Environmental Issue & Sick Building Syndrome Blog

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.           

Functional Remediators

 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.     

Posted by Dan Howard on May 31st, 2019 10:05 PM

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 wood.

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.

Posted in:Mold, termites and tagged: Moldtermites
Posted by Dan Howard on May 2nd, 2019 10:21 PM

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 issues.

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.”

polluted air

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 disinfectant.

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

Posted by Dan Howard on April 26th, 2019 10:15 PM

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.

Pro:

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     

 Con:

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.”

That folks, is what this ERMI and HERTSMI testing is about. It is amazing technology, but has a very limited application. It can’t quantify mold contaminations or the success of any remediation efforts. According to the EPA, ERMI is an “emerging technology”.
Posted by Dan Howard on April 21st, 2019 9:49 PM

 

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

Posted by Dan Howard on March 2nd, 2019 5:05 PM


             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.

Posted by Dan Howard on February 22nd, 2019 9:37 PM

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 concern.

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 health.

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 health

Posted by Dan Howard on January 5th, 2019 8:40 PM

 

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.

            Walk 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.


           
Check 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 alternative.           

            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 terribly awry.     

            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 insurance recovery.        

            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 for recovery.     

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.

  • Streamline and de-clutter
  • Install "daylight" type light bulbs
  • Give away unused "stuff"
  • Clean the rubber gasket at the door of front loading clothes washers
  • Replace appliance filters
  • Run a dehumidifier in damp areas
  • Ventilate bathrooms, kitchens, attics and basements
  • Identify and remove things with bad odors

            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.  

Posted by Dan Howard on December 30th, 2018 9:11 PM

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.

Here it is.......if you spray but do not clean first the mold is more likely to come back. The other important factor is changing the mold conducive moisture conditions or the mold will grow again. 
Do not fall for the quick spray job .....................It may be less expensive in the short run, but returning mold can damage your health and your home....and cost you having the job done again....at MUCH MORE COST 






 
  
Posted by Dan Howard on December 27th, 2018 9:10 PM

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 Holidays

Click 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

  • Start by selecting moisture and dirt free areas for holiday decoration storage.

  • Every year I receive calls from homeowners that actually discover mold in their storage areas when they take the decorations out for the holiday. Take a look around for mold, allergens, rodent feces and other contaminants before packing the holiday away. It is easier to see what is happening while the storage area is not stuffed full of stored treasures.

     

  • If your holiday items are covered with mold and dust this year, change the conditions in the storage area before putting the items back again. Mold growing in the storage areas will affect the air quality in the main home all year around.

     

  • Clean stored items with a damp cloth before storage. Dirt supports the growth of mold and is an allergen.

     

  • Store trees, decorations and other materials in plastic bins, or wrap in plastic bags, not cardboard. Cardboard holds moisture and is a food source for mold.

     

  • Control humidity in storage areas. Dehumidify basement storage area and install roof fans controlled with humidistat in attics.

     

    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:

     

  • If the stored items from the prior year are already covered with mold and dust, place them in plastic bags or bins before carrying them through the house. Dragging mold and other allergens through the house can spread them through the house.

     

  • Once out of storage, take the contaminated items outside the home or into a garage to unpack and then clean them.

     

  • Treat rodent and other feces as the potential serious health issue it is. Do not breathe or spread the dust. Wash everything that it contacts with a good disinfectant.

     

  • Fresh cut trees or stored items can have dust blown off them using a leaf blower or they be can be hosed down with water before you bring them into the house next year. If you use a leaf blower, wear a mask. Either method can remove mold, dust, and some of the lead dust usually found on artificial trees and decorations.

     

  • Discard contaminated packing and bring the cleaned items into the home.

     

  • Do not spray materials with pesticide. The poisons designed to kill bugs will damage people’s health. Plain soap and water will safely and effectively remove insect and rodent contamination.

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.   
 

Posted by Dan Howard on December 22nd, 2018 8:17 PM

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