Money The flu virus can live on a dollar bill
for 17 days! But no one uses gloves or tissues to handle money. The
answer is to wash your hands after you handle money. There is a very
good reason that food workers put on plastic gloves to handle food after
they touch money. We need to be just as vigilant and was our hands
after handling money, especially when we are eating food we will touch
such as a sandwich.
Shopping Carts Shopping cart handles can be
downright gross. Turns out you’re picking up more than just a loaf of
bread. That handle can be swarming with up to 11 million microorganisms,
including ones from raw meat. And just think about all the dirty
diapers on that seat — the same one you’re putting your produce on. A
lot of grocery stores have antibacterial wipes handy, so use them.
Hotel and Cruise Ships Rooms You do not know who was
the past person in your room or if they had a contagious illness. Door
handles, remotes, the sides of the racks you open to pit your suitcase
on, the desk, the light switch, the hair dryer…….and on and on. We
purchase large wipes before a trip and take 10 minutes to wipe down the
touch points in a hotel room.
Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs A pubic pool can have
pounds of poop floating around according to Michele Hlavsa, RN, chief of
the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program. Little kids can carry as much as 10
grams of leftover feces on their rear ends, she says. They don’t make a
habit of washing off before jumping in, so all that poop just rinses
off into the pool. It adds up, and chlorine doesn’t kill everything. The
CDC found that more than half of pools test positive for E. coli, which can cause bloody diarrhea. Your best line of defense? Try not to swallow any water.
If that is not enough, consider the hot tub. They can have additional
disease organisms such as Legionella. The action of the jets puts those
little contagions into the air where you can inhale them and acquire
them. There are also other viruses and bacteria that swim in the water
and may not be killed because of a low level of chlorine or other
The bottom line is to be aware of the potential for disease exposure
in public. Changing a few habits may keep you healthy. This is
particularly important in times of high exposure risk such as flu season
or on a cruise where Norovirus has broken out
There are several testing methods used for diagnosing mold issues. As in all things in the world, there are advantages and disadvantage to each type of testing. That means that each type of testing is useful in its own way….and often not appropriate for other applications.
ERMI (Environmental Relative Moldiness Index) is one test that is not often used or understood. ERMI is the product of the modern miracle of DNA technology. The EPA owns the patent on the process and limits its use to approved labs. The EPA also states that their approval of the technology is only “experimental.”
However, there are many studies and anecdotal evidence of the benefit of the test results for patients with CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Respiratory Disease) There are also some very interesting, but limited studies that high ERMI scores correlate with high lactate in the brain. High lactate correlates with cognitive problems. It may be that identifying high ERMI score conditions may be useful in treating some diseases. These are still very preliminary studies and require more research.
Let’s do the Pros and Cons before we talk about how this technology works.
ERMI can give very targeted specific specialization for target molds that can have an influence on health
ERMI can give evidence of the historic (new or old mold contaminations) mold conditions in a building.
Historic evidence of long term exposure vs short term exposure can be useful for medical practitioners
ERMI does not quantify mold, it only identifies the 36 species of targeted molds
ERMI Originally specified old carpet that was not regularly cleaned to provide the source of dust to give that historic record. Now any dust from the home is acceptable. The age of dust is hard to know.
ERMI is still an evolving science in terms of correlation of ERMI results and health implications
ERMI does not help to isolate the source of the mold contamination to aid in any required remediation
Overview of the process
A sample of dust is taken using a specialized dirt trap. The dirt/dust/debris is to be collected by using a vacuum cleaner hooked up to a specialized air filter. An alternative system is a smaller cassette and a standard air sampling pump. The sample is supposed to be drawn from a roughly 2 square yard carpet area in either a living room or bedroom.
The sample is sent to an EPA licensed lab. The lab takes the dust from the dirt trap and puts it through a filter to isolate the small, mold size particles. (Think spaghetti in a strainer, only microscopic in size)
Those particles are put into a tube with a known amount of Geotrichum candidum
and the DNA is beat out of the mold spores with microscopic beads called “bead pellets.” That mush is then filtered and the sifted genetic stuff is mixed with a buffer solution. It is then dumped into a solution called “Master Mix” and put through a series of temperature controlled reactions.
If you are wondering the technical name for the magic chemistry we are doing, it is MSQPCR
Mold Specific Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction
Now remember that known quantity of Geotrichum candidum that was in the mix? That is the reference basis that can be used to compare the assays (checking process) for each of the target molds (molds that they are looking for). The checking process is done with a “Sequence Detector” (which is identifying DNA sequences)
Once the 36 target molds are identified, the 26 in the WDB (Water Damage Building) group are measured and are compared to the common or outdoor group of 10 molds.
