Strep Throat Symptoms

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that can make your throat feel sore and scratchy. Strep throat accounts for only a small portion of sore throats. If untreated, strep throat can cause complications, such as kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever can lead to painful and inflamed joints, a specific type of rash or heart valve damage. Strep throat is most common in children, but it affects people of all ages. If you or your child has signs or symptoms of strep throat, see your doctor for prompt testing and treatment.

Common symptoms of strep throat in children and adults include:

  • Severe and sudden sore throat without coughing, sneezing, or other cold symptoms.
  • Pain or difficulty with swallowing.
  • Fever over 101°F (38.3°C). Lower fevers may point to a viral infection and not strep.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
  • White or yellow spots or coating on the throat and tonsils.
  • Bright red throat or dark red spots on the roof of the mouth at the back near the throat.
  • Swollen tonsils, although this symptom may also be caused by a viral infection.

Advice For Tenants

Without getting into anything technical, there’s just two pieces of advice I would like to share with tenants in dispute over the potential of mold in their rental.  Many tenants when suspecting mold and feeling as if their landlord is not addressing the matter quickly decide to stop paying rent.  There’s many issues with this approach, but let’s focus on two.  First and foremost, you can not stop paying rent because you speculate there is a mold issue.  Mold is suspect until tested and lab results are needed for proper documentation if a case is ever sent to court, so you have absolute concrete proof there is mold and it’s potentially causing illness or disrupting your way of life.  Next, if you do decide to stop paying rent because of this issue, or any other which is effecting your quality of living, don’t just stop paying rent and use your funds towards something else.  You need to set up a bank account and begin to escrow the rent payments while sending copies of this account and those payments to your landlord so he/she can see that you’re not trying to get out of paying your rent, but just trying to resolve the issues and intend on releasing on the funds once the problem is resolved.  Too many times, I encounter tenants thinking they have mold and ceasing to pay rent, but make no attempt to prove that there is mold, or to show that they’re allocating the money.  Instead they just stop paying rent, and think that a phone call to me will be enough proof that they had every right to still live on the premises while not paying for anything and never intending on paying back rent.  And when they get the home tested and it doesn’t show any mold, they have to stand their ground that maybe my test isn’t accurate because they know there is mold and they were getting sick.  So the two points to remember is this:

  • Mold is suspect until tested and third party documentation is needed to prove that there is growth which is potentially harmful and a hazard in the dwelling.
  • Escrow accounts are needed with full disclosure and email communication if rent payments are halted until an issue is resolved.

Water Damage Philadelphia

A commercial store in Center City Philadelphia had a broken supply line which resulted in major water damage.  The pipes were located in the rear of the basement and weren’t protected from the cold which resulted in a burst.  This photo was taken after 10+ inches of water was already removed,which is evident from the piece of plywood on the top left.


Condensation on Ductwork

Condensation occurs when air is cooled below its dew point temperature. The study of air containing moisture (or plain old air as we know it) is called psychrometrics (pronounced si-crow-met-ricks), and deals with the relationships between temperature, relative humidity, absolute humidity, dew point and several other properties of the air/moisture mixture. A basic psychrometric relationship is that air can only hold so much moisture at a certain temperature. When the air is full of moisture, the relative humidity is 100%. When the air contains half as much moisture as is can at a temperature, the air is at 50% relative humidity. The next relationship is that if you cool the air, the relative humidity increases. (Cool air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air) At some point, the air becomes saturated. Cooling it any further causes condensation. This is the dew point.

So how does this relate to sweating ducts? Air conditioners make air cold. The cold air is forced through ducts. As a result, the outside surface of the ducts is cooled. If the air outside the ducts is humid enough, condensation will form on the ducts. The colder the air in the ducts and the more humid the air around the ducts, the more chance of forming condensation. Note that sweating ducts has nothing to do with moisture in the air inside the ducts. Solutions to sweating ducts involve 1) warming the surface, and 2) drying the air around the ducts. Insulation is added to the exterior of ducts to help warm the duct surface. The insulation should be enclosed in a vapor barrier to keep moisture from moving through the insulation itself. Joints in the ducts, insulation and vapor barrier should be sealed. The insulation and vapor barrier should extend completely to the registers, or condensation can form on the exposed ends.

If the ducts are in a crawlspace, a complete vapor barrier on the soil is an essential first step. Increasing crawlspace ventilation may help in some parts of the country, but be careful because increasing ventilation in other areas can actually increase the condensation. In basements and crawlspaces, sometimes adding a dehumidifier is necessary. Most duct condensation issues I have seen are the result of problems with duct insulation. In some cases, fixing the insulation solves the problem. Adding insulation typically does not solve the problem. In cases where the insulation is in good shape, crawlspaces and basements have been wet, or ducts have been pressed together.

When is the air conditioner at fault? Some newer air conditioning systems and controls actually make the air inside the ducts colder. This is an attempt by the manufacturer to help make the air in the house dryer, but often causes more condensation on the outside of ducts. Dirty filters can restrict air flow through the system, resulting in colder air. This is the easiest one to deal with: keep your filters clean. Otherwise, make sure the duct insulation and vapor barrier are continuous, contiguous and complete. And keep the air around ducts dry by covering exposed soil in crawlspaces, keeping ducts apart, and reducing other moisture sources in the air as much as possible.


Breathing in Dust

The lungs are protected by a series of defense mechanisms in different regions of the respiratory tract. When a person breathes in, particles suspended in the air enter the nose, but not all of them reach the lungs. The nose is an efficient filter. Most large particles are stopped in it, until they are removed mechanically by blowing the nose or sneezing. Some of the smaller particles succeed in passing through the nose to reach the windpipe and the dividing air tubes that lead to the lungs [more information about how particles entering the lungs].