The reason for the look at the ratio of the two is that the exact quantity of each mold is not determined by this test. That is the result of several factors. Our size of sample could be small or big, based upon the amount of dirt we swept up. We can’t figure out by counting pieces of DNA if there is a little or a lot of mold in the building. You get the point. We do not know how much mold is in the building from an ERMI test.
What we do know is that if most of the mold DNA is the outdoor molds, then there is less mold growing in the house. If there is a whole bunch more of the indoor mold than the exterior, oops, there is a lot more mold growing IN the house than coming in from the OUTSIDE.
Scoring is done on a scale of -10 to 20. The higher the number, the more mold that is from growing inside the house in the tested building area. That ERMI Score number is a “sort of number,” not an exact measure. It is based on a limited number of tests from a limited geographic area. Hence reference to it as a “Relative Score.”
Let's imagine that you are the child with a deadly reaction to peanuts, but don’t realize it. One solution is to provide you with an EpiPen to inject you every time your turn blue and can’t breathe. Another solution is to figure out that it is the peanuts that almost kill you and then stop eating them. It’s pretty easy to understand that avoiding the peanuts is a better plan. The challenge we face is that we first need to know that you're allergic to the peanuts. This is the start of our pathway to environmental health.
The fundamental problem in exploring causes of environmental illnesses is that those reactions occur in time delay. Our minds are trained to understand that it hurts if we hit our thumb with a hammer, and we should stop doing it. Environmental exposures are cumulative and in” time delay” often complicated in combinations of exposures and locations.
The first step to wellness is to identify the cause of the illness. Functional medicine practitioners have the approach of looking for the cause of the environmental reaction. Modern medicine has developed blood, and urine tests that can identify the source of the illness. Underlying diseases such as Lyme disease, childhood diseases and occupational exposures also need explored as they can combine with environmental triggers to intensify an illness or delay recovery.
The next step is identifying the exposure that is making the client ill. Common environmental exposures include mold, household chemicals, pesticides, chemicals used in hobbies, illegal drugs, HVAC defects, sewer backups, tainted water, air pollutants, off gassing construction materials and allergens. Many of these exposures can only be identified through testing. Identifying possible sources and the proper testing methods is where the environmental inspector comes in handy.
This investigative process involves developing a list of potential exposures and then looking at how these exposures match with testing by the Functional Medical practitioner.
Once they are identified, the sources of the illness need to be avoided. Removing the sources of environmental triggers is another difficult part of the puzzle. The environmental consultant should, wherever possible, provide a plan or options to avoid the exposure that is making people ill.
Modern medical science is developed treatments to remove toxins from the environmentally ill patient. The challenge is that each of us is a unique individual. We are complex organic machines. Treatments that work with some of us will not work with others. Removing toxins from the miraculous and complex human body usually takes time and sometimes multiple approaches. The good news is that if we avoid toxic environmental exposures, the body tries to help heal itself.
Modern man has developed an endless stream of new products and chemicals in the name of making life better, easier or more convenient. It doesn't always work that way. There are defects in manufacture and in some instances reckless behaviors that expose innocent people to toxic health risks. When this happens, it is devastating to the lives that are touched. Sadly, the people who are environmentally ill are often accused of psychological problems or not helped in a way that can restore their health, their health and the lives of their friends and family. For a full article as published Click here for a PDF copy of the full article
Imagine getting up each day feeling absolutely terrible. You dread facing another day. You're unable to think clearly or plan your day. You have an overwhelming guilt that you're a terrible burden on those around you. A feeling of helplessness washes over you because you're unable to find your way out of this sickness. You've been tested for all types of illnesses that nobody would ever want to have but you believe that even a dreaded diagnosis would be better than not knowing what has robbed you of a normal life. This is the life of an environmentally ill person..
We have accepted and understand that our diet affects our health. Billions of dollars are spent on ads to influence what we eat. We often don’t realize and understand that what we breathe, absorb through our skin or drink from a faucet or bottle can have a devastating effect on health. We don’t consider that for some people, our homes, schools, workplaces, drinking water or parks are toxic.
Environmental illness is a terrible burden on those that suffer from it and their loved ones. As a building scientist, I hear about this day after day. Like most professionals dealing with environmental illness, my involvement is because I've seen it first-hand. I watched my father slowly suffocate to death because of his asbestos exposure. He sprayed the stuff to make buildings fire safe for others, not to have his lungs fill with cancer. Surprise!
What is Environmental Illness?
There are common symptoms with environmental diseases. There's often brain fog, numbness or pain, bowel issues, fibromyalgia, skin problems, missing hair, skin rashes, lethargy and confusion Many have taken an endless list of prescription drugs designed to alleviate symptoms. Those prescriptions had side effects that create new symptoms. When those symptoms were treated with new treatments, more of the above symptoms occurred. There's also the financial burdens and the emotional roller coaster of raised and then dashed hopes. Stress makes the symptoms even worse.
People with environmental illness have more than symptoms in common. Most have already visited many physicians. Some have been told that they have an “idiopathic disease” which is medical speak for “you have a set of symptoms that are similar to an illness, but we don’t know why or even if it is really true.” Others have been told that they must be imagining the illness. Almost all have their hopes of wellness dashed time and time again.
Often the biggest stress and challenge that the environmentally ill face is their friends or family members don't understand or believe that the illness is real. We know and accept that there are children who can eat a single peanut and go into anaphylactic shock. We understand that there are people that can react badly to the lifesaving drug penicillin. Despite this, some people can't understand how one person in a home could react to environmental problems while the others are still healthy.
If you are like many of us, the addition of another term in the medical
field can just be babble and one more thing in a confusing, but major part of
our lives. Over 20% of the US economy is dedicated to health care.
The place to start the discussion is to answer the question: Why does
Functional Medicine matter? The answer lies with the fact that chronic disease
(diseases that linger in our lives) has become more and more prevalent.
Auto-immune disease, Asthma, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, COPD are some
examples of chronic disease.
The traditional treatment of patients is geared for treating problems such
as infections, heart attacks, broken bones, and other afflictions that can be
corrected with a heroic swoop down and medical intervention (often a medical
miracle) to correct the specific problem.
Functional Medicine Practitioners address the whole person using systems to
work in partnership with the patient for the best long term health outcome.
If you are like me, your first reaction to that sentence would be of course,
isn’t that what everybody does? That is because it makes sense when we hear
that said. The traditional model is disease centered. In other words, if you
get sick, the isolated set of symptoms are treated as a single point of
The Functional Medicine Practitioners spend time with patients, consider
their histories and look at possible interactions and the influence of genetic,
lifestyle and environmental factors that affect the long-term health of the
patient. This is a much more personalized or holistic approach to medicine and
When the general health of a person is managed, the chronic conditions are
better managed and acute episodes are reduced and quality of life is improved.
Additionally, proactive and predictive management of health improves overall
quality of life. It gives patients the personal power to improve their own
We are fans of Functional Medicine for good reason. This type of practice
usually improves the health and well-being of patients. We have seen this
happen as we work on the environmental with many of these practitioners.
When the Functional Medicine Practitioner is concerned about the
environmental conditions affecting a patient’s health, we test and report the
finding to the practitioner. We are experienced at providing the proper testing
and results for the evaluation of the medical provider.
The role we play in the Functional Medicine puzzle is identifying and
solving the environmental issues that affect both long term and short term
Click Here for a .PDF copy of this article News Years Resolution for Your Home.pdf
We look to the New Year for a fresh start and better times. Why not include our homes in that time of renewal ?
What catches us off guard is that things often wear out a little at a
time. The extension cords rubs a little, moves a little and three years
later has bare exposed wires that can start a fire. That process happens
with every part of our home.
Make your Home a Safer Place
Everyone knows to install and regularly check the smoke and carbon
monoxide detectors. It is important enough that it needs said again.
through your home and check for water leaks and mold. These can sneak
up on any homeowner. That tiny leak can cause a big mold problem over
time. The earlier leaks are found , the less damage they cause and the
easier they are to correct.
Have the radon checked in your home. Radon is the second leading cause
of lung cancer and South Western PA area has over a 50% failure rate.
your clothes dryer vent for blockage. Blocked vents can also cause the
dryer heater component to overheat and fail. At best a lint blockage in
the dryer vent can cost you a couple of hundred dollars in appliance
repairs. On the hand, dryer vent pipe blockage is a leading cause of
fires and carbon monoxide in the home.
We live in a world of chemicals. Some to clean, some to make things
smell, some to make things work better and others to make our homes
look pretty. Many of the chemicals can make some of us very ill.
Check the bottles and cans in cleaning closets for leakage. Remove
chemicals such as pesticides, paint thinner and gasoline from inside of
your home and garage. Storage in an exterior yard shed is a safe
Have your furnace cleaned and serviced each year. Hire a furnace
company that also checks for carbon monoxide and natural gas leaks.
If you have and use a fireplace, have the chimney cleaned and checked
each year before use. Check every heating appliance for safety,
especially the portable heaters.
Consider having a home inspection. We usually only consider these when
purchasing a home, but having a home checked for safety by a
professional can be a good thing while you are still living there. It
also could be a great gift for a senior or other family member not able
to keep up with their home maintenance.