These tubes are called bronchi and bronchioles. All of these airways are lined by cells. The mucus they produce catches most of the dust particles. Tiny hairs called cilia, covering the walls of the air tubes, move the mucus upward and out into the throat, where it is either coughed up and spat out, or swallowed. The air reaches the tiny air sacs (alveoli) in the inner part of the lungs with any dust particles that avoided the defenses in the nose and airways. The air sacs are very important because through them, the body receives oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. Dust that reaches the sacs and the lower part of the airways where there are no cilia is attacked by special cells called macrophages. These are extremely important for the defense of the lungs. They keep the air sacs clean. Macrophages virtually swallow the particles. Then the macrophages, in a way which is not well understood, reach the part of the airways that is covered by cilia. The wavelike motions of the cilia move the macrophages which contain dust to the throat, where they are spat out or swallowed.

Besides macrophages, the lungs have another system for the removal of dust. The lungs can react to the presence of germ-bearing particles by producing certain proteins. These proteins attach to particles to neutralize them. Dusts are tiny solid particles scattered or suspended in the air. The particles are “inorganic” or “organic,” depending on the source of the dust. Inorganic dusts can come from grinding metals or minerals such as rock or soil. Examples of inorganic dusts are silica, asbestos, and coal.

Organic dusts originate from plants or animals. An example of organic dust is dust that arises from handling grain. These dusts can contain a great number of substances. Aside from the vegetable or animal component, organic dusts may also contain fungi or microbes and the toxic substances given off by microbes. For example, histoplasmosis, psittacosis and Q Fever are diseases that people can get if they breathe in organic that are infected with a certain microorganisms. Dusts can also come from organic chemicals (e.g., dyes, pesticides). However, in this OSH Answers document, we are only considering dust particles that cause fibrosis or allergic reactions in the lungs. We are not including chemical dusts that cause cancer or acute toxic effects, for example.

Using Storage Totes

If a water damage should occur in your home from any sort of leak or mechanical malfunction, having your stored items in boxes and on the floor could prove costly.  To avoid such a mess like the picture below, consider upgrading all storage items into plastic boxes/totes.  Items will not be as susceptible to water damage or mold growth as are boxes, and it will give your basement a cleaner look while being more organized.


Quick To Conclude

On a recent trip to a property I was called out to, the home owner was concerned about mold growing on the ceiling in several locations.  After spending some time going over what the issue was and how it was to be remediated, she informed me of a different company who took a look at the basement and explained that she had mold on the joists.  So I went down and took a look and could see what they were saying was mold, but didn’t agree.  I explained to the customer, as I do to everyone, that without positive proof of mold growth, (like on drywall or plaster), all areas are suspect until tested.  I had told her that a lot of companies use this sort of tactic, where they go into a house for one thing and look around with a plan to find another even if it doesn’t exist.  She agreed and allowed me to take a few surface samples of the suspected areas.  Two days later the results came back showing she had no mold whatsoever.  So, if she had agreed with the other contractor who even went so far to say that she was going to get sick and that if she didn’t do the job the floors would have to be completely ripped up soon, she would have wasted her money.  And the next part that was bothersome, was the contractor telling her that all they had to do was spray the joists down with a “special chemical,” and the mold would disappear.  Once again it brings us back to the point I always try to make, and that’s to do your Due Diligence.  Mold Remediation, like every other business, has its good contractors and its bad contractors, and it’s your job to use your best judgement to weed them out.

Salmonella Infection

Salmonella infection is a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. Salmonella bacteria typically live in animal and human intestines and are shed through feces. Humans become infected most frequently through contaminated water or food. Typically, people with salmonella infection have no symptoms. Others develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within eight to 72 hours. Most healthy people recover within a few days without specific treatment. In some cases, the diarrhea associated with salmonella infection can be so dehydrating as to require prompt medical attention. Life-threatening complications also may develop if the infection spreads beyond your intestines. Your risk of acquiring salmonella infection is higher if you travel to countries with poor sanitation.


Salmonella infection is usually caused by eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs or egg products. The incubation period ranges from several hours to two days. Most salmonella infections can be classified as gastroenteritis. Possible signs and symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Blood in the stool

Signs and symptoms of salmonella infection generally last four to seven days, although it may take several months for your bowels to return to normal. A few varieties of salmonella bacteria result in typhoid fever, a sometimes deadly disease that is more common in developing countries.

Exposure to Smoke From Fires – Part 1

The smoke released by any type of fire (forest, brush, crop, structure, tires, waste or wood burning) is a mixture of particles and chemicals produced by incomplete burning of carbon-containing materials. All smoke contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter (PM or soot). Smoke can contain many different chemicals, including aldehydes, acid gases, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), benzene, toluene, styrene, metals and dioxins. The type and amount of particles and chemicals in smoke varies depending on what is burning, how much oxygen is available, and the burn temperature.

Exposure to high levels of smoke should be avoided. Individuals are advised to limit their physical exertion if exposure to high levels of smoke cannot be avoided. Individuals with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions (e.g., asthma), fetuses, infants, young children, and the elderly may be more vulnerable to the health effects of smoke exposure.

Inhaling smoke for a short time can cause immediate (acute) effects. Smoke is irritating to the eyes, nose, and throat, and its odor may be nauseating. Studies have shown that some people exposed to heavy smoke have temporary changes in lung function, which makes breathing more difficult. Two of the major agents in smoke that can cause health effects are carbon monoxide gas and very small particles (fine particles, or PM2.5 ). These particles are two and one half (2.5) microns or less in size (25,400 microns equal an inch) and individual particles are too small to be seen with the naked eye.