There are over 200 million appliances that have been recalled. Check
for recalls to avoid fires or save major appliance repair or
replacement. You can check www.CPSC.gov or use a fee based data base
entry service to list and automatically recheck your appliances each
month such as: http://www.appliancerecallcheck.com/
Prepare a Plan for Disaster
A natural disaster or serious world event could leave us unable to pick
up our cell phone and find our families. Massive power or
communication failures are no longer only a possibility in science
fiction. These failures have become a possible means of terrorism.
It takes moments to plan locations for a family to meet if
communication systems fail. There should be a local place and one
outside of the area. It could be a landmark or the home of a relative.
It takes moments to discuss and decide where to meet if things go
Create an Emergency Kit. Food, fuel and light are critical for
survival. Take a moment and consider all of the items that will not work
without power and create an alternate plan. The best resource for
creating emergency kits is www.Ready.gov. They have many sample lists
designed for a wide range of needs such as families, seniors, businesses
and many other groups.
Without electricity, the Automatic Teller Machine will not spit out
money into your hand no matter how much money is in your account or how
many times you ask. Keep some cash on hand in a safe place.
Take a pictures or a video of your home's furnishings and its
contents. It is a reality that disasters can occur in any home, even
yours. It could be a fire, flood or major theft, but each of these
disasters require documentation of the home and its contents for
Once you have the pictures or video of your home, store a copy of that
information "off site." You can upload them to a cloud service or simply
hand a digital copy to a close friend or relative. The object here is
to avoid is losing your backup pictures in the disaster they were taken
Improve Your Home's Environment
These suggestions will make you feel better in your home. It is your
castle and should be the very best it can be. Ironically, your castle
should be a lot more comfortable than a real castle.
Take a couple of weekends and pick from the list of chores that can make your home healthier and more pleasant.
As a final suggestion, walk through and look at what is inside of your
home. We are talking about your pictures, furnishings, clothes or even
paint colors. If what you see conjures up bad memories or feelings:
get rid of it ! If you notice something that is hidden away that makes
you feel good, get it out where you can see it. Now! That can be a
wonderful New Years gift to yourself.
Imagine that you want to clean up your kitchen. You see the food particles, grease and other remnants of meal preparation and know there are germs on the surfaces. Instead of first wiping up the food, you take out a can of Lysol Spray. The can label says, “Lysol Spray Cleans 99.9% of Viruses and Bacteria.” You spray all the surfaces and decide you now have a clean kitchen, despite the yucky stuff on your table and counter. That is a disgusting thought and ignores the fact that germs live inside of that biological soup you did not clean up. That is precisely what happens when you have a mold treatment that is a come and spray you home without first cleaning the surfaces by wiping surfaces, replacing damaged materials or HEPA vacuuming contaminated surfaces. There are MANY mold remediators that take such an approach.
Just as the song says, “Christmas is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” The season is full of bright lights, excited children and time with friends and relatives.
We love the sounds and smells of the holiday season as they bring back memories of past holidays. That is unless………. the smells are not fond memories, but more like: Merry Christmas and please pass the antihistamine or inhaler---‘tis the season for asthma and allergies.
Too soon the excitement of this Christmas will be over and we will be packing and tucking away all of those special decorations and treasures to wait for another year. How we do that packing and where we store those treasures can affect our health next year.
Why Allergies and Asthma Spike During HolidaysClick here to Download a copy of Bringing A Fresh Air to Christmas.pdf
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 on and into improperly stored items. Even tightly sealed boxes can attract mice and insects, each contributing to the allergen and germ categories.
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. Adding to that factor, we have tighter constructed homes with better windows, caulking and insulation resulting in less fresh air. Many homes are built with wet crawl spaces and improper venting systems. With tighter construction practices, 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 storage and care of holiday trees and decorations.
Storage and Allergen Prevention Tips
Tips for Taking Out Decorations Next Year
“Things happen” in the life of a house. When we change windows, furnaces, add insulation or have leaks from roofs, plumbing, floods and a host of other “events” mold can occur where it never was found before. It may seem a little early for us to consider what to do when we pull things out of storage next year...but…while we are on the subject…here are a few tips:
Other Healthy Indoor Air Tips
Given a choice, it is better to place trees and decorations over areas of hard surface floors 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. Sweeping with HEPA filter vacuum sweepers as opposed to bag sweepers and using Swiffer type mops are better than bristle brooms for avoiding putting allergens into the air.
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 in a warming pot as an alternative to the artificial scents.
A healthy home is a wonderful gift. With a little planning and prevention, we can take a deep breath and enjoy the season.